I don't know what's going on with the Neo Geo Mini. Shortly after I got my hands on one, SNK announced that an upgraded Holiday version of the hardware would be going up for pre-order in the coming days. That's not a good sign. I have to guess that the initial SKU failed to sell as well as SNK had expected, leaving them scrambling to rework the units they already produced into a more marketable package. Their apparent lack of confidence in their product leaves me pessimistic about this weird little machine's future.
It's a shame too, because this is by far my favorite plug-and-play mini console to date, at least in terms of its library. I bought the NES and SNES Classics day one, and I love them to "bits", but there's no denying that nearly all the games on each system are outdated. That's the point of the nostalgia-powered novelty collections though, right? To take a trip in your mind back in time?
If so, then that's probably why the Neo Geo Mini isn't selling. These are not the games that many grew up loving. These are the games that most of us could only afford to play for ten minutes a week at the local arcade, before going home and sinking hours into The Legend of Zelda or Sonic the Hedgehog. That said. there are several games on the console that stand up to the best that 2018 has to offer in their respective genres. Garou: Mark of the Wolves looks and plays better than 99% of today's fighting games. Metal Slug 3 is still the best looking 2D run-and-gun action game I've ever played. There are also plenty of quality games on here that I'd never heard of before. For instance, if you told me that Ninja Masters was as all new indie fighter, and not a Neo Geo title from the '90's, not only would I have believed you, but I would have been more than happy to pay $15 for it.
That's why, despite my love of Jumping Flash and Super Puzzle Fighter, the Neo Geo Mini beats out the PS1 Classic for me this holiday season. It's also why I am more optimistic than ever that Nintendo will skip the N64 when it rolls out its next Classic console, and will instead jump straight to the Game Boy family of systems. I've already taken my Neo Geo Mini on the go with me a few times, and I'm sure people would love to do the same with a similarly versatile handheld/home console pre-loaded with games from Nintendo pre-DS portable generation. The Neo Geo Mini has issues, but its definitely worth looking into once Black Friday rolls around.