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.
Cyber lip instantly wins the award for the best game cover out of any Neo Geo title. Cool dudes with big guns, explosions, and a creepy hidden face. This game has got it all.
This side-scrolling ‘run ‘n gun’ game is fast-paced, has some huge firepower available, and boasts some of the weirdest bosses of any title I’ve ever played. It’s based in the future, between 2016 and 2030.
Luckily, this isn’t what the world is shaping up to be like. I think I would already be in hiding rather that writing this article if it was.
One of the weirdest bits I remember about this game is the random elevator section between each stage. Get it right, and you move to the next level. Get it wrong, and you have to work your way through a rock-hard level with tonnes of enemies.
It’s a 50/50 chance and completely random, so just hold your breath and hope for the best.
You play as Rick and Brook, humankind’s last hope. Can you push back the invading forces and destroy the evil Cyber-Lip? Two mavericks against the alien world – I like those odds!
24. Baseball Stars 2
Like Number 21 on this list, Baseball Stars 2 doesn’t need that much of a detailed introduction or description. It’s a baseball game, so is probably only a good choice if you’re a fan of the sport.
Still, the graphics are good, the detail in the players is pretty ahead of its time, and the game plays really well. There are 18 teams to choose from and two difficulty settings that you can play through.
Critics at the time even went as far as to say that this was the best sports game that they had ever played. That’s high praise! What’s more, Baseball Stars 2 received scores of close to 100% from many reviewers.
There is a version of this game for the NES, but there are so many differences and bits that have been missed out that that it’s pointless buying it. Get a copy for the Neo Geo and experience it the way that SNK wanted you to play.
23. World Heroes Perfect
World Heroes Perfect is the first in a long series of arcade-style fighting games in our list of the best Neo Geo games. It’s very much like Street Fighter and King of Fighters, with special moves, health bars, and multiple playable characters.
All of the previous fighters from the series return for World Heroes Perfect, and you the player must compete in a tournament to discover who is the strongest fighter in history. It’s been done before but follows the ’90s fighter-game theme pretty well.
Each fighter has his or her own special ability, and you can play the game through in either 1-player mode or battle a friend in 2-player multiplayer mode. The storyline follows the tried and tested ‘defeat all players and final boss’. But World Heroes Perfect has a secret boss that even the boss doesn’t know about.
Apart from adding a few new features and a new character, this game is essentially an update of the previous instalment in the series. Still, it’s a fun alternative for Street Fighter fans who are bored of hearing ‘HADOOUUKEN’ every few seconds and are looking for something new.
22. Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy
This next title on our list of the best Neo Geo games is a great choice for anyone who isn’t a fan of fighting or shoot ’em up games. Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy is a side-scrolling action-adventure game. It was one of the first games of the time to have a 100MB cartridge too.
That seems crazy in a world where we now have 1TB memory sticks. But this was 1994, don’t forget!
There are similarities to the King of Fighters series in that Roddy and Cathy have special moves that can be pulled out when facing off against bad guys. Apart from that, the series has a Donkey Kong country feel about it.
The worlds in Top Hunter are colourful and fun to play through. At times, they remind me of Taz: Escape From Mars, but Roddy and Cathy are far cooler characters.
They are bounty hunters, and they’ve been charged with defeating a band of Space Pirates. They must travel through four worlds; Ice, Forest, Wind, and Fire. The layouts of the stages change depending on which one you pick first, so I guess there’s actually sixteen worlds if you think about it!
Top Hunter received great reviews from critics at the time and high praise for its soundtrack and memorable bosses. Give it a go and let us know your thoughts!
21. Neo Turf Masters
While Nazca were creating Metal Slug, they were also working on a very different type of Neo Geo game. Neo Turf Masters is a golfing title. That’s all there is to it really!
While golf might not be for everyone, this is a fun, competitive game for 1-2 players. You can either test your skills in Stroke Play or go head-to-head in Match Play. It’s easy to get the hang of and a good game to kick back with a mate and some beers after work.
Neo Turf Masters has six players from around the world for you to choose from. They each have different playing styles and signature looks. There are 4 courses to chose between, and the on screen information relating to weather conditions and hit-power are all designed to help you become a better virtual player.
