Video Interview with Dion Dakis of NeoGeoFreak

I may not be a Neo-Geo expert, but I’ve ran this site long enough to know that there’s a number of SNK fans that aren’t keen on Dion Dakis. The co-founder of NeoGeoFreak pushed the buttons of a lot of American Neo-Geo collectors with his online antics and personality.

Last summer I had a trip out to Las Vegas and I worked it into my schedule to sit down with Dion Dakis for an evening and talk about the last few decades of the gaming industry. Knowing his reputation on neo-geo.com, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  On the other hand, he does have good eBay feedback and deals in public trade shows like the Classic Gaming Expo.  In his online writing (and sometimes while talking on the phone) he can come across as a stong personality, but once I met him in person, he seemed much more approachable. I did my best to go in with an open mind and try to present a neutral presentation.

I can understand the perspectives of both Mr. Dakis and those that disagree with him.   I understand the business aspect of NeoGeoFreak, but I can also relate to how people don’t like how he handles things.  Personally, if I was a game distributor, I would have done things differently.  But that’s me — I have a much different personality.

Long story short, I had an enjoyable time talking about games and learning some history. Dion was nice enough to let me record much of our conversation and take lots of pictures. Before our meetup, Dion went through his storage unit to dig up some very cool Neo-Geo collectables and artwork. What follows are the highlights. It took me a while to edit all the footage down and organize it – I apologize for the delay, but I hope you find this interesting regardless of how you feel about Mr. Dakis.

BTW, I realize the sound/video isn’t the best — it was low lighting, I only had the built-in mic on the camera, and I’m terrible at speaking on camera, so I’m surprised it turned out as well as it did 😉   Anyway, here we go!

Getting Started with Neo-Geo & Starting NeoGeoFreak

I talk to Dion about how he got started collecting for the Neo-Geo and how it turned into starting the business that became the leading US distributor for Neo-Geo games


Youtube Link

Experiences with SNK Japan

Even thought SNK wasn’t without it’s issues, Dion had some interesting memories of how things were in the corporate end of the Neo-Geo world


Youtube Link

Shady Stuff Going on in the 16-Bit Era

The dark side of our childhood is discussed 🙂


Youtube Link

Current Status of the SNK Community

I talk to Dion about what he thinks of the Neo-Geo community now and how things have progressed with homebrew software and hardware, etc


Youtube Link

Neo-Geo Game Authentication

With lower-end copies of Neo-Geo games floating around, Dion discusses the topic and how to authenticate your games


Youtube Link

Unreleased Neo-Geo Games

Curious about some of those lost Neo-Geo games — here’s Dion’s thoughts on the topic


Youtube Link

Photos of Dion’s Neo-Geo Memorabilia

Here’s a handful of pictures from Dion’s collection — for more images and notes to go with them, check out this gallery on the Racketboy Facebook Page

 

42 Comments

  1. chaz says:

    why would you give this douche any more attention….. Racketboy fails.

  2. Link says:

    I found this very interesting,far from fail,nice one.

  3. racketboy says:

    Thanks — I thought it was a very interesting experience and the conversations were informative.

  4. andrei says:

    Incredible interview with so much insight on the industry and neo geo. I don’t understand why some the fanboys at neo-geo.com complain about him. Dion seems like a smart guy and really sharp. It’s easy to see that he’s still very passionate about the neo. Excellent interview.

  5. tom says:

    This was a great interview. The guy still seems kinda huge ego, but more humble than the Community describes. Great stuff!

  6. cyberjunkie says:

    by far the best video game interview ive seen cool of him to open up about his business and insider stuff

  7. urcraaaaazy says:

    What a great interview! Mr. Dakis is very informative about the industry & is direct & to the point. Great job!

  8. bryan69 says:

    Mr. Dakis just spilled the beans on the industry. snk being their own bootlegger for tax evasion was an eye opener and makes you wonder how many other companies do that.. thanks to dion and racketboy for such an amazing interview and pics.

