For a good long while now I’ve found a very nice distraction in playing and collection games for the Neo Geo MVS.
**Disclamer** I hope you’re immune to ‘drawn-out’ and boring… because I’m about to get real wordy.
For anyone not familiar with the Neo Geo there are two primary flavors of the original hardware.
Neo Geo MVS stands for Neo Geo Multi Video System (MVS). This is the version found in the arcades (throughout the 90’s mostly) in a classic 225lbs upright cabinet. Many Neo Geo arcade cabinets could support more than one game at a time. Either 2, 4 or 6. Allowing a player to select one of the installed cartridges(games) to play. There is also a version of Neo Geo arcade cabinet that can hold only one game at a time which was instead called Neo Geo System.
My Big Red: Neo Geo MVS 4-Slot Arcade Cabinet
Shortly after the release of the Neo Geo MVS came the Neo Geo AES; which stands for Advanced Entertainment System. This version is the in the form of a classic video game console that plugs into your home television. The hardware and games are identical. The AES will play the exact same games with the same performance as the arcade MVS systems.
This was my Neo Geo AES before I sold it. I still miss it!
However the cartridges for the MVS and the AES are different sizes and are not interchangeable. If you have a Neo Geo MVS you need to buy MVS cartridges and if you have the Neo Geo AES you need to buy AES home cartridges (there are adapters but I wont get into that today).
I decided to switch from collecting AES game to MVS games because MVS carts are so much cheaper. They’re still not cheap but with very few exceptions MVS carts are a good magnitude cheaper than AES carts.
And you can bring the price down a little bit more if you’re willing to purchase nasty beat up carts; which are sometimes referred to as ‘gamer condition’ carts.
And that is exactly what I do. Check out the image below… NASSSTTTYYY!!
Bonafide Gamer Condition MVS Carts!
The games work perfectly but the plastics are scratched, marked and dirty. And the labels are in worse shape. Some you can’t even read anymore and Art of Fighting Path of the Warrior is actually labeled incorrectly as World Heroes (Top left). But saving anywhere from $20-$40 USD (or more) per game I feel is worth it.
As I continued to collect Neo Geo games I discovered shadowkn55 over on the neo-geo.com forums who sells beautiful reproduction labels for $1 USD each. Not only are these labels brand new but they look just like the original MVS labels. The quality is perfect.
shadowkn55 reproduction labels.
Now I have a way to restore these carts into reasonably good condition.
But I do have a few reservations. After spending some time on the neo-geo.com forums I’ve learned that a lot of people really want to keep these carts stock and not change them in any way. I understand this point of view and I feel it has merit. The three games in the middle (The Last Blade, KOF96 and KOF2003) have labels that are not terrible. They’re not good but they’re mostly whole and I can still read them easily.
Should they have been replaced or should I have left them alone?
As it turns out I did feel it was better to replace them. And I think they are looking very nice. But this is something I keep in mind when I buy new labels. I want to be sure the cart really needs a replacement. Because I would prefer to have an original label if possible.
It took a lot of effort to remove most of the old labels. I must have spent 10 minutes scratching at each one with my thumb nail. Once the paper was mostly gone I found that rubbing a little bit of WD-40 where the label was did a great job at removing the left over residue.
Replacement Reproduction labels by shadowkn55.
**As it turns out the King of the Fighters 2003 is actually a bootleg version and not authentic. Thanks to a fellow gamer who commented below about this. I’ve since sold this boot for $25 and I got myself an authentic version to replace it.**
I think they look great and I’m very happy I did this. For this selection of games only one had a serial number on the cart. And I saved that challenge for last.
You can see that The King of the Fighters 2003 (Top Center) had a small yellow sticker on the original label with it’s serial number. Normally serial numbers are a part of the label just like the title but SNK was very inconsistent and you’ll see them doing many different things with their carts.
This time it worked out very well for me. I was able to use a blow drier to heat and cleanly remove the yellow serial number sticker and apply it to the reproduction label. This allowed me to preserve the serial number instead of losing it. *I wish I had thought of using the blow dryer sooner on every label and not just this serial number sticker. **And it’s a bootleg… ah, wasted effort!**
Not all Neo Geo MVS carts had a serial number but if they do it will only ever appear on the cart label and the original cardboard box that it came in.
Click here for an example of a complete MVS kit with matching serial numbers on both the cart label and on the box label.
SNK also used many different colored carts for their games. Not only will you find color changes from title to title but it’s probable that a single title can be found in several different colors. The same is true for cart labels. Most often they are black and white but sometimes you’ll see colored labels and other variations.
Since I was completely removing the old labels I took the time to open the cartridge, remove the two PCBs (Printed Circuit Board) and I completely washed the plastic cart with soap and water. Before applying the new label this would be my only chance to give the cart a very thorough cleaning. Most of them really needed it. Twenty years worth of dust and grime really shows! This cleaning didn’t help the existing scuffs and scratches that are very common on gamer condition cartridges but the cleaning was still very worth while.
