Lets Play: Sonic Wings 3 on the Neo Geo CD

We play the vertical shoot-em-up, Sonic Wings 3, on SNK’s cut price CD alternative to the AES.

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SNK Neo Geo CD

SNK Neo Geo CD

4th Generation Competitors
PC Engine Megadrive Super NES Neo Geo AES CDTV Philips CDI NEC SuperGrafx
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 9th Sep 1994 1997
North America Jan 1996 1997
Europe Dec 1994 1997

The AES was SNKs first attempt at a home console, due to it literally being the same hardware as the arcade it meant that the console and games were expensive.  To fix that they decided to release a cost reduced version that relied on optical discs rather than the very expensive cartridges, the Neo Geo CD.

This move was unsuccessful for a few reasons, although the games were far cheaper, the actual console was still expensive compared to the rest of the generation.  The CD was only single speed, meaning it took a long time to load the very large cartridge data.  Because the Neo Geo CD didn’t have much cache memory, it tended to need to reload often.

The failure pretty much finished SNKs home aspirations.  The company as a whole was experiencing financial difficulties due to the diminishing arcade revenues and the home failures piled on to that.

A revised edition, the CDZ, was released later in Japan.  This version featured a faster CD Drive and fixed some of the loading issues, but it was released around the same time as the Playstation and Saturn.  It lacked any 3D capabilities and just couldn’t compete.

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SNK Neo Geo AES

SNK Neo Geo AES

4th Generation Competitors
PC Engine Megadrive Super NES Neo Geo CD CDTV Philips CDI NEC SuperGrafx
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 1st Jul 1991 1997
North America 1st Jul 1991 1997
Europe NA NA  NA

SNK had a successful arcade platform in their MVS hardware, but they were feeling the pinch of a shrinking arcade and decided to increase profits by releasing a home version.

The AES was literally a boxed version of their arcade hardware with slight changes to the cartridge slot to stop people buying games from non home sources.

The benefit of this was some of the greatest visuals available in the home market and literally arcade perfect games, because they were taken directly from the arcade.

The downside was cost.  The hardware was exceptionally expensive compared to other consoles and the games were even worse.  This meant limited sales in the home.

SNK attempted to lower costs by releasing a CD based version of the AES, but even this was more expensive than the alternatives, plus the power advantage had largely been lost.
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