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Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 Review

Neo Geo Mega Pack Volume 1 (1)

Emulation is almost always a difficult task. When programmers attempt to deliver replications of cherished arcade games, expectations of pixel-perfect performance can add to the complication. Such was the case with the Neo Geo X. Although the standalone system was able to run its anthology of twenty titles at a respectable speed, issues such as screen tearing, graphical shimmering, sound reproduction, and overscan tuning sullied the overall experience. Since the SNK library is revered by many gamers, this made the $200 console difficult to recommend.

Fortunately- the system’s manufacturer, Tommo, recently issued a firmware update which remedies many of these afflictions. The downside is that since the Neo Geo X forgoes any online connectivity and relies on proprietary SD cards for patches and additional games, the revision comes at a cost. Currently, the most inexpensive method obtain the revision is by purchasing an entry in the Neo Geo Classic series. Each volume in the five-part compilation holds three new games, as well as the update. Alternatively, passionate players might invest in the Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1, which contains all fifteen of the games on a single SD card as well as the new firmware data.

Neo Geo Mega Pack Volume 1 (3)

To enable the update, each collection of games ships with a small Rocket Cable. After inserting the SD card into the Neo Geo X, players simply plug the console’s power supply into one side of this device. Then, while holding the start button down, they insert the other end of the Rocket Cable into the USB slot of the portable. Flashing lights on the linking device indicate the connection status while an on-screen meter shows the progress of the system upgrade. In execution, the ‘Version 500’ update is completed in about ten minutes, including the brief time it takes for the system to automatically reboot.

Once the system update installed, the Neo Geo X’s emulation receives a remarkable boost in quality. One of the most noticeable improvements is the quality of the television signal. When using the analog composite cables, output still suffers from a bit of oversaturation and slight contrast issues. But other than those small details, picture sharpness has been radically improved. When using HDMI, the console also demonstrates a significant increase in quality. When using these digital connectors, output now resembles the look of a classic AES system.

Neo Geo Mega Pack Volume 1 (4)

Whereas a small part of the pre-patch Neo Geo X’s screen was lost in the peripheries, now the console scales to the size of output device, adeptly accommodating overscan. For widescreen televisions, the Neo Geo X automatically converts the native 4:3 picture to a 16:9 display. Remarkably, the aspect ratio adaptation is handled proficiently, exhibiting neither a squatty image nor the shimmering effect which plagued the older emulation software. Unfortunately, screen tearing has only been diminished and hasn’t been completely excised from the console. While CRT play never produced any lag issues, a slightly delay between input and execution was noticeable on some HDTVs. With the update installed, play now feels particularly snappy, improving our performance across the Neo Geo X’s rich fighting game library. The ability to save progress is also a boon for players, since the portable still lacks the capacity for a sleep mode.

One the firmware update is installed, the menu system is revamped, improving both the aesthetic and functionality of the interface. For players who purchased Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1, the pack’s selection of fifteen games are accessible through the center icon in the revolving menu. Although the $80 purchase costs five dollar more than buying the five card Neo Geo Classic collection, there are two advantages. Not only does Volume 1 arrive in a hardcase resembling the original AES packaging (and offering a secure place to transport the portable) but bundled collections frees players from having to continually swap SD cards.

Neo Geo Mega Pack Volume 1 (6)

For fighting game aficionados, the Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 provides plenty of prospects for pugnaciousness. Beyond providing fast and responsive combat, Garou: Mark of the Wolves offers some of the best character animation seen on the system, while games such as Art of Fighting 3, King of Fighters ’96, Samurai Shodown III, and World Heroes 2 Jet improve on each franchise’s impassioned fisticuffs. Titles such as Savage Reign and Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle might lack the name recognition of the previously mentioned games, but both are elevated by gallant variations- from the use of two-tiered arenas to hotly contested zones where players are allowed to swap characters.

Shmuppies will appreciate the inclusion of Blazing Star, a horizontally scrolling shooter which utilizes pre-rendered backgrounds. Meanwhile, Saurus’ Shock Troopers is a worthwhile eight-way blast-a-thon which recalls Ikari Warriors or Heavy Barrel. For those who prefer a bit of jumping mixed in with their lead-pumping, Metal Slug 2 is the Volume’s high point, with Blue’s Journey extending more of a straight-ahead action/platformer. The games on the Mega Pack which don’t stand the test of time are the card’s brawlers- Sengoku and Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy, which seem a little too austere by today’s standards. That said, punching a screen-sized skull that’s puking malicious swordsmen still holds a bit of playful quirk.

