Neo Geo Reviews A

3 Count Bout
Grade: C
Publisher: SNK (1993)
Reviewed: 2007/9/5


screenshotI really do like 3 Count Bout, but I suspect I'd enjoy it more if I were a professional wrestling fan. The graphics are impressive, even by Neo Geo standards. The characters are absolutely huge, consuming up to three-quarters of the screen in height. This game makes liberal use of the system's color palette, with outfits that tend to be quite loud. Each of the ten wrestlers has a unique introductory sequence and a distinct set of moves.

Unlike most Neo Geo games that use two buttons (three at most), 3 Count Bout uses all four, and the number of possible move combinations is astounding. Besides the standard punches and kicks, you can administer sleeper holds, jump off turnbuckles, bounce off ropes, and even perform out-of-the-ring attacks! Button functions vary depending on your opponent's proximity, and the extensive number of attacks ensures you'll see a new animation each time you play. One fighter who looks like a Village People reject has a move that involves him sticking his nose in an opponent's butt crack! For better or worse, the special moves can be very tricky to execute.

The game's awesome graphics are largely overshadowed by its rough animation, making it hard to discern what's going on in the heat of battle. There's a lot of joystick jiggling and button mashing involved, so technique often takes a back seat to pure chaos. In addition to standard matches, there are also "street fights" that take place in urban locations and incorporate weapons like bats and stun guns. Even more intriguing are the two-player tag-team matches against CPU-controlled opponents. 3 Count Bout is certainly an admirable attempt to bring professional wrestling to the Neo Geo, but you'll need to be a fan of this "sport" to truly appreciate all it has to offer. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Aero Fighters 2 (CD)
Grade: A-
Publisher: SNK (1994)
Reviewed: 2005/4/7

screenshotFor those with an appreciation for old school gaming, Aero Fighters 2 (AF2) is pure button-pounding bliss. They don't make games like this anymore. A vertically-scrolling airplane shooter, AF2 is jammed-packed with scaling enemies, breathtaking scenery, and satisfying explosions. This fairly inexpensive CD title even includes a nice two-player simultaneous mode. There are eight planes to choose from, each with its own unique brand of firepower. The pilots are somewhat unconventional (including a dolphin and schoolgirl), but you only see them between stages, so it hardly matters.

AF2's gameplay is seriously fun. The military-themed targets include plenty of tanks, cannons, and helicopters, and the bosses are huge mechanical beasts. Ten brief but exciting stages provide interesting backdrops and semi-destructible scenery. Locations include Manhattan, a suburban neighborhood, and Hawaii. My favorite part of the game is flying over the amusement park with its moving rides and screaming kids (hint: shoot the Ferris wheel).

The game maintains a relatively serious tone throughout, until the final stage throws you for a loop, pitting you against a giant baboon in a spaceship. Al-righty then! The challenge is significant but not insurmountable, and you can shoot down many of the projectiles the game throws at you. To shoot rapidly you have to tap the buttons incessantly, so this is not a game you'll play for hours on end.

Another aspect I frowned upon is how your score does NOT reset when you use one of the unlimited continues. The continues are tempting, but they pretty much defeat the purpose of the game, which is to score points (in case you forgot). Using the unlimited continues, it's possible to finish the game in under 45 minutes. For maximum enjoyment, I'd recommend playing Aero Fighters 2 on the easy skill level but using no continues. In Japan, this game was released under the name Sonic Wings 2. . © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 226200
1 or 2 players 

Aero Fighters 3 (CD)
Grade: C-
Publisher: SNK (1995)
Reviewed: 2005/4/7

screenshotCompared to its awesome predecessor, Aero Fighter 3 (AF3) is a huge disappointment. I get the distinct impression that the developers didn't take this game very seriously. Yes, it still provides the same "twitch" vertical-shooting action, but AF3 tends to be wacky and over-the-top, and there's far too much emphasis on bosses. In fact, Aero Fighters 3 plays more like a parody of shooting games.

The stages aren't nearly as attractive or interesting as those in AF2, and some of the scenery (like the static water in stage two) looks horrible. The weapons are original but obnoxious, and using a fully powered-up weapon is more disconcerting than satisfying. Hell, one plane looks like it's firing huge evergreen trees. And if you think the weapons are unconventional, wait until you see some of these bosses.

If the giant squid in the desert doesn't have you wondering what the designers were smoking, check out the guitar-playing monkey on the flying saucer. There's a fine line between funny and dumb, and Aero Fighters 3 crosses that line again and again. Even the music is annoying. If there's one thing this game does right, it's the special attacks, which incorporate impressive scaling effects and inflict major damage. Otherwise, Aero Fighters 3 feels like a joke with no punchline. In Japan, this game went by the name of Sonic Wings 3. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 137500
1 or 2 players 

Alpha Mission II
Grade: D
Publisher: SNK (1991)
Reviewed: 2004/8/8

screenshotI've played some terrific Neo Geo shooters in my time, but this is not one of them! Alpha Mission II's monotonous graphics and confusing weapon system gave me a real headache. The visuals are hardly impressive as you fly over a parade of generic space stations. It looks like a second-rate Genesis game. Only some slick scaling saves the graphics from being completely mediocre.

