The video game console landscape is often dominated by dichotomies of one set or another: Nintendo versus Sega, Nintendo versus Sony, Sony versus Microsoft, or even console versus PC. But what of the other console manufacturers out there? Those who are often left out of the yin and yang description of the industry?
If you’re a child of the 1990s, or a huge fan of fighting games, one name that you might recall is SNK, makers of the arcade games and the Neo Geo home console. A mish mash of Nintendo and Capcom, SNK didn’t begin life as a console manufacturer and its life did not end there.
SNK Neo Geo Multi Video System
Starting out as a purveyor of high quality but, nonetheless, knock-off arcade games, Shin Nihon Kikaku’s humble origins in 1978 did not indicate its later association with high-end graphics and the Rolls-Royce console of gaming.
The path to creating the Neo Geo began in 1988 when SNK began looking at other ways to bring its popular arcade games to consumers. Aracade cabinets were big, bulky devices that required a huge sunk cost of initial investment to get out there. This made them expensive to make and to sell, with many arcades selectively purchasing big hits rather than taking a gamble on lesser-known titles. This led to the creation of the SNK Neo Geo MVS (Multi-Video System). Basically a console inside of a cabinet, operators could purchase cartridges that could be loaded into the unit for play rather than buy a whole new arcade cabinet.
This was a novel way of bringing games to the arcade but fixed SNK to the MVS platform graphically. That wasn’t a huge deal since the company could pack in all sorts of chips and RAM into the cartridges for the games. And, since each MVS could