Times change, and the games do too. However, there are key titles that have been able to survive without an issue. Whether it’s visiting an arcade, wiping-off a cartridge, playing a digital throwback, the classics aren’t going anywhere.
The Japanese have a long history of developing great games, franchises, and consoles, but they also have an even longer history of great warriors, and since the modern technology of gaming and the desire to live the virtual versions of old fantasies often collide, gaming has its share of great samurai warriors.
In researching this article, I actually found that at least as far as I can see, gaming possesses more ninja or shinobi warriors and stealth fighters than it does actual, traditional samurai. Just as a basic distinction, despite what shows up in games, a samurai was a servant to a specific warlord with a rigid, direct code of honor, whereas ninja were more free agents that operated based on who was paying the most, and usually worked from the shadows and disguises. I tried my best to include characters that fit what I felt is the historical definition of the samurai the most, and the characters of this type that stood out.
5. Baiken (Guilty Gear series)
The only female on this list and probably the least conventional, Baiken is from the sci-fi world of the Guilty Gear series, set far in the future instead of ancient Japan. Although there were never any women samurai in real life, Baiken embodies the fighting spirit of the samurai to a tee, fighting a host of superpowered beings and people with advanced technology with nothing but her trusty katana and a few other secret weapons, all with the disadvantage of having one eye and one arm. Baiken is a clever and relentless warrior, who doesn’t get put off or startled no matter how powerful or freakish her opponent is, a true trait of the samurai. One of Baiken’s win quotes completely sums up her attitude: “What? You want me to pity you? That’s no way to live your life.” She doesn’t expect sympathy for her rough life and wouldn’t give any in the heart of battle either, the samurai mindset.
4. Yukimura Sanada (Samurai Warriors, Sengoku Basara and others)
Yukimura is the only character on my list that is directly based, and not just inspired by, an actual historical samurai warrior. He was a famous soldier that even has a statue dedicated to him in Japan in present day. He has been featured in a number of historical games aside from Koei’s Samurai Warriors, such as Toukiden: Age of Demons, and also a few games you might not expect like Pokemon Conquest. I chose him based off his appearance in the Samurai Warriors games, where is a prominent, balanced character that appears on most of the box art and is something of the series mascot.
Most people associate the samurai with the famous katana sword, however in real large-scale battles on the field, it was more common for samurai to use bow and arrow, or long melee weapons like Yukimura’s Yari, an ancient spear/trident that infantrymen would use in huge ranks against the enemy’s forces. I chose Yukimura because he is also one of the only characters that actually has a master and isn’t a Ronin, making him a totally legitimate, employed samurai who embodies many of the codes and edicts of Bushido, the way of the warrior. In question as to why not surrender a battle where his clan didn’t look like they were going to win, Yukimura said: “Because we are warriors, we live by the sword in service of our clan. That is the way of the samurai. We fight solely to carry out the orders assigned to us by our lord.” Few words could embody the spirit of Bushido more.
3. Mitsurugi (Soul Series)
Mitsurugi has been one of the prominent, main characters of Namco’s Soul series going back to Soul Edge. Mitsurugi is a strong and direct fighter, consistently being placed at high or mid-tier by Soul series veterans. His masterful use of the katana makes us all feel that when playing as him, we’re embodying the samurai heroes of cinema, bold and strong, with no deception in any of his movements. Although Mitsurugi is a Ronin, a masterless samurai, he has the desire to constantly improve and become stronger, a true trait of a samurai warrior, master or not. He seeks the Soul Edge and Soul Calibur weapons through various points of the series, but eventually reaches the conclusion that the strength of a weapon is nothing compared to those who wield it.
2. Haohmaru (Samurai Shodown)
Haohmaru is another Ronin, but an iconic and classic gaming character, having starred in every one of SNK’s Samura Shodown games, and crossovers like Neo Geo Battle Coliseum and Capcom vs SNK 2. Haohmaru is based off the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, who throughout much of his life was also a wandering warrior like Haohmaru, and said to never have lost a duel. Haohmaru is the most veteran character appearing on our list, a recognizable hero since the original Samurai Shodown in 1993, appearing in almost 20 games, in more aged depictions of the warrior, such as in Samurai Shodown: Warrior’s Rage, we see that as he’s gotten older, Haohmaru trades in his recklessness for wisdom and keen observation about life and his opponents, another way in which he mirrors his historical inspiration, and shows the wisdom component of the samurai way.
1. Samanosuke Akechi (Onimusha)
I picked Samanosuke from the Onimusha series as our number one, because not only is he an iconic and recognizable character from the series, but he has a mix of all the other great qualities of the other characters on this list. Being inspired by Mistuhide Akechi, Samanosuke does indeed have some historical representation, and at the start of the Onimusha games, he is employed by the Saito clan, giving him a master that he serves, and he also eventually follows his own path and seeks to improve himself, ultimately ending up as a wise monk-like warrior in Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams. Samanosuke has all the qualities and more that make a great samurai, and consistently manages to sacrifice himself no matter the cost and no matter the odds.
