Every kid dreams…
Some kids dream about arcades…
Some kids named Quan dream about shrinking arcades and putting them in their backpacks!
While I may have been awestruck by the Neo Geo MVS as a kid, Quan at ArcadeWorks.net took his dream to an entirely different level. He’s one of those nutty, mad-scientist guys who loves to do things to old arcade machines that even their own creators couldn’t have imagined. Plenty of guys consolize arcade machines. The Neo Geo MVS is a pretty popular consolization project. However, Quan did something that no one else has been nuts enough to do. While the one ring was being forged in the depths of Mount Doom by his elven buddies, Quan was using a bit of lava, magic, and that childhood dream to forge his own “precious.”
Creating a 100% custom casing, Quan painstakingly designed his dream casing. Additionally, he invested a boatload of cash (we’re talking many thousands of dollars) into setting up a custom mold and into the first production run. The creation was his Omega Entertainment Machine, and boy is she pretty!
Why consolize an arcade machine?
Back in the day, if you were interested in the Neo Geo, you basically had two options. If you were the average kid, you’d look for that cherry red Neo Geo MVS cabinet at your local arcade, and you’d pump quarters into it until your pockets were dry. And, afterwards, we’d head home to our NES or Sega Genesis and dream of being rich. Because, we knew if we were rich enough, we’d have enough money to buy the incredibly expensive Neo Geo AES home system. It did something unheard of. The Neo Geo AES played the exact same games as the MVS although it had a slightly different cartridge shape. Even now, the Neo Geo AES is one of the most expensive gaming systems to collect. AES cartridges are just terribly pricey. Yet, with arcades closing down all over, the MVS cartridge counterpart always seems to be cheaper by a landslide. Bummer is, most people can’t fit an entire Neo Geo MVS arcade machine in their apartment, condo, etc. That’s why a consolized MVS is so brilliant. It’s the size of the AES but plays the cheaper MVS games. It’s the best of both worlds.
Geek or Artist?
People get pretty creative consolizing an MVS. It’s where geeks get to shine. It always starts the same. There are some pretty minimalistic designs in which you basically have a franken-system that works but looks about as good as, well, Frankenstein. Then, there are people who create gorgeous woodworking to fit around that ugliness to create a better presentation. Finally, there are people who modify existing plastic casings or make their own. Quan seems to blow this third category out of the water with the Omega. If you haven’t already, check out my hands-on video taking a look at this Neo Geo marvel…
Appearance: Its shape, size, color, and even the texture of the plastic closely match that of the Neo Geo AES. If you saw this hooked up to your buddy’s TV, you might do a double take before you realize it’s a consolized MVS.
Graphics: As if the magic of putting a Neo Geo on your home’s TV isn’t enough, the Omega’s graphical output looks beautiful! (See the video above for footage.) The colors are rich, and the picture is clear and super clean. I just hooked it up with the s-video cable, and I was amazed at how great everything looked.
Setup: Setting up this system was as easy as plugging in any other home console I have. It came with an AV cable and a standard power cable (the same type that you have on the back of your desktop computer). The power switch is located on the back. That’s about it: simple.
Sound: I piped the sound through my TV and out my receiver, and was absolutely pleased. Quan explained to me that he uses the MV-1C PCB, which doesn’t natively have stereo sound. He mods it to make sure that the final product does.
Compatibility: I tested it out with several of my MVS games, specifically Blazing Star, Metal Slug, and Metal Slug 2. Each looked and worked great. I used both my full sized AES joystick and my Neo Geo CD controller, and both worked perfectly. Remember that this system doesn’t come with a controller, so make sure you have one of those two options.
Software: The Omega came with the Unibios software installed. If you haven’t already heard about this, check it out! It has a ton of options including the ability to soft reset from your controller, switch regions, use built in cheat codes, and a ton of other stuff. This is how the Omega is able to boot into freeplay mode to look like a home system rather than an arcade machine.
Price: It costs $499.00 USD. Ok, at first glance, this is a big number. Right now I’d price the AES or an MVS into the $350-500 range depending on what each comes with. So really, they’re all in the same ballpark. If you’re trying to decide between an AES and an Omega, I’d say that the cost savings of MVS carts solves that one. And if you’ve though about throwing cash at the Neo Geo X that recently came on the market, here’s a way better use of that cash.
Weaknesses: I’ve fallen so in love with the Omega that it almost feels wrong to raise any criticism, and in all honesty my suggestions for its improvement are little details. Unfortunately, the MV-1C PCB doesn’t come with the option for a memory card, which is why there isn’t a slot for one on the system. I’m guessing some fancy modding would make this possible, but it would also obviously drive up the price quite a bit. Last, when I tried out the component cables, I couldn’t get it to work with my HD LCD TV. Quan explained that some modern TVs have trouble displaying 240p over component, the native resolution of cart systems in that era including SNES and Genesis. However, it looks amazing when hooked up to a CRT TV, which he was able to demonstrate for me.
There’s a Neo Geo MVS in my living room. It’s called the Omega Entertainment Machine, and it’s beautiful. Plus I didn’t even have to wrestle Gollum for it! If you love the Neo Geo and have ever thought about buying a consolized system, this one knocks it out of the park. I’m impressed by Quan’s dedication to the Neo Geo can’t wait to see what project he comes up with next!
(As a note, Quan’s presently having ArcadeWorks.net redesigned. If the site looks like it’s presently under construction, that’s because it is.)