Neo Geo AES
The Neo Geo started as (and is still most known for) it's unique MVS arcade arcade system. It was originally released in Japan on January 31, 1990 by SNK and the eventual home AES system competed against the SNES and Genesis.
The original Multi Video System (MVS) was an arcade cabinet that could have several slots (up to 6, but typically 4), each of which could contain a seperate game cartridge. An additional button on the cabinet allowed the user to select which game they wanted to play. For arcade owners this was a great benefit as they could have a single cabinet with several games and could also swap out those games more easily than they could with a traditional cabinet.
The Advanced Entertainment System (AES) is a home console version of the MVS. It was released in North America in 1991 by SNK Playmore. Because of the high price for the AES the console was originally made available only to commercial venues like hotels and bars. The AES was the most powerful gaming console at launch, being nearly identical in specs to the MVS. SNK decided that some players would pay for the machine and decided to release it to the home market. The price at launch was $649.99.
It was originally released as the Gold Edition with two joystick controllers and either Baseball Stars Professional or Nam-1975. A later release of the Gold Edition contained either Magician Lord or Fatal Fury. A silver version was ralso released for $399.99 which contained one controller and no game.
SNK marketed the Neo Geo AES as 24-bit console, but it was a 16 bit system with an 8-bit Zilog Z80 as coprocessor used as a CPU and for sound processing.
Cartridges for the AES were very simillar to the MVS cartridges and were very expensive. They started at $200 per game and went upwards from there. Because of the cost of the cartridges the AES carts are still expensive when found, because of this many Neo Geo owners seek out the much cheaper MVS cartridges and use an convertor to play them on the AES.
Games came on different size ROM cartridges. Specification for ROM size was 330 megabits. The system displays the label MAX 330 MEGA PRO-GEAR SPEC on startup of a standard size cartridge. Some games over 100 megabits showed THE 100MEGA SHOCK! Instead, and later games with bank switching cartridges of up to 716 megabits showed GIGA POWER PRO-GEAR SPEC.
SNK officially stopped producing the AES console in 1997, but continued to release games in their flagship series until 2004. The final game released for the AES was Samurai Showdown V Special.
93 games are available for the North American version of the Neo Geo AES.
The Neo Geo AES consoles are not region locked and the US console can play Japanes cartridges, but every cartridge holds both North American and Japanese versions of the game and the version played is automatically selected by the system bios.
In December 2012 SNK licensed the Neo Geo out to manufacturer Tommo Inc. to release the Neo Geo X. A handheld console with built in memory and a card slot for games that also fits into a dock that resembles the original Neo Geo for play on a TV with a joystick modeled after the original console. 20 games are installed on each console. The following year 5 volumes of 3 games were released on cards. These were also combined into a Mega Pack. All volumes and the mega pack include a new cable and firmware for the console. Currently there are 36 games available on the Neo Geo X.