After the initial flurry of interest in micro-consoles – triggered largely due to the release of the excellent NES and SNES Classic Editions – we've seen some pretty left-field entries into this niche sector of the hardware market. SNK's Neo Geo Mini added an LCD screen and presented itself as a miniature coin-op cabinet which could connect to your TV, while Koch's recent Capcom Home Arcade gave us a two-player monster shaped like a gigantic Capcom logo. The micro-console sector is clearly big enough to allow some room for experimentation, and that's why we have the Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro – one of the many hardware projects the resurgent SNK hinted at a while back.
On the face of it, it's a massive arcade stick with a micro-switched stick, eight face buttons and a host of inputs and switches. 20 games come pre-loaded, and it connects to your TV via HDMI, while power is supplied by a USB-C port. However, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye, which we'll come to shortly. To begin with, let's take a look at the build quality of this thing, and how it controls – two topics which will be of great concern to those who have already invested in the Neo Geo Mini and perhaps felt a little robbed.
The Mini was a marvellous little machine that was hamstrung by some irksome issues – the lack of a micro-switched stick being perhaps the most obvious. The good news here is that SNK has clearly listened to feedback and has equipped the Arcade Stick Pro with a clicky and responsive stick with a square gate. It's not quite up to the standard of the Sanwa stick on the Capcom Home Arcade – and the face buttons aren't as nice to use, either – but overall, the control setup here is a huge improvement over the one on the Neo Geo Mini. It also has two USB-C controller ports on the bottom edge (with a 3.5mm headphone jack sandwiched in-between) into which you can plug Neo Geo controllers – essential for when you want to play against a friend.
The other big problem with the Mini was video output; while the on-board LCD display was fantastic and matched the original Neo Geo hardware's resolution almost perfectly, HDMI-out was a different story; a horrible filter was applied to the image which made every game look fuzzy and ill-defined – and there was no way to turn it off. Again, SNK has learned from its mistakes and included a 'pixel-perfect' option here; while it's still not quite as sharp as we'd like (the system outputs at 720p, rather than the crisper 1080p resolution of the Capcom Home Arcade), it's still a massive step up from the Mini. A smoothing filter option is also included, as are three different scanline options, but they're all terrible and not worth bothering with.
The unit's UI is a total rip-off of the Switch's home screen, right down to the way the pop-up menus at the bottom of the screen look. This is no bad thing as the interface benefits from being clean and intuitive, but it's also rather cheeky and lacks refinement (the font used for the text is especially cheap-looking). On the upside, save states are supported and you can drop back to the menu at the touch of a button when you're in any game; there's no lengthy wait to endure, as was the case on the Capcom Home Arcade.
Oddly, SNK has decided to cut down the number of bundled games in this new release. While the Neo Geo Mini boasted 40 titles covering a wide range of genres (well, as wide as the Neo Geo's arcade-focused library would allow, at least), the Arcade Stick Pro only has 20 games installed from the moment you turn it on (more on that in a second), and they're all fighting titles. Now, this might not seem like an issue when you consider that the Neo Geo was famous for its brawlers, but it does rather limit the appeal of the system.
Why willingly omit classics like Blazing Star, Pulstar, Puzzle Bobble, Neo Turf Masters and 2020 Super Baseball when they're readily available to use and could have been included with little effort? And it's also worth pointing out that some of the choices for fighting games are odd; do we really need three versions of World Heroes? As much as we love King of Fighters, six instalments from the same franchise feels like overkill.
On the upside, there's no denying that some of the fighters included in the roster are genre classics. Garou: Mark of the Wolves is arguably one of the best of all time, and certainly a shining jewel in the Neo Geo's library. King of Fighters '98 is also utterly fantastic, and it's nice to be able to play games like Kizuna Encounter, The Last Blade 2 and Ninja Master's. Oh, and the versions included here default to the Japanese region setting, so while you have Japanese text, you also have stuff like blood in applicable games and Mai Shiranui's gravity-defying jabber-clackers. Ahem. Some of the games include the option to switch to the English version, but not all of them.
