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The Neo-Geo was a notoriously expensive cartridge-based system that served as the company’s entry into the crowded 16-bit console market, the system was unique at the time for its ability to play arcade-quality games at home. The system was initially only available for rent by businesses such as hotels and bars, but by July of the following year, the company responded to consumer demand for a home edition.
SNK, a Japanese company already known for its high-quality arcade games, decided to disrupt this status quo with the release of the Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System (AES) in 1990. This system was designed to bring arcade-quality games to the home market. The hardware was essentially the same as SNK’s Multi Video System (MVS), which was widely used in arcades at the time.
Neo Geo offered gamers the opportunity to experience the same high-quality graphics, sound, and gameplay that they would get in the arcades, but in the comfort of their own homes. Games for the system included classic titles like “Metal Slug,” “Fatal Fury,” and “The King of Fighters.”
The major drawback of the Neo Geo was its cost. The console itself was priced at a whopping $649.99 upon its release in the United States, making it far more expensive than the NES or Sega Genesis. Originally meant to sell for $599 with a game, a memory card and two joysticks, the package wound up shipping for $649.99 – roughly equal to $1,500 in 2023 when adjusted for inflation. Perhaps scarier, additional game cartridges cost $200 to $300 – and that’s not adjusted for anything.
This price point effectively made the Neo Geo a luxury product, targeted at a niche market of wealthier gamers and hardcore arcade enthusiasts who were willing to pay a premium for the highest quality gaming experience.
The console is now considered a collector’s item, with its games recognized for their quality and originality. Though the Neo Geo walked a different path from its contemporaries, it certainly made its mark in the history of console gaming.