King of the Monsters

King_of_the_Monsters

King of the Monsters (1991)
By: SNK Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: SNK Neo Geo MVS First Day Score: 47,640
Also Available For: Neo Geo AES, MegaDrive, SNES
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

King of the Monsters

The Neo Geo has gained a great deal of fame and adulation over the years for a variety of reasons but much of this has come from fans of its many one-on-one fighting games. The flagship series must surely be King of Fighters, but fighters are not the only thing it’s possible to be king of! All these human-based games are all very well but even the most creative minds can only do so much with our soft, fleshy, watery bodies. What we need is for someone to open their mind to the possibilities that other beings could bring to the genre. No, I’m not talking about robots, I think we’ve had just about enough of those metallic buffoons clanging into each other (eeek!). Something with the unpredictability of nature is still required I think, but a good helping of muscles, fangs, and a bit of primeval ferocity wouldn’t hurt either. Sounds like a job for the Japanese…
King_of_the_Monsters

The result is clearly inspired by Japan’s preoccupation with giant monsters and hideous creatures of various descriptions, known as ‘kaiju’, and is set in six cities around said country. Each city is home to a combat arena which is… the city itself! Due to the probably-radiation-assisted size of the monsters, they face off in city streets surrounded by appropriate buildings and other landmarks. Well, I’ve presumed they’re appropriate but I can’t say I’ve spent too much time in the cities in question. The action is viewed from a 3D overhead perspective meaning the monsters can move in all directions around the arenas which are encircled by an electrical barrier. Almost everything within the sizeable perimeter can be and usually is destroyed though – more often than not each city starts out all lovely and pristine and ends up looking more like a debris-strewn warzone!
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The titanic battles take the form of wrestling matches which, to quote good old Mene Gene, are ‘scheduled for one fall’ and are contested by six monsters – Geon (a Godzilla-like dinosaur), Woo (a blue King Kong-like ape), Poison Ghost (a creature made of toxic waste like Hydorah), Rocky (who is… umm… a rocky creature), Beetle Mania (a large Megalon-like beetle), and Astro Guy (a courageous Ultraman-like superhero). Any of them can be selected and all are fought twice (including your own character) before the game is finished. Their repertoire of moves doesn’t vary much from one to another, although they do have special moves of course, and they’re also taken from the world of wrestling which means many suplexes, throws, gorilla presses, DDT’s, pile-drivers, and some close-quarters grappling and even biting! It’s possible to pin your opponent (in some humiliating ways, obviously – see blue ape oaf below) any time you knock them down but it’s probably best to beat the crap out of them sufficiently first. If they’re weak enough, your ‘cover’ may result in a three-count and victory.
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And that’s pretty much it! One-on-one fighting games have become rather convoluted in recent years in my opinion but King of the Monsters is the opposite. Is that a good thing? Well, it could certainly do with having a bit more to it – some additional fighters at least, and perhaps also the ability to use the surrounding buildings as weapons – but its simplicity also works in its favour in some ways. The graphics and music are quite pleasing for an early Neo Geo title too. The tunes have an air of disaster about them and the monsters all screech/roar appropriately enough. They are also just the right size have some nice animations, and the attention to detail on the cities is superb. In classic B-movie style, the players are attacked by various human vehicles like tanks and boats during play and these can be picked up and thrown. Control of your chosen monster seems pretty good for the most part. Each has two attack buttons and a run button, although it often seems a bit hit and miss as to whether a strike/move is effective or not, but each one needs to count as your character is not restored to full power for the next match which can mean a very rapid defeat.
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And therein lies both the appeal and problem with King of the Monsters. It’s simple, even for a fighting game, and is very much an arcade game in the traditional sense – it provides a lot of fun and laughs in five or ten minute bursts but little beyond that. That’s to be expected of an arcade game but the Neo Geo home versions haven’t been enhanced in any way and the MegaDrive and SNES conversions even lose two characters! It certainly is an appealing game though, initially at least, and that appeal is heightened when a second player is added who, splendidly, you can choose to either fight against or alongside you against two CPU monsters! You’ll also likely find much to appreciate here if you’re a fan of the old Japanese films from which the game takes its inspiration. If giant rubbery monsters don’t do it for you though, you’ll probably lose interest fairly quickly. It’s a fantastic premise with some great ideas and there are few fighting games like it, I just wish there was a bit more to it.

