The NEOGEO brand must be one of the most iconic within the retro scene. It’s no surprise, then, that a book about its history would be released. NEOGEO: a visual history is an officially licensed art book that celebrates all things NEOGEO. As this is an official release, Bitmap Books have had exclusive access to those people mostly associated with the NEOGEO and its games from concept drawings, artwork and interviews.
The book has an amazing 400 pages worth of content, A4 in size and available in hardback only. The cover just screams NEOGEO at you, like Bitmap Books previous “Compendium Books” this is yet another stunning volume to grace anyone’s book collection. A stunning metallic gold ink is used throughout the book and the binding employs thread rather than glue giving it more durability. The first few pages cover the team behind the books creation, a contents page and a foreword from Yutaka Noguchi the current Director of SNK’s gaming division. Essentially the book is packed full of beautiful visuals split into dedicated chapters, including Hardware, Box Art, Character and Concept Art and Pixel Art covering the entire NEOGEO brand from 1973 to 2017.
The first few sections really are some of the most fascinating reading about the Japanese Games industry since the The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers books. These sections cover the early years of the SNK, from 1973 -1989, when the company founded by Eikichi Kawasaki created SNK’s first Arcade machines. The next section covers the beginning of the NEOGEO era, from 1990-2004, and the amount of information is simply sublime. There are some early artist impressions otherwise rarely seen, patent imagery and many facts about this period of the brand.
The hardware section of the book has some stunning full-page macro shots of all the systems that fall under the NEOGEO umbrella, including peripherals. Each of these are accompanied with a small paragraph of facts. One that stood out was one of a Mahjong Controller that I’ve personally never heard of, let alone seen. The next couple of sections is where the book springs to life for me. The box-art and in-game screen captures, all these images simply jump out in glorious detail and the printing technique is always on point, another plus with all the Bitmap Book releases.
The final few sections cover other Artwork, Interviews, the later years 2005-2017 and a very useful master game list for the MVS, AES and CD systems. The addition of some interviews with collectors of the NEOGEO adds a lovely personal touch and a very envious reviewer here that would love to have a third of some of what they own. The book just oozes content. It’s clear Sam and his team did a magical job here so credit must go to those guys as well the editor, Steve Jarratt.
Overall this book is a real in-depth look at the history of the SNK NEOGEO Brand, every page turn simply punched outwards with vibrancy and content.
Retro head and key holder of RVG.