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33 Consoles of Christmas
SNK Neo Geo (1990)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 01, 2006   |   Episode 9 (Show Archive)  

   
It's time once again for Defunct Games' 33 Consoles of Christmas, your 33 part guide to the best and worst system designs of all time. Join Cyril Lachel and Chad Reinhardt as they judge 33 different game consoles based on what they think of the look. Forget about actual hardware and software, the only thing these guys care about is talking about their exterior design. Join us every day between November 23 and December 25 for a new console review!


Synopsis: While the Genesis, Super NES and TurboGrafx-16 were fighting the 16-bit war, SNK had a different strategy; they wanted to bring the arcade experience home with their 24-bit game system. With its high price tag (around $600) and expensive games (from $200 - $300 a piece), the Neo Geo was originally intended to be rented out by the major rental stores. But slowly arcade enthusiasts embraced the system as one of the only ways to get the full arcade experience at home. The Neo Geo quickly became the console to own if you were serious about arcade fighting games, it even came with an arcade-style joystick that was heavy duty and as close to the arcade as you can possibly get. The Neo Geo would never take off as a home console, but SNK did manage to support it up until the company's death in 2001.

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I'm a bit torn on the Neo Geo. There are a lot of things I love about the design of this 32-bit (er, 24-bit) console. I love that it comes with joysticks that are the same size as the console itself. I love that it has this sleek look that will impress all of your friends. I love that the design is not hampered with a lot of unnecessary buttons and knobs. But man, I really don't like how large those cartridges are. Perhaps that's a goofy problem, but it feels like the cartridges are a good foot taller than the system itself. When the carts are sticking out it just makes the console look awkward. Perhaps that's just me nit picking, but it still bothers me. If you take the console on its own then it deserves a solid A grade, but with the cartridge I'm afraid the best I can give it is a B+.

I really like the look of this one. For the beginning of the nineties, this is a very advanced looking piece of hardware. It's a very clean look, with little going on aside from the start button and giant cartridge slot. The sleek, ebony color is inviting and intimidating at the same time; I don't know if I should introduce myself or just smile politely. I feel that the look emphasizes the dramatic step forward the games took graphically; "this ain't yo daddy's system!" I used to say, to myself, by myself, in my room, looking at pictures of a system I could never hope to afford. For anyone that scoffs at the price tags today's systems hold, the Neo Geo is a reminder that isn't a new phenomenon; that cutting-edge hardware bears a big sticker price, and streamlined designs have been with us since 1990.
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