RKS Score: 7/10

Metal Slug: 1st Mission

Metal Slug - 1st mission

Format- Neo Geo Pocket Color

Genre- 2d platformer/shooter

Although i’m not the biggest fan of rock hard shooters in general, the Metal Slug series is a major exception to that rule.

Metal Slug - 1st mission

For the most part they’re incredibly slick and superb looking action titles, with explosions and bullets flying all over the place. The character and vehicle animations are just another bonus –  Metal Slug is the only game i’ve found that’s made a tank adorable.

I can usual overlook the difficulty of the games as well, due to their arcade infinite lives sensibilities.

So you might imagine that a Neo Geo Pocket game would be a rather pointless venture. Lacking home console/arcade machine style power, the game’s graphics would be blunted and the game would be nothing more than a muted mess.

Metal Slug - 1st mission

I like 1st Mission though. It gets a fair bit of stick for being a underwhelming entry in the series by many, good for the NGP but little else.

It’s better than that though. The game still retains the basic thrill of spraying loads of ammo across the screen, with the bullets rotating to give a quite cool off-the-cuff nature to the game.

Enemies are still animated enough to be amusing, and the levels are a fairly varied bunch, with vehicle missions thrown in at regular intervals.

Metal Slug - 1st mission

In fact the game’s main problem is how it structures its levels. Various circumstances (usually involving dying at a certain point) can leave you in random levels over and over again, such as the jail stage.

Level progression is not set along a linear path, and although this might be an interesting concept for a home console iteration, here it just feels frustrating. Especially as I only pick up and play it every now and then – it’s not a structure that’s ideal for a portable system.

Still, this is one of my favorite NGPC games, although I haven’t yet played the sequel. That will be rectified soon enough though. Another bonus for potential buyers of 1st Mission is that it is one of the easiest and cheaper titles available on SNK’s admirable portable system.

Neo Drift Out

Neo Drift Out (1996)
By: Visco Corp  Genre: Overhead Racing  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: SNK Neo Geo MVS
Also Available For: Neo Geo AES & CD, Arcade (variation)

Neo Drift Out - Gameplay Screenshot

From around the early to mid-90’s the stagnating genre of overhead racing games suddenly saw something of a revival when lots of rally-based variations started appearing. Many companies made offerings but credit for this sub-genre can largely be given to Visco Corp. Their 1991 game, Drift Out, though frustrating and tricky to play, was one of the first games of this type and swapped the traditional overhead racing game viewpoint for a zoomed-in perspective which allowed for much more detail and longer, more complex courses. It wasn’t hugely successful but sufficiently so to give rise to two sequels. The first of these had the superb idea of shifting the viewpoint further still to an angled-overhead perspective and the game was much better as a result but it still had its problems. I’m hoping this sequel, using Neo Geo hardware, would attend to them.

Neo Drift Out - Gameplay Screenshot

One of the additions Drift Out 94 made to the original game was the inclusion of an official license for the available cars. While this game retains that license it unfortunately has fewer cars to choose from with your options being limited to the good old Evo, Impreza, and Celica. Each of them differs with regards to their speed, control, and body but it doesn’t really make a dramatic difference which one you go for. After you’ve selected a car you’ll get a short practise stage to race on before beginning the game proper. There are six courses in all – European, African, Snow, Southern Hemisphere, Scandinavia, and Great Britain – and they’re set over the kind of terrains you might expect to find – tarmac, gravel, dirt, snow/ice, and sand.

