Welcome to the official Retro Dodo list of the best Neo Geo games of all time! We’ve taken to compiling some of the greatest console titles on the planet so far; the best N64 games, best SEGA Game Gear games, and the best GameCube games to name but a few, but very few home consoles have the history stats that the mighty Neo Geo can boast. Combined with the Neo Geo CD, this luxury gaming device sold over 980’000 units worldwide and is one of the longest supported consoles by game developers of all time.
Whether you remember playing the best Neo Geo games on the MVS coin-operated, six cartridge arcade machine or on the AES luxury home console is irrelevant – if you know, you know. But don’t panic if you never got the chance to rent one of these consoles from a Japanese video rental store or managed to save up enough coin to own one, because just like the WonderSwan, the Neo Geo is now considered a collectable and can be picked up on the internet for about the same prices as a Nintendo Switch Lite and all of the latest Nintendo Switch Lite Accessories. Getting your hands on one of these consoles is now much easier and much kinder on your wallet, which means you’ll need a helping hand when it comes to figuring out which games to buy and try out.
We’ve compiled a list of the greatest and best Neo Geo games for you to play at home, as well as some information about what they are like to get you kickstarted. Check them out below!
10. King Of Fighters
It’s 1998, and you’re sitting down in front of your AES system with one of the new best Neo Geo games clutched tightly in your hands. You’ve played the other four games in the series back in the arcade and enjoyed them, but now a special edition with all of the previous characters has emerged, and you’re about to plug it in. King of Fighters 98 is the Neo Geo’s answer to Tekken, Mortal Kombat, and One Piece Grand Battle Swan Colosseum. It doesn’t have any specific storyline per-say, but it does have a tonne of amazing characters and some nail-biting gameplay that is enhanced by special moves and signature beat downs.
The 24-bit graphics are nice and clean and the detail in the background goes way beyond just a few trees and people. The stages are all nicely thought out and designed, and the control setup borrows heavily from the arcade versions that people knew and loved in the games early years. The ultimate KOF boss, Rugal Bernstein, makes a reappearance in KOF ’98 which won’t mean anything if you haven’t played this series before. But trust me, he’s hard as nails. This is an all-round great fighting game with those all-important arcade vibes.
9. Magician Lord
Step into the Sorcerer’s World in the next title on our list of the Best Neo Geo Games. Magician Lord isn’t the most difficult game in the world, but it is a prime example of what the AES system can do. This title has some of the richest colours and the best music tracks of any side-scrolling game on any console. Like a cross between Metroid and Castlevania, Magician Lord is fun to both play and watch, and both the maze-like puzzles and memorable bosses will keep you well entertained.
The story revolves around an evil berk called Gal Agiese who has broken free of a prison that he was locked inside. He steals the tomes that were used to imprison him in the first place and tries to bring the God of Destruction back to life. Next time, I’d be looking at a stronger magical prison and hiding the books that put him there somewhere a little safer instead of just lying around. I’m thinking a lead-lined coffin at the centre of the earth, perhaps. A magician with a wizard staff and much bigger crystal balls than I would have in this situation comes to the rescue. Elta (that’s the magician), must stop Gal from using the tomes and bring peace to the land before he mucks things up good-and-proper. It might not be the most challenging game ever, but it’s certainly a fun one to play and a title that needs to be in your collection.
8. Blazing Star
If you’re a fan of space-age battle games such as Star Fox, Star Wars, and Metroid, then the next title on our list of the best Neo Geo games will be right up your street. This side-scrolling sequel to Pulstar is well renowned as one of the best shoot ’em ups on the console and has been praised by critics for its intense boss battles, detailed stages, and graphics.
Cyborgs are turning against the AI that built them in a bid to stop the rise of a cybernetic army. You, the player, must take charge of one of these rebel cyborgs and the ships that they control, each ship having different firepower, shot styles, and speeds. Much like Lylat Wars, you can pick up power-ups and extras as you progress through the levels, button-mashing away to your heart’s content. Enjoy both single-player and multiplayer modes from the comfort of your couch, or install into an MVS unit for that ultimate Stranger Things style arcade experience in your garage or living room.
7. Shock Troopers
Will you fight the terrorists as a lone wolf, or will you band together with your teammates to take on the villains in the next ‘run and gun’ title in our list of the best Neo Games? Shock Troopers takes you through multiple landscapes as you track, hunt, and take-down the Bloody Scorpions terrorist cell. They’re after a drug that turns people into superhuman soldiers, and you, along with a team of 7 other soldiers from different countries around the world, are here to stop them. Go it alone or control one of three soldiers at a time as you make your way through mountains, jungles, and valleys in search of the scum that kidnapped an old scientist and his attractive granddaughter. Man, I feel like Chuck Norris just writing about it!
