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The Best Neo Geo Games to Buy on the Nintendo Switch

Need a break from Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Invest in some fast-paced arcade action.

Article by Nadia Oxford, .

The Neo Geo home console, called the Neo Geo AES ("Advanced Entertainment System"), has been a system for hardcore game collectors since it hit the market in the early '90s.

The console itself was several hundred dollars, and each of its memory-stuffed game cartridges cost around $200 apiece—which is about $400 when you adjust for inflation. Understandably, few people could afford a Neo Geo in the '90s, so the value of the console and its games has only increased on the secondary market.

A Mysterious Neo Geo Prototype Hits the Web

No one knows its name or even who made it, but this incomplete fighting game offers a fascinating glimpse into a lost slice of history.

Still, there's good news out there for people who love Neo Geo's unique, highly-specialized library, but can't afford to give up a kidney to play it: A Japanese company called Hamster Corporation makes the Neo Geo's best titles available for a comparable pittance through its digital "ACA Neo Geo" releases.

The ACA Neo Geo titles feature visual options that let players reproduce the original releases' arcade look and feel. They're available on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but we're highlighting these recommendations with the Nintendo Switch in mind because:

1) You might want something to play on your Switch if you've already folded Zelda: Breath of the Wild inside-out, and

2) Portability, baby!!

Here are the best titles available out of the bunch, as well as a few that are (likely) on the way:

The King of Fighters '98
The strongest entry in the much-loved King of Fighters fighting game series boasts incredibly deep mechanics, making it an excellent single-player experience. Of course, you can go head-to-head with a flesh-and-blood rival, too. If you lived through the '90s (congrats on surviving neon poisoning), you might've participated in actual brawls over King of Fighters' superiority over Street Fighter, or vice-versa. Hopefully, you've made peace with the world since then because this one's a classic. It's also a great place to start if you're not familiar with King of Fighters, since it doesn't connect to the series' overarching story.

Metal Slug 3
Sprite-based graphics don't get much better than Metal Slug 3, which is one of the liveliest, most personable run-and-gun games ever made. Its local two-player option makes it a great choice if you've been pining for Contra lately—and you know you have.

Shock Troopers
Speaking of beefy mercenaries who specialize in jungle combat, Shock Troopers is a solid top-down shooter that subscribes to the tropes first laid out in Capcom's Commando. Again, it's a great two-player experience, which the Switch's Joy-Cons provide without fuss or muss.

NAM-1975
NAM-1975 is an arcade-style shooter. You move your reticle around the screen and let loose an endless barrage of bullets on the waves of foes who wash in from seemingly every side. It's a bit antiquated by today's standards, but still a ton of fun. It also has a super-energizing soundtrack.

Fatal Fury (Coming Soon)
Hamster Games recently confirmed another batch of ACA Neo Geo games is on its way, and while the latest "shipment" isn't confirmed for the Switch, it'll probably happen. Stretch your imagination to its breaking point if necessary and consider picking up Fatal Fury if / when it hits the Switch. This notable Street Fighter rival feels dated, but it's worth a go for its important place in the fighting genre's history.

Samurai Shodown (Coming Soon)
Samurai Shodown, on the other hand, still deserves all the accolades it received in 1993. This weapons-based fighting game was one of the first of its kind, and certainly the most memorable. Its character roster is still iconic, and its big, fluidly-animated sprites are still sublime.

Waku Waku 7 (Coming Soon)
OK, so this bizarre fighting game doesn't touch the bar set by King of Fighters '98 or Samurai Shodown, but it does have a weird, weird roster—including a character who looks like an obese Bonnie Bunny from Five Nights at Freddy's. There's novelty to be had, at least.

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Comments 15

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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #1 NiceGuyNeon A year ago
    What is this "break from Zelda" nonsense? JUST PLAY MORE ZELDA!

    But also mmmmm Metal Slug.

    But also lez b ril, Zelda or nothing at all.
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  • Avatar for fstim82 #2 fstim82 A year ago
    Waku Waku 7 has been very good to me so far. Great visuals, music, gameplay... I'd give it a go. Note that it is not the 7th game in a series, so don't worry about coming into something late. It's just about the characters collecting 7 balls to grant a wish. The final boss is the annoying/cheap kind from the old NeoGeo arcade days, but he's not as bad as what I'm used to in most others. I imagine he won't be so bad once I've become better at the game. Also, the game is easier to get into than KoF, since you only have to worry about learning one character at a time, not three.
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  • Avatar for NeoRasa #3 NeoRasa A year ago
    High five fellow NAM-1975 soundtrack liker!

    I got to say I kind of hate how they always start so slow with Neo Geo ports. Like on the PlayStation Network they had the "NeoGeo Station" releases, great front-end for the games with tons of video options, online play, etc. but by the time all the really great stuff started coming out no one cared. Same thing happened on the Wii. :/

    I'm glad with the Switch they stopped messing around and dropped brought out King of Fighters '98 and Shock Troopers ASAP. :D
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  • Avatar for jimgamer #4 jimgamer A year ago
    Need some shooters - Pulstar, Last Resort, Blazing Star (hate crappy iOS port) and some more slugs. Happy with the games released so far.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #5 riderkicker A year ago
    I wonder when is Sengoku 2 coming to the system.
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  • Avatar for hamfighter #6 hamfighter A year ago
    Despite the title of that linked article, Hamster has not "confirmed" any future Switch ACA Neo Geo Classics releases. The link was a post with the author's speculation that existing PS4/XBO ACA Neo Geo Classics games will come to Switch. Maybe a reasonable assumption, but definitely unconfirmed.

