VGA 101 Gallery/Review: NEOGEO X Gold – 90’s Nostalgia Reimagined Almost Flawlessly

NGXG_LE_LogoA few days later than expected, but yes indeed, my NGX Gold has arrived. I also got a few other games as you can see in photo 1. Journey: Collector’s Edition (which is a great set of games non-gamers out there need to check out), my other copy of The Walking Dead (Best Buy screwed up and sent me the standard edition and not the BB version with the poster) alongside the Telltale version with the sticker on the case. Eh, whatever. It was the same price and I have no room here for anything on the walls but games) and The Glory of Heracles, which I couldn’t pass up for five dollars new. It didn’t get knockout reviews, but I played it for about half an hour and found it pretty amusing. I have a Heracles no Eikou game for the Super Famicom here in the library, so it’s nice to see that old series continue in the present day. OK, let’s get even more nostalgic and take a look as what’s in the box…

First and foremost, I have to bitch a little about Best Buy’s choice of shipping packaging. My Wii U I bought from them was wonderfully packed into a sturdy box and arrived in perfect  shape. On the other hand, the sent the NGX wrapped in a white plastic bag with no protection, so one of the corners of the box got a bit crunched and there’s some light dings here and there. Boo. While I’m not as anal a collector as I used to be, I can see some hardcore folks going mildly mad, putting the package into a real box and shipping it back for a refund or replacement. Fortunately, Tommo and SNK went and packed the small suitcase sized box (which is bigger than I thought) like they were shipping a fragile snow globe and the contents inside were perfect.

Two boxes sit inside the bigger outer box (which actually has a handle on it), one has the handheld NEOGEO X system, the charging unit/carrying case, HDMI cable and instruction manual while the other has a big, clicky arcade stick that looks and feels like the original console’s, a standard AV cable, power supply and the bonus Ninja Master’s game card. Yeah, “Master’s” is grammatically incorrect, but that’s how it’s always been spelled (SNK’s arcade games weren’t known for their stellar localizations) and as much as I’d love to change it, I’m leaving it as is. Setting things up is easy as pie, but I wanted to do it right and charge up the handheld fully before hopping into the included games. You need to flip open the charging unit, make sure the X is turned off, slide it into the ports carefully, plug in the AC, close the case and slide the front power switch on.

It’s actually a really cool thing to see the case closed up because it looks like you have a brand new (slightly smaller) NeoGeo in your home. I was initially hoping the X would pop into the cartridge slot and stick out, but this works better because it keeps the unit free from dust and curious folk who might take the thing out when it’s charging up. It takes about two hours or so to get a full charge and the battery life is about four hours. The manual and charger warn you to NOT try and charge the X outside of the base, so I’m not about to try that and potentially fry the thing anytime soon. As I’ve a bigger standard definition TV in the living room, I was thrilled to not need to run out and buy cables (a problem certain other consoles have). Between that and the twenty included games built into the X, this is plug and play gaming at its best. You can be out of the box and gaming on your TV within five minutes tops.

SNK wants you to experience the games as they were originally played at home or in the arcades, so that controller is as important as the system it’s made for. The arcade stick here is fantastic, period. There’s a note in the manual about the ball on the top being glued down instead of removable to eliminate a potential choking hazard, but other than that, the sturdy design and lovely clicking sounds are all intact. If you’re more used to modern analog controls, old-school D-pads (or lawd help you, ONLY touch controls), there’s a possible learning curve that’s going to hit you in the head for a bit. But that’s a great thing, as the different genres represented all make for great practice material. I’ll touch on them in a future post, but for the record, you get 3-Count Bout, Alpha Mission II, Art of Fighting, Baseball Stars 2, Cyber-Lip, Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury Special, King of Fighters ’95, King of the Monsters, Last Resort, League Bowling, Magician Lord, Metal Slug, Mutation Nation, NAM-1975, Puzzled, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, Samurai Showdown II, Super Sidekicks and World Heroes Perfect FREE and ready to play from a straightforward menu screen.

