NEO*GEO
MAX 330 MEGA
PRO GEAR SPEC
SNK

Game system designed by SNK, first release: 1989

SNK promoted the system -incorrectly- as a 24bit system (add an 8bit Zilog to a 16bit Motorola, -which is actually 32bit- ... and you have 24 bits ;-))

Specs:

  • Processors: Motorola 68000 (12Mhz), Z80 (Zilog-80a 4Mhz)
  • Resolution: 320x224
  • Color Palette: 65,536
  • Maximum colors on-screen: 4,096
  • Maximum sprites on-screen: 380
  • Minimum sprite size: 1x2
  • Maximum sprite size: 16x512
  • Maximum amount of game planes (scrolling): 3
  • Sound Channels: 4-FM synthesis, 7-Digital Internal, 3-PSG, 1 noise channel
  • Internal RAM: 64kb, Video RAM: 68kb, Z80 RAM: 2kb
    • 58 MegaBit DRAM/ 64 Megabit SRAM (CD system only)
  • Memory Card: 8kb or *68-pin JEIDA ver.3 spec memory

The system was cutting-edge and therefore very expensive. Especially the cartridges, which had a capacity upto 330 Mbits (some sources claim 1 gigabit). The machine itself did not have much RAM because 'all the magic' was stored on the cartridges !

There was a home version (AES -- Advanced Entertainment System) and a version for the arcades (MVS -- Multi Video System). 'Multi' because you could house more games in a cabinet (1-2-4-6 slot machines were built). Arcade owners could just switch cartriges to install new games.

Although the games were the same, the cartridges weren't interchangeable (so they could charge different to arcades). Cartridges contained both the arcade and home versions (in English and Japanese!). The SNK-english is hilarious.

More evidence of strange but creative people working at SNK:

  • You could plug your AES joystick in the arcade machine (why the hell would you do that??)
  • You could save your game progress on a memory card and resume play on every MVS and AES system loaded with that game
  • You could even plug in a headphone in the arcade machine, but there were no volume controls

These weird options were never used by the public.

As of 1995, very slow CD -based home systems (CD / CD system / CDZ) were released, to make the games cheaper. A considerable amount of internal memory was added of course.

Because of these high specs, the games were stunning (some are still examples of great 2D game design).

In 1997 Neo*Geo was finaly showing its age, so SNK released Hyper Neo*Geo 64, an arcade only update of the system, with better 3D support. Only a few Hyper games were released.

Most of the titles were fighting games like Fatal Fury, King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown. Further highlights in other genres include the Metal Slug series and Puzzle Bobble.

Emulated in MAME, NeoRAGEx, Calice,Kawaks and Nebula. Neo*Geo games are so popular, there are unofficial builds of MAME only supporting these games (KBMAME/NeoMAME). For the CD machines, there is the NeoGeoCD emulator. With a HotRod joystick, it is certainly an enjoyable experience.

In 1998 SNK also released pocket systems under the Neo*Geo brand. A b/w (NGP) and two color versions (NGPC/NNGPC in 1999) exist. One of the nicer features was a link to a SEGA Dreamcast. It used a stick rather then a pad. Try Neopocott to emulate this system.

Simular to the full Neo*Geo system, the specs were impressive and the design was way ahead of its time, but the device never got a mainsteam audience.

    useful links
  • http://www.neogeo.co.jp (SNK's crappy official page:-))
  • http://home.swipnet.se/~w-50884/emulator/rage.htm (home of NeoRAGEx)
  • http://www.mame.net (mother of all emulators, runs most of the Neo*Geo games)
  • http://nebula.emulatronia.com/indexe.html (another great Neo*Geo emulator)
  • http://www.hanaho.com (creator of the HotRod joystick)
  • http://neopocott.emuunlim.com (neo geo pocket emulator)
  • http://www.mame.dk (rom resource)
  • http://www.neogeofreak.com (one of the many fansites)

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