Review by Fighter17
"Neo-Geo CD: Cheap, but at a cost of loading times."
The Neo-Geo CD was released as a way to bring home perfect Neo-Geo arcade ports at a affordable price, unlike the bigger brother AES. While AES games were $250-$300 a piece, the Neo-Geo CD games were $50-$70 a pop around the system launch. While this idea worked out for the most part, sadly the biggest flaw of the unit was the horrible loading times.
System: The Neo-Geo CD had three models: The front loading model (the first Neo-Geo CD model, was the biggest of the three models, and it was only release in Japan), then it was the the top loading model (release in Japan, US, and Europe) and the faster loading CDZ model (only release in Japan, known to have overheating problems). The system was around $300 at launch day, so many people were able to purchase it. The early CD games with small megabit count like NAM-1975 had a very small loading time at start up, but no more loading after that. Later releases for the Neo-Geo CD had games with big megabit counts. The bigger the megabit count, the more loading it requires. By the time Last Blade 1+2 and King of Fighters '99 were release, the loading times became too long for a human being to deal with. The biggest flaw with the system was the 1x CD-ROM drive in all three models. Unlike the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation with 2x CD-ROM drives, the Neo-Geo CD models only had a single speed CD-ROM drive. While the Japan only CDZ had faster RAM transfer speeds (it reduce the loading times about one-half) than the other two units, it was still too slow for people to take. In Last Blade, the loading times were just too long from the start up screen to the first round of the game. From start up to the first round would take four minutes on the first two models, but were reduce on the CDZ model. In order for the loading times to be short, the later Neo-Geo CD releases like both Last Blades and Art of Fighting 3 has some good frames of animations removed. Having the frames removed from these games cause the games to look more "junky" than their original AES counterparts. Most Neo-Geo CD owners would stay away from the later fighting game releases like Ninja Masters and KOF' 99 because of loading times and frames were moved from those games. Fighting games on the Neo-Geo CD were effected the most by the long loading times and frame cuts. If you want to get a Neo-Geo CD for fighting games, you better want to think twice about it.
Games: Majority of games were the same as the AES counterparts like Last Resort and Nam 1975. The majority of games on the CD format were just about the same as their AES counterparts, but with loading times. While trying to give CD owners a bonus, SNK releases extras on the CD format. For example Metal Slug has a special combat mode not seen in the AES version. Also Neo Turf Masters had a new golf course only on the CD format. One of the biggest deals of being a CD owner is that a good number of CD titles had an arrange soundtrack. Just about all of the arrange soundtracks were better than their AES counterpart. For example, Samurai Shodown II AST was a lot better than the AES version. Now, some of the fighting games like Last Blade and Samurai Shodown IV were just about ruined by the loading times and frame cuts. While some of the good fighting games weren't great on CD format, they were a good number of CD-only titles on the Neo-Geo CD. Crossed Swords 2, Iron Clad, and Puzzle Bobble are good CD-only titles to own on the Neo-Geo CD.
Controllers: The CD-Pad controllers are actually very good most of the time. The joystick does a good job with any type of game you're playing. The biggest flaw of the CD-Pad was a good number of fighting games requires you to press two or more buttons for a command. The button lineup on the CD-Pad makes it very hard to do it. Luckily you can use the original big Neo-Geo controllers or the smaller Pro controllers on the Neo-Geo CD.
In the end: If you like extras and some of the best AST you herd on a Neo-Geo CD game, then get the system. If you love fighting games, then you should think twice about purchase it. Well, if you're a gamer on a budget and loves the Neo-Geo, this system would do just fine.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/04, Updated 11/06/06
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