The Neo-Geo, released in 1990 by the Japanese company SNK, was a unique system used both as an arcade machine and as a home console due to its small size and cartridgebased approach. It was usually known as the Multi Video System (MVS) and the Advance Entertainment System (AES) when used in arcades or homes, respectively.
The Neo-Geo console. It was a dual processor machine, with a 16-bit 68000 CPU plus an 8-bit Zilog Z-80 coprocessor as well as custom video and audio chipsets. The dual CPU architecture gave the idea to some cunning marketing executive to present the console as a “24-bit system” (i.e., 16 plus 8 bits).
A screenshot from The King of Fighters ‘94, the first in the long-lasting and successful series
While the Neo-Geo was a very smart and economical choice for arcade use since up to six different titles could be fit into a single cabinet, the price was very steep for those who wanted to bring the system home as a gaming console: $650. And if that wasn’t enough, each cartridge had a price tag typically between $200 and $300.
Obviously, this made the system not really viable for the home market but made it acoveted item for a niche market of hardcore enthusiasts and collectors.
The Neo-Geo was able to handle colorful graphics (up to 4,096 colors) and
big sprites. Several fighting game franchises like The King of Fighters and Samurai Showdown, and scrolling action games like Metal Slug, were originally developed for it.
Overall, 154 games were released, with the last official title, Samurai Showdown V Special, released in 2004