The Nintendo Switch is chock-full of games now. In fact, the popular handheld has recently crossed 1,000 titles released. Not only that, a fair amount of them are retro titles by SNK or were on Neo Geo platforms. One could say that the Switch is everything that the NEOGEO X was supposed to be and more.
Now with the release of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, there’s never been a better time to build a library. Here are the essential titles every SNK and Neo Geo fan needs for their Nintendo Switch.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection
Let’s kick things off on the right foot! What better way to start your library than with the recently released 40th Anniversary Collection? This includes 13 titles (both arcade and console versions for most) from the pre-Neo Geo era and 10 more coming via free DLC.
There are some great classics in here including the Ikari Warriors trilogy, Athena, Psycho Soldier, P.O.W., and Prehistoric Isle. The real gem, however, is Crystalis. This action RPG holds up well today and is by far the lengthiest title in the collection. It’s worth getting a hold of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection for that alone.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
If there was a genre the Neo Geo had on lock, it was fighters. So expect to see a number of these on this list, starting with Garou: Mark of the Wolves.
This was essentially the Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike of the Fatal Fury series. It is set in the future, has gorgeous 2D animation, and is considered the best in its franchise. Fan favorite Terry Bogard returns, trading his iconic red hat in for a bomber jacket. He’s joined by a wholly unique cast including his pupil and Geese’s offspring, Rock Howard.
Gameplay mechanics are as sharp as the visuals here. Garou boasts a “Just Defend” system where blocking hits in time grants a small health boost and frame advantage. It’s not too unlike the parry mechanic in 3rd Strike (to continue comparison). Mark of the Wolves is one fighter you can really sink your teeth into.
Metal Slug 3
The Metal Slug franchise is probably the next thing that comes to mind after all the prolific Neo Geo fighting games. There’s a good reason too. This is one of the rare shooter series that gives Contra a run for its money.
Metal Slug 3 stands out in particular, not only for retaining the impressive 2D animation and use of vehicles but also for adding onto it. One particular stage that has zombie enemies (before they were played out) can see your hero turn into a member of the walking dead. Despite moving at a snail’s pace, you gain the ability to barf a bloodstream that can wreak havoc. It’s truly bananas and plays to the strength of the expressive nature of the series.
The King of Fighters ’98
We’d be remiss to not include SNK’s premiere fighting game franchise. While The King of Fighters series is still ongoing, the argument can be made that the peak was reached in 1998.
The King of Fighters ’98 was the first entry to not be story-focused. The previous four titles wrapped up what was called the “Orochi Saga.” So instead of a new plot, this acts more like a dream match. Included is almost every single character to have appeared in previous games. Even characters who canonically died make an appearance here.
Having a robust character list coupled with the classic 3v3 style still holds up today. As a dream match scenario, The King of Fighters ’98 is truly timeless.
SNK hit the battlefield hard here. As one of the Neo Geo launch titles, NAM-1975 had a lot to prove out of the gate. In this case, fun gameplay pulls through.
If you played Wild Guns at all, then this will feel very familiar. NAM-1975 is a shooting gallery game where you control soldiers in the foreground shooting enemies in the background. Avoid a hail of bullets as you aim and shoot soldiers and tanks galore. Not even the structures are safe from your wave of destruction.
While a rather short game, NAM-1975 is still a good arcade-like challenge with multiple endings. Despite being an early Neo Geo release, it holds up well with SNK’s trademark good visuals and exciting action. The digitized voices also add a nice touch.
Samurai Shodown IV
Did you think there are enough fighters on this list? Just the weapon-based fighting games alone get pretty crowded. The Samurai Shodown series certainly hogs most of the glory, but special shout out also goes to Last Blade 2. That’s another gorgeous title worth checking out.
Fans typically argue for either IV or Samurai Shodown II as the best in the franchise. We’ll give the nod to Samurai Shodown IV, however, as it boasts a more well-rounded cast and slightly improved graphics. The art style in these games has always been top-notch, and it really shows in not only the characters but the levels as well. Gameplay is as brutal and strategic as ever with swords clanging until they find their fleshy targets. It truly is that sweet spot between Soulcalibur and Bushido Blade in a 2D fighter package.
Neo Turf Masters
After all that fighting and shooting, why not unwind with some golf?
The sport has lent itself to some fun games in the past, and Neo Turf Masters is high up there. As is the way with almost every SNK game, visuals stand out here as being bright and vibrant. The personalities of each golfer shine as well with reactions after pocketing a shot. That’s not to mention the exuberant announcer, especially when exclaiming, “ON THE GREEN!” It is truly one of the best golf experiences you can find.
There are plenty of other SNK and Neo Geo titles worthy of your Switch hard drive space. While we can’t mention them all, these are the top ones we suggest to get your fix. Please let us know your favorites in the comments below!