Neo Drift Out - Gameplay Screenshot

As with the prequel, each course has to be completed within a pretty strict time limit in order to qualify for the next one and they are arguably more testing than before too with regard to the sheer frequency of harsh corners. It seems every other turn here is a hairpin, right-angle, or chicane, and there are numerous short-cuts and obstacles as well. For example, the snow stage features slippy ice patches and course-encroaching snow drifts! Fortunately your car is more than sufficient for power-sliding around most of them, but impact with any obstacles or trackside objects knocks it around costing you speed and therefore time. Luckily nothing effects it too severely though. Much like real rallying, you’re racing against the clock rather than other cars directly but it is possible to catch up other racers (or be overtaken) if you’re good (or bad) enough!

Neo Drift Out - Gameplay Screenshot

The first Drift Out was fairly innovative for its time but it did have pretty frustrating gameplay. Luckily Drift Out ’94 did a lot to improve the basic formula of its predecessor but both were memory tests, and that remains the case with this Neo Geo update. That’s about all it is too, really – an update. Graphically things haven’t changed much, for one thing. In fact, I think I’d even say that the last game has slightly superior visuals to this one but there’s really not much in it. The previous game has a little more detail in its scenery but this game is noticeably faster which actually doesn’t make it more difficult, surprisingly, since the course designs here are a little more straightforward. The short cuts add some variety to each race too, but the accompanying music and sound effects are nothing special once again. Neo Drift Out is basically a faster version of Drift Out ’94 with less cars but different, and slightly less-confusing course designs, which basically means it rectifies none of its predecessors faults but creates no more either. It’s great fun though and is probably the most playable of the three Drift Out games, but not by enough to get an extra point!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d50YE00hO98[/youtube]

Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order (1994)
By: Visco Corp  Genre: Overhead Racing  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: Neo Geo (variation)

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

As far as my memory is concerned at least, the original Drift Out was something of an inconspicuous entry in the overhead racing genre, so considering how little-known it apparently was, I was surprised to find that it’s actually got a sequel! Like the first game, which has a SNES game based on it, Drift Out ’94 was also exclusive to the arcades but also received a modified home conversion in Neo Drift Out for the NeoGeo. Whilst similar, they are different games, and we’ll look at SNK’s game in a later post, but both are pretty similar to the first game except for one big difference – instead of the direct overhead view used before, Visco Corp have instead shifted the perspective to an angled overhead one.
Aside from the change in viewpoint there’s actually very little difference between the games though. There’s a similar roster of cars available here (although it seems Visco acquired an official license in the interim as the cars all have their proper names now), such as the usual Impreza, Evo, Celica, Lancia’s, etc. Sadly the Sierra doesn’t return but to make up for it they’ve included a Mini! Anyway, once you’ve chosen a car you’ll start your first race which must be completed within a set time limit. The more time you can finish inside the limit by, the better your final position will be, but if you don’t even manage to finish inside the specified time at all, the game is over! As before, you don’t start the race at the same time as your rivals but if you’re good/bad enough, you will encounter other cars on the road here and there.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

Alas, as was the case with Drift Out, the game doesn’t let you select a course before-hand. It instead attempts to emulate a real WRC season by forcing you to earn your progress from country to country, with points awarded depending on your finishing position. Whilst this does promote a great sense of satisfaction at doing well and getting to see the later stages, all but the most determined of gamers probably won’t get to see them. The courses here look really nice though, so the urge to do well enough to see them all is certainly there. Whilst not particularly amazing from a technical point of view (most gamers were orgasming over polygon graphics by this point), the stages still look really nice. The cars all look realistic enough but the backgrounds are more impressive. They are full of detail and, since they span many countries around the world, they are nicely varied too, from mud, tarmac, gravel, desert, snow, and near enough anything else you could think of!

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

There’s also some nice effects such as the dust thrown up by your car on the desert courses and huge skidmarks (snigger) left on the tarmac sections, and the sound effects, whilst less realistic than in the first game, are at least in sync with your driving this time. The navigator’s voice is a little odd though, I’m not sure what he’s saying half the time! The music isn’t especially memorable but is suitable upbeat and suits the urgency of the game well. And urgent it is for the most part too! The courses are nice to look at but most of them are tricky to navigate, with each one featuring sharp hairpin turns, chicanes, narrower sections of road, jumps, obstacles (including parked cars of all things), and even multiple routes, with one route predictably being a bigger pain in the arse than the other.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

