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 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.
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 games for you to play at home, as well as some information about what they are like to get you kickstarted.
Table of Contents
1. Metal Slug 3 (2000)
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!
2. Garou: Mark Of The Wolves (1999)
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’.
3. The Last Blade (1997)
The Last Blade might not be a bonafide sequel to Samurai Shodown, but its emphasis on Japanese mythology and its commitment to including sounds and musical styles typical of the era have earned it the third-place slot in our list.
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.
4. Aero Fighters 2 (1994)
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.
5. Samurai Shodown (1993)
Take a step back from brawling in the streets and getting in a rage over purple forest cats, and immerse yourself in Samurai Showdown. It’s based on a time where the art of fighting concerned itself more with the sword than with the crude motion of the fist.
Named ‘the mother of all fighting titles’, 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.
6. Waku Waku 7 (1996)
You might be seeing a pattern forming here. Many of the titles 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.
7. Shock Troopers (1997)
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!
8. Blazing Star (1998)
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 will be right up your street. Say hello to Blazing Star.
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.
9. Magician Lord (1990)
Step into the Sorcerer’s World in the next title on our list. 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 guy 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.
10. King Of Fighters ’98 (1998)
It’s 1998, and you’re sitting down in front of your AES system. 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.
11. Pulstar (1995)
Pulstar released in 1995 by developers Aicom co. What made this game so great is 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.
12. Fatal Fury Special (1993)
You’ll see a wide number of fighting games in this 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 released 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.
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 collection.
Just prepare to rage quit now and then!
14. 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! Neo Bomberman was one of two Bomberman titles 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!
15. 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.
16. World Heroes Perfect (1995)
World Heroes Perfect is 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.
17. Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy (1994)
This next title on our list 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!
18. Neo Turf Masters (1996)
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!
19. Last Resort (1992)
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 colonise 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.
20. Spinmaster (1993)
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.
21. Puzzle Bobble (1994)
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!
22. Crossed Swords (1990)
The next title on our list 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?
23. Sengoku (1991)
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.
24. Cyber-Lip (1990)
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!
25. Baseball Stars 2 (1992)
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.
26. Super Sidekicks 3: The Next Glory (1995)
Here’s one for your football, or shall we say soccer fans out there! Super Sidekicks 3: The Next Glory is a sports game developed and published by SNK in 1995.
It’s the first game in the series following on from Super Sidekicks 2: The World Championship from 1994. It features an arcade-style approach to the football genre, and you can control any of the players by switching selection.
When they are not selected they will be AI-controlled, to help you score, but the same goes with the opposing team, tackling you and trying to take the ball at every moment.
Many video game reviewers and critics spoke highly of the game, it was fluid, felt like a football game and was fast paced enough to keep adults on their toes.
The AI was responsive, and it was tricky to understand what they would do next, making it challenging but rewarding in the long term.
27. NAM-1975 (1990)
NAM-1975 is unsurprisingly a game about the Vietnam war, albeit a fictionalised account of it. It’s essentially a shooting-gallery game; think Duck Hunt with soldiers instead of ducks.
Players control two soldiers tasked with finding a doctor and his daughter, kidnapped by Vietnamese forces.
The game has six stages played either through single-player mode or two-player co-op. Gamers move a crosshairs and their soldier from side to side while gunning down enemies on the other side of a river. Ir’s pretty easy to pick up and addictive as hell once you get started.
NAM-1975 was one of the pack-in titles that launched with the Neo Geo back in 1990, making it a very popular game for the system.
It holds the accolade of being the first game developed for the system too. If that doesn’t earn it a place in this list, then what does?
Many copies of this game have been censored due to the female character on the front showing a bit of thigh and cleavage. Yes, because female soldiers suddenly lose their thighs and chest before signing up…
As such, some game boxes bear marker pen censorship to cover these parts up. Yes, marker pen! Very hi-tec!
28. King Of Fighters 2002 (2002)
King of Fighters 2002 takes the 28th spot in this list, proving that titles released 12 years after the Neo Geo launched were just as good as the ones released in its heyday.
You might not see the appeal of the King of Fighters series, and that’s all well and good. Still, when I tell you that these were as popular as the Fifa games that launch every year, then you might understand how popular they were.
So, what’s new in the 2002 edition? Well, the 3-on-3 battle style used up until King of fighters ’98 is back, as is the Power Gauge system used in the ’97 edition.
