Tag Archives: Neo Geo

Sony PVM 8042-Q: Is it Truly Worth it?

For the past few years, it seems that several in the retro gaming community have begun looking for the best ways to maximize their gaming experience. In an age where modern TVs no longer are retro friendly. Instead, several individuals have begun to look into the past, discovering that maybe those giant CRT TVs have some use after all these years.

For numerous people, it would only seem that the RCA or S-video was the best way to play your classic games since those were the ones plenty grew up with. However, the past few years have proven its time to move onto a format that will require several to rethink about how retro games should be intended to appear, RGB. In general, RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue and considered by several to be the best format to display your retro systems on. Yet, the issue arises from how to enable this display into your TVs.  There are several manners to achieve RGB but the most common path is to have it displayed from a SCART cable which was only exclusive to Europe. Unfortunately for several Americans, there is no way to plug a scart cable in our TV sets without the use of a converter. For several people, getting all this equipment to optimized for RGB is not something that a multitude of people can afford. In addition, there are some systems that need to be optimized for RGB using soldering skills or having someone do it for you. But for those who can, it’s something that will blow your mind away!

Next, since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you understand that you’re either interesting in knowing more displaying RGB on a TV or curious to observe what it can offer. There are several options for displaying RGB Scart to your TV. An affordable way to display it is by buying an RGB to HDMI or Component/YPBPR converter which may introduce some lag depending on if you plug it into an HD TV or CRT TV that accepts component inputs. Previously, I owned an RGB to Component converter for 2 years and I enjoyed it and it introduced me to RGB’s offerings. Another option is to invest in an XRGB Framemeister or OSSC to display RGB onto your modern television that accept HDMI/Component/VGA signals but these are pricey and recommended with those who have more spending money than others. Finally, the (subjectively speaking) superior way to display is to convert the SCART into BNC towards a professional CRT monitor like a Sony PVM.

After several years of research with additional mass hours of tedious work, I finally decided to sell my SCART to component converter and invest in a Sony PVM 8042Q, part of a line of professional video monitors which several retro gamers consider to be the holy grail of CRT TVs. With its 250 resolution lines, several outputs, including BNC, S-Video, and Composite, and 16:9 option, the 8042Q is a great way to enter the world of the RGB Monitors. At the time, I bought mine for about 80 dollars and one of the best purchases I’ve made.

Following suit, after testing the PVM with my Famicom, Genesis/Mega Drive, Saturn, SNES, PlayStation 1, N64, and Dreamcast I could not complain about the quality of the picture being displayed. There are some issues like it not being able fit the entire image for those 5th generation and Dreamcast due to the screen size limitation and its inability to display 480p which may be in part of when it release time instead of not being able to implement it due to the fact that I would love to play the rest of the 6th Generation in a miniature monitor. Another issue is the fact that it has only mono sound which means that you would need to convert the stereo sound into a mono via an adapter which is not that expensive but still it may annoy some audiophiles.

Overall, my conclusion is that for the price and size, it’s a great entry-level RGB monitor for those interested in entering the world of CRTs. Though prices for RGB monitors have begun to rise over the past few years, there are still chances for fantastic deals online and in person depending on your search for and there are several guides online to help with this journey which I’ll post below.

http://pastebin.com/H9H9L2LQ
http://pastebin.com/pQX4N6gZ

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fatal Fury 25th Anniversary Review

fatfury1intro-classicterry
The lone wolf, Terry Bogard

HEY C’MON! C’MON!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter II, but also another franchise serving as a spiritual sequel and  former rival to Street Fighter, SNK’s Fatal Fury. Developing during the same time as Street Fighter II by former Capcom employees, Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto, who produced and directed the original Street Fighter back in 1987.

The Fatal Fury series was one of SNK’s biggest franchise on the Neo Geo which starred the Bogard brothers, Terry and Andy with their friend Joe Higashi on their quest for revenge against Geese Howard, responsible for the death of their adopted father a decade prior. The trio fights their way through the King of Fighters tournament against many opponents, including Duck King, Raiden, Tung Fu Rae, and Billy Kane (a tournament and cast of characters later appearing in SNK’s biggest IP).

 

fatfury1
The USA flyer

Important to realize that releasing this after Street Fighter II it was not well-received. With this in mind, it was attack for being an inferior clone of SF II. When in fact, Fatal Fury is the spiritual successor to Street Fighter incorporating ideas cut from Street Fighter to Fatal Fury. While Street Fighter II, empathized a faster-pace and combo-based fighting system, Fatal Fury was more about timing of special moves.

