The Neo Geo Mini Gets a Game Lineup

SNK has released some more details about their new mini Neo Geo arcade cabinet.

Neo geo international

SNK recently announced their Neo Geo Mini, their take on the miniaturized home console designs from Nintendo, but styled like their classic arcade platform from the 90’s instead of the home console version of the Neo Geo. This video has some more details on it.

The mini Neo Geo home arcade console looks very small with a 3.5” LCD and a compact 4-button layout that doesn’t match the arcade but might be more appropriate for the smaller size of this device. Around the back there’s an HDMI-output, a headphone jack, and the port for USB power. Each side has a USB port for a controller, but it looks like a deep port, so might be difficult to connect. The colors don’t match the red and black cabinet we had in the US, but there are two versions of the Neo Geo Mini. One matches the colors of the original Japanese cabinet, and another (pictured above) is what we’ll get with the International version.

Pad

There’s also a wired Neo Geo Mini Pad gamepad to go with it, styled after the Neo Geo CD’s gamepad, it’ll be sold separately in black and white. I don’t think it looks as nice as the original pad, but it could be good.

The Neo Geo Mini will have 40 games, but 14 will only be different between the Japanese and International versions. The Japanese version has more fighting games, and the international version has more action games. Each game will be based on the home version, so it’ll have more options than the arcade ROM. Like most modern mini consoles, the Neo Geo Mini will be able to save and load the game’s state to some internal storage in order to get around the limited continues of the versions of these games released for the home system. You’ll access the system menu by hitting start and select at the same time. I think most SNES and NES Classic Edition owners wish they had that feature instead of having to reset the console to access those features.

If you hook up the Mini to a TV with an HDMI cable you’ll be able to adjust the resolution and aspect ratio.

As far as a release date and price, it’s promised to be out this summer in Japan first and there isn’t a date yet for the international version of the Neo Geo Mini. There’s no price yet.

Here’s the game lineup for both versions of the console:

Neo Geo Mini (Japan)

  • The King of Fighters ’94
  • The King of Fighters ‘95
  • The King of Fighters ‘96
  • The King of Fighters ‘97
  • The King of Fighters ‘98
  • The King of Fighters ‘99
  • The King of Fighters 2000
  • The King of Fighters 2001
  • The King of Fighters 2002
  • The King of Fighters 2003
  • Samurai Shodown II
  • Samurai Shodown IV
  • Samurai Shodown V Special
  • Fatal Fury Special
  • Real Bout Fatal Fury
  • Real Bout Fatal Fury 2
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves
  • World Heroes Perfect
  • Kizuna Encounter
  • Art of Fighting
  • The Last Blade
  • The Last Blade 2
  • Ninja Master’s
  • Aggressors of Dark Kombat
  • Metal Slug
  • Metal Slug 2
  • Metal Slug 3
  • King of the Monsters 2
  • Sengoku 3
  • Shock Troopers 2nd Squad
  • Top Hunter Roddy & Cathy
  • Ninja Commando
  • Burning Fight
  • Cyber-Lip
  • Alpha Mission II
  • Twinkle Star Sprites
  • Blazing Star
  • Top Player’s Golf
  • Super Sidekicks
  • Puzzled

Neo Geo Mini (International)

  • The King of Fighters ‘95
  • The King of Fighters ‘97
  • The King of Fighters ‘98
  • The King of Fighters 2000
  • The King of Fighters 2002
  • Samurai Shodown II
  • Samurai Shodown IV
  • Samurai Shodown V Special
  • Fatal Fury Special
  • Real Bout Fatal Fury
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves
  • World Heroes Perfect
  • Kizuna Encounter
  • Art of Fighting
  • The Last Blade 2
  • Ninja Master’s
  • Metal Slug
  • Metal Slug 2
  • Metal Slug X
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Metal Slug 4
  • Metal Slug 5
  • King of the Monsters
  • King of the Monsters 2
  • Sengoku 3
  • Shock Troopers
  • Shock Troopers 2nd Squad
  • Magician Lord
  • Blue’s Journey
  • Robo Army
  • Crossed Swords
  • Mutation Nation
  • 3 Count Bout
  • Blazing Star
  • Last Resort
  • Ghost Pilots
  • Top Player’s Golf
  • Super Sidekicks
  • Football Frenzy
  • Puzzled

I’m not really interested in the Neo Geo Mini because I’m in the process of building a mini arcade cabinet myself, but if I were I’d be pretty disappointed to miss out on Japan-only games like Twinkle Star Sprites. Perhaps it’ll be as easy to hack and install your own games as the NES and SNES Classic Editions have been.

