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artphotodude
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Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by artphotodude Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:48 pm

WCCFneogeo2.jpg
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So this week a LOT of reviews have come out for SNKs push at the mini-console market and most have been pretty sour. You hear a lot about analog instead of classic, gated-microswitch controllers, no batteries to play on the go and lack of sharpness on HDTVs.

But ALL of the reviewers admit the analog controller/s work fine, the games play perfectly and the included screen is great. All for around $100 (have you checked out how expensive these games are on Dreamcast, PS2 and XBox lately?? Let alone on MVS/AES carts).
I, as a cheap bastard extrodinaire :) (and SNK fan) look at this and think: "What they heck does it take to impress you people??!?!"


SNK used to be the tip-of-the-spear in the 16-bit days and made the longest running arcade hardware other than the Sega Naomi, AND home systems that were only affordable to the RICH. In the PSX/Saturn/N64 days, they made a big push toward affordability with Neo Geo CD/CDZ, but it was too little / too late and while it would not be until the Wii/XBox/(& PS2 Mostly) that perfect Neo Geo ports were possible, the Dreamcast did a pretty decent job and SNK jumped on board with the Neo Geo Pocket Color, with a lot of Dreamcast support planned. Sadly, their fate sunk with the Dreamcast and SNK went bankrupt - not to return until the company's founder was able to regain control under the SNK Playmore label.

Every since then the company has worked like crazy to do 3 things VERY RARE in Gaming. Do justice to the old catalog of titles, innovate new I.P. and give their fans what they want, rather than what is easy.

Not everything has been rosy: Samurai Shodown Zen, King of Fighters XII and Maximum Impact come to mind, but we've also got many GREAT things like Metal Slug Anthology, Samurai Shodown Anthology, Neo Geo Battle Colosseum, King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match, and King of Fighters 2006, XI, XIII and XIV.
The hardware-side has been a lot rougher though. While the GameBoy Color quality of the Pocket Color could be forgiven in 2000, the Neo Geo X (by Tommo) truly did fail to deliver, with emulation/sound problems galore and very short-lived support.

Now Neo Geo Mini hits the scene after SNK's proverbial "Sega-CD & 32X" debacles, with software strength, but serious lack of hardware confidence in fans. The Sega Saturn was only really appreciated as a Hidden Gem after it died, and I suspect the Mini will be the same story.

But for now, let's OBJECTIVELY look at what you are getting for your $100-$160 (depending on version and seller). I know the old saying: "He who pulls out a spreadsheet first, looses the argument", but this warrants consideration:
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*NOTE - am NOT picking on Nintendo. Their's is the only really comparable thing out at the moment.

Is this really that bad of a deal :?:

I would say if you are an SNK fan - NO. And to address the issue on HDTVs and lack of sharpness, they certainly could have done more with emulation, but it is amazing how much a simple HDMI Scanline Generator can do for around $30 for systems like this.

I look forward to all the hacks, modes and custom cases coming for this. For those who love the Neo Geo and don't feel like going Raspberry Pi with it just yet, I can't help but think this is a Hidden Gem.
Last edited by artphotodude on Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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marurun
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by marurun Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:13 pm

I think the form factor is actually what hurts it a lot. That mini cab design is cute, but doesn't look comfortable to use. With a screen that size, regardless of the quality, it needs to be a handheld. But it's not. It needs to sit on a table or in your lap. I can't imagine that stick and button setup, so compact, being all that great for play, especially when you're eyeballing the screen. So really, it should have dropped the screen and gone with a corded controller or two and a slight HDMI output quality upgrade if it was meant to be used on a TV, or it should have included a battery and a better handheld form factor if portable system was the goal.

My complaint with the unit therefore isn't about emulation quality or component costs, but rather total usability due to design choices. This device sits in an odd space that is neither handheld/portable nor TV console. It kind of wants to be both, but in doing so makes compromises that make it less effective in either space. SNK really should have committed to one path or the other, or raised the price a tad to ensure it did both well.

(To address your spreadsheet, the SNES Classic Mini doesn't have scrolling jumping or shimmering. That was something it fixed over the NES Classic Mini. Additionally, I don't understand the OK under HDTV playback for the Switch. I think it looks great connected to my TV.)
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by Tanooki Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:01 pm

Well since you highlighted it, you may not be picking on Nintendo, but it's not a fair comparison, also perhaps let's add this asterisk. The Switch does far more, and it has like a 100 Neo Geo games on it too which you can pick and choose from, not just get stuck with whatever they put on the device. SNK screwed people kind of dying down 14 of the 40 per region, and really good stuff kept away too which is kind of sad/wrong too. It turned me off to it for the asking price as I'd feel the need to grab both which is unfortunate.


Now that out of the way, I think the Sega comparison is a bit unfair. SNK really hadn't done anything too bad, the CD unit sold not crazy but it did fine, and the NGPC held on longer than it probably should have due to Aruze messing things up so badly. The thing that really damned the NG Mini as maru pointed out to start is the shape of it. That sucker is ugly and holds the memories of no one outside of Japan and deep pocketed nuts who put region specific arcade cabinet obscurities on boats and have them floated over. The Neo Geo to the world is that more or less RED but rarely at times GOLD colored arcade cabinet which you can recognize across the room, not the white and blue hoodie thing, as that's not even a candy cab. Not just the look but that size is clumsy. I mean if you can put it on the edge of a desk that so happens to be the right height, it could be comfortable enough for a bit, but not long term if you're going all out through a game, and lap or handheld, forget it. Combine that with what you said about the NGX nearly comparable crappy TV output for HDMI and that's a problem. The design all around for singular use on it or through a TV are both saddled with problems.

