Nostalgia for classic gaming has never been higher, as evidenced by pop culture references and the release of “mini” classic consoles. Atari has released several versions of their Atari 2600 under the Flashback name; Sega has given a similar treatment to the Master System and the Genesis. Nintendo in particular has also been on a roll lately, launching both the NES Classic and Super Nintendo Classic to critical and sales acclaim. Both of these systems have proven to be hugely popular, offering miniature versions of the popular consoles they’re named after, which reigned supreme in the 80’s and up to the mid 90’s. These consoles are popular for breathing life back into the video game industry after the video game crash of 1983 in the West. The platforms are also responsible for bringing us timeless classics like Mario Bros. Balloon Fight, and Bases Loaded, among others. The console also received ports of the most popular games in the arcade, such as Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, and Pac-Man, among others. Few companies stood a chance against Nintendo and Sega, as they waged the great “Bit War” in the late 80’s to determine which one would come out on top in terms of visuals and gameplay. While we know how that race ended, the competition stole ground away from other companies who also wanted to release their own consoles, and because of this (among other reasons), they never made it into the mainstream market.
The Neo-Geo AES by SNK is one such console. Touted as a “24-bit” cartridge-based console (due to the custom 24-bit GPU), this was launched in 1990 alongside the arcade version that was known as the MVS. The hardware between the two was exactly the same, allowing for true arcade-quality home ports that could be delivered quickly. Compared to the competition of the SNES and Genesis, the AES offered crisp 2D graphics along with vastly superior sound quality. The problem with this business model was the launch price, sporting the steep entry cost of $700. The games were then $200 each, a far cry above $80 cartridges found among the competition. Despite these factors, the AES/MVS platform was responsible for many iconic franchises, such as Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, and mainly the King of Fighters and Metal Slug series.