Category Archives: Neo Geo

Neo Geo MVS (Multi Video System)

Avoid Buying Bootleg Neo Geo MVS Cartridge

Genuine MVS Cartridge

With the ever rising cost of the Neo Geo MVS carts these are more increasingly subject to being bootlegged, many collectors could be being duped by sellers usually on eBay looking to cash in on the collectable value of some of the increasingly rarer MVS carts. Externally it can be impossible to tell if the cart is genuine or bootlegged, internally is a different matter.

Are bootleg carts a serious issue? The question really depends upon if you are collector of MVS carts if you are then the answer is yes. A collector will be looking for from purchase a genuine cartridge label, original plastic casing, genuine printed circuit boards and original mask ROMs. In essence a collector is looking for the 100% authentic game play experience only an original cart is guaranteed to provide.

However if you are not an  MVS cartridge collector bootlegs give you an opportunity to grab a specific game you really want to play at a lower market price than its original counterpart. The only other potential  downside to bootlegs are some of the cartridges can suffer from bad ROM dumps and exhibit graphic and or sound glitches, some bootleg carts on the other hand can be perfectly fine with no game play issues.

Sadly bootleg carts did play a part in the demise of SNK’s Neo Geo MVS arcade system, this coupled with high hardware manufacturing costs and high sales prices for systems spelled the end for the MVS. The Neo Geo MVS was hugely popular in the 1990’s with arcade operators due to the systems ease of use and multi cart design, allowing for up to 6 different game carts in one arcade cabinet.  The MVS machines success and a 14 year reign as top dog in the arcades lead to large amounts of bootlegging, and thus high volumes of lost cartridge sales revenue for SNK.

Luckily due to great online resources it is easy to verify if your MVS cartridges are bootlegs or genuine. You will need a cross head screwdriver to dismantle the cartridge, all you need to do is undo the 4 cross head screws holding the two halves of the shell together, located in the 4 holes in the picture below.

MVS Cartridge Screw Holes

Once you have removed the 4 screws, you can very carefully hinge open the cartridge remember do not pull the two shells apart as the cartridge label will be creased or worse torn, you will want to keep this intact. You can then remove and slide out the two PCBs, they are easily removed with some careful effort, patience is the key no need to rush.

MVS Cartridge PCB
Firstly check that both PCBs are marked ‘SNK’ or ‘SNK Playmore’ as seen in the above picture if this is not present the PCBs are bootlegs. Once the shell is removed you can easily see the individual chips (Mask ROMs) on each board, these will have numbers printed on them which relate to the Neo Geo game number or NGH number, take a look at the Neo Geo Master List, this will show which number should be present on your chips, in this example Super Sidekicks II is 061 all the chips on both of my boards are marked 061 therefore I know with a good degree of certainty the EPROMS are original.

MVS Cartridge PCB 2

Next it is time to take a visit to Neo Geo MVS Scans and compare the scans posted of the PCB’s with your PCB’s. If your boards are a little different they may just be SNK repaired boards, or possibly a different variant of the board, if that is the case feel free to submit your images of the boards to the site. However if your PCB’s look nothing like the boards shown it will be a bootleg PCB.

Let me offer a few additional pointers to check over when assessing a cart:

  • Check the cart label, if the label does not look right, it has probably been replaced this is not always a disaster as the rest of the cart may well be original. Labels can be checked on the MVS Scans site.
  •  If nearly all of the EPROMs on the PCBs are windowed EPROMs it increases the possibility your chips are bootlegs. Official MVS cartridges also used windowed EPROMs these we used as last minute patches for the game code, expect only a small number of windowed EPROMs on the board, not every chip as is common with bootlegs.
  • Check the quality of the soldering on chips, original boards are wave soldered, excessive flux residue or obvious hand soldered chip pins usually point towards a bootleg.

I hope my guide offers at least some pointers and useful assistance in ensuring your collection of MVS cartridges is genuine.

Neo Geo MVS Service Manuals

Neo Geo MVS Manuals PDF Download

The Neo Geo MVS board purchased recently sadly was not proivided with the service manual, so embarking upon an internet information quest to locate one began, my efforts so far have drawn a blank in locating the specific MV-1FS service manual however my assumption is the manual will be similar to the MV-1F service manual.

To assist all other future consolized Neo Geo MVS builders I have included links below to all the Neo Geo MVS Slot 1 service manuals so far found, these are in PDF format for easy reading and downloading. So if you are looking for circuit diagrams or DIP switch settings enjoy!

Update: I have been informed the MV-1FS is a Spanish variant of the MV-1F where the ‘S’ designates the board was destined for the Spanish arcades.

Neo Geo X Gold Hacking

Neo Geo X Hacking

The SNK licensed handheld the Neo Geo X Gold has been hacked, hacking can be bad news for any handheld system especially with the Neo Geo X only having been released in late December 2012. However I suspect at the retail price point Tommo Inc were not solely relying on game sales to subsidise the manufacturing costs of the hardware as this is not a low cost handheld console.