Check out these excellent after market storage boxes called Shockboxes.
Now that I have applied these perfect and very authentic looking reproduction labels to each of the carts it’s time to hide this fine work inside some beautiful looking storage boxes called Shockboxes; sold by Southtown Homebrew. You can buy these snapcases in various colors (I always choose black) and you can also purchase a Neo Geo MVS cover sleeve/insert to go with the case.
These Shockboxes are a dream come true for collectors like myself. They give a way to display Neo Geo MVS games and make them look really good. The downside is they are not cheap. Each Shockbox with an insert has cost me about $15 CAD each after shipping. I still need about 20 more but I’ll just have to wait until I can afford them. The current strength of the US dollar to the Canadian really isn’t helping my cause at all!
I sometimes surprise myself at how busy I can keep with my video game collection by doing stuff like this; let alone the time spent playing them. There is a lot of unexpected diversity to this hobby.
Those gamer condition carts look charming, though I totally get that some REALLY need to be refurbished or restored. What a neat system! I think I’d collect for the same system too, since it’s a bit cheaper too…
I’m digging that collection! 🙂
Hey Martianoddity! Thanks 🙂
Charming is a favorable description 🙂 Even at their best Neo Geo MVS carts look so old. In Part because of there massive size and partly because of how plain they are. But it’s the software inside that counts. And there are a lot of really good games for the system.
Those Shockbox cases are very similar to Disney VHS tape cases (that’s before DVD!). So everything about these games feels old. Including the retro art for the inserts. But that is just fine. They are old and it’s OK if they look it.
I’m having a lot of fun collecting them… although my wallet is hurting a whole bunch.
Yes, the games for MVS are cheaper but to be able to play them you’ll need the full sized arcade cabinet or what’s called a consolized MVS (CMVS). Basically it’s the motherboard of the arcade cabinet customized with video and audio ports for your TV.
But these CMVS consoles could set you back $300-$400 USD for a good one. Don’t even look at ebay.
If you’re serious about collecting for Neo Geo you have to sign up on the neo-geo.com forums. You’ll learn everything you need to know there.
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They look really nice ^__^ I found a bunch of Neo Geo games at the convention yesterday! But all the boxed ones I already had.. And I kind of don’t feel like buying unboxed ones now that I have such a nice collection started thanks to you ;D
Thanks! Yeah, I do think the MVS carts look much better with their new labels… but no where near as nice as AES carts!
I worked hard at getting complete games when I was collecting for AES. My thought was that I would not be able to afford many so I wanted a nice little collection. Take care of my babies for me! 😛
You should try to get familiar with AES prices. Cause if you find a really good game that is cart only you might want to grab it if the price is right. But I totally understand wanting complete games (or at least with the case).
youve got a crazy collection, really nice stuff both for Sega and Neo Geo. Keep it up! love your Blog!
I really do love games on cartridges. I do wish they cost a little less 😛 Specially now that I’ve discovered Neo Geo. But at the same time the Neo Geo’s cool factor is off the charts!
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I did the same thing with Neo stuff. I initially bought a modded AES system but when I started looking at carts the prices were stupid. I ended up buying cyber lip and nam 1975 before I threw in the towel and went MVS.
I’m glad I’m not alone here! In fact I bet there are a lot of collectors who bailed on the AES in favor of the cheaper MVS carts.
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Looks very tidy but that KOF 2003 cart and label was a boot in the first along with the sticker. KOF 2003 was only released in black
According to mvs-scans -> http://www.mvs-scans.com/index.php/King_of_Fighters_2003
KOF 2003 does come with a blue label… but you’re still right.
I opened up this KOF 2003 and the PCB clearly does not match the scan at mvs-scans.com so yes I do believe it’s a bootleg.
It even has many of those small ICs that SNK never used, no ‘SNK’ printed on the boards and signs of hand soldering in a few places.
I paid $45 CAD including shipping so if nothing else I didn’t spend too much more than the real value of a boot; which seems to be about $20 USD going from what I’m learning at the forums at neo-geo.com.
Not too long ago an ebay seller sold me Metal Slug 5 for $150 USD and it was a boot. It was a crazy hard fight but I managed to get ebay to refund my money. Buyer be warned; watch out for ebay!
Thanks for the heads-up neo-geo-mvs. I think I’m going to go through all of my carts and verify them just for piece of mind.
You do have to be careful when the cart has a replacement label or a cart case that is not the official release. Like the Metal Slug 5 you bought had a transparent case. This only came in a black case.
The boots labels do look official but look out for spelling mistakes in the copyright bit etc.
Your collection looks great so fingers crossed there are no more boots!
Very cool. I’m actually trying to finish up an old MVS cabinet with the marquee, but I’m not sure which one I have. My marquee area measures approximately 24″ x 14″. Is that what your Big Red measures? Thanks!