SNK Neo Geo (AES and MVS)

The Neo Geo is the closest you could get to have real arcade games from the 90s in your house. The AES console was the home version of the arcade boards (MVS). It was released in 1990 and it was greatly superior to other 16-bit consoles of that time. It actually joined the 16-bit Motorola 68000 (clocked at 12MHz) with the 8-bit Zilog Z80A (clocked at 4MHz) and so it called itself a ’24-bit’ console.

The AES was terribly expensive at the time (US$600) and games were also very expensive (around US$200). I don’t remember ever seeing an actual AES when I was a kid, since that price in Brazil was probably much higher. SNK designed AES cartridges to be different from MVS so arcade owners could not buy their own cartridges to replace the even more expensive at the time MVS cartridges.

Nowadays the situation is the opposite: AES cartridges are more expensive due to smaller numbers produced. Because of that many old MVS boards have been converted to home use (‘consolized’). My board is a one cart slot with S-Video output. Another advantadge of the MVS is that some games were only released to the MVS since it was so much more successful than the AES. There is still a considerable market for both and prices are high compared to other video games of that time. These two consoles are probably the two items in my collection that cost more than anything else (with the possible exception of the X68000 which is rarer and had the added cost of importing from Japan).

The Neo Geo is a weird system in many ways. The joystick is ‘arcade-like’ and it is huge. Cartridges are also very large specially when compared to other systems of the time (see comparison with Genesis cart below).

Even though I am not a big fan of fighting games (which were Neo Geo’s specialty) I still love my Neo Geos. Games like Sengoku, Metal Slug and Shock Troopers are just awesome and they all have a distinct style that gives the true arcade feeling of that time.

Technical Specs:

NAME Neo Geo
TYPE Video Game Console
YEAR 1990
GENERATION Fourth Generation
CPU Motorola 68000
CO-PROCESSOR Zilog Z80A clocked at 4MHz
RAM Main memory (used directly by 68000): 64 KB
Main video memory : 74 KB
Video memory: 64 KB
Palette memory : 8 KB
Fast video RAM : 2 KB
Sound memory (used directly by Z80): 2 KB
COLORS Maximum colors on screen: 4,096 (12-bit)
SOUND Sound chip: Yamaha YM2610
4 FM channels, 4 operators per channel
3 SSG channels
1 Noise channel
7 ADPCM channels
Work RAM (sound): 2KB
Sound ROM 128KB on-board (only less than 32KB used)
up to 512KB sound ROM on cartridges
I/O PORTS Two Joystick ports, A/V output: RF, composite video, RGB (with separate 21 pin RGB cable FCG-9).
MEDIA Specification for ROM size was up to 330 megabytes, removable memory card: 2KB or 68-pin JEIDA ver. 3 spec memory
POWER SUPPLY External DC 5 V (older systems) and DC 9 V adapter (newer systems).

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