For instance, one of Fatal Fury’s  strengths relies in the storytelling. While SF II did not connect the events of the original. Fatal Fury’s storytelling made players empathized with Terry and Andy’s quest for revenge and connecting audiences to the world of Fatal Fury by releasing a variety of media providing back stories and other details surrounding the game’s lore. By the same token, using cut scenes in-between matches helps narrate the plot.

Furthermore, the game utilizing extensive use of the Neo Geo, the game incorporated lane switching to attract customers. Regardless, the issues stem from crudely implementing this feature. Finally, the game emphasizes playing cooperatively with a friend instead of fighting them one-on-one something Street Fighter would not  return to until the Street Fighter Alpha series.

fatal-fury2_1
Fatal Fury encouraged 2 player co-op rather than fighting against them

Whereas graphically, the game still holds up well, it’s no Real Bout Special nor Garou but the graphics are average for a 1991 Neo Geo game.Offering a variety of colors, making the game seem lively.

As a matter of fact, refining the controls than the spiritual prequel. The specials are simple to perform yet, improve in future titles.Requiring accurate timing to perform these.

However, the music is a clear victor! As a matter of fact, SNK is noted for fantastic music in their games. Lead composer Toshikazu Tanaka, the man responsible for several tracks mentions, “the game has an impact that sets it apart from other games, creating sounds that will stick in the player’s memory. So with Fatal Fury, I wasn’t aiming merely to surpass Street Fighter II, making sure the quality was a step or two above the competition.” For instance,  “Geese ni Kissu/ A Kiss for Geese”, used when fighting the boss Geese Howard is embedded in the SNK lore, rearranging and covering it in future titles Geese Howard appears in.

Of course, Street Fighter II raises the bar for fighting games and improving from the prequel. Hence, giving people the opportunity to show off one’s skill in the game with fast gameplay and a memorable cast of fighters.

Street_Fighter_II
Street Fighter II got more attention since it came out first and created a new formula from its predecessor.

A point often overlooked, Fatal Fury is the forgotten step-brother to Street Fighter. Additionally, several elements of each game parallel one another. For instance, Terry and Andy Bogard are improvements of Ryu and Ken. In a general sense, Terry is more fleshed out version of Ryu, whom felt dry with his goal to become a skilled fighter. On the other hand, Terry is just a man who wanted revenge on his adopted father’s killer yet, has a human side that Ryu lacks. As an illustration, Terry is able to bring hope to the people of Southtown, making new friends and rivals, and eventually, a father figure. 

Notably, Andy is a detailed Ken Masters. For instance, Andy sees his older brother as his rival and desires to become the stronger of the two. Later on, gaining his own student. To clarify, Andy does not play like a copy of Terry, gaining his own fighting style. Thus, proving his own against the Main character syndrome.

In short, Fatal Fury is still worth a play through. The game not only improves from the original Street Fighter but adds content that shoves the former aside. While Capcom released minor revisions of SF II, SNK would create true sequels that not improved the original, but also changed the formula keeping it relevant in the competitive fighting game market of the 90s. At the same time, SNK paid tribute to the game that started their rise in the industry as Terry returns in King of Fighters XIV featuring an homage to original attire.

 Requiring a strong tolerance for early 90’s fighters, but in the end coming with a great reward.

1_Terry_Bogard

24615475529_6f89757abe_z
Terry returns to the ring in KOF XIV featuring his original attire from Fatal Fury.

Sources:

http://www.1up.com/features/the-man-who-created-street-fighter

http://www.vgmonline.net/toshikazutanakainterview/precisely

Good Bye SNK: The King of Fighters 2000 Review

 

The Fall of SNK

It’s the year 2000, the start of a new millennium! The good news is we’ve survived Y2K! Well, several of us. The late 90s and early 2000s were a difficult time for several Japanese game developers like Sega, SNK, and Data East. Struggling to survive by making staff cuts and developing that one game that could save the company.

As the 90s progressed, it seemed that 2D games were  put aside for 3D based games that we’re rapidly taking over with titles like Super Mario 64, Virtua Fighter 2, and Tomb Raider impressing audiences for their remarkable 3D graphics (for the time). Consequently, forcing multiple companies to either enter the 3D Market or leave.

