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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.