In addition to his loyalty and excellent character traits, as a martial artist and warrior, he has more varied and comprehensive skills than any other character on this list, having been seen in the Onimusha series using staff, spear, single and double swords, bow and arrows, and even a matchlock rifle, which were all historical weapons of the samurai. Samanosuke also shows himself to be a skilled horseman. In the feudal era, it was very important that a high-ranking warrior have these skills down to a science, and despite being one of the most fantasy based characters on the list, it’s the essence of Samanosuke, his character, that makes him my pick for the top samurai in gaming.
A year after ‘NBA Jam’ released, the Data East developed ‘Street Slam’ made its way to the arcade scene. Instead of Jam’s 2 on 2 sanctioned competition, we’ve been bumped up to 3 on 3 play. Gameplay never slows down despite the extra players. The pace this constantly maintains, is a testament to the Neo Geo’s power. All the moves are very easy to do, yet efficient. No juke moves, but there’s plenty of tactics which really work. Pump fake your jump shots, cancel dunks, and perform alley oops.
The game makes it all look smooth. Scoring 4 baskets during a half fills your shot meter. Once full, players can land a unblockable dunk or perfect long-range shot. The super dunks are fantastic. One player launched himself in the air spinning with electricity around him (blanka style), then following it up with the jam. There is more slam dunks to see, and all of which are satisfying. You can’t punch people in the face like ‘Arch Rivals’, but elbow shoving is allowed. This is the games ‘steal’ feature. Get used to the computer spamming it when the game is near its end.
The soundtrack is hilarious retro magic. Some of the tunes are “head bumpingly” awesome. Seriously I would absolutely play this music in my vehicle no questions asked. Sharp sprites on the court and in the background. Some levels feature a lot of background NPC’s all of whom look great. It’s the little touches that add to the experience. If you win on a particular stage, a lady will come up and kiss you on the cheek, while another level has a dog running around the team in excitement. Another court features a live rap performance while you play, and a DJ spinning the Vinyl.
Team attributes are similar to NBA squads of the 90’s. Chicago will have a more balanced crew overall, while team Detroit specializes in lock down defense. My major complaint is that you cannot manually change players on defense. The computer chooses for you. This leads to plenty of opportunities in which the opponent will plow down the court unguarded. Games are usually very close because of that fact. That can be a good thing or bad depending on how you look at it. Slam gives you four credits. The way to keep them, is to of course win the game, and at halftime keep up the lead. Even if your down a point (or tied up) at the half, you’ll lose a credit.
This Wii version is a complete arcade port. You’ll get to appreciate the fluid ballhandling motions of sprites and take in graphics that were stunningly superior to SNES and Genesis. This soundtrack represents everything great about hip hop and street ball in the 90’s. The AI will always give you a run for your money regardless of the difficulty it’s being played on. Two player mode will certainly provide a lot of fun at hangouts. Just another Neo Geo classic to add to the collection. A solid sports title that has style beyond belief.
If you are interested in collecting Neo Geo you are probably one of those people like myself who played Neo Geo in the arcades growing up and could never afford the home console. Or maybe you are a collector looking to expand your library of growing games. Unfortunately thing’s haven’t changed much since the 90’s and collecting Neo Geo home consoles and cartridges is still a very expensive hobby. Before you start collecting Neo Geo you need to ask yourself two questions.
1. Do you have an unlimited supply of money you are willing to spend on video games? If so then you can collect Neo Geo AES if you don’t mind spending a ridiculous amount of money on a single game almost every time.
2. Are you a average working class person, who maybe has a little extra money here and there to splurge on a game. If you answered yes to this question you are a Neo Geo MVS guy! You should look into getting a Neo Geo MVS setup to play arcade boards at home.
The Neo Geo MVS was the longest officially supported console of all time! Released in 1990 with a small library of games the final game Samurai Shodown V Special was released in 2004! And as the years went on the games got bigger, more polished, and better! There is a huge difference in quality between Fatal Fury and The Last Blade I and II. Just check out YouTube videos and see. Early games were of very small meg count. One of the first generation games Magician Lord clocked in at a measly 46 megs. Jump to 2003 and The King of Fighters 2003 clocked in at a whopping 716 megs or (89.5 MB)! To compare the largest Nintendo 64 game Resident Evil 2 had only only 512 megs or (64 MB)! That’s like comparing apples to oranges since the N64 had an amazing 3-D engine for the time, but to this day the Neo Geo is still a 2-D powerhouse capable of some 3-D games as seen in the impressive Viewpoint!
What does AES and MVS stand for?
So what is Neo Geo AES and Neo Geo MVS? We will start with AES. Neo Geo AES stands for Neo Geo Advanced Entertainmnet System. This is commonly called “Home cart” or “AES” for short. If you buy a Neo Geo home console you are collecting AES or Home Cartridge games when browsing online shops, or message boards where people sell Neo Geo stuff. Simply put, it is just the home retail version of the system that was released in the 90’s.
