But I want one of them...
This is the second installment in an all-new ongoing feature by Olly023 that seeks to delve deep into the mind of a child when certain retro items were not retro, they were the hot new ticket in town!
Drawing mostly from personal thoughts, feelings and experiences of a much younger and less hairy Olly023, he seek's to bounce back to you, the readers, a sense of need and want for select hardware and software titles. Some vaporware, a few he has since obtained and others that fall between the lines.
It's Keith Apicary's most favourite thing ever. Not without good reason. We're talking Metal Slug, we're talking King of Fighters...Obviously, I'm talking about the Neo Geo MVS arcade cabinet. In all its forms throughout its glorious existence, I want one. I want it now.
You may notice that I was the one put in charge of writing the hardware introduction for the Neo Geo AES home console, I was originally going to write a cross-introduction with the MVS due to the hardware cross-compatibility but chose not to out of respect of it being an arcade based system as opposed to home console. So, yeah. Oh, it also allows me to write this and wax lyrical about one of the most awesome things to ever hit the world of video gaming. Viva SNK!
I believe I was first introduced to the Neo Geo family (or at least its branding) at some point in the mid-90's, a time where arcades were still a think here in the UK. I had recognised that immortal Neo Geo logo from advertisements in video game magazines that the older neighbour kids would buy and I would flick through drooling over the screenshots and paying no mind to the wording anywhere on the page.
Part 2: Neo Geo MVS
It was in an arcade at a holiday camp, I'm pretty sure of that, but the details are fuzzy. Maybe Pontins? Meh. That's irrelevant. As what is relevant is that there was this beautiful candy red cab that drew all of my attention. It had a fighting game on it. "Maybe its Street Fighter II" thought a young Olly023. Heck no. This wasn't no Capcom outing. This was a whole other beast. The cabinet was playing Fatal Fury Special. Special, it certainly was.
The moment I saw Terry Bogard in his trucker cap and Big Bear in all his Vader-esque glory, I was in absolute love. Could I play it? HA - Nope! I was obviously terrible. I still am! But that didn't stop the intrigue from the characters, the settings, the music and just everything that makes Fatal Fury...well, Fatal Fury! It certainly did a great job of eating away at whatever coinage I was given to keep myself entertained, though!
From that day on, the whole Neo Geo 'thing' became something of a mythic creature I demanded to tame. But did I really ever get my chance back then? N'ah. I know, I know...But nowhere where me and dad gamed had one of these beauties. It was almost heart breaking. I just wanted another stab, another shot. A couple years down the line though, while on holiday, in yet another dank arcade - as if I had seen a familiar face, a ghost from my past - there it was! One of those candy red cabs!
Swap shop of choices!
But, wait a minute. That wasn't no Terry Bogard or Big Bear!? This wasn't even a fighting game! WHAT MADNESS!?! It was a little game that goes by the name of Metal Slug. The awesome animations, the sense of humour and the addictive gameplay...DARNIT NEO GEO YOU'RE DOING IT AGAIN!!!
So, yeah. After these brief encounters, these wonderful yet fleeting glimpses of what the other experts in arcade were up to it seemed to be game over.
To sidetrack for informative relevance a moment. For those unawares, the Neo Geo Multi Video System by SNK was released in 1990 in Japan as a means for arcade operators, bar owners, or literally anyone who could afford one; could have a single cabinet that was easy to swap out for the latest games due to its cart-based system. With the multiple designs that included extra slots (more games, more choice...more revenue possibilities?).
This was all a tad revolutionary as it not only made it easier on the more novice buyers, but also made it possible to have more games on less cabs and an overall cheaper entry to regain any cost of set up. Score and cha-ching, basically. Although the 6-slot is what I lust for, logically speaking it is the least realisable and I should really be wanted a 4-slot or less. But I'm a greedy git, y'see. The system was also region-free, utilising the BIOS to determine the region of play. Pretty cool stuff, cha.
Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled and nonsensical programming (read: retro rambling)...
The more this Olly023 matured, however; was the time given to learn more about Neo Geo in general. At one point, I became obsessed. To a degree, I most certainly still am obsessed. I would gather information on the history of Neo Geo, the games available. You can imagine what it was like when it shattered my brain into a million pieces upon realisation that the Neo Geo MVS was its own stand alone cab that could swap out cartridges half the size of a small car. Insanity, I say!
Another time and place...
In Japan, the Neo Geo system had a lifespan that lasted 14 years strong. There is a wealth of killer apps that remain obtainable yet out of my reach. It kills me more each day. I have had the chance to play many of the titles since and am now a bonafide fanboy of the King of Fighters series (seriously, if you're reading this and own an X360 and KOFXIII, please hit me up and we can duke it out), but none of the console-playing counterparts can match up with the original experience that has always stuck.
Those four bright buttons have burned their way into my minds eye. Olly023 is like an addict who needs his fix. Basically, what I'm saying? I want a Neo Geo MVS. I've always wanted a Neo Geo MVS and I don't think my life can be completed while I live another day without one in my possession.
Yet, as much as I need an MVS. I would still happily take Megatron's Neo Geo CD off his hands. It aint like he plays it anyway. P'ah!
If my personal gaming history has equated the Sega Saturn to a unicorn, the Neo Geo MVS would be a Pegasus. In my teenage years, I obtained a Saturn. But did I get to find more arcades with Neo Geo's? NO! In fact, the strong majority of arcades had started shutting up shop or shifting focus to other titles.
A true FML situation. All I had was stories from America where people would speak about their own memories of the system to which I would have to live vicariously. Sega, in all their infinite awesomeness, obviously allowed me to play the games I was so desperate to try. Yet, it was never quite right. I still needed my initial thirst quenched.
Toying with the idea of buying a Neo Geo CD, or maybe just throwing down some cash on a AES has always been a temptation. But logically, I have always wanted to own an arcade cabinet. The Neo Geo MVS is at the very top of my list.
The fact games are cheaper than the AES and without the loading times of the CD just make it seem all the more better. Trouble is, there's allegedly nowhere to put it. I say allegedly, I know my mother would kill me if I laid down the coin on it. That’s the real reasoning.
Olly's Final Thoughts...
So do I still want one? Well, if you read until the end. That's an obvious yes. Silly question! NEXT!
Seriously, though. The Neo Geo MVS is one of the coolest bits of gaming tech ever invented. The glorious 24-bits of awesome sound and graphics I feel would stick with anyone once they've had their first taste.
God bless the SNK for giving us the Neo Geo. Yet curse them for giving me the lust to own such expensive things.