The Neo Geo AES was released in 1990 and was much more powerful than it’s competitors the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. At the time of it’s launch it was marketed as “The First 24-Bit System” but in reality it was just a 16-Bit system (it has a 16-Bit Motorola 68000 chip and an 8-Bit Z80 chip so they cleverly added them up). It has no hardware 3-D built in but it has a very powerful 2-D chip that handles 2-D sprites and pre-rendered backgrounds very well. It’s games looked arcade perfect because they were the actual arcade games.
With some great arcade games to play you need a great joystick and the Neo Geo definitely had them. The joystick was perfect for fighting games and it felt like you were in the arcade. Once you played with this joystick it was hard to go back to the Sega Genesis.
Now we must mention the price of all this arcade fun. The system itself was on average $650 and the games where around $200. One of their marketing ploys was to have the games as huge as they could, totally ignoring cost. Why would anyone want to play an 8 Megabit game when you could play a 330 Megabit game? If compression was used the same games could have been a third their size but then the bragging rights were gone.
Only the hardcore were actually purchasing this super expensive system so to help sell the brand better they released a CD version and because they games were on CD they were much cheaper. Also the benefit of the CD media is that great music was added to the games. Only really problem was the load times, they were around 30 seconds. That is not that bad but you have to remember everyone was using cartridges then so this seemed like and eternity.
Out of all the classic systems you see today this is problem the one to get. The games were great and the hardware was solid. This definitely is a party system with all the fighting games. If you are just starting in you classic system collecting I recommend this be your first.