SNK’s Neo Geo is known for being the most powerful machine of its time, and also one of the most expensive. Two variations of the system were released, one as an arcade machine board and another as a home video console which was fully compatible with its arcade counterpart.
The MVS (Multi Video System) was the coin operated arcade machine and offered the ability to put up to six different cartridges into a single cabinet. This feature was the selling point of the machine and made it instantly popular amongst arcade operators, as they could play multiple games on the same cabinet.
Due to the popularity of the MVS, SNK went on to further produce the AES (Advanced Entertainment System), which was initially launched to be distributed by rental from commercial settings such as hotels, bars and restaurants. However, it was found that the feedback of the AES machines were overwhelmingly positive, with many members of the public interested in purchasing one for themselves. Which ultimately lead to the company releasing the machine for the home. This was originally avoided as the high price was thought to drive customers away and lean more towards other brands such as Nintendo and Sega. The AES featured the same specifications and hardware as the MVS, making the porting of games cheap and simple with a true arcade quality, which was a first for video game ports.
Despite the hefty price tag that consumers would have to dish out to purchase a Neo Geo, it proved itself to be worth the money. With the most powerful operating system, beating all other home computers and games consoles from the day. The systems also created some of the greatest and most successful video game series such as Fatal Fury and Metal Slug.
The MVS was arguably more successful in terms of sales for SNK, however, the AES found its own unique and niche market for dedicated gamers despite the high price tag. This has further grown into somewhat of a cult following generations later. After the relative success of the AES, the console was succeeded by the Neo Geo CD. Whereas the MVS was replaced by the Hyper Neo Geo 64.
Neo Geo hardware was officially discontinued in 1997, with a lifespan of seven years. Although, software and game production continued to be produced until 2004, with SNK formally ended repairs to Neo Geo products in 2007. As of March 1997, 980,000 Neo Geo and Neo Geo CD’s had been sold worldwide.
The reception to the console shows that the superior graphics and sound capabilities as well as the quality of arcade ports was a success, as it outlasted both the market leader’s consoles (Nintendo and Sega). Even though the original price-tag was priced at $649.99 (over $1000 in 2015). The Neo Geo also keeps the title of being then first video game console to feature a detachable memory card to save game data onto it. Collectively the systems have a community of collectors based around them, in which rare games can sell for over $1000.