And also for something that size, especially given the controls still handle all the same, it's just the death of a thousand crying fanboy papercuts thing going on there over microswitches. They're entirely fan service and an expense that made no sense on either (unit or added controller.) Honestly I own a NGPC and I think they're overrated.
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by artphotodude Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:01 pm

marurun wrote:I think the form factor is actually what hurts it a lot. That mini cab design is cute, but doesn't look comfortable to use. With a screen that size, regardless of the quality, it needs to be a handheld. But it's not. It needs to sit on a table or in your lap. I can't imagine that stick and button setup, so compact, being all that great for play, especially when you're eyeballing the screen. So really, it should have dropped the screen and gone with a corded controller or two and a slight HDMI output quality upgrade if it was meant to be used on a TV, or it should have included a battery and a better handheld form factor if portable system was the goal.

My complaint with the unit therefore isn't about emulation quality or component costs, but rather total usability due to design choices. This device sits in an odd space that is neither handheld/portable nor TV console. It kind of wants to be both, but in doing so makes compromises that make it less effective in either space. SNK really should have committed to one path or the other, or raised the price a tad to ensure it did both well.

(To address your spreadsheet, the SNES Classic Mini doesn't have scrolling jumping or shimmering. That was something it fixed over the NES Classic Mini. Additionally, I don't understand the OK under HDTV playback for the Switch. I think it looks great connected to my TV.)


The new SNK wired controllers are pretty nice for it IMO (Amazon was selling the US "International" unit with two wired controllers for $160). And like I said, if you run the output through a scanline generator before going to the HDTV, it isn't bad at all.

As for the Switch comment on output, I was referring for SNK games (they look about identical to what the Neo Geo Mini outputs - so it isn't quite fair to compare to the NES/SNES classic since those are optimized for those games, but the Switch, at a much higher price-point, isn't doing it any better).

The non-square pixel effect that Nintendo has mastered for it's SNES games, or the "Crisp" filter that Capcom uses for the Iron Galaxy games are both really nice, not sure why SNK hasn't got on board with one of them yet.
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by marurun Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:41 pm

But by the time I have purchased an additional 2 controllers and a scan line converter... I will have paid what I think is way too much. I think SNK has everything it needs for a hit product, it just needs to put it together in the right package designed for the right purpose. Shea FINALLY switched away from AtGames, so maybe SNK can get it right, too. This unit is a step in the right direction but isn’t quite there, yet.
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by artphotodude Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:20 am

marurun wrote:But by the time I have purchased an additional 2 controllers and a scan line converter... I will have paid what I think is way too much. I think SNK has everything it needs for a hit product, it just needs to put it together in the right package designed for the right purpose. Shea FINALLY switched away from AtGames, so maybe SNK can get it right, too. This unit is a step in the right direction but isn’t quite there, yet.


Everyone has to decide for themselves, but considering how expensive these games are even on the used market, am not sure how much better deal SNK can make this. A loose-disk of the Dreamcast version of Mark of the Wolves goes for $50, not to mention what it would be on either Neo Geo CD or AES/MVS. With Wii virtual console down now (the choice way to play these because of its native 240p mode), it's a new ballgame and this is simply the cheapest way to get any of these. The mini-arcade is a bit strange, but honesly, this is the kind of thing you see gracing collectors shelves for years into the future.
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by SpikeSlania Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:53 pm

You forgot to mention the other thing Nintendo did with their classic consoles that SNK didn't do. Include a game that wasn't ever officially released in in other regions. Nes classic had Earthbound Zero while SNES classic had Starfox 2. Now lets say SNK officially translated Samurai Shodown RPG and included that on the system, I'm sure we would all have bought one :P Otherwise they just released this Micro Console and are already releasing a 40th Anniversary Collection in November, I think I will just wait and buy the Collection on my Switch :P
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by Tanooki Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:04 am

Umm no it didn't on NES: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/clv/manuals/en/index.html



And artphotodude, Garou MOTW is like $150-200 as a loose MVS cart more or less (I have it.) The AES version is worse as is the case in most the games outside of a few of the early fighter/platforming types.
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by Jmustang1968 Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:23 am

I never have liked the comparison of getting game roms digitally on a classic emulation device versus a 20-30 year pld physical collectible item. It is like comparing an mp3 download to an uncommon or sought after vinyl. It is really missing the point. The Saturn and SCD/32X comparisons arent that valid either, those being full consoles vs emulation machines. This is better compared to the nintendo and sega atgame products.

It is cool, but expensive for what it is and does. The scaler is crap, and the system itself looks cool, but isnt ideal for actuslly playing it. Its biggest appeal is a desk/shelf ornament and collector novelty.
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Re: Neo Geo Mini - Has SNK got the Sega Saturn problem??

by SpikeSlania Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:08 pm

Tanooki wrote:Umm no it didn't on NES.


Opps, my bad. Guess it was just a WiiU thing :P
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