So it’s not Mario Golf, but it’s still a great little game. It’s been described as ‘juiced up, high-speed golf’. I never knew that golf could be any of those things. But, I sure like Turf Masters, so maybe it can!
20. Last Resort
You’ll find a lot of beat ’em up and shoot ’em up titles on the Neo Geo, what with it beginning its life as an arcade machine. One of the best shoot ’em ups that we’ve ever played on any console is Last Resort. It’s like R-Type, (one of the best Gameboy Color games) and features some incredible space-age action with awesome enemies.
With only five stages, some might think that it’s a little short. They’re super tricky, however, and the bosses are anything but short. They’re ENORMOUS!
Like all bosses in any game, they have significant weak spots that you have to aim for, but taking them out isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
Last Resort is set many years in the future. Not content with wrecking one planet, Humans are now trying to colonize space too. A computer virus messes up their plans and brainwashes some of the humans to take its side, and all hell breaks loose.
Cue robotic drones, cyber jets, and a whole load of blaster fire.
While Last Resort received mixed reviews, it’s a favourite for fans of the genre. With Metroid-style villains and addictive gameplay, it’s a good choice for anyone who is looking for a game where speed and quick reflexes are more important than puzzle-solving brainpower.
The next title in out list of the best Neo Geo games is treasure-seeking action at its finest. Who doesn’t dream of one day acquiring a fifth of a mysterious treasure map and heading out to find riches and glory?
That’s exactly what Spinmaster provides, with cartoon-style hilarity along the way.
Jonny is a treasure hunter who finds a piece of said map. It’s worth pointing out that the map was left by someone who is continually referred to as the ‘mysterious guy’. I wonder if the developers just ran out of names and thought that would do?
Anyway, back to the game.
Wielding a yo-yo and a brain brimming with the need for adventure, Jonny must head out to save his girlfriend from a mad scientist (you know the type). He also has to retrieve his piece of the map that was stolen at the same time.
Talk about having your world blown apart!
Play 1-player or team up with a friend to bring sweets and candies back to the world. Save your better half, and find treasure while you’re at it. Better weapons such as throwing stars can be picked up along the way, and there’s plenty of baddie-bashing action to keep you enthralled time and time again.
18. Puzzle Bobble
Bob and Bub keep popping up in our best games lists, and there’s a good reason why. They recently appeared in our list of the best Commodore 64 games with Bubble Bobble. Now they’re back with Puzzle Bobble, a game that many of you may recognise as being called ‘Bust A Move’.
Puzzle Bobble went on to inspire games like Beehive Bedlam and all of the other Candy Crush-style mobile games that you can pick up on your smartphone. Bob and Bub are back, but this time the aim of the game is to match up coloured bubbles in order to clear your screen.
Sounds simple, right?
It is, however, incredibly addictive and frustrating in equal measure. You’ve never felt pressure until you’ve experienced falling behind in Puzzle Bobble.
The single player mode sees you trying to clear screens with a pre-determined pattern of bubbles. There are 32 levels, each varying in their difficulty. The 2-player mode has no levels, but bubbles that you eradicate will appear on your players screen.
This game can make or break friendships!
17. Crossed Swords
The next title on our list of the best Neo Geo games is a hack ‘n slash classic. Crossed Swords had a loose RPG feel to it. the player controlls the see-through outline of a warrior as he takes on various evil-looking cretins.
It’s set in the enchanted land of Belkana, a place that has recently become overrun with annoying demons like the chap in the picture below. It’s your job to get rid of them using your finest button mashing attack skills.
If like me, you often choose to run in and attack without defending, then you won’t stay alive long. Crossed Swords players don’t slash first and ask questions later. They defend and strike at the perfect moment, bringing honour to Belkana and not dying in the first ten seconds like a berk.
You can either team up with a mate or go solo on this game. Magical weapons can be collected, and the game has multiple paths that you can travel down. It’s a great title and considered to be one of the top 10 games for the console by many.
We’ve listed it in the top 20. That’s good enough, right?
You may well have played Sengoku on the Super Famicom. It’s a great beat ’em up title and one that we’ve spent far too many hours playing. Every game should feature an 80’s-themed warrior who can transform into mighty spirits in our opinion.