The biggest problem with the first Drift Out was how frustrating it was – the ease and frequency of getting stuck behind roadside objects, for example. Drift Out ’94 rectifies this and some more of it predecessors flaws, but it’s still not perfect and remains something of a memory test – you’re unlikely to perform well on your first attempt at a course. However, I suppose that’s the idea of an arcade game – to get as much of your cash as possible whilst keeping you wanting to offer it! In that regard, Drift Out ’94 is a success – it’s certainly more enjoyable to play than the first game and, whilst it does look prettier, this is largely afforded by the new viewpoint which suits the game much more and allows for more detail in the cars and scenery. Overall, this pretty much does what a good sequel should do and improves on its forebear in just about every way. It’s still a little frustrating but is also very addictive and great fun. Well worth a burn now and then!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuaZQMuWMts[/youtube]

RKS Score: 7/10

3 Count Bout

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Our Classic video of the day is from the SNK game, 3 Count Bout. The game was original titled Fire Suplex in Japan and was a wrestling game for the Neo Geo system. As you can see in the video the game has over the top characters and fighting moves, but is a pretty fun game. It has your standard SNK fighting game flair and can be a challenge on higher levels.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbAKxRAD0jA[/youtube]

The game was released in 1993 and featured single, two player and even co-op.

GunLord Relaunch

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Coming soon for the Sega Dreamcast is the classic platform shooter GunLord. GunLord is a Eurostyle Platformer with emphasis on exploring huge worlds and blasting off enemies. This game features 8 stages of exciting 2D game play with over 45 unique enemy types. Blast yourself through giant landscapes, explore caverns and reveal all secrets!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HohDEQpIRMw[/youtube]

The game features:

8 Huge Stages

16-bit Hand-drawn Graphics

Non-linear action with 8-way scrolling

Big Bad Boss Enemies

Constant 60 fps

Internet Ranking via Code

L1 Boss (Ludger)

You can preorder GunLord for the following systems:

Sega Dreamcast

Neo Geo MVS

Neo Geo AES

SNK : NEO GEO Downloads

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SNK Playmore USA has released three more classic games on the Playstation 3 network including:

ALPHA MISSION 

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Pilot the fighter ship SYD and attack both air & ground based enemy targets, collect power-ups and defeat the bosses in this 1985 precursor to the early NEOGEO era sequel! The fate of Earth rests in your hands!

T.N.K. III

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Play as Colonel Ralf, maneuvering your tank and firing its machine guns and cannon. Destroy the enemy army in this arcade classic originally released in 1985, featuring revolutionary controls for its time!

VANGUARD II

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Destroy hostile enemies and their massive base in this innovative sequel to the arcade hit!

Each game costs 2.99. For more information check out their official website.

Robo Army

Robot Army - SNK - Gameplay Screenshot

Robo Army (1991)
By: SNK  Genre: Scrolling Fighting  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: SNK Neo Geo MVS First Day Score: 10,500
Also Available For: Neo Geo AES & CD

Ask most people what kind of game they associate with the mighty Neo Geo and most will undoubtedly say one-on-one fighting games. This is understandable since the machine is positively flooded by games of this type, and mostly good ones too, but what of scrolling fighting games? Well, unknown by me until recently, there is one that goes back just about as far as the Neo Geo itself does! The moment of revelation for me came at the recent R3Play Gaming Expo in Blackpool where my friend Rich and I discovered the only AES at the show was running a game of the type in question. So, I’d discovered its existence, but the fighting game pedigree of the host console gave it a lot to live up to. Is the system as adept at the scrolling variety of fighting games?
Robot Army - SNK - Gameplay Screenshot

The first thing I noticed about Robo Army, which shouldn’t have been surprising given its name, is that there’s nary a Human in sight! Apparently a ‘mad scientist’ has decided to create an army of robots to destroy the city, capture all the citizens, and use their brains for more robots to take over the world. The fact that the only Human’s in the game seem to be scantily-clad girlies in prison would seem to suggest he’s been at least partially successful too. Eeek! All is not lost though, as you and a friend can help to save these girlies, and indeed the rest of mankind, by assuming control of a pair of cybernetic soldiers, Maxima and Captain Rocky, and punching the crap out of all the stupid robots that stand between you and the ‘mad scientist’!
Robot Army - SNK - Gameplay Screenshot