Each of the different soldiers that you can control has different abilities that will be able to help you with your mission. Unlike most side-scrolling games, Shock Troopers has a top-down approach which allows you to move in 8-different directions while firing. You can run around enemies and attack from all angles, picking up point bonuses, extra items, and life as you go. The boss battles are huge, the gameplay is electric, and that old man and his granddaughter are counting on you to rescue them. What are you waiting for; get a copy bought right now!
6. Waku Waku 7
You might be seeing a pattern forming here. Many of the best Neo Geo games in our list are either fighting, shooting, or space-age side-scrollers, which should be expected seen as though the Neo Geo started off life in an arcade. Our next game, Waku Waku 7, is a popular fighting game with an array of strange and loveable characters. Choose from one of nine fighters, each with his or her own special unblockable move and fighting style.
I thought Yoshimitsu was a bit of an oddball, but a purple forest cat and a walking police tank really take the prize for the weirdest fighters in gaming history! Still, it’s a nice change from hitting people with fists, and I always liked playing with Blanka in Street Fighter because I couldn’t understand what he really was. If you like beat ’em ups, then Waku Waku 7 is definitely worth playing, especially when you invite your mates over with a takeaway and a few beers.
5. Samurai Shodown
Take a step back from brawling in the streets and getting in a rage over purple forest cats, and immerse yourself in a time where the art of fighting concerned itself more with the sword than with the crude motion of the fist. The next title in our list of the best Neo Geo games takes us back to the wild plains of Japan and the refined fighting style of the Samurai warrior. Named ‘the mother of all fighting games’, Samurai Showdown was the first game on the Neo Geo system and indeed on many other consoles to concentrate on fighting with weapons rather than with punches, kicks, and special abilities.
This game is so fast-paced that the matches will be done and dusted if you turn your head away for a second. You have to concentrate on striking your opponent in just the right way; there’s none of this kicking your opponent until they are down type of gameplay in Samurai Showdown. This is a fighting title for sophisticated battle fans…and ones that like tonnes of blood and a referee that throws bits of chicken into the ring for you to regain your health. So, it’s like WWE with swords…got it.
4. Aero Fighters 2
We’re mixing things up now with a vertical scrolling fighter pilot game that will make you feel like you’ve just parachuted out of an aeroplane – Aero Fighters. The game uses two buttons – A to fire and B to drop bombs, as well as the joystick to move around the screen. It’s simple to use, it’s great, and did I mention that it’s also simple to use?
Seriously though, this game rocks; destroy armoured planes and enemy buildings while picking up powerups and money bonuses along the way. Play as pilots from 5-different countries in both single and multiplayer modes as you move through the twenty levels kicking ass and taking names. It’s the perfect game to play after a long day of number crunching or brain-taxing people bossing, and a worthy addition to our compendium of the best Neo Geo games.
3. The Last Blade
The Last Blade might not be a bonafide sequel to Samurai Shodown, but its emphasis on Japanese mythology and it’s commitment to including sounds and musical styles typical of the era have earned it the third-place slot in our list of the best Neo Geo games. This is another weapon-based fighting game that works the same way as Samurai Shodown for the most part, where the sword is always mightier than the fist (that goes without saying though, right?).
I’ve always been impressed by the attention to detail on the different fighting arenas in The Last Blade; the fallen leaves and snow, blossom trees, Japanese buildings, and stunning scenery in the background are more than enough to distract you when you’re trying to watch for the tip of a blade hurtling towards you. Some of the characters are from Japanese history and some are completely fictitious, but they all kick serious ass and take a lot of beating. I’m not sure how anyone could fight in those massive trousers though; I’d trip up and impale myself on my sword for sure. Game over.
2. Garou: Mark Of The Wolves
If you know your best Neo Geo games from your best SNES games and have some history with this console, then the words ‘Fatal Fury’ should mean a thing or two to you. Garou: Mark Of The Wolves is the final title in the Fatal Fury series and one of the most perfectly created fighting games of all time. It encapsulates everything that made the previous eight games such a success and packages them all up into one must-have title, which is why it’s taking the silver spot in our list.
This game was one of the first to use special block-bonuses where players are awarded points and bonuses for blocking right at the last minute and health bonuses that kick in to give players a boost when ‘all hope is lost’. It’s the last in a line of one of the Neo Geo’s best series and was a serious contender for the Number 1 spot, but it was just pipped to the post by…
1. Metal Slug 3
Some of you might have guessed that Metal Slug 3 would have taken the top spot on our list of the best Neo Geo games, simply because it’s one of the best arcade games of all time. As run and gun titles go, Metal Slug was always the best, and MS3 as some of the best levels and weirdest characters of any franchise ever.
Just take a look at those graphics; ok, so they’re not BOTW standard, but the landscape is so enticing for a 2D side-scroller. There’s the aftermath of a war, mutant crab warriors, and a nice cloud formation to balance it all out. Honestly, I’ve put so many hours away on this game over the years and I never get bored of going back to gunning down aliens and putting up Morden’s troops as we join forces to defeat the final boss. I don’t want to give too much away; get onto the internet and grab a copy of your own to experience this stunning game first hand!
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