NEOGEO MINI SAMURAI SHODOWN UKYO TACHIBANA SPECIAL EDITION [Review]: A Sharper Model?

Robert “The DCD” Workman
@thedcd

So last year, SNK released the Neo-Geo Mini, a combination handheld/console system that enabled fans to play a number of favorites either on the go or at home. The Switch it isn’t, mainly due to the system’s build, awkward setup and lacking game selection. But it does have its moments, particularly if you’re a fan of the classic console.

 

Later this month, however, SNK will release a special set of limited edition consoles to tie in with the release of the Samurai Shodown PS4 game, focusing on three particular fighters. There are red, white and blue models, each modeled after certain combatants. For this review, we’re looking at the clear blue Ukyo Tachibana model, which you can see below…

That said, there are some slight differences between this package and the one that was shipped last year, and it’s a notable improvement over what came out back then. First off, there’s actually an HDMI cable included this time around, along with the power cable, so you don’t have to buy one separately to plug it in to your television. Huzzah!

Secondly, there are a few bonus games, including a few more Samurai Shodown games. It’s not an amazing selection, and, damn it, there’s still no sign of my favorite, Eightman, but it’s a decent variety nevertheless.

Third, there are two controllers in the package, also colored blue, and they’re pretty nice in terms of comfort and reliability when it comes to playing games such as this.

Last but not least, the bonus extras are ideal for Samurai Shodown fans, including collector cards and the ability to change the marquee on the arcade game itself. It’s pretty neat, although I’m a fan of the general set-up that the regular game has.

 

Taking the system out of the box, it operates pretty well. I would’ve liked some kind of protector for the screen, but it turns off and on easily enough once you plug in the power cable (included), and you can connect to the TV with simplicity. The portable screen looks great, with utmost quality for its small size. And the sound’s not bad either if you want to play on the tiny little unit.

As for the controller with the built-in system…it’s a little awkward. If you can, play with the controllers. It’s better. Sure, it’s missing the “clicky” portion of the older pads, but it works very well, especially with fighting games. And it’s way more maneuverable than with the smaller joystick on the system itself. And the buttons are laid out better as well.

The menus are beautiful, and wonderfully laid out, with a number of games to choose from. It’s got a Samurai Shodown setup that fans will love, along with some options that are easy to mess around with, like language, brightness and even improving visual quality for big-screen play.

Speaking of which, the games don’t look too bad on a television. Granted, we’re not talking 1080p quality or anything like that, since these are older Neo-Geo games. But SNK did provide a nice upgrade over the previous Neo-Geo Mini here in terms of visual quality. It’s a decent bump up in terms of what’s been done better. There are some loading times here and there, but nothing that’ll tick you off too badly.

 

As for the games, the full rundown is as follows:

Samurai Shodown
Samurai Shodown II
Samurai Shodown III
Samurai Shodown IV
Samurai Shodown V
Samurai Shodown V Special
Art of Fighting
Fatal Fury: King of Fighters
Fatal Fury 2
Real Bout Oto Densetsu 2 THE NEWCOMERS
Real Bout Wolf Legend Special
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Fuun Super Tag Battle
THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’97
THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’98
THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’99

 

The Last Blade
World Heroes Perfect
Aggressors of Dark Kombat
Blue’s Journey
Burning fight
Cyber-Up
King of the Monsters 2
Magician Lord
Metal Slug
Metal Slug 2
Metal Slug 3
Ninja Commando
Ninja Master’s
Robo Army
Sengoku 3
Shock Troopers Second Squad
Top Hunter
ASO II – Last Guardian
Blazing Star
Twinkle Star Sprites
League Bowling
Soccer Brawl
Super Sidekicks
Top Player’s Golf

A few of these are classics, like the insanely good Garou: Mark of the Wolves, the Metal Slug games (where are through tho?!) and even Sengoku 3. But, again, some favorites are missing, and we could’ve easily gotten rid of forgettable fare like Burning Fight and Robo Army in favor of Eightman and the original King of Monsters, which is notably absent here.

But I digress. SNK had the opportunity to put the Neo-Geo Mini through an upgrade here, and for the most part, they’ve done that. This model is a bit more expensive if you take the upgrade route. But if you wait a few days, you can get it from Amazon for a mere $140, which isn’t too shabby at all. If you’re a fan of the classic games and absolutely need this for your collection, this is the best option to take.

Otherwise, a lot of these can be found through Arcade Archives on modern consoles. That may be the best option if you don’t need the lap of luxury for classic gaming. But if nostalgia’s your thing, this option won’t leave you feeling…blue? 3.5/5 Blue Joysticks.

-Robert Workman

 

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