Summer of SNK: Part 2

Last time we looked at the arcade cabinet shaped NEO GEO Mini, which has a total of 40 games!  That’s enough to split this blog series into two parts, so here’s the second part with the rest of the games on this mini console.

Sengoku 3

I’m not sure why they didn’t include Sengoku 1 and 2 on here as well. I do remember them being fairly popular on the NEO GEO arcade cabinets.  They’re just 2-D side scrolling beat ‘em ups, but they have a Japanese folklore theme that makes them a bit more interesting.  When I first played them as a kid, I wasn’t as familiar with that kind of folklore, so a lot of it was lost on me.  But I’m a bit more versed in that stuff now, so I understand it more.

Magician Lord

I remember when the NEO GEO console and arcade cabinet came out, this was the game they used a lot to promote it.  It’s a 2-D platformer where you play as a wizard who shoots projectiles.  But you can get power-ups to change your form into stuff like a dragon or samurai, which affects your shot patterns.  I remember being floored by the graphics in this game back in the day, which were pretty good for an early NEO GEO title.  It’s a bit generic and hard now, though, but still not bad.

Blue’s Journey

Because of the $700 price tag and the fact that most games in the library were fighters, I never had much of a desire to own a NEO GEO console back then.  But every now and then a game would come out that would make me kind of want one.  This was one of those games.  It’s a colorful and cutesy 2-D platformer where you play as Blue, a tiny man in a bug costume out to rescue a princess with butterfly wings.  Oh, and there’s also a bad guy who is polluting the forest, because this was the 90s and every game had to have a ‘save the environment’ message.  Blue can throw leaves at enemies to flip them over, and then he can pick them up and toss them into other enemies.  You can also get other weapons later on.  Blue can also shrink down in size to fit into small areas, but he can’t attack like that.  I never saw this one in arcades, just in stores that sold the NEO GEO home console.  Since it is an arcade game, it’s a bit hard and cheap, but still fun.  I always wanted to play it back then, but luckily it was on the Wii Virtual Console so I got it finally.  And now I can play it any time with the NEO GEO Mini!

Road Army

This is a 2-D side scrolling beat ‘em up where you play as a robot cyborg and fight other cyborgs.  You can pick up arms and legs from defeated robots and use them as weapons.  Everything makes a satisfying metal ‘crunch’ sound when you hit them.  You can also get a power-up that transforms you into a car and you can run over enemies for a while.  It’s pretty goofy!

Crossed Swords

Now this one’s a bit original.  You view the action from behind your character and fight other enemies head on as you swing your sword and block attacks.  It’s interesting as a couple of arcade playthroughs but that’s about it.

Mutation Nation

Yet another 2-D side scrolling beat ‘em up.  The gimmick here is that you fight mutants, which are just sprite swaps of generic thugs but with alligator heads and such.  It would’ve been cool if your generic fighters could get power-ups and mutate as well, but they don’t.

3 Count Bout

Just a wrestling game.  The characters are all generic muscle bound men, but the sprites and graphics are big and neat looking.

Art of Fighting

And now for a few one on one fighters, which SNK is best known for.  I remember seeing Art of Fighting fairly early on after Street Fighter 2 got popular.  Many Art of Fighting characters are in the KOF games, too, like King.  I’m a little surprised none of the sequels are on this collection.  Art of Fighting focuses more on plot, as you can only pick two characters if you do the Story Mode.  The other thing that really stuck out to me in Art of Fighting back then is that the camera zooms in and out of the action.  This was a sprite based game so it had to handle both background and sprite scaling at the same time for this effect.  That always impressed me back then.  The NEO GEO must’ve been pretty powerful to do that.

The Last Blade 2

Like Samurai Shodown, this one on one fighter has a feudal Japan theme.  In fact, I’ve read in some places that it’s meant to be a spinoff of that series, but I’m not sure if that’s really true.  I always get mixed up which characters are in each series, though.  For instance, I always swear cool lady Shiki is in The Last Blade, but she’s not, she’s in Samurai Shodown!  There are a couple of other cool characters in this one, but I can never remember their names.  Since this is a later NEO GEO title, the characters look more hand-drawn and less pixelly, and the animations are more fluid.

World Heroes Perfect

Like Art of Fighting, I remember seeing World Heroes a lot back then.  The cast in this one on one fighter is pretty varied, and includes a football player, a jungle man with a big mask, a French swordswoman, and a magician named Rasputin who can make his hands really big to crush his opponents.  This game is also really hard.  Too bad they didn’t include World Heroes Jet on here.  I think that was the last game in the series and has a game show theme to it.

Kizuna Encounter

I had actually never heard of this fighter before now.  It seems fairly forgettable, though.  The main character is a woman named Rosa who wears jeans and a red t-shirt and uses a sword.

Ninja Master’s

Everyone’s a ninja in this fighter.  You can pick up weapons to do more damage, too.

Top Players Golf

Now for a trio of sports games.  This golf one is OK, but I really wish they would’ve put in Neo Turf Masters instead, as that one is much better.

Super Sidekicks

This soccer game has great graphics and is easy to pick up and play, but man the CPU opponents are hard!

Football Frenzy

I don’t know which games were exclusive to the US version of the NEO GEO Mini, but I imagine this was one of them, seeing how popular football is here.  I have a hard time getting into football video games, though.  I just can’t wrap my head around all the different rules!

Blazing Star

Next three games are 2-D shooters, which were a dime a dozen back then.  This horizontally scrolling one has neat pre-rendered graphics and lots of pickups.

Last Resort

Another horizontally scrolling shooter.  This one reminds me of R-Type because you get a separate pod that shoots independently.  It’s also super hard and when you die you have to start at the beginning again, so no thank you.

Ghost Pilots

This is a vertically scrolling shooter.  You pilot a sea plane and shoot other planes over the ocean and stuff.  You can really tell this was made in response to the popularity of Capcom’s 1943 game.  You even get power-ups by shooting red planes that fly in formations!  I still like 1943 better, though.  To this day, 1943 is one of my all time favorite 2-D shooters.


And last is this puzzle game, made obvious by the title.  It plays EXACTLY like Tetris, except your goal is to free a blimp at the bottom of the screen blocked by blocks.  If you can clear enough lines so the blimp can float away, you win the level.  Since it’s an arcade game it gets hard pretty fast, though.

And those are all the games on the NEO GEO Mini!  In the comments section, let me know what you think of the roster and tell me YOUR favorite NEO GEO titles!  Later!  –Cary

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