    And there are actually currently 7 Neo games available on the Switch, in all regions. After North America getting the initial batch a week after Japan/Europe had them at system launch, it seems from the King of Fighters '94 that they might be doing simultaneously global releases now (at least same week). That's kind of a big deal after the Wii Virtual Console, where Japan normally got Neo games far earlier, and may never left the Japanese VC.

    My take as a pretty big Neo fan (who owns 4 of these 7 on AES cart! And once owned Metal Slug 3 but sold it for tuition!)...

    I general: I can't say I love playing Neo fighters on a Joy Con, and even the Pro Controller isn't ideal. Between Ultra SF2 and the Neo games, I just might break down for a stick, or some sort of more fighter-friendly pad. I do like having more legit Neo games on the go though. Emulation is good, but not as high quality as the stuff M2 has done like the PS3/PSP Neo Geo Station releases. The screen filter options are a little iffy, and the Switch games initially launched with some weird sound and brightness issues - but to Hamster's credit, they noted the concerns and released a patch very quickly.


    1. Shock Troopers: Commando/Mercs style overhead run and gun, it's a great game and hasn't been ported to death so might be new for more people. Really great to see. I really hope we get Shock Troopers 2 soon, it's a little divisive but I love the more colorful large sprites and high energy vibe in the sequel.

    2. Waku Waku 7: Sort of an oddball selection that hasn't been ported a ton. The art style (very anime) holds up really well even today, it's quite a charming game. Has some downsides in an especially small cast (the titular "7") and cheap as hell boss, but it's a fun game.

    3. Metal Slug 3: It's great. Maybe the most celebrated of the series. But most people have played this since it has seen good quality ports to almost every platform, maybe taking some of the shine off this release.

    4. KoF '98: Perhaps not my favorite in the series, but it's definitely one of the better games and is known as a classic for a reason. Quintessential late '90s 2D fighter, one of the true genre icons.

    5. World Heroes Perfect. ADK's series was always sort of the "off brand" version of the big boys from Capcom and SNK, but this is the definitive game in the series and it's a fun one. Worth checking out as a good overall representation of the Neo Geo's B franchise. Another one with awful cheap bosses, but amazingly not the worst in the series. That would be Dio from World Heroes 2, the ultimate in awful Neo Geo boss fights.

    6. King of Fighters '94. It's not one of the best in the series, the fighting feels a little clunky and dated, but it gets bonus points for being a truly novel concept by bringing the 3-on-3 battle format into the spotlight, and the first big effort to pull together classic SNK characters from Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, pre-Neo Geo games like Ikari Warriors and Athena, and some noteworthy new entrants like Kyo Kusanagi. No team mixing, if you like Terry Bogard and hate Andy... that's too bad. The backgrounds and music are still enjoyable. If you especially appreciate the historical significance of the genre (and aren't just judging based on gameplay merit by 2017 standards) this should get some bonus points.

    7. Nam 1975. It's a fine game, and a unique style (behind the back shooter) in a sea of 2D fighters and horizontal scrollers. Just never really clicked with me. One of the first Neo Geo games, so it's not one of the most impressive technical show pieces from the system (which does have some stuff that's impressive to this day). If you love similar games like Operation Wolf or Wild Guns and for some reason never tried this, put Nam 1975 higher on your list of things to check out.Edited March 2017 by hamfighter
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  • Avatar for AstroDemon #7 AstroDemon A year ago
    You're speaking my language Nadia! So many fun Neo Geo games! Now the trick is for me to get a Switch!
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #8 WiIIyTheAntelope A year ago
    I'd keep the first Fatal Fury far from my to-buy list. Even at the time it wasn't great. And only has 3 playable characters, so it won't have the longevity of basically any other fighter. The sequels on the other hand were much improved and by the later entries could stand nearly toe to toe with Street Fighter.
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  • Avatar for BellyFullOfHell #9 BellyFullOfHell A year ago
    Shame they released by far the worst Slug.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #10 yuberus A year ago
    Maybe this will be the time we get a release of some of the late great games, like Samurai Shodown Special, Matrimelee, kof 01-03, Rage of the Dragons and Sengoku 3 (which yes, is on the Wii). I have fond memories of playing those at my Neo-collecting friend's game nights in the early 00s.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #11 Nuclear-Vomit A year ago
    Nam 1975: Do I have to go back to this Hell again?

    Folks, it is a quarter munching hell. Try to get to the end boss with infinite credits. Even with cheating, the communist pigs will not allow you to continue if you're out of lives.

    It was an unwinnable war.
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  • Avatar for alexb #12 alexb A year ago
    That art in the header is actually Samurai Shodown II. That hasn't been confirmed for release has it?
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  • Avatar for MarioIV #13 MarioIV A year ago
    Waku Waku is already on the eshop.
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  • Avatar for ArugulaZ #14 ArugulaZ A year ago
    @BellyFullOfHell Yeah, I don't get why people are so fond of this one. Toward the end, you have to fight zombies which take a ridiculous amount of bullets to kill (re-kill? Destroy?). If you have the crappy default weapon, getting through a half-dozen of them takes what feels like a million zillion years.
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  • Avatar for BellyFullOfHell #15 BellyFullOfHell A year ago
    @Nuclear-Vomit

    I'm up to the third boss on one credit so far. Just needs you to learn what is running on screen and prioritise. It's hard, but it gives you enough tools to get out of most scrapes.
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