The distance in question spans six ‘areas’ and includes such locales as a jungle, city streets, a factory, and of course the main enemy stronghold. Populating all of these areas are robots of various kinds comprising the ‘army’ of the title. Some of them are mere drones but there are several special kinds too, including mid-bosses, and even some robotic birds and dogs and other animals. Progression to the next area is guarded by a robotic boss, often a larger version of one of the animal robots. The heroic soldiers have a few attack moves to see off the invading hordes though, including punches, reverse kicks and flying kicks, and they can pick up things to throw at their attackers such as barrels and even vehicles! They can use the limbs of defeated robots as clubs too, and there are also power-up icons to be found periodically. Most of these build up your ‘special attack’ power (which damages or destroys all on-screen enemies) but there’s another which transforms you into an invincible armoured car for a short while!
Robot Army - SNK - Gameplay Screenshot

Aside from the awful title screen (see above!), the presentation and graphics are pretty decent here for an early Neo Geo game. There are some cut-scenes between levels (which I’m afraid I can’t follow as I have the Japanese version of the game!), the sprites are big and nicely drawn, and the backgrounds are packed with detail for the most part and feature nice use of colours. The only problem is the lack of variety. Despite being set in pretty diverse locations, most of the levels have a very similar feel to them. The only moment in the game where it seems like the designers are trying to mix it up a bit is the rope section where you must climb down the screen whilst attempting to see off the many foes at the same time. The same can be said for the sprites really. As you play through the six levels you will encounter new ones but a majority feature little variation besides their torso colour, although they do all explode satisfyingly when beaten!
Robot Army - SNK - Gameplay Screenshot

I guess you could say that’s the only major problem the game has – it’s very repetitive. Control over your cyborg feels a bit clunky but it’s pretty good for the most part and the music, whilst fairly average in itself, helps to keep things lively – the sound effects in particular are good, with lots of nice metallic clanging noises. None of this does much to diversify the gameplay though. Your cyborg soldiers are pretty limited as far as their repertoire of moves is concerned and considering the number of buttons available on Neo Geo systems, there’s not much excuse really. If they at least had a decent selection of attacks it might help you to overlook the repetitive levels and enemies, but alas, there are few. Robo Army is great fun when played with a friend though, and I suspect it was designed with this in mind. With a few more coats of polish this could’ve been a cracker but as it stands it’s merely average.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNhDgxZCna0[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

8 more classic SNK games now available

NeogeoStation_logo

8 more classic SNK games now available

The Playstation store is really upping its classic gaming cred. Available now you can download 8 pre-NEO GEO arcade classics which include:

OZMA WARS
Fight against UFOs, meteors, comets, and dock with the mothership before your energy runs out in SNK’s first arcade game originally released in 1979. Ozma Wars stands out as the second released vertical shooting arcade game, but is also known as the first game with disparate levels!

SASUKE vs COMMANDER
Play as Sasuke, who must protect the Shogun from Ninja in this 1980 classic arcade “gallery shooter”, one of the first games to feature bosses!

VANGUARD
VANGUARD, famous for being one of the first scrolling shooters ever made, was originally released in 1981. Shoot your enemies in all four directions or get an energy pod and ram them in this classic arcade game!

MARVIN’S MAZE
Help Marvin defend his Maze from the terrible Robonoids in this cute and addictive arcade puzzle-action game, originally released in 1983.

HAL 21
As Captain Clain, attack enemies in the air and bomb ground targets on your way to the boss in this classic shooting title originally released in 1985.

ATHENA
Join Athena, Princess of the Kingdom of Victory as she opens the “Forbidden Door” and descends into a world of fantasy in this classic platform arcade game originally released in 1986.

