So, Tommo and SNKPlaymore have delivered a great device. The Neo Geo X is a wonderful piece of kit. The handheld is a nice size, the screen is impressive and the stick and buttons feel great. The dock is a stroke of brilliance and the stick is a reproduction of my favorite stick of all time. It's damned near perfect. The selection of games is pretty good. Of the 21 included games, most are of great quality and a few are just okay. Tommo has kept their future plans close to the vest and so I wanted to offer my advice to them on the subject.
We've seen several attempts to jump start interest in the Neo Geo library in the last few years. Thus far, the Wii Virtual Console has been the most successful, at least in terms of the number of titles; the biggest failure is the Neo Geo Station, which pains me. The NGS has great netcode but very few titles. Considering that, it's clear that online play is not that important for Neo Geo gamers. Let's consider what is and offer some advice to Tommo and SNKPlaymore.
1. Nostalgia is only a part of it
Most of the players who are interested in the Neo Geo X have a distanced nostalgia. The AES was nearly impossible to own. The nostalgia for the Neo Geo in the U.S. is for the "Big Red" cabinet. I'll admit that a large part of why I bought the NGX was because I could easily afford Neo Geo hardware for the first time. Ever. Because my nostalgia is limited to arcades, the classics are more important to me than having a complete Neo Geo library. For example, if given the choice of KOF 94 and 98, 98 always wins.
2. Get the games out!
The Neo Geo X launch library beats any other Neo Geo revival library to date. The fact that Samurai Shodown II was included instead of the first game is proof of that. The library is at a good starting point but growth is important and the rate of growth is crucial.
3. Work toward variety
The Neo Geo is primarily known as a fighting game platform and, to a large degree, that's true. But the Neo Geo had some amazing puzzle games such as Magical Drop and the Bust-A-Move series, and it also has some amazing action games, like Metal Slug. Strive for that variety.
4. Mark of the Wolves!
As important as it is to have KOF 98 and 2002; Last Blade 1 and 2; SamSho IV and V Special; and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, Garou is the key to success. Every fighting game player loves Garou, even the Capcom die-hards. It's also not available in Neo Geo-perfect form on any other system. The PS2 version is faster than the Neo Geo build; the Xbox 360 version is a port of the PS2 game. The Dreamcast release of Garou is missing animation frames.
Release Mark of the Wolves and they will come!