Neo Geo MVS stands for Neo Geo Multi Video System.. If you are collecting arcade cartridges that plug into an arcade board you are collecting “Neo Geo MVS” carts, or just “MVS” for short. Occasionally these will be labeled by people who sell lots of arcade supplies as Neo Geo PCB’s. The cool thing about Neo Geo in the arcades was that the system it used called the Multi Video System allowed you install up to 6 games on one machine! Hence the name the Multi Video System. There is a arcade board, commonly referred to as a “JAMMA Board” or “PCB” located inside the arcade cabinet that you just plug the cartridges into. Some of these boards even have controller sockets, headphone jacks, and memory card slots! This was revolutionary arcade technology at the time that allowed coin op arcade owners to have more games in one cabinet, thus raking in more cash with less space. It is also theorized that the MVS boards could have possibly been used as a home console, had the Neo sold more units, and that SNK was working on such a home console.
It is also worth mentioning there is a Neo Geo CD home console called Neo Geo CD or Neo Geo CDZ. CDZ is just a second revision of the original console with faster loading times. We will not really get into Neo Geo CD because personally I just don’t feel like Neo Geo CD is an authentic experience. I suggest sticking with AES or MVS. The CD system is pretty cool, and even had a few exclusive games, but the loading times are just so brutal you will literally spend more time loading than actually playing some of the games. We are talking minutes in some instances of loading and watching a screen. Also the CD controllers are hard to find and wear out quickly. The D-Pads fill up with all this dust from the plastic rubbing together. The D-Pads are amazing until they wear out, but they wear out fast. The controllers are also compatible with some of the Neo Geo MVS arcade boards, and all of the home consoles.
Advantages and disadvantages of collecting AES vs. MVS
There are a few disadvantages to collecting Neo Geo AES. The first is that AES collecting is just so damn expensive! I am talking literally thousands for some games, there are even people out there willing to pay over $50,000 for a single game! And yes games have sold for that much even recently. After collecting for a while you will collect all the cheap good games, but then you will have a list of games you want, and will become frustrated that every game you want costs over $350.00! For someone who is not rich AES collecting is just not even an option. You will want games like Garou Mark of the Wolves, and Metal Slug, and for the average working class person it just isn’t realistic to be able to obtain these games. The third disadvantage is that not every Neo Geo game was released on the home console. So if you want to play something like Gururin, or Super Dodge Ball you are going to have to pay money for an expensive conversion made from an arcade game, or for a expensive adaptor to play MVS games on a home console. People also make conversions of rare games and try and pass them off as authentic copies! So AES collecting can be scary if you are shelling out $3000 for a English copy of The King of Fighters 2000 on Ebay that might be a fake. There are some shady characters in the AES business you have to be very careful.
There are some advantages to collecting AES though. The main thing that draws AES to collectors is that the games have boxes and manuals and look slick! Some of the later titles with the snaplock cases are really nice. The games can easily be put on a bookshelf and look neat and organized. The second thing is that even though games are really expensive the initial cost of obtaining a home console is fairly cheap. There are a good amount of games in the $35.00 to $60.00 range to keep you busy for quite a while. AES collecting can be a good stepping stone to save up for a good MVS setup. Most Neo Geo collectors just dump their AES stuff on ebay, or the http://www.neo-geo.com forums when they have enough to purchase an arcade setup after selling them. Neo Geo products hold their value really well, so you can just buy an AES console and games as a way to save up for an arcade setup. I collected AES for about 2 years before selling my setup and scoring an Arcade Cabinet on Craig’s List. Best move I ever made!
As for the MVS the main disadvantage is that you will most likely spend more on the initial setup as opposed to AES. However, if you shop around you can score one for less, or only slightly more depending on the route you go. There are many different routes which we will cover shortly. The other disadvantage is that the games do not look as good as the AES counterparts. Normally all you get is a loose cartridge with a barely legible label, sometimes written in Japanese or Korean, English if you’re lucky. Sometimes the labels are missing completely, and replaced with obvious fake labels. It is also worth noting that every officially released game in cartridge format is available for MVS. So if you want to own every game for Neo Geo then you are set with the MVS route. Do note that there are a select few games released recently exclusively for AES. These are third party releases that generally companies make because they know Neo Geo collectors will pay anything for them. So don’t worry too much about those games unless you want to pay $800.00 for a unofficially released game.
You can also run into fake Neo Geo MVS cartridges as well just like with the AES games. These are commonly called “bootlegs” and sold on eBay so you have to learn how to spot them. Signing up on the neo-geo forums and asking the community is always a good option until you learn to spot them on your own. The best defense is to just buy from trusted sellers with high feedback on the Neo Geo forums, and trusted sellers on ebay. Again just ask on the forums who the good ebay sellers are. Yaton use to be a really good one. Bootleg cartridges are normally not marketed to make a profit, and are a lot of the time unknown even to the seller. Back in the day games would break, and the chips inside would be replaced to fix the game. A lot of the time these work great, but sometimes they can be glitchy. You can generally pick up these “boots” a lot cheaper so being in the know can save you money and frustration. If a game has a fake label that is a good indication it could be a fake but is not a determining factor. A lot of times the labels simply get wore out and replaced. To really know for sure you need to open the cart and make sure the game has authentic SNK and or Toshiba EEPROMS. So after buying on ebay this needs to be the first thing you do. If you open a cart and the EEPROMS have a small hole in them, or have holes covered with electrical tape then you have a boot for sure.