Neo Geo Mega Pack Volume 1 (5)

In the mid ‘90s, purchasing all the games on the Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 would have set you back at least two thousand dollars. Now, Neo Geo X players can own the fifteen-game collection for a little over five dollars a title. For anyone who ever yearned to own their own AES, the volume is a comparative bargain, and is much cheaper proposition than seeking out the original ROMs. Thanks to the firmware update on the card, playing the compilation offers an experience that’s closer to the authentic AES experience as well.

Emulation is almost always a difficult task. When programmers attempt to deliver replications of cherished arcade games, expectations of pixel-perfect performance can add to the complication. Such was the case with the Neo Geo X. Although the standalone system was able to run its anthology of twenty titles at a respectable speed, issues such as screen tearing, graphical shimmering, sound reproduction, and overscan tuning sullied the overall experience. Since the SNK library is revered by many gamers, this made the $200 console difficult to recommend. Fortunately- the system’s manufacturer, Tommo, recently issued a firmware update which remedies many of these…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 85%
Story - 70%
Aesthetics - 75%
Content - 80%
Accessibility - 85%

79%

Good

Summary : For fans of SNK’s fighters, Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 is an advisable purchase. At the very least, Neo Geo X owners should purchase at least one of the Neo Geo Classic cards, if only for the included firmware improvements.

User Rating: 2.63 ( 8 votes)

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

15 comments

  1. Mark of the Wolves is one of my favorite Neo Geo fighters. Is there any other system that has it (Virtual Console, PSN, etc?)

  2. I wish SNK didn’t give up on their collections. Volume 1 for the Wii PS2 and PSP never got a Volume 2.

    Until the whole SNK library comes out, I probably won’t be buying into this.

  3. “Now, Neo Geo X players can own the fifteen-game collection for a little over five dollar a title.”

    Yeah, if you DON’T factor in the $200 system to play them on.

  4. I heard about some of the Neo Geo X’s getting bricked by the update. Have you heard of any problems.

  5. Well, the case is cool. It’s the same size as the old NEOGEO boxes?

  6. Wow, sounds like the firmware was a big improvement.

    $80 for 15 games is reasonable, but if you had to pick 1 or 2 of the 3 game packs which ones would you choose?

  7. I’d love to see some Neo Geo videos of the games. You guys should post some vids on Youtube.

  8. Has anyone hacked the NeoGeo X to play other games. A SNES or Genesis emulator would be pretty cool.

  9. Good review. Hopefully, SNK and Tommo will bring out the whole collection so we can play Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad, Pulstar and Magic Drop 3.

  10. Aren’t all the game available on PS3. That way you don’t have to buy the $200 console if you already have a system.

  11. Are they still making the NeoGeo Gold? I can’t seem to find one anywhere?

  12. I’ve just bought one of these (arrived yesterday) and you can still get them from amazon in the states and if you are in the uk then check out http://www.funstock.co.uk/neo-geo-x

    The joysticks also work on PC and PS3 which is a bonus!

  13. Perhaps the most obvious point is that anyone with a computer can download an emulator and every neo geo, arcade, Snes and genesis game for free. With that in mind, you would have to be an idiot to pay $200 for a machine that emulates 20 neo geo games badly. It doesn’t even allow games to be downloaded which makes it an even more stupid idea.

    SNK went out of business years ago so with the best will in the world, I couldn’t care less about how downloading games for free might effect the profitability of whoever bought the rights to the snk library. If they were still making neo geo games, I might consider supporting them but they aren’t adding any value at all.

    This system is not the original console so it has zero collectors appeal (at least to me). It sounds like it is plagued with problems that are annoying to fix. It has only a fraction of the neo geo games available and it outputs to an HDTV like a bad emulator. It basically has no redeeming features.

    Plus you can play emulated games on smart phones, iPads and laptops etc so the fact that there is a portable playing option isn’t even a little bit cool. Why would anyone carry another device just for 20 neo geo games? They aren’t even the best neo geo games. Now, had they released this device around the same time as when Sega released its Gamegear, it may have been interesting but they didn’t. They are 20 years too late to be cool.

    I wish people would stop looking for ways to make money from video games from 1991. It’s over. Get over it! You took all of my quarters when I was a kid and I am never going to pay you any money to play those old games ever again! I don’t care if you put the emulator inside a box that looks like my old neo geo!!! You can’t fool me!