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April 19 2014

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  Kazuya_UK's Top Ten
Everyone has their favourite Neo games, be it more popular games like Metal Slug and King of Fighters, to the slightly more obscure or unknown games like Waku Waku 7, Ninja Masters, Aggressors of Dark Kombat, and many, many more. Talk to anyone and they will all tell you very different things about what the best Neo games are, but seeing as this is my site I thought I'd throw up a list of my own personal faves, which might be helpful as a starting point for newcomers to the Neo Geo scene. This isn't meant to be a definitive list of the best Neo Geo games ever or anything like that, it's just my personal recommendations for games that I believe you can't afford to miss.

Description:
Shock Troopers

Genre: Top Down Shoot 'em Up

To kick off this top 10 list, here's a title that is absolutely great in my humble opinion, but also one that is not always fully recognised by the Neo Geo masses for how much fun it is. Sure, there are plenty of people around that love the game as much as I do, but ask anyone what their favourite Neo games are and the Shock Troopers series is very rarely mentioned.

Shock Troopers is a shoot 'em up which bears a passing resemblance to Capcom's Mercs game. I've heard people refer to this as a "top down Metal Slug", and although this is true to an extent I don't think it's a fair comparison as they play very differently. Overall it's a good fast paced shooter with nice, bright and colourful graphics, some great music, and most importantly it's brilliant fun to play. Very addictive, and plenty of replay value for shoot 'em up fans!



Description:

Genre: Horizontally Scrolling Shoot 'em Up

This one really had to go onto my top 10 list , as it is definitely one of the best shoot 'em ups on the system. I was tempted to put Pulstar (see the bottom of this page) in place of Blazing Star, but overall I think this one just about edges it... especially if you aren't the best at shoot 'em ups. Pulstar is quite hard, whereas this is a bit more forgiving and easier to pick up and play!

Good gameplay combined with some pretty graphics and killer music make Blazing Star a very good game indeed. If you haven't tried any shoot 'em ups on the Neo Geo yet, this is a very good place to start!



Description:
Magical Drop III

Genre: Puzzle Game

Well, here's a surprise... a top 10 list of Neo Geo games and the first 3 on the list are not fighters! It is true that the Neo is famous mostly for it's great 2D fighters, but it also has a damn good line-up of puzzle games!

Magical Drop III has to be the pick of the bunch though. You play by grabbing balloons from the top of the screen, and then firing them back up to make a line of three or more of the same colour. It's just so addictive and has enough in it to keep you playing for a very long time if you enjoy this type of game... in fact, I'm not the biggest puzzle game fanatic in the world, but this is one of my most played MVS carts of all time. Two Player Vs mode on this classic game is some of the greatest fun to be had on the Neo Geo!



Description:
FF Special
Genre: One On One Beat 'em Up

When I originally reviewed this game I must admit that I did rush the review a little and didn't cover it in enough detail. Fatal Fury Special deserves a lot more attention though, as it's a landmark Neo Geo title. It really does live up to its "Special" subtitle as it is probably the point where the series went from being good to just plain great. Unless you played it when it was first released, or you like old-school fighting games you might not be able to appreciate it properly as it does seem a bit dated, but that's a shame as it's still a brilliant game.

FFS is basically an upgraded and refined version of Fatal Fury 2, which was already a massive improvement on Fatal Fury 1. For its time it has some very nice graphics (some of the stages are especially good) and gameplay wise it is very solid. The music has to be one of my favourite parts though, in fact it was so good that many of the tracks in this game have been remixed again and included in much more recent Neo Geo titles.

Perhaps Fatal Fury Special is not everyones cup of tea, especially if you aren't a fan of old school fighters, but in my eyes it HAS to be in the top 10 Neo Geo games of all time. Fatal Fury is one of SNK's most well known series, and this is one of the best.



Description:
Ninja Masters

Genre: One On One Beat 'em Up

This game is kind of pre-cursor to the awesome Last Blade series (see below), and as such it isn't quite as great as those games, but it is still a very good one indeed. It's another game that has been unfairly overlooked over the years, although it does have a small following among fans who do appreciate it for what it is.

Other than the lack of really flashy graphics (although I still think Ninja Masters graphics are good!), I think one of the reasons some people are slightly turned-off by this game is the combo system. "Dial a combo" is the catch-phrase here, and there are lots of pre-set button press combos that you can do, which is generally something reserved for 3D fighters. In a way it does allow people to button mash a bit, but I don't think it causes any massive problems here. Some might say that it's not a tournament level fighter, but it's a damn fine game all the same, and I really can't stress enough how much it is worth at least giving this game a try! Special mention must be given to the music though; Ninja Masters has one of the all time best soundtracks on any Neo Geo game. It's not loud and in your face, but more of a muted soundtrack with moody music that suits the game absolutely perfectly, and creates a very good atmosphere.

A very underrated game, give it a try and you might be pleasantly surprised as it's a change in pace from the usual beat 'em up fare.