The main advantages of MVS collecting is that the games are much cheaper and readily available in most cases. MVS collecting is often referred to as “The Dark Side of Neo Geo collecting” because it is mostly games in gamer condition that are cheap and affordable. Very rarely does a loose MVS cartridge command a higher price than it’s AES counterpart. After you get the cash to afford a decent MVS setup you are pretty much set. The MVS setup will pay for its self when you decide to pick up Metal Slug on MVS for $45.00, as opposed to spending $2000.00 on the home cart version.
Choosing a setup:
First it is important to know that all Neo Geo games whether Japanese or English, or European are ALL compatible with with any Neo Geo system. So don’t think you need a English system to play English games, or that a Japanese game will not work on a English home system because they all will. The same goes for Arcade Cabinets. There is no region lock or modification needed whatsoever! No Exceptions! However, Home cartridge games will NOT work in a arcade cabinet and vise versa. The only exception is that you can get Arcade games to work on a home system with a special converter. Sadly there is no converter to play home cartridge games on a arcade.
If you decided on the Neo Geo AES setup above just get online, purchase a console, and a game or two and you’re done. AES collecting is easy but expensive. If you can find a console with a universe bios chip installed which we will cover later then go for it. These are on ebay on a daily basis and are a nice thing to have. Also most people prefer the old style arcade controllers. There are newer controllers commonly referred to as “kidney bean controllers” because they look like a kidney bean. I would suggest purchasing a console with 2 original style controllers.
Going MVS can be a bit trickier though. If you have room the ideal setup would be to get on craigs list and look for an arcade cabinet with at least 4 buttons. If you can score a Neo Geo arcade cabinet that would be ideal, and they are easy to find. Arcade cabinets are easy to work on as long as the monitor and wiring is good. So don’t be scared because a button or joystick is broken, that kind of stuff is a fast fix. You will most likely gain interested in other non Neo Geo related games in the future, as Neo Geo collecting is a gateway drug to Arcade JAMMA board collecting. So getting an arcade cabinet that is JAMMA wired can play almost any game ever made after the Pac Man era. If you live within driving distance of a major city just check the craig’s list postings daily, a Neo Geo cabinet will pop up. After you get an arcade cabinet if it does not have a Neo Geo motherboard you will need to locate one. These can be found easily online on eBay or http://www.neo-geo.com forums. Generally the ideal motherboard will be 4 slots with a socketed bios chip. Slots are just a easy way of saying cartridge slot. The Neo Geo motherboards come in 1,2,4, and 6 slot versions. I suggest going to http://www.hardmvs.com and reading about the motherboards to see what works best for you. I however highly suggest a 4 slot, or a 1 slot, with a socketed bios chip. Never buy a 6 slot board! They are too large and break easily. One final thing to mention is you need to make sure when buying a Neo Geo motherboard that it has the feet to support the board. You don’t want a board sitting on the ground. If not get online and pick up some PCB feet. I like to shop at http://www.therealbobroberts.net they are a very good seller. Also a lot of cabinets may need a little TLC on the control panel. Installing new joysticks, and buttons is very easy. The main seller in the USA is http://na.suzohapp.com/. They make the best American joysticks and buttons. I suggest convex buttons, as opposed to concave buttons. Convex buttons are rounded and concave are indented. There are two more options you have if you have no interest in owning a big arcade cabinet in your home.
The first is a handy little console called a “Super Gun”. These nice little devices allow you to play arcade JAMMA boards in the comfort of your home on a standard television. These are normally made by respectable, and sometimes not so respectable people online. So do some investigation work and if searching online forums ask for some references before purchasing. You can attempt to build one of these on your own there are quite a few guides online. Additionally there are also some retail sellers that sell SuperGun systems. One of the retail systems is called the Mas Supernova Arcade System. This company also made awesome arcade stick controllers for lots of different consoles. Sadly they shut down but you can still find their stuff popping up on eBay and video gaming forums. Here is a link explaining more what exactly a supergun is and some of the previous models manufactured in the past.
There is also another option if you want to play Neo Geo MVS carts. This is called a Consolodized MVS. A consolodized MVS is a Neo Geo MVS board from a arcade cabinet that is modified with usually S-Video or RGB output to play MVS games directly on a home television. I personally think a supergun is a better option, but if you want a Neo Geo exclusive console then the Consolodized MVS is a great option. Some of these are really well made with custom art and look amazing. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they make Componet or HDMI Super Guns and Consolodized MVS systems now.
Finally the last option is a hybrid option consisting of being able to play AES and MVS games. This is a really good option that lets you collect both versions of games but is rather expensive. You could probably just buy an arcade cabinet for the price you’re going to pay for this setup. You simply play home cartridge based games on your system as normal but to play MVS games on your console you buy a MVS adaptor. The adaptor simply plugs into you cartridge slot and you plug the MVS cart into it. Buyer beware though when it comes to these cartridges. There are a lot of these on the market and only a handful are of any quality. I will save you the time and point you to this thread for the Daedalus converter which as far as I know is the only converter with 100% compatibility. That is unheard of until this came out recently! I doubt these will be around forever so you may want to snag one sooner than later.
