Growing up, I really wanted a Neo Geo system for my home but I knew I could only own one in my wildest dreams. SNK’s home system was radically different from the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis, the systems it was competing against at the time, as it literally brought the arcade experience into your home. That’s because the Neo Geo wasn’t some stripped down version of the arcade machine; it was the actual arcade hardware! The problem that this meant you had to pay an hefty price for the system as well as the game cartridges! The thing was just too expensive but, ah, a kid could dream, couldn’t he?
With SNK’s announcement and imminent release of the Neo Geo Mini, it looks like my dream will finally come true! The little system is definitely a unique take on the “mini” revamps that Nintendo had with their NES and SNES Classic systems as, instead of making a smaller version of the Neo Geo console, SNK decided to “shrink” the arcade cabinet system instead. This means that the Neo Geo Mini actually has its own screen and even arcade styled joystick and button layouts, which is really neat and makes it stand out from all the other “mini” consoles out there. Also, the thing comes bundled with 40 classic games! And all of this comes at a surprisingly low price of around $120. How can I say no to that?
Well, actually, the “surprising low price” isn’t exactly as low as I thought it would be. I’ve done a little research regarding the system and it seems you’re going to shell out a little extra to really get the most out of the Neo Geo Mini because you actually don’t get everything you’ll need right out of the box. In fact, even the video revealing the system is upfront about the things that aren’t included when you get the system. And some of these things are pretty ridiculous if you ask me.
First off, you would think that the Neo Geo Mini would be a great portable system. As mentioned earlier, the system comes with its very own screen, which means you can game on the go, right? You would assume that but you can’t really do that normally as the Neo Geo Mini doesn’t have a battery. Yes, you have to have some external power supply to actually get it to turn on! That seems rather dumb and counter-intuitive, in my opinion, as it cuts down the “portability” aspect a lot. It does come with a USB-C cable but not a USB power adapter. That’s not a problem nowadays since we all probably have several USB power adapters lying around the house, so playing it at home shouldn’t be too much of a problem. But, if you want to actually play it when you’re not at home, you’re going to have to shell out a few extra bucks for a power bank.
So let’s say you want to play your brand new Neo Geo Mini at home instead. You can play it using the cute little monitor, sure. But why do that when you can hook it up to your big screen TV at home and play the games in high-definition glory? You can definitely do that but you’ll need an HDMI cable. The system doesn’t come with an HDMI cable but that shouldn’t be a problem since we also have a few of those around the house, right? Actually, SNK made the decision to use a mini port instead of the regular-sized HDMI port, which is shortsighted on their part. It’s not a huge problem since you can purchase a mini-HDMI cable or even a mini-HDMI adapter at your local electronics store (yes, they’re still around somewhere) or buy either of them online. But it does suck that SNK didn’t bother to include the cable that not many people are going to have on hand immediately.
While the power bank, USB power adapter and even the mini-HDMI connector are going to be relatively easy to find, we now get to the biggest thing that SNK failed to include with the Neo Geo Mini: extra controllers. There was a time when SNK was gunning to be the best fighting game producer and they were actually a serious contender from taking the throne away from Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. And, boy, did they make fighting games! Fatal Fury. Art of Fighting. King of Fighters. Samurai Shodown. Even lesser known “fighting games” like King of Monsters were great and you could only play them on the Neo Geo system!
But even with that being said, the Neo Geo had some good two-player games, such as Metal Slug and Mutation Nation. So the system is known for being a two-player system in a sense. However, besides the built-in arcade joystick/button layout the Neo Geo Mini has, the system doesn’t come with a second controller. You’ll have to buy that separately, which, once again, is kind of ridiculous. Remember when Nintendo released the NES Classic and fans were upset that it only came with one controller? You would think SNK would’ve learned from Nintendo’s error and bundle the Neo Geo Mini with a second controller! I guess it would’ve been weird if they made a two-player arcade layout, considering how much real estate that would take up. But, to really, get the most out of a system like the Neo Geo Mini, we really need a second controller.
There are actually ports on the side of the Neo Geo Mini that allow for extra controllers to be plugged in. Those ports use USB-C connectors, so I assumed it was possible to hook up any wired controller via the USB-C ports. Sadly, like a lot of customers, I was wrong. There have already been some people who have tested this with different controllers but the Neo Geo Mini just doesn’t register them. In retrospect, it was naive of me to think that SNK would allow the use of non-licensed controllers out of the box since they will make a lot of money selling extra controllers.
Now, despite this post sounding incredibly negative against SNK’s Neo Geo Mini system, I still really want to buy the darned thing! The Neo Geo was my dream console growing up but it was just too expensive. Even as an adult with some disposable income, collecting the original games is still incredibly pricey. I even thought about getting the SNK licensed Neo Geo X Gold but that was also rather expensive when that came out (not to mention the questionable quality of the units). I’m still incredibly interested in getting the Neo Geo Mini and the word is it’s a good little retro system as a whole. I just have to be aware that I’m technically not paying the full price if I do decide to drop the bucks to bring it home with me because of all the extra stuff I’ll have to buy later on.
What do you think of the Neo Geo Mini? Do you think SNK should’ve included those things mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!