The Neo Geo X (NGX) is a handheld video game console manufactured by Tommo Inc., licensed by SNK Playmore, and the latest console released as part of the company's Neo Geo brand. Information about the Neo Geo X was first reported in January 2012 and later confirmed in March. It is the first Neo Geo system to be released since the discontinuation of the brand in 2004 and the third Neo Geo handheld device, following the 1999 release of the Neo Geo Pocket Color, which was supported until 2001.
The Neo Geo X features games that were on the popular original Neo Geo (the MVS/AES) hardware, and comes built-in with 20 original Neo Geo games. Additional titles are available on game cards.
The system was released on December 18, 2012 as part of a bundle called the "Neo Geo X Gold Limited Edition", which includes a docking station, an arcade stick, and a bonus game card. The docking station is modeled after the original Neo Geo AES console and is used for charging the handheld as well as connecting it to a television. The arcade stick is a replica of the original Neo Geo AES arcade stick that can be used as a controller when the handheld is connected to a TV through the docking station.
Initially, the device was rumored to retail for about $700+, but the price of the Neo Geo X Gold package was revealed to be $199, far less than the original Neo Geo AES console. The package was released in December 2012. A Ninja Master's game card was offered as a bonus with the package.
The handheld by itself, without the docking station and arcade stick, was later priced at $129.99 to come out in February 2013. However, links on the official website to the stand-alone handheld were subsequently removed and the FAQ stated that the docking station is required in order to charge the device.
In January 2013, SNK Playmore announced that manufacturing of the Gold Limited Edition package was ending with the last units arriving to retailers in April. However, they stated that the handheld would continue to be manufactured and that additional games and accessories would continue to be released.
The system is distributed by Tommo Inc. in North America and Blaze in Europe.
There are currently a total of 36 games for the Neo Geo X.
Twenty games come pre-loaded on the system including titles from signature SNK series such as Metal Slug, Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters:
Ninja Master's is included as a bonus game card in the Gold Limited Edition package.
Additional game cards were announced in February 2013. A five-volume set called "Neo Geo X Classics" features five game cards with three games on each making a total of 15 games. The volumes were released in June 2013 and feature the following games:
Each volume comes bundled with a charging/data transfer cable for the handheld. The game cards include a firmware update for the Neo Geo X that updates the handheld to firmware v500. See the "Firmware Update" section of this article for update details.
The Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 was also released in June 2013. It comes with one game card that contains all 15 games featured in Neo Geo X Classics Volumes 1-5. The Mega Pack is packaged in a similar case used for the original Neo Geo AES game cartridges, which can also be used as a carrying case for the Neo Geo X handheld. The charging/data transfer cable is included as well.
Comparison of Neo Geo X and Neo Geo AES resolution.
The device includes a 4.3-inch LCD screen, SD card slot, A/V output, internal stereo speakers with a 3.5mm headphone jack. A micro USB port on the system is used for charging the battery. The screen's 480×272 pixels resolution is the same as the original PlayStation Portable and is close to the 16:9 aspect ratio.
The system was released as part of the Gold package, which includes the "Neo Geo X Station", a replica of the original Neo Geo AES console that functions as a charging/docking station with its own composite video out and HDMI output along with a functioning replica of the original Neo Geo AES arcade stick controller.
The Neo Geo X arcade stick controllers connect to the docking station via two USB ports. Original Neo Geo AES controllers, game cartridges and memory cards are not compatible with the Neo Geo X.
The handheld has an 8-way thumbstick for directional control, menu and start buttons, four face buttons and four shoulder buttons: L1, L2, R1, R2. The shoulder buttons are used for changing screen aspect ratio and pausing games. Buttons to adjust volume and brightness are located under the handheld.
The unit's BIOS and pre-installed games were initially stored on an internal SanDisk 2GB micro SD card; later hardware revisions use a chip installed directly on the motherboard. This chip has yet to be documented.
The console uses the FB Alpha emulator running on a Linux-based operating system to play ROM images of Neo Geo games. The internal memory has no copy protection, allowing third party BIOS and additional games to be directly installed on the unit. The operating system OpenDingux is used to load Final Burn Alpha, then runs .fba files when a game is selected. The system can be modified to run most emulators that will run on OpenDingux. The BIOS can also be modified to get a region-free BIOS (called Unibios), and the BIOS has many features which can be found on the website (http://unibios.free.fr/). The SD card slot can also be used to load other ROMs, but this requires modifying the SD card contact points.
Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 and Neo Geo X Classics Volumes 1-5 come with a "rocket cable" which, together with any of the game cards (except Ninja Master's), update the handheld to firmware v500. The following are the updates and changes according to the official website's gamecards and updating FAQ:
- Game saving is now available to all games that support a game save function. (Note: Ninja Master’s does not support game saving)
- The game selection menu has been adjusted to scroll through the games with a “one-click- one-move” interface.
- The load bar has been improved to provide an exact indication of the actual data loaded from the internal memory of the game card.
- Aspect ratio preference will be saved in the internal storage of the Neo Geo X handheld when changing the aspect ratio with the “L1” button.
- The video output signal has been adjusted to automatically fill the screen of most TVs.
- The sound quality of all games has been greatly improved.
- The responsiveness of the Neo Geo X arcade stick has been greatly improved.
Consumer Reports recommended the system for enthusiasts of older games, but criticized the device's video quality on modern televisions. T3 commented that the replica AES docking station and included joystick added to the "overall retro charm" of the Gold package, but the handheld by itself might not be worth the money as Neo Geo games are now easily playable through other means.
The video and audio quality has been vastly improved since the review, however.
Damien McFerran, writing for Eurogamer reacted positively to the quality of the handheld's gamepad and face buttons. He also complimented details such as the unit's packaging, which remained faithful to the original AES. However, he criticized the quality of the display, calling it "washed out" and writing that the scaling made games look "fuzzy and ill-defined." He also criticized the image quality of the outputs on the docking station, calling the HDMI output "muddy" and commenting that the composite output suffered from color bleeding and a hazing effect. McFerran also lamented that games were being distributed exclusively on physical media instead of being downloadable via Wi-Fi or through a connection to a PC. In addition, he mentioned that the emulated games were prone to screen tearing and audio issues. Concluding that it was not worth the premium price, he wrote "This is a console which has been created with the right intentions but the execution is sadly lacking."
Reportedly due to the low manufacturing standards employed by Tommo, in 2013 October, SNK Playmore has publicly ordered Tommo to cease not only manufacture of the Neo Geo X, but to pull all existing stock from store shelves. Tommo in response claimed to be in compliance with the contract between the companies, which had recently been extended until 2016, and demanding that SNK retract the cease and desist claim.
In early 2014, in a press statement sent to gaming magazine Polygon, Tommo once again claimed full contractual compliance, and accused SNK Playmore of using underhanded tactics to undermine sales of their product, while failing to follow the routes of resolution put forward in the contract in the first place, and declining Tommo's offers of peaceful resolution. The CEO of the manufacturer said they were planning on "taking action" against SNK to protect their contractual rights.
As of June 2016, the Neo Geo X is still available for sale on Amazon and other retailers.
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