Upgrading the NeoGeo (Or NeoGeo Love)

IMG_7086 You may think, what with all my posts about the mini-Arcades, that I have forgotten or abandoned the full-sized NeoGeo cabinet. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, before I even started to build the mini-Arcade machines (and I still have one left to go as I write this), I had updated the NeoGeo in four very significant ways.

The fist was gameplay itself. While I really like the Bubble Bobble game that originally came with this NeoGeo, I wanted more variety. Maybe this is the fault of my MAME machine, or the fact that I currently have very limited space, but having such a large cabinet taking up that much space for a game I won’t play all that often seemed wasteful. Enter the 161-in-1 NeoGeo MVS Mulitgame Cartridge.

The NeoGeo is a cartridge based video game system, much like an Atari 2600 or an NES. To play a different game, you just swap out the cartridge that is in there, and you’re good to go. But again, this is a large machine, and NeoGeo carts are not cheap. (They are about the size of a VHS tape) And to swap out a cartridge, I have to pull the arcade machines away from the wall (it’s heavy), unlock and open the back door, swap the games, and reverse the procedure. My solution was to use a cartridge that had multiple games build-in, in this case the NeoGeo MVS Mulitgame Cartridge.

This cartridge has 161 games on it, pretty much the best of the best on the NeoGeo. While most of these games play just fine, they are technically not the REAL game, but rather emulation on a board in the cartridge. Still, they all look great and play great.

I picked up this at Holland Computers. The price, as I write this, is $89.95. That’s about $0.56 a game! Well worth it. You can find the list of games included here. There are more fighting games than any other type, which for people who know NeoGeo should not be surprised. I like fighting games, but they are not my favorite. That said, there are some other real gems here, my favorites being Neo Bomberman, Neo Mr. Do!, Neo Drift Out, Metal Slug (all of them), and some others. All in all, I am glad I have this cartridge.

The Buttons
The original buttons on the arcade were fine. Nothing wrong with them. But what I really wanted were those buttons that would light up. After some research, I decided on getting the Ultralux LED Illuminated buttons from Ultimarc. Ultimarc is based in the U.K., and I am in the U.S., but I received my order within days of placing it. Fast shipping, great communication after the order, I could not have been happier. I have since ordered other items from Ultralux for both the mini-arcade and my MAME cabinet.

The buttons are plastic with a faux-chrome finish. As you can see from the pictures, I purchased the Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue buttons. The buttons themselves are standard buttons, but with a Bayonet-fit LED holder.

The NeoGeo has a switching power supply, and the LED buttons require 5v. To connect them, I ran a wire from the 5+V on the Power Supply to the first of the LED holder, and then just jumped from one button to the next until all eight were connected. I then ran a common ground wire to all eight. When I turned on the arcade, all buttons sprang to life, and you can see the results. I think it looks awesome! Oh, and I did not replace the Player 1 or 2 buttons. Maybe at some point in the future I will.

The Switch
Because the NeoGeo does not have a volume control, and it sits close to the living room where someone could be watching television, I wanted a way to mute the arcade. I did this with a very simply toggle switch. I just tied it into the speaker cable and the switch is sitting inside the coin door.

I do eventually want to mount it somewhere, but I don’t really want to cut into the cabinet or put any screws in it if I can avoid it. So it’s behind the locked coin door, actually sitting atop the coin mech. It works fine, and I have had zero problems with it. I may also change it to a volume control, rather than a volume on/off switch. But for now, this works great.

The Marquee
I really didn’t like the Bobble marquee. Some people do, but I hated it. It was always my plan to buy a red and white NeoGeo marquee, but this took me a long while to find. Then about a month or so ago, while pursuing posts on the Arcade Collectors World-Wide Facebook group, I ran across this post from Joe Szabo:

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 7.37.35 PM

$22 sounded like a real good deal to me, so I contact Joe via Facebook, told him what I was looking for, and he created it to my specifications. Within a week or so, the vinyl print arrived, and I could not have been happier. I had two clear pieces of Plexiglass cut to size, and sandwiched the NeoGeo marquee between then. It looks fantastic in my cabinet. (See the first picture of this post)

Then I got to thinking; while this is a NeoGeo, it is the only “real” arcade machine I currently have. I would love to own more, especially two of my favorites, Ms. Pac-Man and BurgerTime., but if I can’t have them (yet), maybe I can at least FEEL like I have them. So I asked Joe if he could create those two marquee’s to fit in my- NeoGeo, and viola!


I think they both look killer. No, this arcade machine does not play either of those games, but I don’t care. I can rotate the three marquees in and out as I see fit, and treat it as more a display than anything else when I feel like it. Screw it, it’s my game room! And I think (know) I will be contacting Joe again soon for a few more, specifically Pac-Man, Star Wars, and Donkey Kong.

