The Neo Geo X comes with twenty (twenty-one if you get the Gold edition) games from the Neo Geo arcade collection. All of these are emulated through the portable console with the limited edition “Ninja Master’s” being on a SD game card. Now the big question is, why should I get this console as opposed to getting a PSP and emulating the games through there? But we’ll get to that later. For now, lets just go over the games and presentation.
The main menu is lazy. The console boots up with a Neo Geo X logo on the screen and goes to the game selection. You can tell they only spent maybe two days on this and said “Eh it works, let’s just move on to making sure every game on here works.” In fact I’m 100% sure this is what happened. There’s absolutely nothing impressive about it. There are icons with each game selection showing the title screen and an overlay from a five year old internet fad with ‘userbars’ using Photoshop. Even the layers of the icon are easy to see. It’s embarrassing.
In comparison, the PSP allowed you to put a wallpaper, a little video, and/or a song to play when you select a game either from the UMD or the memory stick. Same goes for the PS3 and other systems as well. On the Neo Geo X its just a selectable side-scrolling bunch of shortcuts to the game. It screams for the need of a touch screen, it should have just been laid out much like the Playstation Store.
Alright, lets get to the games. For this section I’m excluding “Metal Slug” because we all know it’s an amazing game and it’s among the most popular arcade games of all time.
This game plays much like an arcade version of ‘Castlevania’. You play as a wizard trying to defeat this evil grandmaster from, uh, I don’t know, sending you to Hell? The English translation is butchered in this game and includes some of the best Engrish lines I’ve ever seen. Best one, the evil grandmaster himself: “I’m just destined to die.” WHAT?! Even when you waste your lives and get to the continue screen you’re treated to the cryptic line: “Again changes to Hell.” Is his name ‘Again’? I don’t know, whatever.
Moving on from the dialogue your wizard powers include shooting 2 energy projectiles at a time, changing into various suit and acquiring different powers, as well as this super powered committed jump that moves you faster than walking. It has a nice difficulty in the first two levels but it just quarter munches right after. New enemies become introduced that just flood the screen from all areas including landscapes that you can’t go through while shooting projectiles at you. But the gameplay is so good you just keep wanting to go on until you just can’t anymore, and with infinite continues you’re sure to reach the impossible point. For me it was the very last level.
“Samurai Shodown 2″
As far as fighting games go I’m a novice. One of the games that deviated from the norm, and wasn’t a “Fatal Fury” tie-in was “Samurai Showdown 2″. A fighting game with weapons, lots of different and unique characters, as well as a complex combat system. There are your basic low, mid, and high damage attacks combined with some kicks for a really deep experience. Comebacks can easily happen and awesome moments are very easy to come by with the ability to throw away an enemy’s sword leaving them unequipped but can still fight, button mashing crossed sword encounters, and double knockouts which can be much more frequent than you think. Combos also trigger special moves for some characters which is really neat. Everything just seems so polished that you can’t help but be entertained even when you lose.
“Ninja Master’s” (Gold Edition Exclusive)
Another non-”Fatal Fury” tie-in fighting game this time with ninjas. It kind of controls the same as SS2 but without the power ability instead opting for a hyper mode much like ‘X-Factor’ in “Marvel vs Capcom 3″. Each ninja is widely different from the rest and play-styles are varied from character to character. It’s also very combo heavy which kills all sorts of button mashing. Another neat little feature unlike weapon fighting games like “Soul Calibur” and “Samurai Showdown 2″ is the ability to sheathe your sword and fight bare fisted. It might put in less damage and range but combos string together more fluidly and can be just as threatening to the opponent when in close-quarters.
Honorable Mentions: Baseball Stars 2, League Bowling (2P), Alpha Mission 2, Mutation Nation, Super Sidekicks
This is an arcade version of ‘Contra’ only terrible on every level. The power-up weapons aren’t fun to play with and useless most of the time when you get one. The wide-shot gun is actually a power up that outlines other issues shown in this poorly designed game. You can only shoot diagonally with that gun specifically and it’s not even consistent but instead opts for a shooting pattern. You also cannot shoot down. Going down from a platform requires a 2 second animation that leaves you prone to death. There aren’t any unique designs to the enemies or boss characters that you haven’t already seen in “Contra III: The Alien Wars”. It just screams blatant cash-in ripoff.
Oh boy, you want to talk about the epitome of crappiest games on this system then you must talk about “Puzzled”. Out of sheer curiosity for not being a fighting game I decided to play it. Think of ‘Tetris’ but instead of creating lines with blocks you use blocks to get rid of already created almost finished lines. It sounds like an easy (and stupid) concept to understand but the problem is they don’t give you the right blocks to take out the lines until much later. God forbid you mess up or else you’ll be spending the next five minutes on an endurance run trying to not lose. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the “YOU’RE TAKING TOO LONG LETS SPEED UP YOUR BLOCK OUTPUT” ADD factor, because clearly you can finish these levels in thirty seconds.
Dishonorable Mentions: Last Resort, King Of The Monsters, NAM -1975
Despite having an HDMI connection available none of the games feature high definition graphics so expect games to look exactly as they did in the 90′s. It’s also another lazy tacked on feature considering that developers like SEGA who re-release old games constantly put in additional graphics and options to accompany the original resolution without changing the aspect-ratio. But no, everything is the same as loading up a ROM on your PC.
It’s also worth mentioning the L1 and L2 buttons change the aspect ratio while the R1 and R2 buttons pause the game instead of the Start button. It seems to be hinting there will be exclusive games coming out for the system later on. Unfortunately, SNK and Tommo have been very mum about this situation so we can’t say for sure.
- 20 games included with the device, 21 for the Gold edition
- Lots of fighting games included with the system so if you love Fatal Fury expect to be getting a lot of playtime.
- Metal Slug & The Highs
- Menu system was lazily made.
- Too many fighting games, not enough of other genres.
- No extras for HDMI output, everything is exactly how it would be if it was emulated.
- Some of the games don’t hold up well in this day and age, you have to have an appreciation for Neo Geo and 90′s arcade games to enjoy a bulk of the games. Or an entertaining second player like Marquis.
- Limited continues on most of the games.
- Puzzled & The Lows.
In its current state this console is not worth the $200 price tag based on the software alone. All of these games can be emulated just fine on the PSP and with only one game cartridge that isn’t an original game it’s safe to say that this a no-go. I do not recommend this system for anybody except collectors who want a piece of gaming history.