Valve’s Erik Johnson Promises To Take Money From Anyone, For Almost Anything

As long as it isn’t “…illegal, or straight up trolling.”

Erik Johnson:

So we ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this. If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy. If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

With that principle in mind, we’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling. Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see. We already have some tools, but they’re too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough. We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you’re not interested in. So if you don’t want to see anime games on your Store, you’ll be able to make that choice. If you want more options to control exactly what kinds of games your kids see when they browse the Store, you’ll be able to do that. And it’s not just players that need better tools either – developers who build controversial content shouldn’t have to deal with harassment because their game exists, and we’ll be building tools and options to support them too.

The end result of this is that Valve is fine with making money from software that encourage sexual assault and other awful trash as long as it isn’t “trolling.” Whatever that means. This is bad.

Valve needs to grow up and take responsibility for the software that they sell. This policy is the opposite of that.

Safe House Review

Congratulations

Labs Games promises a marriage between Papers, Please, Sim Tower, and the adventures of James Bond in Safe House. It sounds like a fascinating concept to take a bit of the bureaucratic paper shuffling puzzles and themes from Papers, Please and put those within a building management simulation. That idea grabbed me when I first read about it. It could be very interesting to play the part of a CIA safe house manager in the fictional city of Kazataire.

From midnight each in-game night until ten in the morning I had to decide who to let in the front door of the “book store,” which deliveries to let in around back, who gets interrogated, and what missions my spies and soldiers would take. The side-on cutout view of the building looks like Fallout Shelter’s vault and the base of operations in XCom.

If you complete your management tasks correctly, and if your soldiers and spies complete theirs, you’ll earn cash to upgrade the safe house with different rooms that give you new tasks. Those new rooms can also be upgraded over time. Slowly transforming your safe house from an empty office building into a busy money-generating operation for the CIA.

The description for the game calls the tasks in each room puzzles, and they end up being the bulk of what you’re doing with your time in Safe House, so it’s important that they’re interesting to complete. Unfortunately, while there are a variety of those tasks to do, they lack the fun and polish other games apply to make those types of puzzles interesting. Sure, it sounds different to assemble the ingredients for an improvised explosive device in your safe house’s bomb making room, but the actual experience is just reading a list of random components and then clicking on each one in the correct order until you’ve assembled three bombs. The challenge here is that some of the ingredients have similar-sounding names so it can take a few moments to tell Trolite from Tritolone and Tritolite.

Bomb making instructions

In the infirmary a patient will materialize out of thin air. Here you would consult the instructions that tell you how to infuse the patient with the correct type of blood and a type of medicine to treat whatever problem they have. Each patient has three ingredients they’re allergic to, so you have another list to read with similar-sounding names until you find just the right one. If you give the agents that show up in the infirmary correctly typed blood, and the right medications, they disappear from the room the same way that patients you’ve failed will pass on.

The only difference between success and failure with any of these tasks is the dollar amount that appears briefly on-screen. The game never tells you what you did wrong with the tasks you fail, it just deducts the cash that you would have gotten from your safe house’s bank balance. The bombs you make don’t get used in the game. The patients you treat aren’t your agents that were harmed on missions, they’re just random nobodies.

When you deal with the spies that come in the front door, and you correctly identify the ones to let in, they don’t actually go into your safe house. They just depart with the same animation that spies you misidentify or kick out use to leave. Strangely, they disappear a few steps out of the door. That’s the most animation you’ll see in a typical night of managing your safe house.

There could be some way to make theses tasks less repetitive and more rewarding, but every job in the game is just as tedious. I want to see the results of the actions in the game. If I let the wrong person in the front door it’d be interesting to have them run through your safe house and steal a document or let a prisoner go, or mess with your dossier so that you can’t see some key piece of information for that day. Cascading failures make games like this interesting. In Fallout Shelter when something goes wrong it’s up to your survivors to fend off attacks or repair broken systems that your vault needs to function. The spies and soldiers you hire in Safe House move about in their room or barracks a little but they don’t ever walk around outside it or have any interaction with the other rooms.