If you are a neat freak and can’t stand to have a bunch of dirty MVS games lying around your house, or if you are worried about your games getting dusty or damaged, then you’re in luck!
If MVS appeals to you, but you like having complete games, you can collect MVS kits which can be almost as expensive as AES collecting. Most of the later releases have matching serial numbers on the cartridge and cardboard kit box, and come with a mini marquee, and sometimes move stickers, random art papers, bubble wrap sack for the cartridge, and dip switch flyers. These are good for protecting the cartridges, and keeping things neat and orderly. This option mainly appeals to collectors with lots of money that could most likely afford AES collecting but are into the arcade scene. I personally just look for the loose cartridges with the mini marquee art to place on my arcade cabinet.
Another option is to purchase Big Bear Shockboxes. Big Bear Shockboxes are custom Vinyl cases designed by a member of the Neo-Geo forums called Big Bear. Shockboxes were designed to protect MVS game cartridges, and also to make them look like the AES games. People print out custom art inserts on high quality paper and place them in the Shockboxes to get an authentic looking AES feel, with a cheap MVS pricetag. These are out of production but can be found online with a little persistence. Most games have authentic inserts scanned from the original AES inserts, in high resolution PDF format online. I use the Shockboxes and I love them!
The Universe Bios Chip
The Universe bios chip is why I mentioned earlier to buy a motherboard with a socketed bios chip. With a socketed bios you can install your Universe Bios with only a flat head screwdriver. This is a really nifty chip that when plugged into your Neo Geo home System or MVS motherboard lets you do some amazing things. It was designed by another member of the neo-geo forums called Razoola. With the universe bios chip you can unlock the full potential of your games. Neo Geo MVS and AES cartridges have the exact content inside them, but depending on the region, or whether it is AES or MVS, content is locked out. The game content in say for example English Homecart Last Blade 2 is exactly the same as Japan Arcade Last Blade 2. But in English Last Blade 2 there would be no blood, but you would have a survival mode. In Japan Arcade Last Blade 2 you would have blood but no survival mode. So installing a universe bios will let you pick any region, and Home or Arcade format for that region, so you can have every version of the game released. It will even unlock boss characters in some games never even meant to be used, and game genie type stuff like extra lives, life, continues etc.. The Universe bios is a really handy tool that I highly recommend to get the most out of your Neo Geo collection.
This is the one stop spot for buying, selling, trading, and just talking about Neo Geo games. If you want a consolodized MVS, AES System, MVS Board, Arcade Cabinet, Neo Geo game, or Supergun system then this is the place to look. If you have a question about Neo Geo it will most like be answered here. The forums are also popular for just being active, and a lot of fun. If ever in doubt just ask in the forums and you will get an answer. Also a good place to ask if a game is a bootleg. The people here are experts at looking at ebay auctions and spotting fakes. They are also really good at defending members against scammers and will go above and beyond to take legal action against unruly members, and ebay auctioneers. I can not recommend the Neo forums enough. It is mandatory for a Neo Geo collector to join the forums.
Great website to read up on different revisions of Neo Geo arcade cabinets and motherboards. If you are interested in the Universe Bios chip by Razoola then there is a nifty chart that shows all the boards that have socketed bios chips so you can install your bios without soldering.
Here you can download high resolution PDF insert scans for use in Big Bear Shockboxes. Also you can just purchase inserts here and avoid going to kinkos and dealing with the clerks there because sometimes they will refuse to print them. The ones directly purchased from here are of exceptional quality and I highly recommend just buying directly. If you want the actual shockboxes you can look here, or search ebay auctions and the neo-geo forums as they are out of print. When looking for inserts on the website always print the ones that are Southtown certified. They fit the shockboxes perfectly. Other inserts will be a little too tall.
If you want a supergun system this is a good place to start. The buttons on these are higher quality than the English HAPP controls. I have only played on one of these a handful of times but they seem to be the highest quality manufactured supergun ever made. Alternatively you can search ebay or the Neo-Geo forums for users who may be selling a supergun, or this actual supergun. It may be better to google search then translate the page instead of using the link since it’s all in japanese.
Great place to buy anything arcade part related except for buttons and joysticks. Also have a good selection of converters to make classic PCB games JAMMA compatible. You wanna play Pac-Man, Galaga, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, or Donkey Kong on your new JAMMA arcade cabinet? Then Bob Roberts has you covered. They also sell Neo Geo MVS to JAMMA converters. Note that only a handful of Neo Geo PCB’s are NOT Jamma compatable. You need to chack Hard MVS and see because they may work on a JAMMA arcade cabinet but are a ticking time bomb. Go to http://www.hardmvs.com click PCB guide on the left and the harness type will say JAMMA or MVS. If MVS you will probably need a converter unless you have a dedicated Neo Geo cabinet of the exact model the board was designed to be used in. If unsure this is a question to ask in the forums.
This is another great forum for buying and selling video game related items. You can find some very rare stuff here that even doesn’t pop up on ebay often.
