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.
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.
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 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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