NEO GEO HISTORY
SNK'S FALL - CONTINUATION
It was in 2000 that were released the last two titles from the publisher. The King of Fighters 2000 and Metal Slug 3, two new games from two of the most legendary series of SNK, exploiting remarkably the machine. Players will have to wait for Microsoft and its Xbox 128bits console of sixth generation (2002), to see a decent port of these titles. Only the Dreamcast in 2000 was able to make Neo Geo adaptations of high quality (Kof 98, Kof 2000, Last Blade), however not always matching the original games. In 2001, there will only be a Kof 2001 completely missed released on the MVS, developed by Eolith, and also Sengoku 3, a quite successful sequel for the Beat them Up series forgotten since 1993. Purchased by Aruze -a society specialized in the Pachinko business- fall 2001, the Osaka company is put in bankruptcy, without further considerations. It is in the collective indifference that disappears the historical SNK corporation in this very beginning of Millennium ...
Sequel and End (2001-2004)
Eikichi Kawasaki, Shin Nihon Kikaku's father, founded the company Playmore back in 2001. It's clearly the lifeboat of his first company, made possible with former shareholders. The company bought the licenses and SNK assets , paying the prices of many lawsuits against Aruze since 2002. The new born SNK-Playmore company decides to develop on MVS and AES, exactly like before. That was quite an unexpected fact at the time, but new games will still be made on the mythical 90' system... First of all, the controversial Kof 2001 is adapted to AES, sign of the times. Then come the same year the sequel The King of Fighters 2002, Rage of the Dragons, Power Instinct Matrimelee and Metal Slug 4. The Neo Geo core players might have felt strange with these games from the 'renaissance'. Indeed, the most talented engineers from the former parent SNK company, as designers, graphic designers, and programmers, have quit for other editors when the company went bankrupt. Many have been offered places at Capcom, Namco or Sammy. So, the development of these new titles has been partially or completely entrusted to associated companies (as Mega or Eolith) and the least we can say is that even if some of these productions are not bad, "paw " of the great SNK is no longer here.
Nonetheless, the Neo Geo at this time have became a luxurious collector's item, as few gaming systems could boast about, and everything that relates to the history of this console seems haloed and revered by all players. The quality of games will be released after 2002 will increase a little, without ever match what were the hits of the machine until 2000. SVC Chaos, the long awaited crossover between SNK and Capcom, hits the market in 2003. Three other titles are created the same year, Samurai Spirits Zero, Metal Slug 5, and of course The King of Fighters 2003. At the same time, Playmore sign for developing on Atomiswave, Sammy's arcade support. The latest game for the venerable Neo Geo arrives in September 2004: it's Samurai Spirits Zero Special, packed in a 708 megs cartridge . The game came as a tribute to the old 16-bit system, and marks the end of fourteen years of battle. This is the end of the story for the Neo Geo.
About SNK Playmore, the company continues its merry way, reviving the splendor of the past years by adapting its hits on PlayStation 2, PSP and doing some compilations for various systems (SNK Arcade Classics, Fatal Fury Battle Archives, etc.) enabling young players to discover the legendary library of the Neo Geo. Later on Xbox 360 or PS3, players will even be able to play online mythical games such as Fatal Fury Special, Metal Slug 3 or Mark of the Wolves, along with Street Fighter II or Prince of Persia... So, It looks like the Neo Geo reached the Hall of Fame of video-gaming? Kind of. Okay, but from when does a gaming system -since it is a new phenomenon- enters into history? At what point does it becomes a myth? I'm not really obvious enough to respond. As an early aficionado of the game, my passion for Retro-Gaming and particularly for the Neo Geo could be interpreted as nostalgia! So, did the Neo Geo, in the same way that an AC Cobra 427, the Necronomicon or a Leica M9, became a timeless object of worship? To answer this, ask yourself one and only question. Does this thing survived its era? More clearly, I mean: are young players interested in it? Do its games do take the breath away of another generation of players, that didn't knew it in its heyday? If the answer is yes, then the Neo Geo will live forever.