As for the handheld itself, without a web browser, camera or other functions expected by some techies, I can see some of these folks ripping the X for what it DOESN’T have. However, as a dedicated gaming system, it’s amazing because it sticks to what it NEEDS to do with no frills for the gamer who doesn’t need them. you can choose from the original arcade or widescreen 16:9 views and unlike some emulations of classic games of the era on other platforms, you don’t get a blown out image with blurry text when you play in widescreen mode.Even the ancient sounds from the arcade games is properly replicated, although that’s not a good thing for those expecting higher quality audio. Any voice in the games sounds as if it’s coming from an old radio, but that’s how it was in the arcades, folks. Headphones or earbuds help a lot here, but other than that, the audio is pretty loud for a handheld system.

As for where this handheld fits historically, well… it’s not “competing” with anything else out today, so wasting ink on point by point comparisons with iOS or other technically superior devices is useless. If I HAD to compare it with something, it would be those well-intentioned but lower quality handhelds and retro-themed gaming handhelds and plug ‘n play units that that run 8 and 16-bit carts and/or have in built in software. The X smokes them all thanks to its beautiful design, sturdy construction, and responsive buttons. Before you ask, that disc pad is as loud and satisfyingly clicky as the arcade stick. Between that and a big, shiny SNK logo on the grippy ribbed rubber back, it’s quite clear that SNK/Playmore WANTS people to know what you have in your hands should you take this system on the road, so be warned. You’re going to have someone ask you what you’re playing and I’m betting the company is counting on that word of mouth to drive a few sales their way.

If anyone says there’s no room for dedicated handhelds anymore, I’d say once they give this a try, something’s going to click other than that controller. In closing, while it’s absolutely a niche system in this era of smartphones and download-driven content, the NEOGEO X is still an outstanding product because you can see and feel the quality and care that went into putting it together. SNK has a large enough games library to support the system with releases for a while, but I’d also love to see the possibility of new content as well as users tweaking the handheld to play other games. As always, we shall see… but with something this well made and perfectly priced, I can’t see things going anywhere but up should core gamers give the X the proper respect it deserves.

DSC00492 (Custom) DSC00493 (Custom) DSC00494 (Custom) DSC00496 (Custom) DSC00497 (Custom) DSC00499 (Custom) DSC00502 (Custom) DSC00504 (Custom) DSC00505 (Custom) DSC00507 (Custom) DSC00509 (Custom) DSC00511 (Custom) DSC00514 (Custom) DSC00516 (Custom) DSC00518 (Custom)

9 thoughts on “VGA 101 Gallery/Review: NEOGEO X Gold – 90’s Nostalgia Reimagined Almost Flawlessly

  1. Great review of the NEO GEO X. I agree with all of your comments; I really do. I recently recieved my own and I love it.
    It’s built to do one thing and it does it perfectly.
    To be fair I do have to point out that I never had a NEO GEO and never even had a chance to play it back in the day. Back then I only ever saw people playing it. And I wanted it. It looked so awesome. So when I say it does it perfectly there could be details unknown to me but so far it’s something that I’m really pleased to have purchased.
    This was our chance to finally get a NEO GEO! And I’m so happy for it. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Fighting games which dominate the current library of this system I still really wanted it.

    As you say the quality is excellent. I also compared it to other recent retro hand helds like the atgames gopher (which is pretty good) and the NEO GEO X crushes it in the quality department.
    What I’m really hoping for now is if they start releasing more games on SD cards and that they put them in really nice packages. Something collectors (like us) will want to put on display. My preference would be for hard plastic cases similar to Genesis or NDS cases. The cardboard sleeve the bonus game came on was weak. But that was just a add-on free-bee.

    Now the one big down side that I noticed has to do with the games. They’re arcade games that take quarters but we have all the virtual quarters we need… so if you want to, you will beat the game. Taking out the challenge does take away some of the fun. I jumped into Magician Lord and man it was hard! But what could stop me? You never get set back. You die, click for virutal quarter and you’re back and the enemies and bosses don’t recover any health. There was only one level (cloud level) some some crazy hard moving platform jumping that almost made me give up. The up side is I finally got to play a game that amazed me as a kid.
    But for any 2D Fighting fans playing head to head with a buddy should be pretty awesome.
    I actually ordred a second controller after I recieved my NEO GEO X because after getting hands on the quality won me over; despite how expensive it was.