Even more, with SNK competing in the console market with their AES (Advance Entertainment System) were trapped with which direction to go into. The AES was not selling well since it’s $400+ price tag was not meant for the middle class consumer. Not even their cheaper Neo Geo CD was selling enough, despite its cheaper price tag. Add to that, even the smallest amount of 3rd party developers halted development for Neo-Geo or left the gaming industry entirely. So by 1997, SNK announced the discontinuation of the AES, yet games were still being developed until 2004.

As a result, SNK decided to enter the 3D market with the successor to the Neo Geo, Hyper Neo-Geo 64. Unfortunately, that failed to attract arcade goers competing with the likes of Sega’s Model 3 and the Namco System 12. Releasing merely seven games during its life span.

garou-title
“Titles like Garou: Mark of the Wolves weren’t good enough to turn a profit SNK needed.”

Despite that, the releases on the MVS during this time (1997-1999) are among the best SNK released with titles like Last Blade, King of Fighters 98, Metal Slug X, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves were not successful enough to turn a profit.

Accordingly, SNK even attempted to jump into the handheld market, which was (and still is) monopolized by Nintendo with the release of the Neo Geo Pocket in October of 1998.

tumblr_md338lNKBS1qd4q8ao1_500
NGPC was a system of much potential cut short by Aruze’s arrogance.

Though initial sales were promising, it was not enough as a few months after its release, Nintendo released the successor to the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color. Thus, SNK went back to the drawing boards and released the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999 worldwide. With promising sales, fantastic third-party support from Capcom, Sega, Namco, and Taito. Moreover, expectations made it seem like SNK would be seeing green again.

Unfortunately, the optimism was temporary when Aruze acquired SNK in the beginning of the century. Having no faith in the SNK’s game developers, Azure reduced funding to the company. During this time, the developers at SNK noticing the writing on the walls knew, this was the end. But they were not going to leave fans without sending them a thank you gift for all their support.

Plot

The King of Fighters 2000  released in the arcades in March 2000 is without a doubt, the last game developed by the original SNK team and the other game published by SNK that year (the other being Metal Slug 3). The second game in the NEST saga beginning a year earlier featuring K’ as the saga’s main protagonist in his quest to defeat the NEST cartel from taking over the world. Zero, a former member of the NEST plans to destroy the organization using the Zero cannon. K’ and friends must stop Zero before it’s too late.

                                                     Gameplay

D9C
The secret Another strikers in the game

Secondly, improving on the striker system that debuted in the previous game. This time around, summoning strikers can accomplished at any time making it more convenient for players. Furthermore, players are able to select regular strikers which are any of the playable characters or another striker featuring excellent fan service! With appearances of characters from Garou, Last Blade, Samurai Shodown, and Metal Slug leaving fans content.

 

195740-the-king-of-fighters-2000-neo-geo-screenshot-game-paused-when
Strikers feature more cast from SNK’s diverse library of games

Next, like the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it!” As the years pass, the KOF formula remains intact. The controls are fantastic and feeling at home with previous titles.

                         Graphics

zero-gas
Zero’s cape  animation is so cool to look at.

On another note, graphically the game is on-par with the previous games in the series despite, it feeling like a quick copy and paste job with minor editing in between. Though they still fit the game’s setting feeling bland, which seems is one of my complaints of the entire NEST Saga. The new characters however like Seth, Kula, and Vanessa are a breath of fresh air balancing out the young cast.

Music

seth-stance-2k
Seth one of the new additions to the KOF series.

Moreover, one of the game’s best features is by far is the soundtrack. Undeniably,  the best King of Fighter’s soundtrack ever made! New tracks including Beauty and the Beast, KD-0084, Terry 115, Arashi no Saxophone 4 are wonderful additions, yet none compare to the track fitting of the situation felt by fans and SNK alike, Good-Bye ESAKA or as referred to by fans Good-Bye SNK. The track gives off that “Goodbye” feeling being felt among fans around the world. Overall, the arranged versions are the excellent surely leaving fans satisfied one last time.





Sample of the game’s music

Extras

Nonetheless, Playmore ported this to multiple systems, including the AES, Dreamcast, PS4, and PlayStation 2 including a standalone release and another bundling KOF 2000 and KOF 2001 together. The former eventually being released on PSN in Japan in 2015 exclusively in Japan and a year later on the PS4 worldwide.