The character list is huge in this game too, with Dream Match mode seeing players fighting every character from previous games. Shingo and King are absent from the Neo Geo port for the first time, which is a little like Fifa omitting Messi and Ronaldo from the line up.
Apart from that, King of Fighters 2002 does what King of Fighters games do best – provide non-stop button-mashing action with epic fights and rich battle backgrounds.
29. Metal Slug 5 (2004)
Up next is Metal Slug 5, the fifth game in the Metal Slug series.
In the world of run ‘n gun titles, Metal Slug rules the roost. This fifth adventure in the canon looks and feels more advanced than the first offering, even though the original Metal Slug has achieved legendary status worldwide.
Players follow the Ptolemaic Army in a tense chase after the Metal Slug 7 disc is stolen.
That’s a disc containing important information and secrets, not a copy of the seventh game in the series.
As members of the Peregrine Falcon Strike Force (such a cool name!), players blast enemies and knock back demons in this awesome side-scrolling title.
What else is there to say? It’s a Metal Slug game, so it’s already a winner. Give it a try and let us know your thoughts, along with the other Metal Slug games in this list!
30. Magical Drop III (1997)
Magical Drop III looks a lot more exciting than it actually is, even though it’s a cracking title. Ok, I know that’s a weird way to talk about an entry in a listicle, but hear me out.
The front cover creates the impression of a fighting puzzle game with tonnes of characters to battle against. It makes me think of Super Smash Bros mixed with The Crystal Maze or a puzzle escape room.
In actual fact, it’s essentially a rebranded Columns with 24 characters to choose from, almost all of which are named after tarot cards.
Don’t get me wrong; I love this game. What’s not to love about games like Tetris and Columns? the characters make the game more interesting too; playing against a character rather than a faceless CPU always makes single-player games more interesting.
Magical Drop III also introduces a button allowing players to add random rows into their play area at any time. Choose your favourite character, play against friends, and rock up a high score in this colourful, vibrant game.
31. Mutation Nation (1992)
Mutation Nation takes the 31st spot in our list. Another beat ’em up title, this game follows a similar pattern to Streets of Rage bar one significant feature.
Instead of picking up daggers or pipes to smack enemies with, players grab spheres that unleash Super Smash Bros-style attacks, destroying everything in sight.
Gamers take control of Ricky Jones and Johnny Hart as they beat back a horde of mutants created in a freak science experiment.
Using the spheres to aid them, Rick and Johnny battle weird creatures and mecha-modified human enemies while trying to rid their city of evil.
If you liked Comix Zone, then this will be right up your street. Plus, the graphics are pretty awesome for the time!
32. League Bowling (1990)
Everyone loves a bit of ten pin bowling, and League Bowling provides Neo Geo owners with a chance to strike it lucky from the comfort of their own homes.
What is there to say about League Bowling. Well, its a bowling game, and we know how popular those are after the phenomenal success of Wii Sports!
Up to eight players could play with four Neo Geo consoles linked together. This is perfect if you have a large household and can’t go outside during the Covid-19 pandemic!
Players choose balls between 8 and 15lbs before setting power and direction. Scoring is exactly the same as a normal game of bowling. There are other modes, however, with custom scoring rules providing alternative ways to play.
League Bowling was the first arcade game to focus on bowling, a far cry from the usual button-mashing fighting game cabinets of the time. It’s fun, and there’s no blood or punching in sight, unless you get into an argument with your mates, that is.
33. Metal Slug 2 (1998)
The sequel to the original Metal Slug title had some big boots to fill, though thankfully it managed to impress.
The game doesn’t differ too much from the original Metal Slug title, but it’s still a joy to play. Save POWs, shoot bad guys, and use melee attacks up close to take down enemies while progressing through the levels.
Metal Slug games are known for their exciting level backdrops, and the second offering in the canon certainly doesn’t disappoint. It also has that quintessential arcade vibe that would have felt so incredible inside your living room back in the ’90s.
Metal Slug X, a remake of Metal Slug 2, came out shortly afterwards and addressed many issues with the original title. If you’re not bothered about collecting the original unaltered series, then get this version and enjoy the game as it was meant to be.
34. Robo Army (1991)
Another beat ’em up title (the Neo Geo does these well!), Robo Army sees players controlling two specific characters through a series of side-scrolling levels.
Both characters are hardcore cyborg fighters who punch and kick their way to victory against other robotic enemies throughout the game.