  9. SNKfan says:

    The SNK bootlegger story is B******T. Dion used his status as the buyer of the rights to SNK-USA distro to sell low quality (printwise) conversions (taking an MVS and an AES cart, de-soldering the chips by hand, and then swapping them) to hardcore neo geo fans and passing them off as SNK originals. His excuse was that because he had the rights and the chips used in the conversion were SNK that he was in the right. He sold these for $600-$700.

    I don’t care about conversions one way or the other if they are fan made thats cool, an AES owner can play slug 1 without selling his case.. Thats cool, most conversions are fan made labors of love.

    But when you try to sell conversions as the real deal thats douche territory. Dion may seem like a nice guy when you are kissing ass but he is a major douche to his detractors face to face.

  10. needmore says:

    The best part was at 3:00 in the first video when he said he doesn’t like snk and never like the company but likes the neo geo. classic. I have xbox and I hate microsoft and i completely understand his reasoning. Dion is spot on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love this guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. neofan says:

    He seems like a cool guy and nothing like the rumors spread about him. he’s upfront and pulls no punches. Great interview.

  12. flynnfan says:

    playmore offered settlement money to ngf and said ngf inserts are official on their own web site. sounds like ngf is official to snk and playmore and to everyone but a few haters. i think that’s what dion was referring about the lack of maturity in the community. great great interview. dion seems like a great guy with tons of business experience.

  13. TBaller says:

    i remember reading when snk got busted for tax evasion i had no idea they were selling their own games off the truck and claiming losses. no wonder the parent company sold them off so fast and without warning and it all makes sense. neo geo always had drama and stories and the fact that Mr. Dakis is willing to tell it like it is without worrying about being politically correct is very refreshing.

  14. mastergamer says:

    He seems cool as hell. Does anyone else think dion looks like a real life video game or movie boss character ? Private office and wears a rolex. He’s exactly as I imagined and the crazy part is he’s for real. This interview is legen(wait for it)dary.

  15. Mikhail says:

    People who are new to the hobby will never realize the years of thieving and lying that this cancer unleashed upon the Neo Geo community. All you have to do is Google “Dion Dakis Thief” to see a clear example of how Dion has lied and stolen money from not only online transactions, but also people he met directly in person. These interviews undermine the integrity of Racketboy by lending credence to the notion of Dion being any kind of Neo Geo expert. Whatever knowledge and possessions may be hidden within his storage vaults, the information gained is worthless as any veracity can not be distinguished from his innumerable lies.

  16. bystander says:

    what an obvious troll attempt by this mikhail dude. why would anyone come here and try to put down dion or racketboy for this interview which they did for all of us? If you don’t have anything good to say don’t say anything at all. How did Dion steal money from people in person? did he rob them with a knife or at gunpoint? hahaha If anyone has a legitimate claim against that Mr. Dakis then take it to the authorities otherwise you’re probably the person lying and looking for fame. It doesn’t look like he’s hiding from anyone since he’s willing to meet with racketboy staff for a video interview. Some of the neo fans are looking desperate with the constant lies and rumor spreading.

  17. Bayman says:

    I never thought I’d say this but he seems like a nice guy and his stories were quite interesting. My view of him has definitely changed for the better.

  18. Kevin Smith says:

    As a neo geo owner myself I found this interview fascinating. Mr. Dakis seems so happy when he talks of how it all started and I simply love all his hand gestures and smiles of excitement. Great interview and loved the pics.

  19. chaz says:

    haha. a site full of suckers.

  20. da66en says:

    My opinion of this community has gone way down. If you guys all think that he’s a nice guy, then by all means to business with him.

  21. racketboy says:

    Just to be clear, I’m not endorsing the guy or vouching for any actions in the past (whatever they may be). And there’s no business to be done with him anymore (unless you want to buy his SNK rights off of him).

    I just thought it was interesting to talk with him. Simple as that.

