You are probably thinking, why bother putting the effort into a review on a system that’s been out since the end of 2012 and all it has received is negative publicity.
Unfortunately the system was doomed to fail. In October 2013, less than a year after the system was released, SNK Playmore abruptly terminated their contract with the manufacturer Tommo Inc, effectively ending production, however there is now an ongoing battle, and Tommo have disputed the termination and continue to sell units to retailers, how long will this last? Not long I think as SNK have now issued letters to retailers advising to cease all sales.
Let’s put all this to one side. Being a huge Neo Geo AES fan, I thought I would go out on a limb and check out the Neo Geo X Gold for myself and I’m glad I did.
Whilst the Neo Geo Gold has been pushed as a handheld, its desirability lies with keeping it as a home console. The Limited edition gold pack which consists of the AES replica docking station and arcade stick, allows the player to simply plug the AES docking station straight into the TV, using the supplied HDMI or AV cables.
The docking station opens like a briefcase, the guts of the machine is the handheld device itself, it boasts a 4.3 inch screen, with SD card functionality. It also has an 8-way thumb stick for directional control, as well as four face buttons and four shoulder buttons, the shoulder buttons are used to change aspect ratio. The console uses the FB Alpha emulator, running on Linux to play ROM images of Neo Geo games. What’s great about this configuration is that the internal memory has no copy protection, allowing third party BIOS and additional games to be directly installed on to the console.
Just connect your AES replica Arcade stick and you have the closest thing to a Neo Geo AES home console for a fraction of the price, not to mention that the pack also comes with 20 inbuilt original Neo Geo games.
So do the math, a AES home console would set you back $250 – $300 plus Postage, the prices of AES carts are too ridiculous to mention, ranging from $50 – $1000 and beyond for each game.
Out of the 20, you have some real classic arcade titles, Metal Slug, Magician Lord, King of the Monsters, Baseball Stars 2, Cyber-Lip etc…
I own an AES home console and approximately 25 games, so I thought it would be a great idea to directly compare both consoles, the game I chose to directly compare with was Cyber-Lip. I fired up the AES and inserted the mammoth cart of Cyber-Lip and happily played the game until completion.
Once I fired up the X Gold and chose Cyber-Lip I was greeted to the exact same look and sounds, the only difference being that this version of Cyber-Lip was in English (US Version) rather than the Japanese version that I played. Whilst I didn’t complete the X Gold version I found the game mechanics and playability were virtually on par with the original AES. At some times the game lagged, however this did not detract away from what SNK were trying to achieve with the X Gold.
Whilst the pack comes complete with a HDMI cable, it does not upscale the video output to 1080P unfortunately, so if you are playing the console on a LCD or Plasma, the aspect ratio will need to be changed to suit it.
SNK and Tommo did a great job by replicating the AES console and adding a retro charm, allowing to be played with a replica arcade stick, however if you take this away and compare the just the handheld device itself, it wouldn’t be worth it considering that Neo Geo games are easily emulated on other handheld devices, such as the PSP.
The Limited edition package retails for $199.00, whilst this price tag may send you running in the other direction, it has recently been reduced to $88.00 at selected EB Game franchises across Australia. Considering that SNK have terminated the licensing of this console, I can’t see it being made available for much longer, so I truly recommending picking one up for the reduced price tag.
In addition, I was lucky enough to pick up a Mega Pack Volume 1, which consists of a further 15 games, giving you a total of 36 games, which includes the preinstalled roms and Ninja Masters which is a bonus game you receive as part of the X Gold package.
There wouldn’t be any need to add to this collection. The 36 games will keep you well entertained for a long time.