IKARI WARRIORS

As colonel turned mercenary Ralf, use your machine gun, grenades, and jump in tanks to defeat countless foes. Infiltrate the enemy base and complete your mission in this ’80s run-and-gun mega-hit 

GUERRILLA WAR

Enter the jungle and ruined cities of a tropical island to overthrow its tyrannical dictator, and liberate the nation held in his grip. Don’t forget to rescue your captured comrades along the way! Hail the heroes of the Revolution!

All of these titles are only $2.99 on the PlayStation Store.

Neo Geo Station: Latest Release

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SNK Playmore has released two more games from its classic gaming library for the NEO Geo station on Playstation 3. Gamers will be able to play “THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95” and “BASEBALL STARS 2” as downloadable content.

NEOGEO Station” is a commemorative project that allows players to enjoy the many classic fighting, action, sports and other NEOGEO titles released after 1990, exclusively on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) systems. The first set of 10 titles, which included “METAL SLUG,” “SAMURAI SHODOWN,” and “THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’94,” were released on December 22, 2010. This time, two new titles have been released for a total of 12 titles.

THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NRO1bi7ScA[/youtube]

The legendary “SNK Dream Versus Battle” is back with this 2nd installment full of improvements! KOF’95 is the start of the “Orochi Saga,” a new story in which Kyo Kusanagi is the main protagonist. His sworn enemy, Iori Yagami, appears for the first time, so charismatic and stylish that he could overshadow Kyo Kusanagi!

BASEBALL STARS 2

This sports game recreates a powerful arcade-style baseball with over-the-top animations like bench-clearing brawls. With its “Auto Operation Mode” for beginners, magic “Power Bat Mode”, and the “Special Players” introduced by the team’s owner, BASEBALL STARS 2 is full of exciting moments.

Both of these titles are available today for $8.99 on the PS3 and $6.99 on the PSP.

Arcade Works: The Omega Entertainment Machine

Arcade Works - Omega Entertainment Machine

The Omega Entertainment Machine

While at E3 2011, we got a sneak peak at the Arcade Works Omega Entertainment Machine, which allows you to play Neo Geo MVS games without an arcade cabinet. Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Ari Schwartz about the Arcade Works, the Omega Entertainment Machine and classic gaming.

Can you tell us first off what is Arcade Works?

Ari Schwartz: Arcade Works is a company started by my colleague Quan Nguyen focused on retro gaming.  This means not only focusing on bringing retro hardware and accessories to the market to meet the needs of retro gamers who want to play on original or modified hardware, but bringing retro software and new retro-style software to the market. Essentially, we are a company focusing entirely on meeting the market for gamers who want to play 16-bit sprite-based games on old and new hardware.

How did Arcade Works get started?

Ari Schwartz: Arcade Works was started by Quan and myself basically over the Internet!  Quan and I were chatting on gchat, and he mentioned his plans for bringing a device to the market.  He said he was looking for someone to manage more day-to-day aspects on the operations side, and as I have significant experience with multinational corporations in project management, I came on board as a partner.  We’re sort of a garage start up without a garage!

What are your backgrounds as far as gaming and the industry?

Ari Schwartz: Quan is a software engineer with significant experience doing enthusiast products and modifying hardware at the enthusiast level.  He’s also been a gamer since he was a kid (we actually were friends since high school.)  I’ve been a gamer since I was 5, and Quan and I became friends over discussions about the old 16-bit Squaresoft RPGs like FF VI and Secret of Mana.  I actually work for a cellular carrier doing business development, with a strong focus on the mobile gaming market.

Now you premiered the Omega Entertainment Machine at E3 2011, can you tell us about it?

Ari Schwartz: The Omega Entertainment Machine is a consoleized– which means turning an arcade cabinet into a console, basically– version of the old Neo Geo MVS arcade cabinets.  We’ve put together a product where you either get to buy a fully assembled and ready-to-play console for $499, or a “take your own hardware and pop it in” plug and play kit for $299.  Our product requires no soldering or engineering skill to play MVS cartridges at home.

Arcade Works

For those who may not know can you tell us what a MVS system is?