  22. racketboy says:

    BTW, just to give the other side of the story of things, check out this thread:
    http://www.neo-geo.com/forums/showthread.php?59447-Thief-Scammer-Liar-The-Dion-Dakis-Story-%96-The-Definitive-Retrospective
    Unless the guy is completely making it up, it seems that Dion was misleading in the past if nothing else. From what I can tell, Dion does have the legal rights to sell the things he was selling, but personally, I would have been more upfront about what I was selling (the MVS-to-AES conversions, different inserts, etc).

    I think how he presented those products could have made a HUGE difference in how people perceived him.

    On the plus side, there have been people that had good things to say about transactions with him (but Dion stated they are often deleted off of sites like neo-geo.com)
    You can also see his good eBay feedback here: http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback2&userid=DKD4&&_trksid=p4340.l2560&iid=330726396503&sspagename=VIP:feedback&ftab=FeedbackAsSeller

  23. Mike says:

    Interesting interview for what it’s worth. Dion is definitely one shady guy though, that’s for sure.

  24. Alex Rondic says:

    I’ve done lots of deal with ngf and spoke to dion by email and phone and he’s always been helpful and really niice with lots of advice snd many times without making purchases. he told me not to buy the expensive games in the berginning cause i might get discouraged. he didn’t try to sell me anything expensive he also explained the difference between conversions are and carts coming with freaked inserts. only games with wrong stripes or japan games not released in usa had the ngf inserts. i can vouch for dion he’s a stand up guy. i loved seeing gthe videos thanks.

  25. Casey120 says:

    Awesome .
    When do we get the Japhei interview,like how he discovered and released AES games and single handedly saved the Neo community from oblivion back in the days .

    Cant wait !

  26. Anyone claiming that Racketboy is diminished by posting this needs to get over themselves. It’s a sit-down interview without bias with a person that had serious influence (good or bad in cases) in the gaming industry.

  27. liquid snake says:

    Dion……….LOL

  28. Raidersrule says:

    All business men , politicians, famous people, athletes are either hated or loved and do things in way we wouldnt but that’s probably why theyre so successful and famous. Dakis says lots was an act and ngf is still talked about it so it worked. Racketboy was great for this interview. Was it at dions business or home? any other pics? Great job racketboy. keep up the good work.

  29. Hardak says:

    Awesome, the whole interview was great. I like the fact that he wants more people to do homebrew and come together like NG: DEV TEAM, I didn’t expect that from him.

  30. Raidersrule says:

    I just noticed that NGF add says “NGF specializes in providing collectors with all of the titles that were previously unavailable on AES by converting NeoGeo MVS arcade cartridges.” Theyve boasted how their unreleased aes conversions from ngf were what made them special and made collectors and collections more special to have those carts because they were the first to make conversions of unreleased aes carts. They used to call people with the ngf conversions big timers and executives and super freaks. He’s very open in the videos im impressed that racketboy was able to get the video and pics for us to see. is there more? ((i live in vegas to)

  31. megatenkota says:

    I really liked this interview. this guy obviously made some mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes. I love the Neo Geo personally and almost every word this guy said was like GOLD. I loved this. thanks so much racketboy : )

  32. firenze says:

    You should just delete all the trolling comments. They are likely from Neo-Geo.com members – which is virtually the 4CHAN of the retro video game world. No amount of reason will sway these nutjobs.

    Dion is Dion.. the guy is a narcissistic liar in many cases.. but Racketboy posting these videos has nothing to do with endorsing him.. thanks for the share

  33. Skrills says:

    Lots of naive comments. Probably Dion and ChrisR posting with madeup usernames.

    Not buying it.

    If you have a NGF sticker or seal on your Neo Geo you have a bootleg. End of story.

  34. Captain Janks says:

    When do we get an interview with Tiago Splitter?