That about wraps it up for my in depth guide to Neo Geo collecting. I spent a lot of time working on this but I am sure I missed something. I am always available to answer questions. Even better the more knowledgeable fellas at the Neo forums are always around as well. So if you are looking to get into Neo Geo I hope this was a good article to get you headed in the right direction. I am by no means an expert on Neo Geo but I do know more than enough to help people out. I highly recommend when getting into Neo Geo to be smart about it. Do your research. Learn to spot shady sellers. And don’t be scared off by talk of JAMMA boards and PCB’s. Just remember a JAMMA board is basically a very large game like a Super Nintendo game without any plastic casing. And JAMMA is just one of the many systems. Before JAMMA every game had its own system. Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, and such were all arcade games but could not be changed from cabinet to cabiniet without re-wiring the whole cabinet. Then games moved forward to CPS1 (Capcom Play System), and games like Street Fighter II, Willow, and Ghosts ‘n Goblins were all of the CPS1 library and could be changed between other CPS1 cabinets. Then the wonderful world of JAMMA was introduced to do away with having to have a seperate cabinet for every game and is still the industry standard. All of your later systems use these pinouts CPS2, Taito F-3, Sega Naomi and Neo Geo, and hundreds more. A JAMMA arcade cabinet or supergun is a great thing to own because it opens up a library of thousands and thousands of games. As I depart I will leave you with a quick definition of JAMMA…
JAMMA – Japanese Amusement Machine Manufacturers’ Association
A trade association based in Japan; it also the namesake of a trade show hosted in Japan; additionally, JAMMA is a wiring standard for arcade machines that allows for interchangability of video game PCBs without having to re-wire the arcade machine.
Thank God for those guys! May the Schwartz be with you all!!!
One of my best memories growing up is staying at my aunt and cousins house every weekend with my mother. We would wake up every Saturday and they would drop me and my cousin off at Putt Golf and Games. They had a deal where you paid $5.00 and would get 100 tokens to play in the arcade. This was back in the early to mid 90’s when the American arcades were in full swing and always full of people. This was where I was turned onto Arcade gaming, and why I am still to this day keeping up with what arcade games are being released overseas. The first time I ever played Street Fighter, Final Fight, and Neo Geo was in the arcades. Those memories are also why I bought my own Neo Geo arcade cabinet and own a small collection of arcade JAMMA boards. So when the big boss KJ asked me to review Punisher on any console I choose, there was no thinking involved. The arcade version was the only option! Sadly enough I missed Punisher growing up, however, one of my close friends owned Punisher about a year ago and we played it on his candy cabinet. I am happy I got the chance to finally enjoy this game, write about it now, and share my thoughts with everyone out there curious if this title is worth your quarters. The Punisher was released in the arcades on Capcom’s CPS1 hardware. CPS1 stands for Capcom Play System and many titles were developed using this hardware including Street Fighter, Willow, and numerous other titles. CPS1 is a JAMMA board which means it will play in almost any arcade cabinet ever made past the early 90’s.
The Punisher is a side scroll beat em up game very similar to Final Fight. You control a character, in this case The Punisher, or classic Nick Fury complete with stogie, and traverse the city streets kicking and blasting thugs until your heart’s content. The game controls very simple. There are only 2 buttons, jump and attack. With those 2 buttons though you can do a lot. You have a few different combos, and throws, and you can even roll which is a very nice addition. You also have specials by pressing 2 buttons at once, jump kicks, sliding kicks, and a plethora of weapons you can grab and use. Most notable are guns which have a cool little comic book BLAM! text effect when fired. The controls are easy to learn with only a few problems. The first being to throw a grenade you have to jump and press jump and attack at the same time, and the second I am not sure if is technically a problem. It seem like you can only draw and fire your gun when other enemies have guns. Which was annoying. But I could have done it wrong. Other than those two little complaints everything seems pretty solid.
Punisher looks really good. The sprites are large and animated when standing still. You can see Punisher breathing, and Nick Fury’s cigar smoke. The boss characters also have their own animations which make them feel more alive. The breakable objects in-game also look good and about the same as in Final Fight. For the most part the animation seems pretty fluid and I can’t really complain. The backgrounds and landscape in the game I feel just look ok. I’m a big fan of detail in backgrounds and Punisher doesn’t have a ton of detail in the backgrounds. The issue I have with the landscapes is that they just didn’t have a Punisher feel to me. I would have preferred something a little more gritty and dark like night-time city streets, not trains and forests. Furthermore I feel like most of the stages were just taken right out of final fight. They look very similar. That doesn’t make the game bad, it just isn’t very creative.
The music in Punisher is ok. There are a few catchy tunes like in the boss fights. It’s just very fast paced electronic synth type stuff. The sound effects are a bit better than the music. You can hear the enemies grunt as they die, and the guns firing, and the objects in-game as they are destroyed. But again a lot of this just sounds like it came out of Final Fight.
The Punisher controls well. The action is fast and never-ending. Unlike most other Capcom beat em ups there is a bit more story here. You get a little piece of story after every stage with good-looking cutscenes. Also I really like there are more moves and weapons that are actually useful. In Final Fight a weapon was a death sentence. So useful weapons are a good addition. Seeing as how this is an arcade game there isn’t a ton of replay. This is the type of game you may play a few times in a year because it’s fast and fun. The best way to get your replay out of arcade games is to limit yourself in the number of credits you play. I never beat an arcade game unless I can do it on 4 quarters. That way you don’t beat the game and never play it again. After that I like to 1 Credit Complete the game (1CC) as you will see it on YouTube or online. Also it is always good when mastering these games to turn up the difficulty. That’s really the only way to get the most play out of these games. Limit your credits, and refrain from just beating them by powering through them with credits. You will enjoy them much more.
