Typically, my Cheapest Games Worth Your Time series looks for games that are $10 or less, but with the Neo-Geo, that just isn’t an option. This 24-bit powerhouse has always been for only the most financially-blessed gamers with both the system and games retailing for hundreds of dollars each. With a hardcore following and a very limited supply of games, many game prices are still much more than most retro gamers are used to paying for a single title. Because of this, my “Cheap” Neo-Geo list will be rather short and I’ll have to adjust my price targets as well.
For AES cartridges, my goal was to find the best games for $50 or less and I had a target of $30 or less for Neo-Geo CDs. While most gamers would agree that the game themselves aren’t really worth even these lower prices. When you buy Neo-Geo games, you are essentially paying for the right to play them on the original Neo-Geo hardware and the collectability of these hard-to-find cartridges and CDs.
It is also worth nothing that while you may save a lot of money by going with Neo-Geo CDs instead of AES carts, you will be greatly sacrificing load time due to the slow CD speeds of the Neo-Geo CD drive. Because of this, you are losing much of the appeal of the arcade-like experience. If you want to play the games (legally) without spending as much, you are better off acquiring quality ports of the games on the Saturn, Dreamcast, or PS2.
Since Neo-Geo games aren’t sold on eBay quite as often as more common console games, I’m averaging the eBay prices I did see with the price guide at Neo-Geo.com
Check out the other Cheapest Games Worth Your Time articles
Best AES Cartridges For $50 or Less
Samurai Shodown: $40
Samurai Shodown 2 : $50
On the Neo-Geo, it’s very uncommon to be able to find a blockbuster game for much less than $100 (or even $300). So considering that the first two installments of the beloved Samurai Shodown series can be found for less than $50, it is almost required to have at least one of these games in your Neo-Geo library. When most early fighting game were just a slight adaptation of Street Fighter 2, Samurai Shodown slowed down the pace a bit and brought weapons-based Samurai fighting to the brawler genre. To this day, Samurai Showdown 2 is still regarded as the best of the series as SNK messed with the fighting system a bit in part 3 and 4.
Check for Samurai Shodown Series on eBay
King of Monsters: $40
With so many popular 2D fighters on the Neo-Geo, it is easy for this unique brawler to get overlooked. What can best be described as a wrestling game featuring a variety of Godzilla-sized monsters duking it out in futuristic Japanese cityscapes, King of Monsters is a riot in terms of gameplay and visually engaging as well. The original game, in my opinion, is more satisfying than its sequel, in addition to being cheaper as well.
Check for King of Monsters on eBay
This side-scrolling shooter was one of the very first Neo-Geo games and was an option for a pack-in game, but it still packs in some satisfying shooting goodness. It is one of the better Operation Wolf clones that made it to home systems and since its an older, common game, it can be had for a reasonable price.
Check for NAM-1975 on eBay
Baseball Stars Professional: $35
The other early pack-in option for the Neo-Geo is the successor to the popular SNK game from the NES library. The Baseball Stars series is still beloved by many old-school sports fans. I doesn’t have any complicated controls, gratuitous set-up screens, or lulls in the action. Combining nice 2D graphics with simple, fast gameplay, Baseball Stars Professional is pure arcade fun.
Check for Baseball Stars Professional on eBay
2020 Super Baseball: $30
Many gamers may choose Baseball Stars as their favorite baseball game on the Neo-Geo, but I think the 2020 Super Baseball doesn’t get nearly the appreciation it deserves. While it does have some flaws, I found that this fast-paced and over-the-top futuristic representation of America’s pastime is loads of fun. Being able to upgrade both your human and robotic players with the money you earn along the way adds a lot of depth to this very affordable gem.
Check for 2020 Super Baseball on eBay
Magician Lord: $45
This game is popular with some Neo-Geo fans, but it isn’t for everyone. This platformer gives you the opportunity to find different orbs that transform your wizard character into different forms like a ninja, samurai, and “Dragon Warrior”. To me, it seems like Kid Chameleon, but not quite as interesting. But again, some people really like the game and will complain if I don’t include it on this list.
Check for Magician Lord on eBay
Best Neo-Geo CDs For $30 or Less
King of Fighters Series – Ranging for $18-$25 each
Most installments of SNK’s headlining series are very expensive in cartridge form. However CD versions are a bit more realistically priced. The older installments like KOF ’94 & ’95 can be found on the lower end of the price scale, while the newer installments like KOF ’98 (my personal favorite) command a few more dollars.
Check for King of Fighters Series on eBay
Samurai Shodown Series: $17-$20 each
This series is pretty cheap once again on the CD format. However, for part 1 & 2, it sould definitely be worth the extra $20-30 more for the cartridge version. But if you really want to go cheap, this option is available.
Check for Samurai Shodown Series on eBay
Fatal Fury Special: $20
Fatal Fury 3: $22
If you like the early multi-planed Fatal Fury games, these are as cheap as you are going to get on the SNK console. They are very well-rounded fighters that will give you something different from standard Street Fighter 2 clones.
Check for Fatal Fury Series on eBay
Aero Fighters 2/Sonic Wings 2: $30
There’s plenty of fighters on this list, but a well-rounded arcade-based library needs a shmup in there somewhere. Aero Fighters 2 is defiantly the best value as far as shooters go. It is a straightforward but enjoyable entry in the genre, so it’s a good choice for those that want an accessible shooter that will help them get their feet wet in the genre without spending too much money.
Check for Aero Fighters 2/Sonic Wings 2 on eBay
Art of Fighting 3: $30
Not only was the gameplay of this fighter rather interesting, but Art of Fighting 3 was also a technical showpiece with it’s very large sprites and smooth animation. So if you want to show off what your Neo can do, AOF3 is an inexpensive solution.
Check for Art of Fighting 3 on eBay
My Starter Picks For $120 Budget
My typical $50 budget won’t cut it much with the Neo-Geo, so I’ve bumped the budget up to $120 for this luxury console. So, If I only had $120 to spend on starting out a Neo-Geo collection, here would be my top picks:
- Samurai Shodown 2 : $50
- King of Monsters: $40
- 2020 Super Baseball: $30
- Total: $120