Neogeo Station Preview


posted 1/21/2011 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS3 PSP
Move over Virtual Console, because the PSN is finally starting to take old school gaming seriously. It wasn't long ago that fans of classic games had to settle for iffy PlayStation 1 titles, but now they have the choice between products released on the Neo Geo and TurboGrafx-16. Last month SNK Playmore unloaded the first batch of Neo Geo games, which included some of their biggest franchises -- Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, The King of Fighters, etc. Not only do these games look great on the PlayStation 3, but they also feature online multiplayer options and other customization. Is the Neo Geo Station worth paying attention to? Find out when I review all ten of the launch titles in this week's very special Retro Round-Up!

But first, let's take a look at what I liked and disliked about the Neo Geo Station ...

The Pros: As a gamer who likes choice, I'm happy to see these Neo Geo games hit as many consoles as possible. Online modes let players challenge their friends at a variety of first- and second-generation SNK titles, including one of the best fighting games ever made. At $9 ($7 for the PSP versions), the price is just about right. The games look great on my HDTV and are customizable enough to impress even the biggest Neo Geo junkie.

The Cons: Many of these games have already been released on the PSP on an inexpensive Anthology disc. Unlike PS1 (and the upcoming TurboGrafx-16) games, players need to buy TWO versions of the game in order to play on both the PSP and PS3. The netcode works, but it defines the term "bare bones." This batch of games isn't bad, but it's hardly the most inspired group of Neo Geo softs.

Alpha Mission II (SNK/1991)
What Is It?
It's hard to believe that I'm reviewing twelve classic games and only one of them is a 2D shoot-em-up. Alpha Mission II is your average vertical shooter, complete with familiar power-ups and an unsympathetic difficulty. This 1991 arcade game features seven stages to master and exclusive online play. Alpha Mission II allows players to power-up their ship by adding parts mid-level, making it easier to take down the powerful bosses and their weaker underlings. Fans of shooters may get a kick out of this early-generation Neo Geo title, but the PSN is home to many, MANY better 2D shoot-em-ups.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Like most 2D shooters, Alpha Mission II is a little too shallow for its own good. The gameplay is simple and the power-ups are mostly cool, but this is the type of game you can beat in one sitting and never want to play again. Thankfully the controls are responsive and the boss battles are appropriately epic.

Is It Worth The Money?
Alpha Mission II is the perfect example of what is wrong with most Neo Geo games. Here's a punishingly difficult shooter made easy thanks to unlimited continues. Unless you limit yourself, there's no reason why one can't bust through this game in under an hour. Thankfully the adventure getting to the final boss is interesting enough to warrant the ride, but I'm not sure it's worth nine dollars.

Art of Fighting (SNK/1992)
What Is It?
Released in 1992, Art of Fighting was a story-driven alternative to Street Fighter II. You play one of two characters, Ryo Sakazaki or Robert Garcia, as they battle the evil Mr. Big and retrieve Ryo's kidnapped sister, Yuri. But don't get too excited, because the original Art of Fighting is an absolutely dreadful game. At the time the game had a few things going for it, such as large detailed characters, a somewhat interesting (albeit cliche) story and a camera that zoomed in and out of the action as the characters got further apart and closer together. But with the good comes a lot of bad, such as a control system that is sluggish and frustrating. Thankfully the Art of Fighting series did improve over time, but this first installment is an absolutely dreadful game that should be avoided at all cost.

Does It Still Hold Up?
I've said it before and I'll likely say it again -- Art of Fighting is a terrible representation of this popular genre. The graphics aren't bad and the characters are well detailed, but everything falls apart the moment you're forced to play the game. Stiff controls, unresponsive characters and special moves you've seen a thousand times before, Art of Fighting is a good idea marred by poor execution.

Is It Worth The Money?
Of the four fighting games released in this first wave of Neo Geo classics, Art of Fighting should be last on your list. Much like Fatal Fury, it took Art of Fighting a few installments before coming into its own. Not even the online multiplayer mode is enough to make this stinker worth picking up. The only good thing about this release is that it gives me hope that we'll eventually see Art of Fighting 3 on the PlayStation 3 and PSP. Until that day comes, you can go ahead and ignore this mediocre franchise.

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