MetalFRO's Blog

Posted on May 6th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (MetalFRO)
Posted under Neo Geo, Game collecting, collecting goals

In life, we often have big dreams. Some of them revolve around family, some of them are career goals, and others dream of financial independence. Most of us, when we're kids, have lofty goals of what we're going to achieve when we finally reach adulthood, which always seems so far away when you're young. In my case, I probably wanted to be an astronaut at some point, though that notion faded quickly. When I hit high school, I wanted to be a singer in a band, and become famous. At this point in my life, I can see how silly that dream was, given my introverted nature, and I don't exactly have the looks, either.

Thankfully, as we age, and hopefully attain some measure of wisdom, our dreams become more grounded in reality. I went from wanting to be a rock star to becoming a hot shot video game programmer/designer, and then settled into a comfortable life in Information Technology, which is at least adjacent to what I wanted to do when I went to college. Once I reached adulthood, and the reality of dream chasing set in, my goals became much smaller, and began to include collecting games. Of course, as a child of the 80's and 90's, that was naturally going to include the expensive, elusive, Neo Geo.

For those of us who grew up during the game magazine era, we might remember this ad, with the
promise of winning the "ultimate gaming rig" by entering the contest. Of course I sent in an entry.

At the start of the 90's, during the early stages of the North American console wars, a new challenger arose, known as the Neo Geo. It was never going to overtake either Sega or Nintendo, but then, it was never designed to do that. Rather, it was hardware that was meant to be a 1:1 representation of the arcade experience, minus the dimly lit rooms, cigarette smoke, and "I got next" flexing. The Neo Geo AES hardware allowed you to bring home your favorite games from the arcade platform, at a premium price. For those of us who were still in our youth during that era, owning a Neo Geo was the white whale, the ultimate prize. And given how expensive the hardware has become in the aftermarket, it's safe to say that so few of us ever realized that dream.

Fast forward a few years, and Neo Geo hardware became a bit more attainable, thanks to SNK introducing the Neo Geo CD system. Yes, it was still expensive, but not nearly as much as the AES, and because of the CD format, games were much more competitively priced. Sure, you had to wait here and there, for games to load, but it was still essentially getting an arcade experience at home, with many of the same games. There were even a handful of CD exclusives, and some games had new/remixed soundtracks that were even higher quality than the original arcade releases. But once I reached adulthood, and started to have more disposable income, even the Neo Geo CD was out of reach, because it just wasn't that widely available. My dream of owning a Neo Geo still seemed like a pipe dream. I relegated the idea of owning one to the back burner, thinking maybe, someday, I'll be rich enough to own one.

The Neo Geo CD library isn't huge, but it does have a number of quality titles.

Fast forward again, but much further this time. The year is 2021, and I'm no longer that young adult, living hand to mouth. I actually have a modicum of career success, and can afford a few of life's luxuries. I've been collecting games for many years now, and have scratched a lot of wishes off the list. Other than keeping up with the game genres and series' I like, what's left? Neo Geo, of course! I still haven't managed to tick that box. Out of the blue, I saw a tweet from a buddy who was liquidating some of his game collection. I messaged him, concerned that something was wrong, but thankfully all was well. For him, it was just time to move on from owning some of these items, and he wanted to see them go to a good home. I happened to be among those he was planning on reaching out to, so he could ensure his stuff would be in good hands, and appreciated.

He had a number of games I was after, and was willing to set them aside for me, instead of sending them straight to eBay, which I appreciated. This included the final North American original PlayStation shmup I needed for my collection, Thunder Force V Perfect System[//i]. It also included a handful of Dreamcast shooters, most of which I felt would be out of reach for me, due to the sheer expense. And because he knew I was after one, he offered me his Neo Geo CDZ hardware, along with a small stack of games. The CDZ is somewhat sought after, because its CD-ROM drive has a slightly larger cache than previous models, so the load times are a bit snappier. Yes, it's a Japanese-only model, but thankfully, NGCD games are not region locked, so it will play North American releases as well. Finally, I would have the ability to play some of the Neo Geo classics at home, without emulating!

The Neo Geo CDZ is somewhat known for overheating, if the console is left on too long.
My friend graciously included this PlayStation cooling stand, to help alleviate that issue.

Given that Japanese electronics run on a 100 watt power standard, and in North America, we standardize at 110 watts, I had to buy a step-down converter. I also needed to get connectivity for my new console, so I ordered an Insurrection Industries RGB SCART cable, with a pigtail to convert the 3.5mm audio adapter to the stereo RCA cables, so I could get full stereo audio out of the ports in the back of the system. That's now connected to my Open Source Scan Converter, and I can scale it at 5x, to take the glorious 240P signal and make it a gorgeous 1080P picture. I also ordered a 6-foot controller extension cable, since I'd be far enough away from the console to necessitate it. It all came together pretty quickly.

So after many years of wishing, I finally took the plunge on a Neo Geo CD, thanks to the generosity of a friend. It was still an investment, however. Even at "good guy" prices, the bundle of stuff I got wasn't an inexpensive venture. But for me, it was worth the money. Having some kind of Neo Geo hardware, and a batch of games to play on it, was something I've wanted to achieve for a long time. And thankfully, that dream has finally been realized. What are some of your game collecting dreams, and how close are you to realizing them? Perhaps my story can help motivate you to start chasing them again.

And in case anyone wants to see the full scope of what I got, here is my April 2021 pickups/arrivals video, where I show off my stuff, sans console, because it was already hooked up Smiley

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Congrats!  The Neo Geo AES and the Neo Geo CD are two systems I want to get.  One can dream...
Cool stand, brah.
@shaggy: In all honesty, NGCD isn't that terribly expensive, and some of the games are still available for a decent price. But some games start to get real ridiculous. Thankfully, the system plays CD-Rs just fine, so you can "try before you buy" to not waste a bunch of money on a game you won't get your money's worth from.

@Zagnorch: Why thank you Smiley
Your article makes me think back to my original collecting goal, set in the late 90's. Get all 4 NES Dragon Warriors and Tengen Tetris. I try not to buy much online unless I'm very familiar with the source, so it took about 15 years, but goal accomplished, and I get how sweet it feels when you hit one of those long term collecting dreams.
Just remember reading video game magazines and seeing the reviews with the price of about Ģ120 for the game. Wow.
@EZ Racer: I remember you telling me about the Dragon Warrior games, but I don't remember discussing Tengen Tetris. When did you acquire that one?

@ZX Kid: Yes, Neo Geo games were expensive, even when they launched, so that always put the thought in my mind that I may never have been able to afford them.
Great system to collect, I have now 36 English Neo Geo Cd's and also a few Japanese ones. The US ones are fun to collect as they are quite uncommon, but still affordable for most games

@sharp: Very nice! I haven't started pricing out North American releases yet, but I'm sure that will come in time Smiley
Congrats to getting the system. What are your top 3 favourite-NGCD games so far? I donīt play my NG CD that often, but ist the consolebox i look most proudest on the shelf, because it was always a child-hood-dream for me, too.
Really aprreciate the top-controller-pad for the system. They are so sleak!!!
@ericeskapade: Thanks! Top 3 so far are Viewpoint, Last Resort, and then maybe Sonic Wings 2, though I haven't played enough to really gauge what comes last. And yes, the controllers are amazing! I didn't think I would take to them so quickly, but the micro-switched pad with the joystick nub is a lot more intuitive than I figured it would be, and it feels great to use.

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