Humble Bundle Celebrates Neo Geo’s 25th Birthday

There are two things in life which make me feel old: how long it now takes me to locate my year of birth when filling in online forms (I have to scroll down SO far), and videogame anniversaries. Can you believe that SNK’s Neo Geo console is a quarter of a century old? Well it is, and Humble Bundle are marking the occasion with the Humble Neo Geo 25th Anniversary Bundle, which includes classics such as Metal Slug 2 and Fatal Fury Special.

In standard Humble Bundle procedure you can pay what you want for some games, then pay a little more for others. Set in the former category are: Art of Fighting 2, Fatal Fury Special, King of the Monsters, Metal Slug 2, Samurai Shodown 2, Sengoku 3, The King of Fighters 2000, and Baseball Stars 2.

Paying above this lot’s average price – $9.50 at the time of writing – will land you The Last Blade, Pulstar, Metal Slug, Metal Slug 3, Shock Troopers, Neo Turf Masters (which indirectly inspired 100ft Robot Golf), The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Final Edition, and Twinkle Star Sprites.

Paying $10 or more will get you Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad, Samurai Shodown 5 Special, Garou Mark of the Wolves, Metal Slug X, and The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match.

Not only does this bundle give 16 of the games their official PC debut, a whole load of them are playable in-browser, as demonstrated by a short demo on the bundle’s page.

Gosh, nostalgia overdose. While many of these games have been resigned to the history books – although you might’ve spotted cabinet versions occupying the dusty corners of run-down Spanish hotel lunch halls, a game I’ve taken to playing in recent years – they once towered over their peers; not always in quality, but always in price. In fact, if you wanted a NEOGEO game in the early 90s, you’d be looking at forking over upwards of £200, which, according to this online calculator, equates to just over £400 in today’s moolah. Wow.

You can pay a little less, if you like, while simultaneously supporting the American Red Cross in the Humble NEOGEO 25th Anniversary Bundle which runs until December 22nd.

31 Comments

  1. Baines says:

    Words of warning:

    Most of the games are simply being played in an emulator wrapper, and the wrapper itself isn’t necessarily that great. Though you can be “honest” by buying the bundle and then running the roms directly in the emulator of your choice.

    Five games are available through Steam. People have complained in the past about the emulation quality of the three Metal Slugs. KOF98UMFE and KOF2002UM are based on the Xbox 360 ports of those titles (which means KOF98 lacks the extra content and features given to the PS2 version.)

    • Fiatil says:

      I can confirm that the emulation quality of Metal Slug 2, at least, is pretty noticeably “eh”. I just messed around with the demo in browser version, and even with one player the graphics and sound had noticeable choppiness and slowdown throughout.

    • Kodaemon says:

      Alright, let me say this: I’m aware of the controversy, but: I’ve been playing SNK games games for more than a decade now, mostly on emulators. The Neo-Geo was out of reach and even arcades here were mostly of the bootleg variety. I’m just happy to contribute in any way.

    • Premium User Badge

      AceJohnny says:

      Do you have any suggested emulators/settings? Last I tried this was a long time ago (I still have an old MameUI32 lying around which slows down on Metal Slug X), and I wonder what would be the recommended emulator for Windows in 2015.

      • Crafter says:

        I played most NeoGeo games a decade ago with NeoRage x.
        Perfectly fluid experience and compatibility. I guess it probably still holds true.

  2. CurseYouAll says:

    Wow, you can play this in a brower windwos, that is sweet!

    Still, if you find the roms and run them through Kawaks image quality is much better with the various filters. Also, you can rebind the keys.

  3. vorador says:

    Fun fact: they’re bootleg roms downloaded from the internet, repackaged by SNK and sold as is.

    Not the first time SNK/DotEmu has done this ( their PS2 collections also had bootleg roms ) but still embarrassing.

    • Premium User Badge

      AceJohnny says:

      I guess it just shows that the community is better at preserving old games than the rightsholders are.

