[From the April 2010 issue of Arcadia Magazine (released February 27)] [pic]
Looking back 20 years ago to 1990, a video game company by the name of SNK teamed up with ALPHA DENSHI (ADK) to develop a video game console. That console was made for arcades, yet at the same time was completely compatible for home use. It was called the "NEOGEO," meaning "new land," and owns asignificant chapter in the annals of 1990s video game history.
This article was written to commemorate the mighty NEOGEO's 20th anniversary, and also to reflect on the impact and success it has garnered through the years.
First of all, in order to distinguish between arcade and home consoles, I'd like to touch a bit on the Multi Video System (MVS).
Just as the name suggests, the MVS is capableof holding 6 ROM cartridges at once, and players are able to select any one of those 6 games to play. This was relatively uncommon back then (as most would eventually hold 4 ROM cartridges).
The MVS offered all kinds of features, but two of the most important features to shop owners were its "low cost" and "compact size."
A typical arcade machine back then would cost about 200,000 yen, butROM cartridges for the NEOGEO were available for quite a bargain at tens of thousands yen each. This dramatic difference in price was a big deal to small business owners. And being able to put multiple cartridges in a single machine was also very popular with such owners, as it eliminated the need to take up space with a lot of bulky machines.
Due to its size advantage, the MVS was not limited tovideo arcades, as it began to pop up in many bookstores, candy shops, and supermarkets as well. The diverse selection of titles and space-saving merits offered by the MVS not only lead to successful sales, but also played a significant role in garnering strong support for lease development. This greatly reduced the financial risks associated with installing game machines, and eliminated some ofthe hurdles posed to operators by the required mechanical knowledge. In this manner, the MVS's roots were firmly planted throughout the country.
The "small arcades" deeply rooted in every corner of Japan began to grow more popular, primarily with the younger crowd. This was not only a commercial success, but contributed to the overall growth of the arcade industry.
Another significant feature isthat software titles and specifications are identical for both arcade and home consoles, enabling absolute compatibility. I'll cover this in detail in the next section.
This 4-cart MVS machine is sure to stoke up 90s nostalgia for any serious gamer from back in the day. They could be found in candy shops, bookstores, and toy stores around the country. Generally 100 yen could get you twocredits, even cheap enough for a kid to enjoy without going broke.
Now I'd like to get into some details about the "home console." To differentiate between the arcade's "MVS," it was named the "Advanced Entertainment System" (AES).
As mentioned before, NEOGEO spread the home console which having the identical spec to the arcade versions.
This unique and impressive quality also had itsdownsides however, primarily in the economic realm, as the AES was quite expensive for a home console. Due to this hurdle, the console was initially sold exclusively to rental video shops, where gamers who wanted to take the NEOGEO home for a spin had to rent whatever was available. This practice was not the norm for home game consoles, even back then, and is seen as quite an ambitious experiment. TheAES was not sold to the public until 1991.
In 1990, the differences between arcade game and home console capabilities were quite glaring. A lot of arcade hits were ported to home consoles back then, but these ports could never compare to the originals in quality. To enjoy the quality of an arcade title at home, desperate gamers had to purchase the substrate and control panel of a full-size...