Currently the Neo Geo X Gold ships with twenty preinstalled Neo Geo classic games, and one additional Ninja Master’s game card. I suspect the majority of early adopters and hard core collectors will still continue to purchase any future released official game cards.

Neo Geo X Gold Specifications:

Neo Geo X CPU Ingenic XBurst JZ4770 @ 1GHZ
Memory 128M DDR2 @ 250MHZ
Internal Capacity 2GB Flash
External Capacity 64GB SD Card (FAT32 Formatted)
Display Screen 4.3-inch (16:9) Resolution 480 x 272 LCD
USB Connection
Micro USB
Video Connection
HDMI, AV terminals
Battery 3.7V 2200mA (gaming runtime up to 5 hours)
Size 170mm x 72mm x 15mm
Weight 190g

Neo Geo X Gold Facts So Far:

  • The Ingenic XBurst  JZ4470 CPU supports 1080p video decoding unit for H.264, VC-1 and VP8 (a secondary 500 MHz MIPS processor with SIMD extension), 2D+3D GC860 graphics core (licensed from Vivante) supporting OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenVG 1.1
  • Ninja Master’s game card is a normal 64MB SD card
  • The NGX logic board system storage is either a 2GB microSD or onboard Samsung chip
  • The Neo Geo X is running FinalBurn Alpha to emulate the Neo Geo
  • NGX Kernel version appears to be running MIPS 32bit
  • UNIVERSE BIOS can be injected into .fba ROM files

Neo Geo X .fba UNIVERSE BIOS Hacking:

You can inject the UNIVERSE BIOS into any of the existing Neo Geo X games, this hack is only currently possible if you have the socketed removable microSD storage card located on the Neo Geo X logic board.

1) Download A380 Neo Geo conversion tool.
2) Download UNIVERSE BIOS.
3) Replace the asia-s3.rom file inside of the archive with a renamed UNIVERSE BIOS.
4) Unzip the conversion tool then place your Neo Geo ROMs in the “roms” folder and launch “fbacache.bat”. It will start to convert all roms into .fba format.
5) Mount the microSD card under Linux, then just exchange the games with the updated unibios verisons.

Building A Consolized Neo Geo MVS

MVS MV-1FS System Board

Back when I was young I remember spending many an evening reading through the glossy computer and video game magazines of the time, these were either purchased with pocket money or borrowed from  friends at school. From memory one system in particular always seemed to have the best eye popping and jaw dropping candy coloured graphics this was SNK’s Neo Geo AES (Advanced Entertainment System), all of this unobtainable dream machines shoot ’em ups and beat ’em ups were just simply light years ahead of anything I had seen on home systems and easily impressive as the arcade machines I played.

Having been brought up on a staple diet of Atari 400 gaming then advancing onto owning the Atari 800XL and a BBC Micro Model B, the Neo Geo AES appealed to me on a level I find hard to describe, maybe it was at the time the initial astronomically high purchase price of the system or the prohibitively expensive game cartridge costs, or just the realisation of knowing I would never be able to actually afford and own one, who knows? It did strike a chord with me, even though no one I knew owned the Neo Geo home system and only years later did I actually realise I had already been playing the arcade variant, the Neo Geo MVS (Multi-Video System) of this holy grail of games consoles.

Fast forward to 2012, me now being much older and an avid retro gamer and retro console collector, my interest having been recently rekindled in the Neo Geo after seeing all the current retro gaming media sites and forums buzz about the new SNK licensed Neo Geo X handheld, I decided to investigate and catch up on the original old school Neo Geo scene exploring what had evolved, in summary Neo Geo AES systems are fairly cheap, however original collectors condition AES game cartridges are still very expensive, for example Metal Slug can set you back well over a couple of thousand dollars!

On the other hand the Neo Geo MVS motherboard can be purchased for a low price relatively speaking so can the game cartridges for the MVS system. However unless you owned an arcade cabinet to take advantage of the arcade based Neo Geo MVS system you used to be out of luck using one, with the many advances in the Neo Geo community it is now possible to ‘Consolize the Neo Geo MVS’ in essence this means by adding game port controller sockets, a dedicated power supply, an RGB to NTSC/PAL video encoder you effectively convert the MVS into a home system utilizing the MVS hardware and MVS game cartridges.

This is where Project: Consolize the Neo Geo MVS begins, after research I decided on a specific MVS board variant to make my life as simple as possible, this being the Neo Geo MV-1FS the board has a socketed BIOS making it easy to change to UNIVERSE BIOS if required. The MV-1FS also has several other desirable features such as joystick ports, on board volume control and a stereo/mono switch not present on most other single slot MVS boards.

After a search on eBay a suitable auction was found, and my prize was duly purchased as seen in the main picture. As this is the Christmas holidays I have to wait for my MV-1FS board to arrive so I can crack on with Project: Consolize the Neo Geo MVS!