Let Us Console You: Neo Geo AES (and information on the upcoming Neo Geo X)

Back in the earliest of early nineties, the most advanced games available were to be found in the arcade. If you wanted gaming that good at home, you would have to wait a few more years for the hardware to improve. Nowadays we take all this high tech gaming for granted, but back then, a port of an arcade game on your SNES or Mega Drive would never look or play as good as the real thing. People came close, but it still wasn't perfect.

In America and Japan however (but sadly, not Europe), a particular console was released that did bring that superior arcade experience home. It was called the Neo Geo AES, and it was more or less a home console version of its popular arcade counterpart, the Neo Geo MVS. This arcade system was particularly innovative as it allowed arcade owners to put up to six different titles in one cabinet, using cartridge slots. The cartridges could then be removed, changed or swapped around. This was incredibly useful for arcades with limited floor space, as it meant several machines weren't needed to allow players to have a shot at the new Neo Geo game. The cartridges were huge, and the Neo Geo AES cartridges were no exception to this.

The size of a Neo Geo AES cartridge in comparison to a SNES and NES cartridge.

The console had a variety of absolutely awesome and iconic titles. Metal Slug, Bomberman, Bubble Bobble, The King Of Fighters and Fatal Fury are just a few of the absolutely awesome and intense gaming experiences that the Neo Geo has to offer. And what better way than to play it on an awesome looking machine with one of the coolest looking controllers (in my opinion) in gaming history? You could even use a portable memory card to save and pick up where you left off in the arcade on a Neo Geo MVS cabinet.

But something so advanced in the time of consoles like the SNES, TurboGrafx-16 and the Mega Drive, obviously drew a heavy asking price. The Neo Geo AES cost a whopping $649.99 on launch, which in pounds would have been about 400 quid in British pounds, god knows how much that would be nowadays. Now we can see from another failed console - the 3DO - that asking gamers to bankrupt themselves to buy a console is not always a clever marketing decision. The Neo Geo AES was almost a rich man's console. Only spoilt brats and serious arcade nuts had one. The games were incredibly expensive too, so it wasn't a cheap console to own, even after blowing your wallet open trying to buy the console. But unlike the 3DO, the games were actually fucking awesome and would definitely be worth owning if they were a hell of a lot cheaper, but unfortunately they cost more than anybody would ever want to pay for a game.

Most consoles become cheaper over time. That expensive Xbox 360 or PS3 that you've got your eyes on will be worth bugger all if you just wait a few years. But the Neo Geo AES is an exception. This console is probably more expensive now than it was back when it was released. Why? Because it has developed a phenomenal cult following and some passionate gamers would even cut off their legs (I would say hands, but they would need those to play the games) to get hold of Neo Geo (AES or MVS) hardware and games. An AES copy of Metal Slug can demand up to 3 grand, while an AES copy of Aero Fighters 3 (of which 3 US copies are known to exist) just got sold to somebody for $30,000. Holy shit!!!

Perhaps the high price tags make this console and its games almost like a challenge for collectors. It is indeed a shame that your average gamer cannot pick up this awesome piece of kit on the cheap, like most other retro consoles. But then the Neo Geo X happened!!!

Yes, a nice company called Blaze have brought out a portable version of the Neo Geo called the Neo Geo X, which will be released this December for a rather cheap (at least compared to the Neo Geo AES!) price of £175.00 for us Brits. You can pre-order this beauty here. Below is some information copied and pasted straight from Wikipedia, so have a butchers, and check out the website for more information here. I am super excited for the release of this, and I may have found what I want to spend my Christmas money on.
The device runs the same games that ran on the original Neo Geo AES/MVS hardware and comes with 20 original Neo Geo games pre-installed. Additional titles are to be made available on memory cards. The console is to be released in December 2012 as part of a bundle called the Neo-Geo X Gold package, which includes a docking station modelled after the original Neo Geo AES console and a replica of the Neo Geo AES joystick that can be used as a controller for the handheld.

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