UPDATE: 21/11/19: Since we published this review it has come to our attention that the console has been hacked and that a further 20 games have been discovered. How SNK intends to make these titles available remains to be seen, but we've been told by the company that "the hidden games will show up shortly. Please stay tuned!" How exactly this will happen remains to be seen, and it's rather odd that SNK has chosen to keep these titles a secret – a move that is surely only going to damage sales and interest in the system.
SNK Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro Review: Full Games List
- THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95
- THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’97
- THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’98
- THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’99
- THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2000
- THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2002
- FATAL FURY SPECIAL
- FATAL FURY 3
- GAROU: MARK OF THE WOLVES
- SAMURAI SHODOWN Ⅱ
- SAMURAI SHODOWN Ⅲ
- SAMURAI SHODOWN IV
- SAMURAI SHODOWN Ⅴ SPECIAL
- ART OF FIGHTING
- WORLD HEROES 2
- WORLD HEROES 2 JET
- WORLD HEROES PERFECT
- NINJA MASTER’S
- THE LAST BLADE 2
- KIZUNA ENCOUNTER
SNK Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro Review: Hidden Games List
- FATAL FURY
- FATAL FURY 2
- REAL BOUT FATAL FURY SPECIAL
- SAVAGE REIGN
- ART OF FIGHTING 3
- THE LAST BLADE
- SAMURAI SHODOWN
- METAL SLUG
- METAL SLUG 2
- METAL SLUG X
- METAL SLUG 3
- METAL SLUG 4
- METAL SLUG 5
- NINJA COMBAT
- THE SUPER SPY
- SHOCK TROOPERS
- SHOCK TROOPERS 2ND SQUAD
- LEAGUE BOWLING
- SOCCER BRAWL
- SUPER SIDEKICKS
Things get even more interesting when you realise that you can use the Arcade Stick Pro as an external controller for your Neo Geo Mini. Hidden away in the base of the stick is a full-size USB cable which, when used with the bundled USB-C adapter, can be plugged into the side of the Mini. That means you can use a superior stick with the Mini's superior library, but you are of course still limited by the system's terrible video output – and playing on the Mini's 3.5-inch screen with a stick this size just feels silly.
The USB cable hints at connectivity with other systems, and it is indeed possible to plug the Arcade Stick Pro into your PC and use it with an emulator. However, at the time of writing the stick cannot be used with consoles like the Switch without a special third-party adapter, which costs extra. This is clearly a big selling point as some retailers are already advertising the stick with a special 'Gamelinq' connector which allows it to interface with PS3, PS4 and Switch, but in all honesty, this should be a feature that's available right out of the box. Given that the Arcade Stick Pro has a full-size USB port on the top edge for firmware updates, we'd hope that SNK will enable this function in the near future (and give us some decent scanline filters while it's at it).
SNK Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro Review: Conclusion
Like the Neo Geo Mini before it, the Arcade Stick Pro gets almost as much right as it does wrong. On the upside, the clicky stick is gorgeous and the ability to use it as an external controller with the Neo Geo Mini is a bonus. If you're a fan of fighting games then this is going to be very attractive, even if the selection of games is a little limiting. Finally, the promise of being able to use this with consoles like Switch is tantalising. On the negative side, it's almost as if SNK has launched this in an unfinished state with some of its key selling points not present; the screen filters need work and not making it compatible with other consoles right out of the box seems like an oversight – and the 20 hidden games are great, but why not just make them available right away, rather than keeping them secret and potentially putting off buyers?
Still, a few firmware updates down the line and we could have a real contender here. The design is great, the build quality feels good and we're genuinely excited by the fact that this can operate as a stand-alone games console and potentially be one of the best arcade stick controllers available for other systems. If you're a massive SNK fan then you've probably already laid down the cash to get this, but those of you who are on the fence might want to wait to see how the firmware side of things develops in 2020 and beyond.
Oh, and if you're rich enough to be making the choice between this and the Capcom Home Arcade, then it really comes down to personal choice; were you a Capcom or SNK fan back in the day? While Capcom's product only has 16 titles to the Arcade Stick Pro's 40 (20, plus the 20 secret games), is more expensive and looks rather silly, it has better controls and online leaderboards. It really is a matter of personal taste, but these are both excellent (if a little expensive) products.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Wed 20th November, 2019.