Description:
Last Blade

Genre: One On One Beat 'em Up

Well... what can be said about this weapons based fighter and its sequel that hasn't been said before? There aren't enough superlatives in the English language to describe the game, and it is truly one of the best 2D fighters on any system. Last Blade features an excellent cast of characters, some of the best graphics to grace the Neo and some wonderful atmospheric music/sound on each stage, which creates a brilliant overall package. This game is just beautiful - I won't go into much more detail, just read the full review (click the picture!). Suffice to say, this title is an absolute must play for any 2D fighting game fan, because if you don't at least try it then you'll be missing out on one of the systems best ever games.

I included the first Last Blade game in the list instead of Last Blade 2 as I rate both games about as highly as each other in their own seperate ways. They are both essential anyway, so I highly suggest you do play this game first before you move on to Last Blade 2.



Description:
KOF '98

Genre: One On One Beat 'em Up

If you managed to find your way onto this site, newcomer to the Neo geo scene or not, it's highly unlikely that you haven't heard of The King of Fighters yet. The series was originally made as a way to pit characters from different SNK games against each other (mainly Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury), but it has gone on to become much more than that, also introducing some original characters of its own like Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami, who are now two of the most recognisable SNK characters.

In total there's a whopping TEN KOF games on the Neo Geo (94-2003), and out of them all you would have to say that '98 is the most popular of them all. Everyone has their own favourite KOF, although personally I appreciate them all in their own way - but in terms of character roster, production values, music and most importantly gameplay, KOF '98 is the most well rounded.

While I believe everyone should play through the series right from the start, if you only play one KOF, make it this one!



Description:
Metal Slug 3

Genre: Platform Shoot 'em Up

Time for another non-fighting game entry, and this ones a beauty. Again, even newcomers should have at least heard of Metal Slug, and if you are looking for a great action game, then you can't do much better than this series. Not only is it great fun to play, but it also features a very unique art style with some fantastic animation... in fact it is some of the best and most imaginative stuff you are ever likely to see in a game of this type! Hell, find me another series that features a gun-toting monkey and a fireball throwing prisoner of war! ;-)

I am a big fan of this series (actually I'm an absolute MS whore) and I never can get enough of it, and although I adore this games prequels, if you were to be stuck on a desert island for a few weeks and had the choice of having ONE Metal Slug game to play during that time and nothing else... it would have to be this one by far! When it comes to replay value, effort put into it, and just sheer craziness, Slug 3 wins hands down. So, what makes it so playable? More than anything, it's the amount of work SNK put into alternate routes that you can use to get through the game. Believe me when I say that you'd need to play through the game a lot of times to see and truly appreciate everything, and even then you can still have tons of fun perfecting your game and trying to achieve a higher score.

I'd love to put Metal Slug 1/2/X into my top 10, but seeing as I only have room to put one Slug game, it HAS to be this one.



Description:
Garou: MotW

Genre: One On One Beat 'em Up

This is one of my top recommendations, and put simply it is a fantastic game and one of the last few games made by the old SNK, before they went bust and reformed to become SNK Playmore.

Mark of the Wolves is a continuation of the Fatal Fury storyline, but although it is technically part of that series, it is a actually a totally new game with a different engine and only one surviving character from the old Fatal Fury games (Terry Bogard). It plays fantastically well, has some excellent new characters, and more than anything it has some of the best animation ever seen on the Neo Geo. It has drawn comparisons with Capcom's Street Fighter 3 in fact, and although it doesn't have quite as many frames of animation as that game, you'd be hard pressed to find many 2D fighters that move as fluidly as this one!

The only thing that lets this game down a bit is the relatively small character selection, which hurts its replay value a little, but there's still enough fun to be had in this game to make it one of the finest titles the Neo Geo has to offer. However, there is one game that keeps it away from the top spot, for me at least...



Description:
Samurai Shodown 2

Genre: One On One Beat 'em Up

Yeah, OK... there's not a massive amount of people who would agree that Samurai Shodown 2 should claim the top spot in a Neo Geo top 10 list, but in my opinion it is the finest Neo game of them all. For me, this is the game that proved that SNK were not just a good developer but a truly TRULY great one. They really excelled with this one and while most will argue that more recent games like the Last Blade are superior, I will never forget the influence that this game had on me and how much I used to play it... in fact, I still play it all the time even now!

Considering this game was released way back in 1994, it's surprising how playable and how much fun it still is, which is a testament to its enduring quality. I still think this is a very good looking game too, and although it has a definite old-school look to it and doesn't have animation as detailed as its sequels, the backgrounds are excellent, the cast of characters superb, and the overall look of the game is fantastic! People who play it for the first time now might not appreciate it as much as us veterans, but I think this is as close to a perfect game as you can get.

Maybe I'm getting carried away, but I don't care =)




Honourable Mentions

It's very difficult to pick out just 10 of the top Neo Geo games, so here's a handful that didn't quite make it onto my list but REALLY deserve to be mentioned!

