The Neo Geo X Gold comes with 20 games pre-loaded, as well as an additional game on a SD-like card. Tommo has confirmed that game compilations will be made available in the future using this media format, with the first compendium of 15 titles coming this year.
We can’t help but feel that Tommo and SNK are both missing a trick here - it would have made more sense to connect the Neo Geo X to some kind of online storefront, where titles can be downloaded to the system’s internal memory - as is the case with formats like the Nintendo 3DS, Vita and - of course - iOS and Android.
With this initial disappointment set aside, it doesn’t take long to see why the Neo Geo is held in such high regard by seasoned players. Games like Metal Slug, Samurai Shodown 2, Magician Lord and Last Resort remain brilliantly playable even by today’s standards, and really come to life thanks to the console’s excellent microswitched stick.
However, several of the other bundled titles provide the opposite reaction - Mutation Nation, King of the Monsters and Alpha Mission II feel dated and shallow, and are unlikely to hold your attention for more than a few minutes, unless you happen to have some strong nostalgic connection with them.
Given that a Neo Geo console and 20 games would have set you back thousands of pounds back in the early ‘90s, the £175 being asked for the Neo Geo X Gold seems quite modest. However, the system’s poor screen and lackluster battery are shortcomings that really should have been addressed before the console went into production. It’s also criminally short-sighted of the manufacturer to not include some kind of online connectivity to enable game downloads.
There’s no denying that the docking station and arcade stick are impressive, and the way in which the entire system is packaged is pure genius - Tommo has utilised almost identical materials to those used in the 1990s, right down to the iconic Neo Geo sticker seals. But aside from appealing to hardcore collectors, these elements do little to enrich the entertainment value of the console.
The final nail in the coffin is that many of SNK’s best games are already available for the Sony PSP - both in download format and as part of a physical collection - and for a much cheaper price. If you really need to scratch your retro itch, that’s unquestionably a better option - although we fear that the collectibility of the Neo Geo X Gold will prove hard to resist for some lifelong fans.