As super strength isn’t really an issue, picking up a car shell or a broken robot part as a shield or a weapon isn’t a problem. The cyborgs can even turn into an armoured vehicle for a time too.
Move over Optimus Prime, we’ve got some new competition on the scene!
Robo Army is a little like Marmite; some people love it, and some people hate it. I think it’s a brilliant game; it’s basically Metal Slug with metal fighters. What’s not to love!
35. The Super Spy (1990)
The Super Spy was one of nine games released alongside the Neo Geo back in 1990. It’s fair to say that it’s one of the earliest titles for the console, and it captures that arcade spirit that made the Neo Geo so unique.
This title is both a first-person shooter and beat ’em up title; think Time Crisis with a forward-facing Streets of Rage thrown in for good measure.
Players move through a series of office block levels shooting terrorists and beating up bad guys. In many ways, it bears a strong resemblance to the gameplay style of Crossed Swords, albeit with a more modern-day street brawl vibe.
As with most first-person shooters, the character’s fists and weapon are the only things visible on the screen.
Save hostages and kill enemies to level up, stock up on items, ad upgrade weapons. It’s Punch-Out meets Red Steel, and we love it!
36. Ninja Master’s (1996)
There are so many fighting games for this console – it might as well have been called the Neo Punchmaster or something.
Ninja’s fighting for honour and their own unique stories, all with different paths that have lead them to this point, each with a yearning to prove themselves in battle.
If you’ve played any fighting game ever, then the best-of-three format won’t be a stranger to you. Get your opponents health down, pull out weapons, and use special moves to beat your opponents into the dust.
This was a great game to play multiplayer against mates too. Ninja’s fighting never gets old, and this game will live on forever here at Retro Dodo towers!
37. Art of Fighting 2 (1994)
Art of Fighting 2 is, as many of you will undoubtedly have sussed already, is the sequel to the first Art of Fighting game.
I’ve not included that first game in this list because, while it’s a good game in principal, the second title just has so much more going for it.
It works smoother, the gameplay is better, and it’s an ironed out example of the formula.
Choose from more characters when playing the main story mode, pull off combos and specials easier, and concentrate on enjoying the game more.
The graphics are in keeping with the other titles on the Neo Geo and have that general Street Fighter-esque feel to them, with just a little background detail to make the stages feel interesting.
I definitely wouldn’t want to go up against that guy on the left, would you?
38. Samurai Shodown V Special (2004)
Samurai Shodown V Special is a remake of the original game. You’re definitely going to see the original further down this list, but this remake is getting a mention nonetheless.
You see, in this version of the game it’s all about fighting. There’s no storyline to follow in this version; it’s all killer no filler action.
With emphasis on the killer part…
Players can actually kill their opponents in this version of the game too. There’s some cool features such as slowing your opponents down and using a special move to bring about a fatality Mortal Kombat style.
Am I the only one that thinks that guy looks like Doctor Strange on the left?
39. Real Bout Fatal Fury Special (1997)
Make way for Real Bout Fatal Fury Special.
You’ll find that the Neo Geo has a lot of remakes of previous titles in its back catalogue, which probably accounts for why it doesn’t exist anymore.
Maybe if they’d put as much effort into making more games that weren’t basically carbon copies of old versions and other titles, then it might still be popular today.
The special version of Real Bout Fatal Fury has better graphics and more characters to play with… pretty much ‘same same but differ
People seemed to go crazy for these remakes though; the AES version sold over 9,000 copies in its first week.
That might not seem a lot right now, but it was incredible back in the day!
40. Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle (1996)
Get ready for so, so many fighting games, the first of which is Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle.
The main plus point of this game is the tag-team battling aspect. Pick from two fighters and swap them in and out when the going gets tough.
It’s like when I’m trying to get my weaker Pokemon levelled up and keep swapping them out for Charizard after the first move.
I’ll say one thing for the Neo Geo; the amount of titles where the fighters use weapons is very impressive. It adds a little more oomph to the fighting titles and prevents people from just pulling off the same special move over and over again.
We all know I’m talking about when you play Street Fighter and one mate keeps using Hadouken non-stop.
The backgrounds are pretty detailed in Kizuna Encounter but the gameplay itself bar the weapons is slightly underwhelming. It’s the tag team element that’s bagged it a place in this list; count yourself lucky, kid!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 34 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.