Description:
Waku Waku 7

Genre: Sports/Golf

I almost forgot about this one, and although I didn't get it into my top 10, it deserves a mention without a doubt! Put simply, Neo Turfmasters is one of the most easy to pick up and play and fun golf games you will find anywhere. Sure, there are more realistic golf games around on other more recent systems, but for a nice arcade style golf experience, you can't go far wrong with this.

The NGPC version of Turfmasters is actually quite good too... it is the best handheld golf game you can get in my opiniion!



Description:
Waku Waku 7

Genre: One On One Fighter

It was hard to fit this one into my top 10, but it's a great game all the same. One of the main aspects of this game is it's sheer craziness; how many other games let you play as a massive furry purple monster with a schoolgirl clinging onto his back... or a guy called Dandy J for that matter??? How many games have a sub-boss that is a punch bag who does a damn fine impersonation of Ryu (from Street Fighter)??? If any of those things made you giggle a bit, then this i a game for you. Good soundtrack too!



Description:
Pulstar

Genre: Horizontally Scrolling Shoot 'em Up

This shoot 'em up very nearly made my top 10 (in fact it probably should be in there), but as I mentioned above, Blazing Star is a better recommendation for newcomers. Nevertheless, Pulstar is a fricken awesome game, and certainly one of the most challenging shoot 'em ups around. Unless you are an absolute shoot 'em up pro, it will take an awful lot of effort if you ever want to finish this game with a small amount of credits, so it might not be your cup of tea if you have a short attention span.



Description:
World Heroes

Genre: Genre: One On One Fighter

Definitely not top 10 material, but I have to mention this game (actually the series in general) as it does have something of a following between Neo Geo fans, shown by the fact that SNKP have included World Heroes characters in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum for the Atomiswave. This game was one of the early attempts to rival Capcom's Street Fighter II, in fact you could be forgiven for calling it a "rip-off" as many aspects of the game do bear more than a passing resemblance.

Anyway, this game was never one to win any awards or receive rave reviews, but it's still a fun game to play although dreadfully dated now. It did introduce some fun things like "Death Matches" though, where each stage is littered with dangerous items like electrified barriers and the like, so it's worth checking out if you feel like a blast on something a bit more retro. Things did improve as the series went on too, so it's worth having a look at the whole series if you haven't done so before.



Description:
Art of Fighting

Genre: Genre: One On One Fighter

This one fits into the same category as World Heroes really. Look back at the original Art of Fighting with the benefit of hindsight and it seems pretty bad, but back in the day the game was quite popular, due in part to the very good graphics for its time. The first thing people noticed was the camera zooming in and out on the action, and that the character sprites were absolutely huge compared to other games. It was let down by some pretty poor animation, a few slightly lackluster characters, and control wise it was quite stiff, but back at the time it was a blast to play. Also be sure to check out AOF's sequels, as they are both pretty good games in their own seperate ways (see the reviews for more details).

Art of Fighting is on the recommended page as the game does have a big part in the Neo Geo's history (plus I still love it personally ;). Other than being one of SNK's notable early attempts to muscle in on the genre, this game brought to life some of the more popular characters in the SNK universe, that have gone on to become King of Fighters mainstays like Ryo, Robert and Yuri. I wouldn't expect many newcomers to the scene to enjoy this game much (I'd suggest those people try either AOF2 or AOF3), but it's still worth a try and has earned its place in the SNK hall of fame.

For the record, this was the first MVS cart I ever purchased!



Description:
LOSJ

Genre: Side Scrolling Fighter

Yes, you are reading this right... I do actually consider Legend of Suck-ass Joe (as it is lovingly referred to by most Neo fans) a must play title. The word on your lips right now is probably "WHY?". Well, just like the Matrix, you cannot be told what Legend of Success Joe is, you have to see it for yourself... it's really that bad. I've played some bad games in my time, but as far as Neo Geo games go this is the worst, or it is at least tied for that position with Power Spikes 2, another awful game. For those who haven't played it, it's a side scrolling fighter, but one where at the end of each stage you jump into a boxing ring and have a fight with that stages boss. Even though this game is old, this would have still been a bad game back on its original release, and I dread to think how I would feel if I had paid $200 or so for the cart back then! Play it just to see what I mean, this game sullies the good name of "crap".

Note: LOSJ is based on an old manga series, and to the best of my knowledge that series was very popular in Japan. It sure as hell looks like this game didn't do it ANY justice whatsoever though!

 




  Comments
#1 | Michael Max on May 03 2011 14:46
If you research into the Legend of Success Joe you'll find it is a better fighting game than Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, or BlazBlue. It's the only game that Chuck Norriss cannot beat. Legend of success Joe is cooler than David Hasselhof and Funnier than Conan Obrien. A little known secret is that in his prime, Arnold Schwarzenneger did not lift any weights, he just played Legend of Success Joe for an hour or so everyday.

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