      See also the HoMM3 HD Edition remake where they couldn’t find the source data of the expansions so couldn’t include those.

      • RobF says:

        Yeah, it’s invariably precisely this. Companies either don’t have the stuff hanging around anymore or it’s simply more cost effective to find an already working dump than go and reacquire stuff to do it yourself. Ultimately, the folks who buy boards or carts or tapes or whatever and dump them onto the internet are the folks who are preserving our heritage, not the companies who made the things in the first place.

        Is it dubious to then repackage and sell the dumps? Mmm, it’s not ideal no but… *shrugs* as far as the companies are concerned, it’s more dubious for folks to be dumping and sharing the stuff in the first place so whilst one can happen without effecting the other, it could be worse.

        (and of course, even though emulation is relatively easy for most things these days, it’s still way more faff than most people want to bother with)

    • micpp says:

      Are we sure they’re necessarily downloaded? What is it that would distinguish them from e.g. extracting roms from an actual machine/cartridge?

      • Jalan says:

        Someone on Twitter went through the process of identifying signatures in the code that suggest they’ve been repackaged.

        • roothorick says:

          That’s suspect. MVS didn’t have any kind of copy protection, so there is no incentive to modify the games, therefore it should be impossible to tell a dump of a bootleg from a dump of an original cartridge. So all they’ve really established is that it’s the original MVS game, (probably) without modifications, running inside an emulator.

          I can nearly guarantee that they’ve kept the original production images around somewhere, the exact images that were originally sent to the assembly lines to be burned onto the original cartridges, and they just dug into that old archive. Why bother with the Internet when you’ve got a gold master sitting on a server downstairs?

    • TomMassey250 says:

      If that is true then I feel really horrible about purchasing this bundle… Even if the money did mostly go to charity.

      • roothorick says:

        If it’s any solace, they DO own the rights (not simply licensing — the IP itself is theirs), so it’s not like anything actually illegal is going on here.

    • roothorick says:

      I doubt they actually downloaded them from the Internet. More likely:

      Lacking the original source (or more likely, the games are almost entirely 68000 / Z80 assembly, making them unportable), they did the only reasonable thing they could: dig up the production ROM images they sent to the factories for burning onto the carts, and wrapped an emulator around it.

      Therefore, the images in this rerelease are the same images they shipped way back when, therefore the same images people get when they dump official cartridges, and therefore the same images that are circulating the Internet today.

  4. SomeDuder says:

    Can’t have a Neo-Geo article without this:

    link to youtu.be

  5. TomMassey250 says:

    The ‘ports’ in this bundle are pretty horrible in all honesty, the best thing about them are the steam integration of Metal Slug 1, X and 3 and the ability to play online with friends (no hamachi port forwarding or anything, just quick and easy)

    However, is it just me that remembers that there was actually a really awesome port of ALL the Metal Slug games to pretty much every console? (Metal Slug Anthology) link to metalslug.wikia.com

    How come that isn’t available anywhere? All the games ran super smoothly in HD, with key rebinding, plus the lesser seen Metal Slug 4, 5 and 6 (and a bunch of art and music)

  6. Dilapinated says:

    I’m seeing a lot of complaints in the comments, so I’ll throw my hat into the ring here.

    Ports aside (can’t map controls on the non-steam ones is bad, yeah), these are some of the best games I have ever played. And I say that as someone whose only nostalgia attachment is the Metal Slug ones; A friend got me into KoF about 5 years back and I’ve adored the series ever since. Last Blade and Samurai Shodown are also great fighting games, but.. KoF 98 & 2002 are fighting games that every gamer with a passing interest in the genre should try out. KoF goes places that Street Fighter just plain never did, and as a branch of the tree it’s both a fascinating one and a delicious one to settle down in (2002 especially. I just plain adore that game).

