In the late 1980's the SNK (Shin Nihon Kikaku) Corporation planned to break into the video game hardware market after designing games for Nintendo's NES system. They made a bold move in entering the industry. At the same time they launched the two separate systems: an arcade console and home platform. Each could play games that were exactly interchangeable, bringing Arcade games literally into the home for the first time.
In 1990, the Neo Geo cartridge-based home system was released. Powered by a Motorolla 68000 16-bit processor, it played the very same games as arcade counterpart, the Neo-Geo MVS (Multi-Video System). This exciting option for home game players did have a drawback though, the cartridge based platform retailed for a whopping $899.99. Neo-Geo game cartridges sold anywhere from $250 to $300. SNK did release a good amount of titles for its home console and while the system never made a huge splash, it sold well.
At the time, the Neo-Geo system offered a unique new device: a memory card. It allows players to save levels and positions from any Neo-Geo game release. Not only is the memory card usable on other Neo-Geo home gaming consoles, but it can be inserted into any MVS arcade cabinet featuring the same game and play can be resumed (after inserting a quarter of course) at the same level saved to the card at home.
The system also includes an option named the Multi-Link. For players who crave privacy two Neo-Geo home systems can be linked together, via a cable, for play on two separate televisions. Among the games which support this feature are: Thrash Rally, League Bowling, and Riding Hero.
In 1994 SNK introduced the Neo-Geo CD. As the name would indicate, it is a CD- ROM based system. The price dropped significantly from that of the cartridge based unit. Retail price was $250 and CD-ROMs sold from $50 to $70. Structurally, Neo-Geo CD contains similar hardware as the original platform but the disks are a much cheaper medium for releasing games. Unfortunately, the Neo-Geo CD-ROM drives are single-speed and quite slow. They take a long time to load games into the system's memory.
By the time the ROM units were released, Neo-Geo was not as popular as it originally had been. They followed up Neo-Geo CD with Neo-Geo CDZ. It is a second-generation model featuring a double-speed CD-ROM drive for shorter loading delays. Unfortunately, the CDZ was only released in Japan. In order for the system to run games in English, a language switch must be installed on the system. Imported Neo-Geo cartridges from Japan and Europe are compatible with American systems.
The Neo-Geo home platforms have a loyal following, and SNK claims they intend to support it through the end of 1999. ~ Dave Beuscher, All Game Guide