I like how chunks of the massive enemy ships can break off and fall to the planet below. You attain power-ups by touching floating letters, and you can change these letters by shooting them, which also pushes them further up the screen. The problem is, you basically need to stop firing to gather them, and one thing I hate is a shooting game that discourages shooting! Just be sure not to collect an upside-down letter, since it actually functions as a power-down (another thing you hate to see in a shooter). All of this tedious letter watching has got to go.

In addition, the needlessly complex weapon system includes selecting weapons from a pull down menu in the heat of battle, which is moronic. Alpha Missions II lets you hold down the fire button to shoot continuously, but if you want to do substantial damage you have to tap the button incessantly. I also dislike how enemies and structures that can take multiple hits seem impervious to the first few shots. Only when they explode do you realize you were actually doing damage.

Alpha Mission II's design is so poor that it's hard to believe this is a sequel to something! A two-player simultaneous mode is included. The synthesized music is okay, but the computerized voice is unintelligible. This game is not a total loss, but Alpha Mission II hardly shows what the Neo Geo is capable of. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 79600
1 or 2 players 

Andro Dunos
Grade: B-
Publisher: SNK (1992)
Reviewed: 2007/4/11

screenshotOften mistaken for a performance-enhancing drug for baseball players, Andro Dunos is actually a fun Neo Geo shooter of the side-scrolling variety. There are flashier, more interesting shooters for the system, but if you can snag this one for a reasonable price, you won't be disappointed. In terms of graphics, it looks a bit like a high-end SNES title - minus the slowdown, that is. The generic space stations and caverns are forgettable, and even the bosses tend to be uninspired monolithic machines.

But Andro Dunos scores points with its two-player co-op mode, responsive controls, and ability to switch weapons on the fly. You'll find yourself constantly flipping between your four configurable weapons to meet each new challenge. It's also possible to charge your weapons to unleash a torrent of destruction. Enemies are often seen scaling in from the background, and while I'm sure this visual effect was impressive in 1992, it really just tends to clutter the screen. Unlike most shooters, using a "continue" brings you back with substantial firepower, and while this doesn't seem totally fair, it's hard to complain.

The best feature of Andro Dunos is its two-player simultaneous mode, which exhibits absolutely no slow-down in the heat of battle. If only the programmers had been more thoughtful when selecting colors for the two ships! One is orange and the other is bright pink, and it's very easy to get them confused when the screen gets crowded. The game's upbeat electronic music took a while to win me over, but ultimately it did. Andro Dunos won't blow you away, but if traditional side-scrolling shooters are your thing, there's plenty to like about this one. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 48250
1 or 2 player 

Art of Fighting
Grade: C+
Publisher: SNK (1992)
Reviewed: 2007/9/5

screenshotEver since Street Fighter 2, I've always been a big fan of 2D, one-on-one fighting games. When Art of Fighting made its debut in 1992, it made waves with its huge fighters and slick scaling graphics. And when I say the fighters are huge, I mean they take up most of the screen, although the camera does zoom out once they move apart. Two players can select between eight characters in the versus mode, and there's also a one-player story mode.

The two central figures are Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia, who bear more than a passing resemblance to Ryu and Ken of Street Fighter fame. Other contenders include a big fat slob named Jack Turner, a Bob Marley wannabe named Mikey Rodgers, and the masked Lee Pai Long. I always considered King to be a female dressed in men's clothing, but the manual actually refers to King as a "he", so who knows? The graphics are the highlight of this game, with smoothly animated characters and elegant backgrounds, including a dimly lit bar and some beautiful city skylines.

The main problem with Art of Fighting is the difficulty in executing special moves, some of which are listed in the manual. I even had a hard time getting one-quarter "fireball" motions to register. There's a "spirit gauge" under your health meter that lets you execute "super" attacks, but only advanced players will find it useful. Art of Fighting is pretty barebones compared to most modern fighters, but it looks great, and there's charm in its simplicity. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Art of Fighting 2
Grade: B
Publisher: SNK (1994)
Reviewed: 2003/7/15


screenshotThis one-on-one fighter features some absolutely HUGE characters. I was very impressed, and also pleased that the quality of animation is not compromised one bit. Yes, this is another winner for the console that's king of fighting games. When characters move apart from each other, the camera zooms out ala Samurai Shodown. The controls are like World Heroes, so the strength of your punches and kicks depends on how long you hold down the buttons. Not everyone appreciates this system, but otherwise there's not much to fault here.

The gameplay is deeper than your average fighter thanks to a "rage" meter that lets you perform special attacks. You can recharge your meter or drain your opponent's through taunting, but this leaves you open to attack. Special moves are critical in this game, especially against the tough-as-nails CPU opponent. The fighters themselves are pretty generic, except of course for that guy in the monkey mask (freak!).

If you're looking for babes, AoF2 won't do much for you, unless you have a thing for butch lesbians like King. The background graphics are uneven in quality. The mansion stage with the fountain and car look terrific, but others (like the backyard stage) are surprisingly dull. But overall Art of Fighting 2 is one of the most impressive fighters I've ever seen. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 


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