Weighing in at 250 lbs (113 Kg) and standing 6′ (183 cm) tall this is my new SNK Neo Geo MVS Arcade Cabinet.
Also known as Big Red.
Neo Geo (ネオジオ?) is a family of video game hardware developed by SNK. The brand originated in 1990 with the release of an arcade system, the Neo Geo MVS and its home console counterpart, the Neo Geo AES. Both the arcade system and console were powerful for the time and the AES allowed for perfect ports of games released for the MVS.
Why didn’t I get a MAME box? I still might someday but for me I really enjoy having the real thing. And this beast actually lived out is glory days in actual bonafide arcades. Maybe you’ve played on my Big Red! Who knows?!
$650 is a lot of money to drop on anything. Especially something that is such a pain in the butt to move. But it did come with four games to help soften the purchase price.
These are all common and cheap (for Neo Geo) games but it was still nice to get some throw-ins. And NAM-1975 is one that I really wanted. NAM-1975 was the first Neo Geo game I saw when the system was new and it blew my mind. It’s hard to describe how much better the Neo Geo looked compared to the Genesis or SNES. Back in the day the distinction in the graphics felt massive.
Today the gap in graphical fidelity feels very small. But in the late 90’s the Neo Geo was a boheimeth that could not be touched; or afforded by most of us. Unless you were content feeding quarters to a Big Red in the arcades.
But if you did have the money you could purchase the home version of the Neo Geo called the Neo Geo AES (Advanced Entertainment System) which was exactly the same hardware as the Neo Geo MVS (Multi Video System) in the arcades.
The arcade version was called MVS because many Neo Geo arcade cabinets could hold more then one game; either 2,4, or 6 games. And by the use of the ‘Select Game’ button you could cycle through the selection and pick the one you wanted to play. This was a very unique feature in the 90’s.
I found this Neo Geo MVS 4-slot (can hold 4 games at once) from Kijiji. The previous seller had done a fantastic job restoring it. As a result it’s not entirely stock. The cabinet was sanded down and re-painted. And the lettering you see are vinyl stickers. Originally the lettering would have been painted on. But the important thing is my Neo Geo looks perfect… Even though its not.
There is some work left for me to do. Here’s my ‘to do’ list for my Big Red (keeping in mind I don’t know how to do anything of this):
1) Replace capacitors on the Monitor
2) Fix Slot Two
3) Fix Mini Marquee
4) Install Power Switch
1) The monitor is old… really old. And despite looking pretty good there is an issue. On the top 1/5 of the screen there are some faint lines and a bit of distortion. On some games you really don’t notice it at all but on other it’s more apparent.
I’ve opened up the cabinet and found many different dials and magnets to adjust the picture quality and none of them seem to help with this issue. So I think (even though I really have no idea) that the capacitors on the monitor need to be replaced. This involves buying what’s called a cap kit for my specific monitor and de-soldering the old capacitors and soldering on the new ones from the cap kit. Since I’m very inexperienced with soldering I think I’m going to hire someone to do this for me.
You also have to be very careful about discharging a CRT monitor before working on it. And I mean seriously careful. Discharging a CRT monitor incorrectly could give you an electrical shock strong enough to kill you. Seriously.
2) This next issue is also going to be tough but I am going to attempt it myself. Any game cartridge that is inserted in slot 2 will show vertical lines through all the character sprites on screen. My guess is that there is a capacitor (or a few) that need to be replaced or possibly one (or several) traces that are damaged. On Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) the traces are the thin copper lines that travel from on location on the board to another connecting the different components. They are pathways.
I may not be able to do this myself but I am going to try.
3) The Marquee at the top of the cabinet contains four mini-marquees to show the player what games are installed. When you press the Game Select button the Marquee will light up the mini-marquee poster that corresponds to the selected game.
Currently mine will not light up at all. I don’t know yet what’s involved. It’s not an essential feature but it’s a cool one that I would like to get working again.
4) Arcade cabinets were originally meant to be left on almost all the time. Turning them off was often done by just pulling the power plug. Since mine is very hard to get behind because of how I’ve positioned into a corner of my retro game room I’m currently using a power bar that’s long enough to sit right beside the cabinet. With my big toe I can flip the system on or off. It works perfectly but someday I’d like to install something a bit more polished.
The reason why the Neo Geo MVS has become my first Arcade Cabinet is because of the multiple slots for games. Almost all Arcade cabinets required changing out the mother board in order to change the game in the cabinet. But the Neo Geo MVS used the familiar cartridge; albeit very large! The game cartridges are plentiful and for the most part affordable (with the exception of ebay).
This single giant box does take up a lot of room but it’s very easy to swap out the games. Allowing me to continue to collect for the Neo Geo MVS and enjoy the purest of Arcade experiences for each and every SNK Neo Geo MVS games I purchase. And it looks really awesome 🙂