There aren’t enough consequences to your actions in Safe House. Sure a monetary penalty is bad, but it’s not bad enough, and the experience of Safe House is playing these same droll mini-games over and over again until the night is over and you move on to the next day where you have the option to make new rooms or upgrade old ones and recruit or send agents and soldiers on missions.

Good lord

There’s a stereotypical 1960’s look and sound to games about spies that this game feels like it is leaning towards but doesn’t quite make it there. The audio is complete with the smoothest muzak from an elevator and a few audio brief notes to alert you to your success or failure and when it is time to see which one of the safe house’s rooms needs your attention for the next task.

From a small development team, I didn’t expect much in terms of graphical prowess, but the faces on the polygonal characters in your safe house just don’t make sense. The person that works at the loading dock has a permanent joker grin that looks straight out of the Batman animated series. When you get a barracks for soldiers or spy lounge you’ll see 2D character portraits for those characters that look a little bit like they’re from Penny Arcade before that comic turned into an unreadable mess thanks to PA’s creators being complete shitheads, but that style doesn’t really match the style of Safe House. The upgrades to the different rooms change each one a little bit, but that’s the only change you’ll see over time once each room in the building is occupied.

There are all sorts of software bugs within Safe House that get in the way of completing the campaign. Sometimes creating identification in the forgery room would fail for no apparent reason. The mission success reports often misspell words like “scientists,” “carriage,” and “comfortable.” I found about a dozen or so other issues I had with the game, none of these reset my progress but they all added up to a general sense that this game could use a lot more attention from the developer before it shipped.

The most disappointing part of Safe House is that it has an inkling of a story inside it about colonialism and American interventions on the behalf of business interests, with multiple endings, but it never earns the dramatic turns it takes. One time when Safe House turns in this direction your interrogation room that you thought was just for interviews is revealed to be a torture facility once it is fully upgraded. Your in-game avatar is shocked, other characters reveal who they actually are, and things change in the game. It could have been a very interesting turn of events if the game had an engrossing story from the start, but it never made me care about those characters.

Safe House has multiple endings, but after going through hours of repetitive tasks I didn’t want to play through the tutorial at the start of the game, and then 5 more hours of the gameplay Safe House had to offer, just to see each ending.

The premise of operating a CIA safe house is fascinating, there was clearly some thought put into style and sound design, but Safe House lacks the depth of other games that specialize in building a city or a tower, managing people, or old spy movies. The lack of polish is entirely excusable from a one-person developer, but the gameplay couldn’t live up to the concept. Papers, Please, Sim Tower, and James Bond are three ideas that probably can’t work together, but I really wish they had.

1 out of 5 Panic Rooms for Safe House. It’s $10 on Steam for Windows.

Happier times

The Steam Link is Getting Usurped by Apps

Valve is releasing Steam Link apps for iOS and Android sometime during the week of the 21st of May. They’ll stream games to your device or TV from a host computer just like the Steam Link box does. Valve says that these apps will support a few different types of controllers including Apple’s MFI standard, but I’m not sure how they have Steam Controller support working without attaching the full-size USB type A dongle, unless they intend for people to use a series of adapters.

The physical Steam Link box could still end up being useful by working with even more types of controllers, as well as running general purpose software using the Steam Link SDK.

Valve is also putting out an app to watch any videos purchased on Steam, because that’s a thing people do?

It’s a shame that game streaming is exclusively the domain of stores like Valve’s Steam and Nvidia’s streaming built-into their Geforce graphics cards. Although the latter has some open source support via the unofficial community-developed Moonlight project, neither option is perfect. Steam streaming is often broken for many games outside of Steam, and Nvidia only officially streams to their Shield tablet and set-top-box devices. If you’re using an AMD or intel video chipset they aren’t supported by Nvidia, either.

I’m not sure if there’s any room for a commercial third-party solution when Nvidia and Valve’s solutions work almost well enough, so it might have to be a community-developed open source project.

Parappa The Rapper on PS4 is Actually a PSP Emulator

I’ll probably never use it, because I don’t jailbreak modern consoles, but it’s an impressive discovery by KiiWii on the GBA Temp forums  (via Wololo) that the Parappa The Rapper remaster for the PlayStation 4 is actually a PlayStation Portable emulator with special features. Those features let the developers replace the textures in an emulated game with upgraded assets that look better at the higher resolutions of the PS4.