Transforming is the key to getting ahead in Sengoku. You can become a noble samurai, a bad-ass armour-plated wolf, and a stealthy ninja.
There are enemies EVERYWHERE. You need to keep your wits about you and your mashing finger supple if you have a hope of surviving.
You play as two descendants of an elite Samurai; Ninja Dave or Cowboy Kev. Now, I’m the first person to admit that they aren’t the greatest character names. Still, you can just pretend that they are called something better.
What’s more, their fighting styles more than make up for their parent’s terrible choices.
These poorly named warriors are the only two people brave enough to stand up to an evil warlord. Twinned with the transformation element, you’ve got an interesting concept and a fun game to play through. Critics didn’t like it, but we do.
That’s all that matters.
15. Neo Bomberman (1997)
You’ve all heard of Bomberman, but did you know, there was one specifically made for the Neo Geo? For those of you new to Bomberman, it’s basically an action based maze arcade game made in 1997.
Developed by Produce! it was one of two Bomberman games to be made for the Neo Geo, it was that popular!
In this game, gamers take control of the Bomberman’s. the main objective is destroying all of the monsters in the stage. To destroy them you’ll need to place bombs to block them, and then blow them up.
Once you kill all of the monsters it will open the gate to the next level. again, each one is filled with more and more monsters harder than the last.
With special abilities to make it easier, and yourself more powerful each level is like a puzzle. Where will you go? Where will you place your bombs? And will you prevail? An awesome game indeed!
14. Twinkle Star Sprites (1996)
Twinkle Star Sprites looks as if it’s Digimon but aimed towards a younger, female audience, but you would be wrong.
It’s a competitive scrolling shooter arcade game released in 1996 and made by ADK. Unfortunately it was ADK’s last ever game for the Neo-Geo platform before moving elsewhere. but boy, did they get out with a bang!
Twinkle Star Sprites mixes a fixed shooter with puzzle games, alongside some very memorable characters. You can use combinations and timed power ups to damage your enemies.
You’ll encounter challenges that will take many tries, new colourful characters and some very intense moments of gameplay.
It all comes down to how fast you can think, and keeping your eyes focused on whats going on around you. This is a great game, and one we had to add to our list.
13. WindJammers (1994)
Windjammers is a fast paced sports arcade game created by Data East in 1994. Imagine Pong but with a range of characters and more detailed surroundings.
The Pong gameplay is turned into a type of beach volleyball, or tennis game but with more and more levels, each getting harder and faster than the previous.
The high saturated colours, cool character animations and decent soundtrack, this is one to keep an eye on should you want to add it to your best neo geo games collection.
Just prepare to rage quit now and then!
12. Fatal Fury Special (1993)
You’ll see a wide number of fighting games in this best Neo geo games list, all of them are great, and for those of you that are in love with this genre, then Fatal Fury Special is for you. It was developed and published by SNK in 1993 and it’s basically updated version of Fatal Fury 2 that was release in 1992.
Fatal Fury Special is known for its incredibly saturated graphics, well designed characters and faster gameplay compared to the 1992 version. It also introduced special moves into the franchise, allowing for deadly combos and even more strategic plays.
One thing we always remember about Fatal Fury 2 is the colourful arenas, as much as we love dark, scary levels, as a kid the bright, sunny pirate ship within the city, will always be remembered.
11. Pulstar (1995)
Pulstar was released in 1995 by developers Aicom co. What made this game so great, and one of the best Neo Geo games around, is that fact that it was the first Neo Geo game to incorporate pre-rendered graphics.
The game basically had 2.5D graphics making you feel immersed, and some of the later stages get somewhat complexed graphics which was rarely seen on this console.
You have the ability to charge your weapons for extra damage, upgrade your warship and take on some impressive enemies.
It’s a great fast paced, short, video game with only a handful of levels, but what makes Pulstar great, is that you can keep coming back to beat the levels faster, and faster.
Just prepare to get upset after 30 minutes because you’ll find out that yes, you have already finished it.
10. King Of Fighters (1998)
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 (1990)
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 Showdown 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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