When reviewing beat em up games it is really hard to compare them to Final Fight. If you go and compare every beat em up to Final Fight you are going to be disappointed MOST of the time. However there are titles that can hold their own with Final Fight and I really think Punisher is one of them. It’s fast and full of action. It capitalized on a lot of Final Fights mistakes, namely having more moves, and better weapons with the addition of guns and blood!. Although I feel like a lot of the game was ripped directly from Final Fight, I guess if you’re going to recycle gameplay and sprites Final Fight is a good choice. Even though the music and backgrounds are not the greatest I still feel the game is pretty solid and worth anyones time. The only real problem I have with this game is it wasn’t dark enough, and that the characters with exception to the boss characters didn’t really fit in the game. There should have been better enemies in the game that tied in with the comics. When I fight ninjas and robots I don’t think Punisher. If the backgrounds had been better, the enemies changed, and just a bit better music this game would have had a near perfect score.
Welcome to Windjammers! The well known sport of competitive Frisbee disc throwing into soccer goals! This isn’t ultimate Frisbee though, so put your putters away. This is Pong on steroids all ramped up with special moves, dives, and lobs shots! I have no idea where Data East came up with the idea of this sort of game way back in the days of the good ol’ Neo Geo, but they we’re really on to something.
The goal of Windjammers is simple. You take 2 players on a court similar to beach volleyball, or a tennis court, and take turns throwing a frisbee at each other in an attempt to get it past your opponent to score some points. Depending on the court there’s obstacles that the disc can hit before reaching the goal to be stopped, and the goal is actually a wall that spans the length of the court and has separate areas for different point totals depending on where you hit. For example you may score just 2 points, or hit the small area and score 5 points. The matches are 30 seconds, and best 2 out of 3 or first to 15 points. The gameplay is fast and frantic with diving, lob-shots, special moves, and curve shots.
The music in Windjammers is not the greatest. But it’s really not hard on the ears either. You are normally so busy in the game that you don’t even notice it except during the character selection, and at the very end of a match. It is worth noting that the characters all have phrases they say during selection and while playing a match. This can be pretty funny at times and adds a little extra needed charm to the game. There’s really not a lot to say about the music except that the game shines in other areas. The graphics in Windjammers are really not the games strong point either. They are a bit choppy and clunky looking but get the job done. The sprites are quite large as you would expect from a Neo Geo title. I think anyone who picks up this game won’t really pay attention to them, because they will focused on the action.
The controls in Windjammers are simple. You use 2 buttons and a joystick. You can slide, throw a lob shot, throw a regular shot, or attempt to time it right and throw back a special shot after catching a disc. There are at least 2 special moves per character and they will perform a different special move depending on which button you mash the fastest after catching a shot just right. You can also add English to shots to fool your opponent into not catching the shot, This is by far the most difficult aspect of the game. I have been playing for years and I’m still uncertain exactly how this works. All I know is any roll of the arcade stick or D-Pad before a throw will do something. Using simple Street Fighter special moves like quarter circle forward, quarter circle back, and even stuff like quarter circle up or down will always put some new curve on the disc. Not only will your opponent have no idea where the disc is going you won’t either! The controls are easy to learn and can be picked up in a few matches. The only control issue I have is your character loves to dive when you simply want to quickly catch a disc and you end up getting scored on. Other than that they are on point.
Good ol’ gameplay. This is where games are made or broke. Happy to say Windjammers has all the gameplay you could ever wish for. The single player campaign against the computer can be hard a times, and there are some OK special bonus games, but where this game really gets it right is the 2 player battles. You can have some epic battles with real friends. Windjammers multiplayer is the type of game pretty much anyone can enjoy. All my friends play next gen consoles, but when they come over they always ask me to fire up the arcade cabinet and throw in Windjammers.
Out of all the 50+ games I have for Neo Geo, Windjammers is the only one they ever want to play. We argue about who gets to pick what character because they all have different speeds and power, and special shots. The matches get very frantic. You will constantly be put in positions where you have 10 seconds to score 11 points for the win, and where you just need that last point and try to throw in a lob shot to land on the ground for a single point for the victory. And it’s always very crazy when you throw out the special move, and your opponent catches it and shoots is back unexpected! I feel like Windjammers is a adrenaline junkies game. There is always something exciting going down, and as soon as the match is over you just want that rush again. The gameplay here is top notch when played with friends.
Windjammers is a fast paced frisbee tossing game with OK music, and average graphics, when compared to other Neo Geo games. The gameplay is fast, hectic, and addicting. The controls are simple and work just right. There is a small pool of characters to choose from with varying abilities, speeds, and power. In the rather small library Neo Geo has to offer that mainly consist of fighting games, Windjammers is a breath of fresh air. Not only on the Neo Geo, but on all consoles ever made, there is simply nothing else like Windjammers out there. There are Windjammers clones like Bang Bead, but nothing compares to Windjammers period!