Very few PSP games actually work in this emulator, it’s just fun to look behind the curtain of one of these remastered games and find out how the remastered sausage is made.

Epic Sues 14 Year Old Fortnite Cheater

Sarah Jeong has an article up about Epic suing a 14 year old cheater in their free-to-play game Fortnite.

It’s absolutely twisted that a business can sue anyone for cheating in a video game. It’s slightly more understandable to get litigious with people making and selling cheats, but then Epic should really just strengthen their anti-cheating software and review system.

Epic should alter Fortnite to give players tools to understand cheating and report it when it happens. Of course they’d need to hire people to review reports. Maybe they’re doing that as well, we don’t know, but suing people for cheating in an online multiplayer game is boneheaded.

Jeong also talks about Epic using YouTube’s copyright infringement reporting tool to take down the cheater’s videos. That shouldn’t be possible. It’s absolutely a broken system that developers and publishers can make videos disappear via copyright notices just because they don’t like the content of the video. If YouTube doesn’t want videos about game cheating on their site then video game cheating should be in their stated policies.

Portable Frustration With Bennett Foddy

Getting Over It is Incompatable with all of my devices

I’ve already written about how much I love Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, but I hadn’t written about the iOS version which has gotten much better over time and today there is an Android version on Google’s app store if you’d like to learn to master your frustration on a portable device. They’re both $5 and highly recommended. Although you might want to have a case on your device if something happens while you’re playing.

Campo Santo Got Valvo’d

I love adventure games. Well, I love modern adventure games. They come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s a type that’s a sub-genre of the Walking Simulator style of adventure in which you get your narrative-focused Gone Home’s and your Tacoma’s and the occasional Firewatch.

The news is that the developer of Firewatch, Campo Santo, is getting acquired by Valve. The good news is that they will continue to work on things they’ve been working on. This news won’t stop Firewatch from coming to Nintendo’s Nintendo Switch sometime this year. They’re also promising improvements to Firewatch on every other platform in the process of optimizing it for Nintendo’s Nintendo Switch.

Campo Santo’s progresso on the new gameo In the Valley of Gods will also continue, that was announced late last year. Except now it’ll be a Valve thing, which is good for Valve because my understanding is that many of Valve’s writers have left.

That C64 Mini

The c64 mini

The miniaturizing nostalgia shrink ray is sprayed at everything now: Cars; entertainment systems both super and conventional Nintendo; iPads; arcade cabinets… There’s also now a The C64 Mini, not a Commodore 64 Mini or Classic Edition, but strictly The C64 Mini. Apparently they couldn’t get the name Commodore 64.

This miniature device that definitely isn’t a Commodore 64 also isn’t out yet in the U.S., but it is out almost everywhere else and I wouldn’t trust an American to review it, so here is Dr. Ashens’ review:

It sounds like this The C64 Mini isn’t going to be beloved like the original unless the firmware is updated in some fundamental way and they also recall and replace every joystick. Still, it is fun to hear someone who is familiar with all of the 64 games it ships with go over each one.

Alec Meer’s review at RPS rakes the makers of this device over the coals about the non-functional keyboard a bit more than Ashens did:

There are two things a miniaturised version of gaming-centric 80s home computer the Commodore 64 needs to do above all else: 1) have a working keyboard 2) have a really good joystick.

Uh-oh.

God of War (2018) Out Soon, Sounds Awesome

The 2018 God of War game without a subtitle isn’t a reboot of the series, but it does sound like a great starting point for anyone who dropped off after the earlier games or who wasn’t interested in them at all.

The review embargo lifted a few days ago, to almost universal acclaim, here’s part of Keza MacDonald’s take:

This God of War wants us to see Kratos as a person, rather than an instrument of extraordinary violence. The game not only pulls this off, but turns Kratos and his son’s journey into one of the best games of recent years: a deft intertwining of relatable familial drama and awe-inspiring mythological epic.

There are probably a huge number of takes on this game from other parents, but mine is short: I probably won’t get to play this God of War for a while. As appealing as it is, and I loved the PSP games in the series, I have a very limited amount of time to play anything when my son is sleeping and I try to avoid any kind of violent games when he’s awake.

For everyone else who doesn’t have children, or whose kids are older, God of War is out this Friday the 20th on the PlayStation 4.