    The NEO GEO can take a charge over USB from a PC. I had no trouble an the battery life is very good.

    Like

    • I heard from another X owner about the USB charging on a PC, but I think SNK/Playmore is covering their bases by warning users. I know they don’t want to be sending out replacements to people who fry theirs by poking around inside or who plug it into something that it’s not supposed to be plugged into, so I’ll give them points for putting all those warnings out.

      As for game cards, I think they’ll be sold on cardboard cards just to save money, as it’s pretty expensive to bulk produce proprietary packing, artwork sleeves and even the slimmest manual. I guess if they had a ton of N-Gage game cases somewhere (which are about the size of that Ninja Master’s card), that would do, as they’re small and have space for multiple cards. That or if they make a multi-card case that holds a bunch of game cards (this could be a third party solution). I guess if the system does well, we may see actual packaged games. I’m just happy that they spent their money very wisely on designing everything in the box so darn well. Now I want to see all of their huge arcade library get released.

      I have the feeling it may also be a multi-game card thing as well just to keep costs down. Individual games may be too expensive to produce and some titles won’t be as popular as others (sports games, for example). So I think we’ll see small collection cards themed to different genres instead. What may be cool is if SNK/P sells blank cards and lets users download content or lets us choose games they’ll add to cards so people can collect specific games. Sort of like the blank Super Famicom carts gamers in Japan could load up with games from a vending machine in some Japanese retail shops.

      As for those unlimited credits… well, NeoGeo arcade and home machines had memory card slots that allowed players to take save states home with them and the home versions of the games operated the same as they do on the X, so it’s pretty much the same as it was back then in terms of games being easier to play at home. I guess SNK figured out back in the 90’s that home users who paid a few hundred bucks for the system and something like $200 and up for each game cart weren’t going to be jamming quarters into their TVs at home, that’s for sure…

      Like

  2. Hey geelw,
    Have you hooked up your NEO GEO X to a TV yet? How does it look? I just tried mine tonight and it wont work at all. Using my docking station causes my NEO GEO X to lock up.
    They all can’t be like this so I’m pretty sure mine must be defective.
    Before tonight I’ve only used the hand held to play game and that has been fine.

    Like

    • Hmmm. Make sure the handheld is OFF before putting it into the base unit, pop it in, close the case, connect the power adapter and TV cable and turn the system on using the switch on the closed case. I made the error of thinking I needed to turn the NGX on, but that gets you an error screen on the handheld.

      Like

      • Yes it was off before I docked it. It’s a good point but I did remember. And I tried several times. It’s a shame really.
        When you port it out to TV does it look as sharp and crisp as it does on the hand held screen?

        Like

      • Hmmm… I wonder if it’s an issue with PAL format televisions or something? Sorry to hear you’re having problems! As for the picture, I’ll need to check it out on a HD set, but it looks quite good on my “old” standard def TV. The colors really pop off the screen, but I noticed when you press the MENU button on the base unit, the little image is a tiny bit blurry. I also noticed a slight flickering in some games when they’re not being played (on the attract screens), but that may have something to do with me having too much stuff plugged into the outlet I’m using. I should compare the quality to the PS2 collection I have here and see how different the games look.

        Like

      • Ah comparing it to your PS2 collection is a great idea. That’s a good thought.
        My TV is NTSC and I bought it from the USA so I’m assuming it’s not PAL. Nothing on the box says one way or another. I would have guessed the same system and handle both systems.

        Like

      • Wow, that’s weird. It’s got to be the docking station and not the handheld, so I’m hoping that can be replaced. If you’re using a NTSC set there, it SHOULD work fine… I’m actually at the library here for a few hours and not near my systems or I’d try and do some troubleshooting to see if I could help you out. Hmmm. Maybe do a Google or Bing search for NeoGeo X problems or something, as if there is some sort of issue with the handheld or dock not functioning properly with some TV’s, people will be talking about it. Would you be able to connect it to a PAL format set to check or does that require a different cable?

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.