As Summer comes to a close I find myself thinking of what I am going to do this Winter. Most likely i’ll hibernate in the homestead with plenty of hot beverages and video games. When I need a break from modern gaming, normally ill fire up my Neo Geo Arcade Cabinet. Magical Drop III, The Last Blade, Mark of the Wolves, Pulstar, Magician Lord, Windjammers, Metal Slug X, and basically any game in my collection I get an impulse to play. The great thing about arcade games is that you can play a bunch in a day, and feel like you’ve accomplished something. You can pump quarters into them and beat them all in a day, (or you can do like I do and) limit yourself to a 1 Credit Completion (1CC), or 4 quarters. The problem with arcade games though is that when you own a system like an arcade cabinet, or a supergun (a custom-built console to play arcade boards on you t.v.), you can’t lug that stuff to your friends houses. So I must say I am kind of pumped for the December 6, 2012 release of the NeoGeoX Gold console by Tommo Inc, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest consoles of all time, the Neo Geo AES (Advanced Entertainment System).
The NeoGeoX Gold is going to have a suggested MSRP of $199.99 and will include a handheld with a 4.3″ display, a docking station that looks like a minature Neo Geo home system, a controller that looks like the original Neo Geo arcade stick, internal speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, and will feature HDMI and A/V out for when you want to hook the portable up to your television. The console will also come preloaded with 20 classic Neo Geo titles to get you started which will be listed and discussed briefly at the end.
At first look this seems like a pretty sweet deal. However, there’s way too many undisclosed details about the console to really know what to expect. Even throughout the http://www.Neo-Geo.com forums we have been unable to come up with any solid information other than what is posted on the NeoGeoX Gold website. Some of the questions that come to mind are how will the games for the console be sold, and will you be able to buy with a credit card? Will you have an account with the manufacturer where you can always download your games if lost? Is the entire Neo Geo library going to be released, including unreleased on home cartridge in the United States, Arcade and Japanese games? Will there be a Universe Bios installed to play the games in English, Japanese, or Arcade mode? The English versions of a lot of games are censored so this is a big deal. Also, not everybody likes to use arcade sticks. This brings up the question if the console will have original Neo Geo controller ports? If so then there are a few options like a Neo Geo CD Pad, Original Neo Geo arcade stick and kidney bean version, and also Mas Supernova high quality arcade sticks. Also, will you be selling extra controllers and will there be 2 controller ports on the console? Since it looks like this is a console used to digitally distribute arcade games how will that be done? Also will there be any online play(highly unlikely). This is basically an emulator, will all the games run properly and smoothly? There are so many question I have with no answers.
The 20 preloaded titles are as followed. The list looks halfway decent. I wouldn’t expect them to release the best titles anyway because then you would never buy any games. This will keep you busy for a while if you limit the credits you use when playing.
3 Count Bout (this game is total crap, and is cheap).
Art of Fighting 2 (can be fun, but also near impossible. 1 and 3 are great games).
Alpha Mission 2 (OK shooter, it’s no Pulstar, Blazing Star, or Viewpoint).
Baseball Stars 2 (Great baseball game, and fun 2 players).
Cyber Lip (Contra clone, but fun and a good addition).
Fatal Fury (every other Fatal Fury and Real Bout Game is better, but this is still a good addition).
Fatal Fury Special (I’m not a big fan, but is one of the more popular titles).
The King of Fighters 95′ (all the King of Fighters games are good. This is a good addition, but 96, 97, or 98 would have been better).
King of The Monsters (not one of the best games, but it’s OK for a few plays)
Last Resort (decent shooter, good addition)
League Bowling (fun if you have people to play with).
Magician Lord (one of my favorite Neo titles, but may be too hard for some. Good platformer).
Metal Slug (arguably the best title on the system. Great addition).
Mutation Nation (fun little beat em up, good addition)
Nam 1975 (the first Neo Geo game ever released. I really like this game, but not for everyone, good addition).
Puzzled (Tetris clone with some originality. Fair addition).
Real Bout Fatal Fury Special (Awesome fighting game, great addition).
Samurai Showdown 2 (arguably best fighting game on console, great addition).
Super Sidekicks (it’s soccer, and it not that good).
Word Heroes Perfect (decent fighter, but on a system flooded with fighting games it barely makes par).
Even though I am pretty excited for the release of the NeoGeoX Gold, there are far to many questions to justify dropping $199.99 on a portable console. $199.99 seems like a pretty hefty price tag for an emulator. I would be very skeptical before making any purchase and research the console a few weeks after release. I think for the average gamer who has never played NeoGeo this will be a good cheap option to try some of the games, but for hardcore Neo Geo fans there are far too many unanswered question and it’s unlikely all the answers will be good. The only reason I can justify purchasing this for myself is for weekend trips to visit the family to play with my little brothers. Another reason would be that Neo Geo collecting is expensive, so this may be a good option if all the games for the original console are released. And finally Neo Geo on 60″ inch plasma television sounds pretty fun.