SNK’s Hybrid Arcade Stick/Plug-And-Play Console Might Be Dope

Can't swing a dead cat without hitting a dang Samurai Shodown anymore.

SNK is making an all-in-one console that’s also an arcade stick, dubbed the Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro, and if that sounds familiar it’s because Capcom announced back in April that it’s doing the same thing. (The main differences are that SNK’s stick is an attractive piece of hardware that also works as a controller for PC, while Capcom’s is a ludicrously huge and masturbatory eyesore.)

Today SNK finally announced which 20 games are built into the Arcade Stick Pro, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call anything on the list surprising, there are a couple of weird deep dives worth noting. Here’s what comes built-in:

  • 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 2
  • Samurai Shodown 3
  • Samurai Shodown 4
  • 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

Ninja Master’s and Kizuna Encounter are definitely the most esoteric titles on the list, with the previous being the last arcade fighter developed by Neo Geo mainstay ADK, and the later being a long-forgotten sequel to a different, also forgotten fighter called Savage Reign, which had some extremely 1995 artwork. It’s a little weird to me that they would include two versions of World Heroes 2 instead of putting Savage Reign or The Last Blade in there, but who knows what the copyright situations are for those games.

You might have noticed that these are all fighting games, and while that makes sense for a plug-and-play console that is itself an arcade stick, remember that other Neo Geo classics like Metal Slug and Twinkle Star Sprites were also designed for SNK’s Neo Geo arcade hardware, and some people (read: me) still get a kick out of playing non-fighters in the traditional manner.

You can plug the Arcade Stick Pro into one of SNK’s other recent microconsoles and use it as a controller, or plug the Neo Geo Mini’s controllers into the Arcade Stick Pro, which is a cool consideration to make for people who might own both. But with the (kinda flawed) Neo Geo Mini starting at like $100, getting that and the Arcade Stick Pro is gonna be a very expensive way to play Magician Lord or whatever.

And speaking of price, SNK has yet to announce one for the Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro, or when it will be available. It’s also refrained from naming the brand of microswitches, buttons, and joystick used in the device, which either means that SNK is going generic, or that it’s yet to nail down an agreement with a major supplier like Sanwa Denshi or Seimitsu.

Fighting game people take these parts very seriously, and are generally more willing to invest in a product when it has a brand name they trust associated with it. I’d like to think that SNK, knowing as much as it does about fighting games, would know this and forego the cash savings of generic parts in favor of the Real Deal with Bill McNeal, but this is the same SNK that put a mushy analogue stick on the Neo Geo Mini — a console that exclusively contains 2D games — so who knows.

Generic parts would definitely keep the cost down, but SNK is charging as much as $140+ after tax for the fancy Neo Geo Mini, so I can’t imagine this thing starting at under $150 anyway. At that point, just go ahead and put some good dang switches in there and add another $25 onto the price; the same people (read: me!!!) will be willing to buy it either way. Just lemme buy an arcade stick that’s worth owning that I can also pull out as a fun toy when visiting my nieces and nephew. Is that such a big ask, SNK? Can you just let me have this???

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Jordan Mallory

Jordan Mallory is a 10-year games industry veteran with more heart than sense. Lover of frogs and dedicated Girls' Generation S♥NE. Mr. August, Men of Game Development 2015.

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