So far in the new mobile ACA NEOGEO line, we’ve seen a decent mix of games released. Some popular titles, some not so well-known. Some great games, some a little more average. Some that suit touch controls, and others not so much. A couple of them are the best of all worlds. But with the release of Puzzled ($3.99), I believe we have our first “worst of all worlds” situation. Even with the generally excellent work Hamster does on these releases, there’s only so much that can be done for some games.
SNK’s NEOGEO platform played host to a great many classics, both famous and under-the-radar. The Metal Slug games. The King of Fighters series. Magician Lord. Shock Troopers. Sengoku 3. NEO Turf Masters. Fatal Fury. Samurai Shodown. Twinkle Star Sprites. Blazing Star. Truly, the system was a treasure trove of arcade experiences that kept players coming back again and again, and still do. And then there are NEOGEO games like Zed Blade ($3.99). Almost entirely unremarkable. Eminently forgettable. The nicest thing you could say about it is that it’s serviceable. Nevertheless, it’s the latest ACA NEOGEO release on mobile from SNK and Hamster.
The Mana series has had a complicated history in the West, and it’s one that we’ve gone over to varying degrees in articles about other Mana games. It’s a tale of confusing branding, lightning caught in a bottle, tough business choices, and a creative team that seemed to perpetually have different ideas than what its fans may have hoped. While the series would continue for many installments after, all of that appeared to come to an unfortunate head with the Western release of Legend of Mana ($27.99) on the PlayStation.
The latest release in SNK and Hamster’s new mobile Arcade Archives NEOGEO line is one of the launch titles for the NEOGEO itself: NAM-1975 ($3.99). While the console would come to be known mostly for its fighting games and the Metal Slug series of run-and-gun games, things were less obvious at the start. A scatter-shot spread of nine games in various genres arrived with the NEOGEO when it hit in 1990, and one of the clear favorites of the bunch was this very game. A gallery shooter set in the Vietnam War, NAM-1975 offered plenty of action for one or two players.
It seems as though we’re rolling along with the ACA NEOGEO releases. Hamster keeps a weekly schedule on other platforms, and that could be what will happen here. That means you’ll be getting a lot of opinions on NEOGEO games from me in the future, I suppose. Today we’ll be looking at Shock Troopers ($3.99), a 1997 top-down shooter that came during a time when the genre was a bit on the wane. This ACA NEOGEO version comes in a similar package as the previous releases, which we already know to be a good thing.
Earlier this year, I interviewed Feral Interactive about them porting games to mobile and asked about a potential mobile version of Alien: Isolation ($14.99) and was surprised at the response I got. Back then, I thought the Nintendo Switch port existing meant it would eventually come to mobile, but I didn’t think it would happen this soon. Creative Assembly’s survival horror experience has not only been ported to mobile by Feral Interactive, but it has gotten a phenomenal conversion going above and beyond.
When I owned the original PlayStation, I mostly used to just play wrestling games and the odd game that looked interesting in the stores that sold video games. My fondest memories on the system involve the likes of WWF Warzone, ECW Anarchy Rulez, and WCW Backstage Assault with games like Tomba and Cool Boarders being the games that looked interesting to me back then. As you can imagine, I missed out on a lot of the games people consider the highlights of the platform until I got a PS Vita and started playing many games I missed back then. One series I hadn’t played at all until now is Koei Tecmo’s Monster Rancher.
Unlike the Metal Slug series, SNK’s popular Samurai Shodown hasn’t seen much representation on mobile. A bit over eight years ago, Dotemu did a mobile version of Samurai Shodown II for SNK. A solid choice, as it tends to be the most popular installment. As part of its opening line-up of mobile Arcade Archives, Hamster has opted to bring us Samurai Shodown IV ($3.99), another series favorite.
Historically speaking, SNK isn’t shy about spreading its NEOGEO catalog around. Even when the console was active, ports of SNK’s biggest hits made their way to other consoles. Mobile devices have seen their fair share of NEOGEO love from SNK, largely through a line of releases handled by Dotemu. Still, that’s nothing compared to what we’ve seen on consoles and PC from Hamster through its Arcade Archives line. The company has managed to get just about every NEOGEO game possible up on those platforms, and it seems it’s bringing its show to our mobile shores.
Of the three games that Hamster has selected for its initial spate of Arcade Archives releases, Alpha Mission II ($3.99) is the oddball of the bunch. Metal Slug and Samurai Shodown are both iconic franchises that were born on the NEOGEO, endured through its lifetime, and still see new releases in some form or another today. Alpha Mission II, on the other hand, is a sequel to a modestly successful 1985 shoot-em-up that dropped in the NEOGEO’s first year and served as the franchise’s final chapter. A decent game, but not the sort to appear in a list of the console’s best.