There are many ways you can get into the Neo Geo scene. You could go the illegal route and download ROMs and experience classic arcade games on your PC or some other device with lackluster graphics and sound. You could purchase the now defunct Neo Geo X and experience the exact same emulated software, with the same poor audio visual clarity. Then there are the more realistic options. You could purchase one of the Neo Geo CD systems, but unfortunately those systems are missing a lot of software released late in the life of the Neo Geo platform, and the games suffer from some seriously long load times. A much better option would be to purchase the AES (Advanced Entertainment System), also known as the home console, but sadly the game prices are insanely expensive because so few carts were ever created. While the system will only set you back a few hundred dollars, individual games range from $300 to $2,000. Needless to say, unless you’ve got lots and lots of money to throw around, this isn’t the most economical option available. So what’s an SNK fan left to do? Surely, I’m not suggesting you purchase the Big Red MVS arcade cabinet am I?!?
Enter Analogue Interactive. They’re not alone, however. There are quite a few other companies out there that create consolized MVS (CMVS) systems, but theirs is the absolute best. They make the shell out of real wood and spare no expense in delivery the most stunning gaming product you’ll ever see. The base model is available in either Walnut, or Ash wood and retails for $649 USD. That includes a universal AC adapter, and an A/V cable that includes composite and s-video. Here’s an example of the Ash wood system.
One extra feature included with every CMVS is the Unibios 3.1, which works something like a GameShark from years ago. It comes with a wide variety of cheats, options and settings you can tweak, but the most important feature of the Unibios is its ability to switch between different regions and MVS and AES modes. Let’s say you own a Japanese version of The Last Blade. If you want to play it in English, you can simply go into the bios, switch the mode to USA and away you go. You can even switch it to the console version, which often adds an Options menu and more. Needless to say, this is a really killer feature every Neo Geo fan will want.
One question you might have is, why don’t I get a joystick with my purchase? That’s a good question, and you can order one from Analogue Interactive for $199, but you can also use an AES or CD joystick/controller if you have any lying around, because the controller port on the system is exactly the same as the one featured on the AES and CD systems. It’s not included with the bundle by default as that would have increased the base cost too high, and a lot of Neo Geo fans already have tons of sticks lying around. If you’re completely new to Neo Geo, you can purchase two sticks separately, or go for the deluxe Black Label set for $1,299. Not only does this set include two sticks along with the console, but you also get to choose between a wide range of domestic woods. If you’ve got extra money, you could really splurge and order one from the imported wood list. These are significantly more expensive, but look just incredible.
You can also purchase additional cables (Component, RGB SCART), joystick extension cables and more from their site. I highly recommend you also add the Virtual Memory Card for $39 because it allows you to save your high scores, seasons in sports games and more. The RGB SCART cable is another must have as you can output in the absolute best possible picture quality. If you have a modern HDTV, component also looks spectacular.
The key reason why you would want to go this route over any other option is mainly because of the games. MVS carts were made in much higher quantity than their AES counterparts and as such are extremely affordable. Kizuna Encounter will set you back only $50 to $80 while the AES version can reach as high as $800. Metal Slug is another one that usually sells for under $65 for the cart, and thousands on the AES. Not only are the carts cheaper, but there are more titles released on the MVS than any other Neo Geo platform. Incredible games like Strikers 1945 Plus and Prehistoric Isle 2 are only available on MVS, and totally worth picking up. Naturally the exclusive titles typically fetch a higher asking price, but at least they’re not in the thousands like so many AES titles.