Neo Geo AES

The Neo Geo was an arcade and home system introduced during 1990 by the Japanese company SNK Playmore. The MVS or Multiple Video System was a coin operated system which incorporated several different games into a single cabinet and included games such as Fatal Fury, The King of Fighters, Metal Slug, and Samurai Shodown. The Neo Geo was also released as a very pricey home video game system under the name Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System (AES) and was marketed as a 24bit  processor system. Production of the Neo Geo AES was ceased in 1997 although game cartridges where produced up until 2004. This console was ranked the 19th greatest console of all time by IGN in 2009 and the homebrew market for this console continues to this day.

History of the AES:

Initially the AES was only available for rent by commercial establishments such as hotels, bars, and restaurants until customer interest in purchasing the $650 console and SNK expanded their sales and marketing approach to in home sales. The console was officially launched during 1990 in Japan and featured superior graphics and sound to most of its competition at that time. The MVS was the most powerful arcade unit at that time and the AES was identical to its arcade version. Despite the consoles high price tag the Neo Geo AES maintains a strong cult following that in some ways surpasses the Genesis’ following despite its higher popularity. The U.S. console was planned to be released at $599 with two controllers and either Baseball Stars Professional or NAM-1975 however the final price at launch was $649.99 and the package was referred to as the “Gold System.” At a later time the Gold System was also bundled with Magician Lord and Fatal Fury. Eventually there was a release called the “Silver System” which cost $399.99 and included only one controller and no games. Other game cartridges were sold at retail for $200 and more making this console only appeal to a small niche of gamers.

Game Ports:

In 2007 Nintendo announced that a number of AES games would be released on the Wii’s virtual console in Japan and they were later released in the U.S. and Europe as well. The cost of the Neo Geo Virtual console was $9 and included games such as Fatal Fury: Kung Fu Masters, Art of Fighting, and World of Heroes. Games from the Neo Geo were also released on the Xbox live marketplace and the Playstation Network.

Technical Specifications:

The arcade consoles included a memory card system which allowed players to save their game progress and continue playing at a future time or continue their play on the home model of the games. Although save games were transferable between to the consoles games were not cross compatible to avoid retailers purchasing the cheaper cartridge versions of games due to different pin numbers in the games.

ROM Sizes and Startup Screens:

The ROM sizes was capable of handling up to 330 megabits which was why the startup displayed “Max 330 Mega Pro-Gear Spec” and although most games did not make use of all 330 megabits several did use up to 100. Later cartridges supported higher amounts of ROM when bank switching was introduced allowing up to 716 megabits.


The Neo Geo did not use tilemap background layers which differentiated it from other consoles and instead used drawing sprites to create the backgrounds. The sprites were 16 pixels wide and between 16 and 512 pixels tall and by layering the sprites side by side the system could create backgrounds. The console was capable of drawing up to 300 sprites at a time and up to 96 per scanline.

Home Cartridges:

Due to limited runs of game cartridges there continues to be an active community of collectors for the games. It is common for both consoles and games today to fetch high prices online through such venues as Ebay giving this system the status of a cult following. The most valuable game to collectors today is considered to be Kizuna Encounter (Euro).

Arcade Cartridges:

The MVS cartridges are also considered to be collectible just like the home AES cartridges. This market of collectors consists of people seeking to find cheaper alternatives to the rare home cartridges and the collectors seeking to pay premium prices for complete arcade sets. Many of the MVS cartridges are considerably cheaper than the AES counterparts most of the games are sold for between $10-$150.

Graphical Development:

One of the reasons that Neo Geo was considered to be notable due to its success in bringing arcade-quality graphics into the home and as development continued to programmers were able to produce higher quality graphics than ever thought possible for the console. By the time 1991 came about game developers had managed to surpass the arcade quality graphics with games developed for the home consoles. In 1992 SNK began to introduce new innovations in fighting games including graphics for injuries upon successful strikes, the ability to zoom in on effects to intensify the action, and even more elaborate graphics than ever before. In the mid 90’s SNK tried to move towards a new 3D system however it was not very successful and development continued on the 2D engine.


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