Well it's cool and all and a huge improvement but they should have released this from the get go instead of all those mini arcade's
Looks cool, but at $130, I'll just stick with my mini and the additional 20 games. Perhaps when a price drops occurs, I may be more tempted
Almost only fighting games. No thanks.
I have played every Neo Geo game ever released, and many of the best ones is not included here.
At this price they should have included top 50 Neo Geo Games.
It's already been ahcked so you can add any games that you like.
@Ventilator Anyone with a devils Third thumb is alright with me.
OK, will buy it.
Quickly browses prices...
Assuming the reviewer is unaware that SNK stated there was a sizeable number of unlockable games on the pro? Not surprised as they didn't really seem to advertise this particularly well at all; it seems daft to me to undersell a key feature but oh well.
I think the value proposition of this stick turns out to be far better than assumed here if they turn out to be Metal Slug et al. (which is what I suspect it will be).
> Capcom Home Arcade [...] has [...] a more agreeable selection of games.
Wholeheartedly disagree. The main issue I see with Capcom's arcade and what keeps me from even thinking of getting one is that IMO it has almost no games a Capcom fan would actually want to play regularly, and the ones that you would have been released elsewhere already. While this SNK arcade has pretty much all SNK games you'd want in a nice package.
The real question is just whether whether you prefer SNK over Capcom.
It has Fatal Fury 3. That’s pretty nice
It has at least 40 games though.
I did get the Neo Geo Mini International last year, but haven't had a great deal to time to play it. I am tempted by a proper arcade stick for Switch and would like to use one with the Mini so this does sound interesting.
I had decided to try the 8bitDo one but it doesn't seem available now. I have seen the Hori and Mayflash options. I have Magic-NS and 8bitdo adapters. Off topic I know, but what stick would folks recommend?
There sure are 20 additional games, including Metal Slug 1-5, it seems
Where can we get one in the UK the link goes to amazon uk and shows a japanese import at a really high price.
I am looking forward to mine have ordered some Sanwa buttons ready and new Seimitsu stick upgrade.
Hopefully more games will be up soon to download.
Some people have already hacked it and downloaded different console games id rather keep it pure neogeo.
I don't know about the neo geo or at least this console. I mean I love KoF, Samurai Showdown, and Garou but honestly for a 130 bucks for basically half of the games being Kof and Samurai showdown. I'm gonna have to pass this time around.
Hmm, maybe at a price drop.
@Chunkboi79 There is a bunch of metal slugs on this.
It's a nice design. And it's more in line with what I like than that Capcom monstrosity — the logo design and two-player panel were not appealing to me. I like that this is a single stick and they added ports to connect another controller. And the PC functionality is a great feature too. If I didn't already have two Tatsunoko vs. Capcom sticks, I'd consider getting this as a general-purpose stick. Now, I see this has hidden games, which is odd. Looking at the advertised games, it's strange they they stuck with a fighting theme. I suppose that allows them to release other editions in the future, like something featuring run-and-gun games like Metal Slug and Shock Troopers. I agree that something like KOF may be overly represented here, but in its defense, KOF changes more than many might expect from year to year. So some superfans might want to play different editions, or others may be happy to just see that their favorites are included. My favorites are '97 and '98, and I've been playing them quite a bit over the last three weeks or so, making up for lost time. But I'd be more likely to stick to a handful of favorite fighting games than wanting to try them all. It would be nice to see various companies do better in providing more options for video output and scanline effects, of which I am a fan.
@Gwynbleidd Honestly these consoles influenced me to buy a fight stick so I could play these games on my other consoles. I agree there is virtually no value in these "mini" consoles.
The SNES mini has a wide variety of different/unique games at $79.99 with an actual mini console. I think they would have been better off just making an SNK Classics collection for consoles, which I thought they already did but i am not sure.
Cause the article only says 20 games.
There is a list of 20 games.
And the only Metal Slug screen shot is on the mini arcade, in the background.
@KitsuneNight There are at least 20 more games on the thing. Check YouTube.
Why should I have to check Youtube ?
It's not in the article not in the screenshots or on the box.
There is nowhere any mention of Metal Slug.
Unless you mean it's been hacked already.
@KitsuneNight It's not a hack
@Littlejack what are the unlockable games? A quick internet search came up with nothing. Any links to an article or vid?