Ari Schwartz: The MVS was SNK’s arcade cabinet for Neo-Geo games.  It was called “MVS” because it stood for “multi video system.”  If any of your readers have ever been to arcades and played Puzzle Bobble or Metal Slug in a cabinet, they may recall that there were usually multiple games selectable in the cabinet:  that was the MVS.  A lot of enthusiasts like the MVS because the cartridges are oftentimes many times cheaper than the AES (the Neo Geo console) cartridges, which can cost hundreds.

How will the instant access to MVS titles work?

Ari Schwartz: MVS cartridges are kind of nice as far as Neo-Geo gaming goes, because they’re relatively expensive.  Just a quick search on Google will often yield huge batches of games for as little as $10 (sometimes tier 1 titles, no less!)  The system will be just like playing on the AES (or an SNES/Genesis for that matter).  You’ll plug it in, switch it on, and go straight to your game.  No quarters necessary, either!

What MVS titles do you plan to have at first launch?

Ari Schwartz: At the moment we will have a limited supply of games available, and we encourage customers to ask us for a current list, which we will provide at any given moment.  We are still working on getting more titles in stock before we start advertising anything so we don’t disappoint anyone.

Can you tell us about the controller?

Ari Schwartz: As of this moment, we are not selling any controllers of our own make, but one really nice thing about our console is that the AES controllers will work right out of the box.  Plug any AES controller in, and you’ll be playing right away.  In the next few months, we will have a joystick on the market so that folks can have brand new hardware.

Can you give us a hint on pricing and when it might be released?

Ari Schwartz: We put the system up for sale officially today!  $299 for the do it yourself kit, and $499 for the full console, assembled and ready to play out of the box.   You can buy it at – http://arcadeworks.net/

What is your favorite classic system and game?

Ari Schwartz: I have to admit that I was a Nintendo fanboy back in my day.  My family never could afford to get me a Neo Geo (even though I really wanted one!), so I had to settle for an SNES after my NES.  However, I was a huge RPG gamer, and I had a big love of those classic Squaresoft RPGs.  The game I probably played the most was Chrono Trigger.  I hit that New Game + button so many times that I had a party of characters will all level 99. 

How important would you say Retro gaming is today?

Ari Schwartz: Retro gaming is incredibly important today.  There’s a huge market of underserved retro gamers who are not looking for the next Call of Duty.  Maybe they don’t want to deal with playing online, or they just want something less involved.  Whatever the case is, they’ve basically been disenfranchised by the extreme focus on huge titles.  This makes sense of course for the big studios, who need to target large audiences, but that still leaves a market unfulfilled.  I also find it interesting how many titles today are being advertised as “old school” or “retro-style,” but still have 3D graphics.  Companies almost seem afraid to try to make a good 2D game.  I suspect this is part of why iOS gaming has been so tremendously successful, beyond the prices of software.

One thing that strikes me about a lot of old 2D games is their sheer replayability.  While games like Crash Bandicoot or Tomb Raider feel awfully outdated and hard to play today, people can sit down and play SMB or Zelda and it feels as good as it did in the 80s.  Those games are still in many ways the template by which we think of games today.  An analogy might be Citizen Kane:  while a movie like Avatar is technically more impressive on every level, we still study Citizen Kane because it tells us what movies can be at their core, which is damn good entertainment.  That’s how I think of retro games.

 

E3 2011: Classic Gaming Museum

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

My eyes lit up like a LED screen when I came across this section at E3 2011. Normally, there would be a small section with a few games, but this place was huge. On the back wall were a ton of classic video games from Dig Dug to Killer Instinct and a few even broke down so you know they were authentic.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

They had what I called a 80’s living room complete with a couch, a radiation level 6 television and an Atari 2600 and best of all you could sit down and play. Now, while I was still just a baby when the 2600 launched I remember setups that looked exactly like this.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

There were a ton of classic game systems, add-ons and games spread out for display. I recognized many of the systems, but there were a number I did not recognize. I was totally shocked by how huge the cartridge was for Metal Slug. We met a couple of guys from SNK there and they were totally cool so watch for some articles about them coming soon.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

Not only did they have the boxes and items to view there were many classic game systems setup that you could play for yourself including an Atari 2600, N64, Sega Master System and Intelivision and more.