    Metal Slug is fab, butyeah, I have total nostalgia there. :) I will still stick to my guns and say that people who like arcade games/2D shooters should at least see if 3 tickles their buttons.

    • plastesin says:

      Ya I downloaded MS2 (DRM-free) and felt really disappointing that I could not unlock the second character which steam version of Metal Slug could. So, I just download from random internet site and boom, second character can be unlocked.

  7. one2fwee says:

    Are any of these actually ports rather than badly emulated?
    And if so, are the ports decent or do they have problems too?

    It tells you something when community emulation always does a far better job than companies themselves. In fact the companies generally tend to use community emulator code in their own code and from what i’ve heard not even necessarily when they are allowed.

    It just shows you that these big companies don’t care about game preservation at all. Even things like GOG.
    What have any of these big companies contributed to emulation accuracy or helping to preserve games?
    They are only interested in making easy capital.

    When they re-release these old stuff they are basically leeching off of the hard work of others.
    Have Nintendo helped with any of the emulation of their consoles? nope.
    As far as i know, GOG haven’t helped with improving dosbox either.

    • roothorick says:

      wat. Okay,

      One, dosbox openly endorses GOG. Even if that weren’t the case, GOG has distributed full sources of the particular version they use with every release that uses dosbox. If there is ever anything to contribute, it’s there for the taking if not already looked at and possibly merged by Qbix & co.

      Two, Nintendo’s emulators were done in-house without outside assistance. The VC N64 and GCN emulators were conceptually inspired by community HLEs e.g. Project64 but written from scratch leveraging access to the SDK source code. (well, the N64 emulator is a refinement on OoT Master Quest’s engine but that was in-house too.) And for that matter, their emulators are quite good — official releases have been flawless, and injection has proven them to have better compatibility than many community-written emulators. (They pretty much nailed the SNES sound chip years before Snes9x finally got it fixed.)

      SNK’s MVS emulator was also done in-house, almost two decades ago now, originally for the original PlayStation, when we were all still running Windows 98 or NT4, Internet adoption was still not the greatest and almost nobody knew about emulators. They’ve been limping that codebase along ever since.

      With the exception of the dosbox developers teaming up with CD Projekt (GOG), commercial emulators are a separate, isolated world — nobody’s leeching off the community’s hard work. The only other exception I know if is Shenzhen Special bootleg boards running an ancient version of MAME to play games they definitely don’t have the license for either. So, the kind of thing you expect from China anyway.

      And I think neither Nintendo nor SNK have any obligation to release source code for emulators they made themselves. We don’t want SNK’s shit anyway. We have MAME.

      • one2fwee says:

        Sorry, i didn’t really express what i meant the best.

        From what i know GOG don’t exactly work on dosbox itself – they just configure it. That’s what i meant about not contributing. If they do in fact add to it then they certainly aren’t very vocal about that.
        From what i have seen, the main version of dosbox hasn’t been updated for years and it’s only millions of sole developers own versions that are updated, leading to a bit of an awkward messy situation.

        It doesn’t matter whether dosbox “endorses” them, unless they help improve it rather than using it to make easy cash then i stand by what i said.

        What i meant was, Nintendo clearly looked at the code from other people’s emulators in order to get a head start. Where as they don’t care about giving anything back.

        Here’s the main point though:

        It’s more that these companies aren’t interested in game preservation at all. They simply want to just do “just enough” to have stuff “sort of working” rather than working fully accurately. Nintendo only care about getting their big hyped main titles working and even they can have issues compared to the originals.
        Didn’t Lylat Wars launch on the wii with no rumble support or something ridiculous? i know it was missing something from the n64 version.

        Loads of smaller, non-first party games that exploit the hardware properly will never be made to work by Nintendo.
        In fact the only reason some of these can be played is because of projects like Higan. And don’t get me started on satelliview titles!

