When people ask what kind of bands I like, I usually say I don't like bands, I like songs. Of course, then I realize I don't really like country music, or rap, or any of the bizarre marijuana genres. I guess that narrows it down a bit.

     The same goes for games, really. It's true, I'll play a game as long as it's good (even if Acclaim made/licensed it), and within a genre I like. And when a company produces consistently enjoyable games (even if the success rate seems a little off at times), it's only natural to develop some brand loyalty.

     SNK is a now-defunct game company with a pretty strong following even to this day. They were fairly unremarkable, but prolific early on producing such classic titles as Ikari Warriors, and may even have had a hand in Double Dragon. Attention in them began to build about the time Fatal Fury was released for their Neo-Geo/MVS arcade system, even if it was more of a 'Hey, these guys are trying to rip off Street Fighter!' kind of attention. Eventually the company carved itself a niche for creating excellent sequels to execrable old games.

     The company began in the late 70's, as Shin Nihon Kikaku. Its early arcade titles never made a very big splash. In fact, they weren't very successful at all until they began working on games for the NES under the abbreviated moniker of SNK. From there they started publishing slightly more popular, and slightly better games.

      Later came the Neo Geo Multi-Video System (or more commonly, MVS.) It was, rather ingeniously, a cartridge-based arcade machine. This would allow an arcade owner to change the game without the expense of buying a brand new machine, as well as the cost of getting rid of the old one. In 1990, a home version of the Neo Geo was released, and as far as I can remember was practically an urban legend. They were powerful to be sure, but prohibitively expensive. Considering they were simply a crunched-down arcade board with joysticks not fused into the box, it's not suprising. The design of the machine was pretty interesting. The bulk of what actually ran the game was in the (also expensive) cartridge itself, so the graphics and sounds of the games themselves could be expanded upon, well... a lot without actually upgrading the console. Even today, games are released for the original Neo motherboard, whereas Capcom and others have gone through generations of hardware to keep up with the dim masses who lust after flashy graphics and CD quality sound.

     SNK's games, especially the later ones have this inexplicable draw to them. Even if they may not be the most visually stunning (like the high-res sprites in Guilty Gear, or any of Square's gorgeous Final Fantasy worlds) the hand-drawn sprites have a visceral appeal. (I wanted to say 'je nais se quas', except I don't know really how to spell it and didn't want to break up such a nice train of thought with awkward French mannerisms.) Their cornerstone The King of Fighters series is a prime example of what I mean: Even though the characters are all low-res and 2-D, and speak only in broken english during the scattered scattered cutscenes, you can get a sense of 'personality' in the way certain ones hold themselves, and the voice action really draws you in as long as you can suspend your disbelief that someone can speak rather coherently while being kicked in the face.

     Unfortunately, due to falling sales and other financial concerns, SNK had to close its U.S. offices in 2000, with their Japanese office folding in October of the following year (doubtless adding yet another stressor to some gamers in the wake of 9/11.) But this story doesn't have an entirely sad ending, my little friend!

     At the very end, A Korean company named Eolith took the completed King of Fighters 2001 and released it to the public themselves. Eolith and Playmore acquired the rights to many of SNK's premier series, and, after a year or thereabouts of rumors and anxiety, lo and behold: Metal Slug 4. KoF 2002. And they were actually pretty good, despite fears that the 'new management' might screw things up, and the strange artwork the new artists were using. So, in a way, SNK lives on in a state that is kind of like undeath, only without the dread and brain-eating. Or dread anyway.

     What is to follow is just a look at the highlights (and shadows, to use the aesthetically proper term) of some of my favorites and least favorites. Ya know, for balance, and make me less of a drooling fanboy for acknowledging they screw up once in a while. Ya know, once you ignore the fact I'm making a multi-page essay on OMG SNK IS SO KEWL.

SNK Gameography: No, I haven't played them all, nor do I intend to. Question mark denotes games that may have been developed by other companies and published by SNK. Parentheses indicate alternate/Japanese name, US names given first.

One more digression: The asterisks denote games made by Playmore/Eolith after SNK went under.

2020 Super Baseball
3 Count Bout
Aggressors of Dark Kombat(?)
Alpha Mission
Alpha Mission II
Art of Fighting (Ryuuko no Ken)
Art of Fighting 2
Art of Fighting 3: Path of the Warrior
Armored Scrum Object(?)
Baseball Stars
Baseball Stars 2
Baseball Stars Professional
Beast Busters
Bermuda Triangle
Burning Fight
Chopper I
Eight Man
Fatal Fury (aka: Garou Densetsu- The King of Fighters)
Fatal Fury 2
Fatal Fury Special
Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory
Fighting Golf
Fighting Soccer
Football Frenzy
Garou-Mark of the Wolves
Ghost Pilots
Gold Medalist
Guerilla War (aka: Guevara!)
Hal 21
Ikari Warriors
Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue
Iron Tank
Irritating Maze
Joyful Road
(The) King of Fighters '94
King of Fighters '95
King of Fighters '96
King of Fighters '97
King of Fighters '98: The Slugfest (aka: Dream Match Never Ends)
King of Fighters '99
King of Fighters 2000
King of Fighters 2001*
King of Fighters 2002: Challenge to Ultimate Battle*
King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise
King of Fighters KYO
King of Fighters R-1
King of Fighters R-2
The King of the Monsters
King of Monsters 2: The Next Thing
Last Blade (aka: Bakumatsu Roman)
Last Blade II
Last Resort
League Bowling
Legend of Success Joe (aka: Ashita no Joe)(?)
Mad Crasher
Mah-jong Kyouretsuden
Marvin's Maze
Mechanized Attack
Metal Slug (aka: Mega King)
Metal Slug 2
Metal Slug 3
Metal Slug 4*
Metal Slug X
Munch Mobile
Mutation Nation
Neo-Geo Cup
Neo-Geo Cup '98: Road to Victory
Ninja Masters
Ozma Wars
P.O.W.: Prisoner of War (Datsugoku)
Paddle Mania
Pioneer Balloon
Prehistoric Isle in 1930
Psycho Soldier
Puzzle Bobble 2(?)
Puzzled (Joy Joy Kid)
Quiz Dragnet Neo Geo
Quiz Dragnet-Final Countdown
Quiz King of Fighters
Rage of the Dragons*
Real Bout Fatal Fury
Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers
Real Bout fatal Fury Special
Riding Hero
Robo Army
Safari Rally
Samurai Shodown (aka: Samurai Spirits)
Samurai Shodown II
Samurai Shodown III
Samurai Shodown IV Amakusa's Revenge
Search and Rescue
Sasuka vs. Commander
Satan of Saturn(aka: Zarzon)
Savage Reign
Sengoku 2
Sengoku 3
Sky Adventure
Sky Soldiers
SNK Gals Fighter
SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters Clash
SNK vs Capcom: Chaos*(in development)
SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millenium
Soccer Brawl
Street Smart
Super Champion Baseball
Super Sidekicks
Super Sidekicks 2-The New Champions
Super Sidekicks 3-The Next Glory
World Heroes
World Heroes 2
World Heroes Perfect