All in all, I really am happy to own the NeoGeo. There is more to do with it, such as side-art, new CP artwork, and a repaint eventually, but for now, I am very happy with the machine!

Neo Geo Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move

After posting the photo’s to FaceBook and Twitter, people asked the same question: you’re wife let you have that in the house? In point of fact, it was my wife who found the “for sale” listing on a selling group on FaceBook for it. So yes, she did, and it’s all her fault!

The thing in question here is my new arcade machine: a Neo Geo Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move cabinet. It was listed as working and good condition. The seller was asking $150.


My son, Cole, posing with the Neo Geo

I have never been a huge Neo Geo guy. Still, I don’t own an actual arcade cabinet, just my MAME cabinet, and that’s a headless one with a PC inside. I always wanted an actual arcade cabinet, and with the Neo Geo, I could always change the cartridge and, presto!, it’s a totally different game!

You can see the lighted marquee better in this photo

You can see the lighted marquee better in this photo


In the ad, the seller was asking $150/OBO/Trade. A few people offered him the $150 if he could deliver it, and another person offered $100. I was more interested in a trade, and offered up a Bluetooth speaker I don’t use. The speaker is worth more than his asking price, but I really didn’t expect he would do the trade. To my surprise, he did!

I enlisted the aid of Chad, a good friend, to help me move the Neo Geo. Chad was the best man in my wedding twelve years ago, and was the co-host of my original podcast. We had met twenty years ago while we both worked for the same company, and we spent many hours working together moving furniture. So much so, in fact, that to this day we barely need to verbally communicate when moving something big, bulky, or heavy. In this case, the Neo Geo is is all three of those things!

Did I mention that it was one of the coldest days of the year? And that we had almost two feet of snow on the ground? Or that the seller had not bothered to shovel his front walk? So yeah, not a fun time.

After almost multiple heart attacks, Chad and I got the Neo Geo in place in my house. Thanks, Chad! Free games for life for you!

We did check out the cabinet before I made the trade. It was dark in the sellers living room, where he had the machine running. The cabinet looked to be in really good shape, no water damage that I could see. He had the two keys for the coin doors. (Sadly, no keys for the rear door, so drilling that lock out and replacing it is in my near future, perhaps even this coming weekend.) The game played perfect. The screen, while a little dirty, was bright with no screen burn. The joysticks and buttons were all nice and working perfectly. In short, it looked for all intents and purposes like a great arcade machine.

Once back home, I spent an hour doing some cosmetic cleaning, including removing the plastic front to get at the monitor. WOW did that clean up well! After popping the front control panel open, a look inside made me very, very happy. This is one VERY clean arcade cabinet. While dirty inside, it’s in immaculate condition! There are a few blemishes to the outside of the cabinet, but nothing at all major. Easy fixes.

Puzzle Bobble is afun game. I have it on my MAME arcade, but playing it on the Neo Geo is better somehow. The joystick and buttons are way better than on my MAME, which has me considering upgrading my Tank Stick in the near future.

My plans are to paint the entire cabinet the Neo Geo red, replace the marquee to a red and white Neo Geo, and rotate some different game cartridges. The Neo Geo arcade machines are cartridge based, meaning an arcade owner, back in the day, just had to replace the game cartridge and marquee, and they had an all new game for people to play. That is/was a LOT less expensive than buying a new arcade machine!

I do think my first purchase will be a 161-in-1 cart. I know they are not the best, but it will allow me to play a lot of different games right off the bat. If one of those games becomes a favorite, I will hunt down and buy the original cartridge. Most can be had on ebay, although some can be quite pricey.

IMG_5821A moment, if you please, to thank the people in the “I Am A Classic Videogamer” page on FaceBook. When I first picked this game up, I posted the same photos you see here on that page. Almost 80 people “liked” my post, and a TON of people were quick to send me very helpful info, including Nick Lombardo, PocketBike Racing Tsmmr (that may not be his real name…), Jacques Morel, Rob Turner, Isaac Solomon, Rob Peloquin, Jason Branch, and more. I don’t really know any of these people, and to a person, they were helpful, encouraging, and very nice. A better bunch of people in a group I have never known. Thanks to them all! And if you are reading this because you have an interest in classic video gaming, join this group on FaceBook! Click here to learn more!

All in all, I am very happy with this machine. It is still sitting in my living room, as I have to do some major moves in my office to fit it in there next to my MAME arcade. It will be worth it, and eventually, I plan on having a few more full arcade machines join it. Four others, I think, would be a good number. What would those be? Mrs. Pac Man with the speed-up chip, Burger Time, Mr. Do!, and either Pac Man, Tempest, Donkey Kong, or Star Wars.

IF my wife will let me!