        Nintendo could have released documentation for their N64 graphics chip to help with getting games like Indiana Jones working.
        Of course, they don’t care about making 100% compatible emulators or helping those who do make them. They only care about selling the same big few titles to the same people over and over.
        They state of N64 emulation is pretty bad wherever you look though, sadly.

        Also, Nintendo emulators generally lack lots and lots of options and are worse than PC counterparts.
        Even N64, which is awful on PC is bad on Nintendo – look at SM64 – because they insist on bilinear filtering everything even where it isn’t appropriate, then the text, icons and other sprites in the game look absolutely horrid. Mind you, even in PC emulators, i have found it hard to configure this properly too.

        And that is before we get onto the subjects of integer scaling, aspect ratio correction and modifiable crt filters (although the latter is less important for 3d games).

        I guess i was also partially confusing things with the Retron 5 makers who have stolen code from free emulators. I don’t really see the point in such a device anyway and i find it hilarious that collector types seem to spunk all over it and yet dismiss pc emulation and pc gaming in general. Especially as pc based emulators are a lot better.

        So yes, in summary, the big companies only care about getting their main blockbuster titles working, and even with them, they don’t care if there are issues so long as they “sort of work”.
        In the end, they only care about making money, they certainly couldn’t care less about game preservation.

  8. frenz0rz says:

    Do any of these have online multiplayer?

    I used to play a lot of Neo Geo with my housemate at university, especially Baseball Stars 2 and Neo Turf Masters, but unfortunately we’ve not found a reliable (or, indeed, legal) way of playing these classics remotely.

    As an aside, these are all superb games but the one big title missing as far as I’m concerned is Windjammers; a sort of pong clone where you play as athletes throwing a flying power-discus back and forth. My friend and I dubbed it “Windbreakers” after the bizarre grunting/farting noises the players made when lobbing the disc and heaving themselves around the pitch.

  9. ansionnach says:

    Hmm… there seems to be a reluctance to part with the better games here. A few thoughts:
    * Metal Slug 2 suffers from terrible slowdown, even in its original (non-emulated) version. Metal Slug X was a remix of it that changed quite a few things and didn’t suffer from slowdown quite as much. The Metal Slug games are all fun, but the second one can be avoided. I do see that some guy from the internet has patched it to address the slowdown problem.
    * Samurai Shodown 2 is great.
    * Sengoku 3 is often very well regarded. The variety of moves is very good for a beat ’em up but you fight the same enemies over and over again. Each of them has tonnes of HP as well so it gets dull very quickly.
    * The Last Blade is in the bundle but not the superior The Last Blade 2: Heart of the Samurai, which is a big shame.
    * Quite a personal view here but I’m not a big fan of Pulstar. It’s a shame seeing pre-rendered graphics like this on the Neo Geo.
    * Shock Troopers is really excellent – one of my favourite Neo Geo games. The sequel isn’t as good and has ugly-looking pre-rendered graphics.
    * Can’t say much about the KOF games but 98 and 2002 seem to be quite popular.
    * Garou: Mark of the Wolves is a great game. Have that one on the Dreamcast, along with Last Blade 2.

    Not sure what the emulation quality would be like but the officially licensed Neo Geo X console had pretty poor emulation.

  10. Xantonze says:

    No frame limiter so the games run at a crazy unplayable speed on my win10 PC.
    Do not buy, unless you know of a fix.

    • Xantonze says:

      OK, I reverted to the pre-crimson AMD driver and it works.
      I bought the 10$ bundle to give a few bucks to SNK, but being actually able to play the games is a nice bonus.^^

  11. plastesin says:

    Bought the tier 1 just for Metal Slug 2 and Samurai Shodown (already has Metal Slug 1, 3, X on steam).

    I not remember which KoF version I was playing which had Vegeta spamming fireball for easy win.

  12. ExitDose says:

    They’ll have my money when they add Windjammers.

  13. Sic says:

    Huh.

    Last Blade, but no Last Blade 2?