On December 21st, 2010 SNK Playmore released the Neo Geo Station on the PlayStation Network and hardcore SNK fans have been living in gaming bliss ever since. Having only just discovered this awesome channel, I thought it would be a good idea to go over the basics before jumping into the games.
So what is the Neo Geo Station, well in short it’s a dedicated section of the PlayStation Network devoted to the wonderfully amazing Neo Geo AES/MVS console/arcade. The AES and MVS were essentially one and the same. The AES was the Neo Geo home console and the arcade board was called the MVS. The system debuted in 1990 and sold for $650, with average game prices ranging in the $200 range. The system remained fully supported by SNK until 2004. That’s right folks, it lasted from 1990 until 2004, or 14 years. That’s far longer than the Genesis or the Super NES. Its cult following and extremely high prices are what allowed SNK to continue development and still turn a profit. If you’re wondering why the prices were so high, the answer is simple, every cart you bought was literally an arcade. Simple as that.
Eventually SNK would close their doors, but not before some key members left to form what would become Playmore. After SNK closed down Playmore bought the rights to all the SNK properties and formed SNK Playmore. So essentially the main creative force behind SNK never left at all.
Fast forward to late 2010 and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Neo Geo platform SNK Playmore decided to team up with Sony to create the Neo Geo Station on the PlayStation Network. The best games from the platform wouldn’t just be ported over, no that would be far too easy. So instead SNK Playmore went the distance for their hardcore fans. Below is a quick recap of what’s offered on every game featured on the Neo Geo Station.
- English and Japanese versions. One of the biggest complaints with the original AES/MVS was that if you bought a North American console the games would all be edited. That means Metal Slug wouldn’t have any blood in it and The King of Fighters wouldn’t feature Mai’s…assets moving around. Eventually a debug chip was released for the system allowing customers to unlock the more adult features with their system, but it came with a hefty price tag. The games on the Neo Geo Station allow all the Japanese unedited bits to be played in English on your PS3. If you want to play through the edited versions, well you have that option as well.
- Network play. SNK Playmore has done a wonderful job with every title I’ve played thus far. Not only does each game support online multiplayer, but voice chatting is enabled by default, you can invite your friends to play games and everything else you’d expect from modern games. This is what the Virtual Console should have been.
- Save states. Just like you’d find on emulators, each game allows players to save their current state for later play. Sure this breaks up the classic arcade feel, but it’s a great way to introduce new players that might be a little shy about completing an entire game in one sitting.
- Graphical enhancements. This goes two ways. You can make it so there’s virtually no slowdown, but you can also put on an interlace filter which makes the games look like they used to while playing on an old CRT. Classic stuff. You can also smooth out the sprites, fill your widescreen or play in the original Neo Geo mode. All around, excellent stuff.
- Choose your destiny. Players can download most games for either the PSP or the PS3. While there is a individual charge for each platform, it’s nice to see so much thought went into this. The PSP versions don’t have online play, but do support ad-hoc.
- Joystick ready. Each game allows you to adjust the button configuration so if you’re using a joystick from MadCatz or even the cool SNK Playmore PS3 joystick that was released in Japan, they’ve got you covered.
As you can tell by reading this SNK Playmore isn’t fooling around. I really wish more publishers and developers would put this kind of care into their products. Talk about an awesome way of celebrating your 20th anniversary. All I can wish for now is more classics to be put on the store. At around $8 a game, this is like a dream come true. Where Metal Slug 2 can cost over $800 on the AES, you can buy it for a mere $8 and get the best version out there, with full joystick support and online play.
Thank you SNK Playmore for being so awesome. I wish you another 20 years of hardcore gaming goodness. Sorry it took so long for me to realize just how wicked this new “station” is. I promise, next time I’ll pay closer attention to these digital platforms.