An Xbox version was in consideration, but eventually cancelled. The AES version being a straight conversion of the MVS one that includes a Single fighter mode, survival, unlocked Kula from the start, and training mode.

The Dreamcast and PS2 ports are nearly identical except the sound effects and voices are clearer, a gallery mode, arranged soundtrack, additional strikers, and a bizarre puzzle game exclusive to the Dreamcast version.

There is a re imagined version for the Game Boy Advance titled King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood which uses borrows music, stages, and sprites from KOF 2000, but has a completely different plot.

Goodbye Esaka

Afterwards, it seemed like SNK’s luck was turning around, the anticipated crossover with Capcom, Capcom vs. SNK and the sequel, Capcom vs SNK 2 were successful, but unfortunately Capcom ended up winning a majority of earnings since they developed both titles.

CapSNKGroup.png
“the anticipated crossover Capcom vs SNK were successful, but unfortunately SNK didn’t recieve much of the earnings as the games were developed and published by Capcom.”

Despite all the internal problems SNK was having, SNK headed to E3 to present audiences with the future of the Neo-Geo Pocket Color and promising a series of excellent titles like Last Blade, Cotton, Faselei, and Metal Slug: Second Mission to consumers.

Unfortunately, despite the positive reception of SNK’s E3 appearance, their promises fell short. Aruze not interested in helping SNK rather, exploit their beloved IPs to help their slot machine and pachinko business announced weeks after SNK’s appearance at E3 that SNK would stop all production of the NGPC and future title in the US and Canada.

Sadly, all the games announced for the NGPC at E3 that we’re shipping to retailers nationwide were either sold to recycling firms or sent back to Japan. Eikichi Kawasaki, founder of SNK left the company after Aruze’s betrayal and went on to form Playmore the following year.

hinako-win
Notice me senpai

With of the key players out, Aruze noticing this as an opportunity to remove SNK indefinitely. Finally, October 2001, Aruze approved SNK’s bankruptcy. Beginning to auction out a plethora of SNK’s IPs which Playmore bought back while licensing major IPs  including KOF, Metal Slug, and Sengoku  to other companies during this time. On the final day, SNK  wrote this message on their website, “Dear All NEOGEO fans/customers, it is with deepest grief that in the Autumn of 2001, SNK will close the company history in its business. It was all of your favor and encouragement which made our passion running to make better games for SNK fans. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank and every one of you for your continuous help and assistance rendered to SNK since its incorporation in Japan July in 1978. Without your support, SNK Corporation would not have been possible throughout 23 years of operation. With all our heart-felt gratitude, thank you once again!” and just like that, SNK was no more.

Resurrection

neo800_600
The final image the artist over at SNK drew on their homepage on the final day

However, SNK returns to the living when Playmore regained the rights to use the name SNK and became SNK Playmore in 2003. Resurfacing by releasing new titles to the Neo Geo including KOF 2003, Samurai Shodown V, and SVC: Chaos. Eventually, SNK Playmore sued Aruze for unauthorized usage of their IPs during the time of acquisition and awarding SNK Playmore with 5.64 billion yens.

Although SNK Playmore is around today, recently acquiring  SNK was no other than Ledo Millennium in August 2015 hoping to use SNK’s IPs in a similar way to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. At the same time, having built a great relationship with Sony, SNK has begun it’s comeback by releasing many of their classic titles to the PS4, Vita, and PC with a considerable amount of success. As a result, promising fans with new titles, including a new KOF, Samurai Shodown, and hopefully a new Garou.

As of December 1st 2016, SNK Playmore will now return back into SNK, promising audiences with the intention to return to producing quality titles as they did back in during the Neo Geo days.

Final Thoughts

Conclusively, this is a game comes highly recommended to KOF fans. Sure, this isn’t 98, 2002 UM, nor XIII. At the same time, this was the last game developed by the original SNK team which means something for hardcore fans of the series. In contrast, KOF 2001 and 2002 published by the Korean based company Eolith are not so memorable. It’s a worthwhile addition and a solid fighting game.

kof2k-136

Sources:
http://www.nowgamer.com/developer-lookback-snk-part-3/
http://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-history-of-snk/1100-6089278/
http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/29886/article/snk-playmore-acquired-by-ledo-ip-going-marvel-but-heading-to-pachinko-first/