What classic gaming museum exhibit would complete without music. There were two different bands there that played classic music. We were able to record a bit from 8-bit weapon, a duo that plays classic music from Commodore 64, Gameboy and more.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM1bmLk5zLI[/youtube]

All in all it was great to see classic gaming displayed in such a way at E3 2011 and we hope we will see more in the future.

Check out all our E3 pictures on our Facebook page.

 

Games to Buy: December: Week 3

Sony PSP
Sony PSP

I am going to name this report turn-back Tuesday because there are a number of retro games being released. So, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is these classic games are awesome, the bad news is you will have to have a PSP to play them. Ah, the PSP, it’s like the ugly daughter of a billionaire. You don’t want to take her out, but if you do you get to drive the Mercedes.

As a boycott all the videos will be from the original games.

Metal Slug

The ultimate in slide scrolling shooters, if you haven’t played this on an emulator go do so now. This is one of those games you can play over and over forever. It’s you, the lone wolf with an arsenal of weapons from machine guns, to flamethrowers to tanks, against a horde of bad guys. This game is fast paced with great graphics and music and it is hard as well.

Art of Fighting

This title shows its age a bit more than other Neo Geo games. It’s really like a mix between Street Fighter and Final Fight in the way the characters move along with the backgrounds. Having the ability to move back and forward added an interesting dynamic to the game. One thing I personally thought this game suffered from was the cheap combos some characters could use, but honestly if you are good you can overcome them.

Fatal Fury

SNK, that is pretty much all you need to know. This is yet another great fighter from the Neo Geo that is more geared to counters than most other fighters. There are a lot of great fighters in Fatal Fury and learning all their combos is the key to winning, but with almost all fighters from SNK there are some shoe in characters that will just own you with a few moves. The graphics and sound isn’t as high end as other Neo Geo titles, but the moves were pretty fluid for the time. As for the music, not personally my favorite soundtrack, but they did a decent job.

Samurai Shodown

Another awesome fighter from the Neo Geo. Samurai Shodown is all about the art of the weapon and it allows players to pick a character based on their play-style. If you love to attack from far you can pick a character with a longer sword or a ranged attack like that damn bird that owns me. Like in Art of Fighting you can move forward and backward as well as side to side in order to better setup your attack. Graphic wise it is a little cleaning and clearer than Fatal Fury and the soundtrack is more slated to the time period. Samurai Shodown is one of the best weapon fighters of all time.

The King of Fighters ’94

Rounding out the Neo Geo flashback is King of Fighters where here you pick teams of three and represent your country in team based fighting. The King of Fighters takes characters from various SNK game including pre-NEO GEO ones and allows you to battle it out. The gameplay is the same as Fatal Fury or Art of Fighting as far as controls and combos. However the Team Battle System is what makes KOF so cool.

PSP or Emulator….

Look, sure you could go and get a ton of emulators that could play these games. In fact you could even mod your PSP in order to play these very games emulated, but you wouldn’t want to do that would you? I didn’t think so, see you next time.

Neo Geo CD

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Neo Geo CD

If you knew anyone with a Neo Geo you most likely hated them because they were either really rich or very spoiled or both. Finding someone with the original Neo Geo was like finding someone with a fully working Optimus Prime transformer in its original die-cast metal with all its parts. We all know owning the system was expensive and because of this many of us did not own one the same happened in Japan which is why in 1994 the Neo Geo CD was released.

Neo Geo CD

Made by SNK the Neo Geo CD was to be the answer to the high cost while still providing the awesome games everyone wanted to play. Priced around $300 it will still a hefty cost at the time, but with games only costing around $50 it was much more in line with other console gaming prices.

The main problem with the Neo Geo CD was by the time it was released everyone was already playing either their Sega or Nintendo. In addition the CD was slow, at 1X the load times for games were painfully long. A bright spot for the NGC was the commercials which Americans did not get to see including this one which featured a couple fighting over who would play the game. Finally when both were able to play the woman “distracts” the man in order to beat him in the game, but honestly would you consider him a loser?