  35. darrentg says:

    The less attention Dion gets, the better. I’m not going to say I’ve lost respect for Racketboy or the community because of this; but I’m wondering why a known thief, liar, and scammer is getting this kind of attention. The biggest thing that stands out to me is how I lost count of how many times Dion keeps saying “and 10, 15 years later everyone is finally starting to catch on”; no, no they’re not Dion. Your “freaked” conversions/bootlegs were ALWAYS low print quality, even back then. They’re worth less than the genuine article. The guy’s ego is so over-inflated, he’s manipulative; and that clearly shines through in these videos. I’m surprised so many people have fallen for his BS just by looking at these comments. And no, I’m not from Neo-Geo.com.

  36. DragonShadow says:

    After reseaching about SNK….alot of what this guy says don’t add up….

    1.) Azure being SNK “parent company” when in reality Azure bought SNK in 2000…..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aruze#Relationship_with_SNK

    2.) Saying that the Barone Family were great…..despite the fact that their one of the main reason why the pocket color and SNK USA fail in America.

    3.) Watch the Icons episode of SNK for an better idea on how SNK was actually run

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtFI7aLIzqw
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxP6qIiS6WQ

    Anyways please do some research before believe everything this guys says.

  37. chaz says:

    stick to talking about sonic the hedgehog, racketboy.

  38. I’m the Scott Wozniak listed in the “Thief, Scammer, Liar: The Dion Dakis Story – The Definitive Retrospective” thread. My dealings with Dion go back a long way. (Around 1999 – 2001.) Don’t want to get into great depth about it, but this guy was HATED fiercely back then for a lot of reasons. That being said, I enjoyed the interview and wish him the best.

  39. Sound Lily says:

    @Scott, nice to know that you actually managed to stop keeping such a grudge. I find it amazing that even now, 12 years later, it still brings out hatred and rage in anyone. From shitty “photocopied” inserts (from reports I hear, some were actually professionally printed), to the whole Jigen thing (from conflicting opinions and the image itself I can’t even have an opinion on) I can see why it would cause terrible pain to the community, but to hold it this long? To be honest I never really got deep into the Neo-Geo (and probably never will, too cost prohibitve) but the tales I hear about NGF are something to behold
    I’d like to ask, what is your idea on what actually happened during NGF’s time?

  40. NeoElite says:

    I have close friends and relatives including myself who are serious Neo Geo collectors and have had years of experience in both online transactions with ngf and Dion Dakis himself, if anything he has always overdelivered in every aspect of a very well run business, he has always been upfront and honest about questions & concerns, has always delivered all my mib games in a timely manner and has gone out of his way to deliver clear professional photos before the actual items were shipped…has even gone to the extent of asking me to notify him when my packages have been recieved so it’s been very clear and proved to me that he’s always been very serious and courteous about everything he does. All titles that I’ve ordered from ngf/Dion have also been 110% authentic and I’ve even opened the more expensive Aes carts to make sure they were fully legit, ngh numbers and everything was always totally authentic. I also have over 100 Aes titles in my collection and most big titles came directly from ngf and Dion, those ngf titles are actually the highlights of my collection. Just recently Mr.Dakis also helped me find & replace some used titles in my collection with nib/mib ones, I have nothing but great things to say about Dion Dakis and have tremendous respect for him as both a person and business owner. I’m truly not quite understanding nor believing any of the undeserved hate geared at Dion Dakis and ngf. Anyone who is/was a real Snk head got their stuff from Dion/ngf.

  41. Adam says:

    Thanks for these interviews Racketboy.

  42. Links says:

    This is dissapointing, the guy is a known con artist with multiple ongoing court cases against him. Multiple people have said “he seems like a nice guy”. That’s the whole point, he’s a con artist. He would make fake games, and sell them to other’s as limited print’s or simmilar for ten time’s their worth. And he’s documented for stealing over $10,000 worth of carts that people sold him, only for him to return the games, that were actually one of his bootlegs disguised (or defaced) as their carts.

    And that’s not even mentioning how he willingly destroys MVS/AES and inserts to make his own collection more valuable (I’m not making this shit up, go google it, ton’s of photo’s of him shredding Neo Geo case inserts).