@KitsuneNight 13 of the additional games presumably unlocked by a future firmware update are:
metal slug 1-5 (including X)
shock troopers 1-2
the other 7 i cant tell off hand
edit: based on https://youtu.be/bS2JytVs4sU, theres also
samurai showdown 1
fatal fury 1
fatal fury 2
real bout special
art of fighting 3
last blade 1
@somebread cool. Thank you. I am getting the mini for Christmas but am interested in the pro as well.
It has been already hacked with possibility of adding more NeoGeo games, Genesis, and Arcade games from CPS (Capcom).
Probably gong to this for Christmas Gift!
Well the size factor is a lot better, that's for sure. The Capcom stick is just way too big, this is at least somewhat normal. That said I am fine with sticking to my Hori stick and ACA NeoGeo games.
Thankfully, the machine has already been hacked. Here's ETA Prime demoing the hack and showing off a few non SNK arcade titles running on it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19a2RJ05m2U
Secondly, the hardware is easily moddable. SNK maniac Scarlet Sprites has done just that.
Here's how easy it is to replace the stock mounting plate and stick. Scarlet uses a Semitsu LS-56 (microswitch edition) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s2UjmP7Umk
At 3:40, he shows how easy it is to remove and replace the face buttons - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHTS3VxNkjY&t=371s.
If I had the coin, I'd get this bad boy, mod the stick and buttons and hack her for the ultimate arcade TV arcade system.
@NESlover85 Although The YouTube video answers your query (thank you @somebread), for completeness the announcement I saw simply said that unlockables were there and would be announced "shortly", with no follow up on this to date.
Again why wouldn't you make a bigger deal of this if you were SNK? It boggles the mind.
Oh please, this console isn't even out and it's been already hacked? Lucky you guys who still believe the good ol' hacker tale. Some fish will bite anyway, no matter what you throw at it.
Anyway ok, it might look nice (not gonna argue here, de gustibus non disputandum) and it might let you play the whole metal slug series (wow... and only if you behave and play it correctly), then after a while you'll yawn and notice it's just that, and either go to sleep earlier or go out and get a real console. And/or, more wisely, play the very same games on your pc, since the whole retrogaming thing originated from a bunch of open source emulators made for free by some generous developers.
You can have such machines thanks to the work of these guys, not to the generosity of some publishers. People seem to have forgotten this little detail.
I will get my pro soon. Hope I love it.
@Littlejack While it does seem strange, SNK might have a strategy thought out. Early adopters might buy it right away while others need the extra games to convince them to buy the stick. On the other hand, we don't know if the extra games will be unlocked for free or have to be bought somehow.
@YANDMAN Thanks. Underrated game, but i got it on release so i played it online and offline during it's prime.
@Ventilator Me too, i absolutely love it. It was hampered by the supposedly unplayable framerate that just isn't true. I think it's a real gem in the Wiiu's library.
@YANDMAN Same here. I loved the overwhelming online system in it too. I Framerate were never a issue. Devil's Third were flamed mostly because it were a Wii U exclusive. This is why all reviewers ignored it's online part in the game, which were the main part.
I made a DT fan page with loads of screenshots from online etc. before it got shutted down. Link.
My profile on Twitch is 100% Devil's Third with banner etc. and have been for years. hehe
Thankfully the Switch already has most of the Neo Geo games and many of the Capcom ones (between the beat-em-up collection and Street Fighter collection) , just hoping for another Capcom collection and more Neo Geo releases, plus Midway and more Namco games on Switch and I'll be happy.
@pblive Now that Capcom had rekindled the AVP licence for the arcade stick you can guarantee we will see another arcade compilation. They will want to sell that as much as possible.
@YANDMAN Hope you're right. They've got plenty of games to add. They did a few compilations back in the day on console and PS Vita which I still own.
@pblive They've obviously just paid out cash to get the licence and i don't see the arcade stick going very far or being suppoprted for very long. They will want to utilise that licence and we all know they are sat on possibly the richest arcade pile that exists.
@KitsuneNight Well, the article proves me right now that it is updated.
Good list of Neo Geo heavy hitters but it would be an absolute must own for me if it had Double Dragon. Here in the States that one is all but impossible to secure.
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