10 best Neo Geo games ranked
Image: SNK

10 best Neo Geo games ranked

This retro console has a ton of great games.

The Neo Geo boasts a unique library of games, with many titles you won’t find anywhere else besides the arcade. You may think an exclusive game lineup would lack quality, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are our 10 best Neo Geo games ranked.

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10 of the best games you can play on the Neo Geo

I’ve put my favorite games on the system toward the end of this list, but these are all excellent titles within their respective genres:

#10 Strikers 1945

10 best Neo Geo games ranked
Image: Psikyo

As a massive fan of shoot-em-ups (Shmups), I was thrilled to learn that Strikers 1945 is on the Neo Geo. Strikers 1945 is a top-down space shooter with a ‘World War’ aesthetic. I use the term loosely, as while some vehicles do look like old planes and tanks, they certainly don’t act like them!

In Strikers 1945, the screen quickly fills with bullets, and it’s a brutal balancing act to try to evade fire while making your own shots count.

The highlight of this title is the ridiculous boss battles. These intimidating opponents range from futuristic mechs to airships with enough firepower to level a continent. Strikers 1945 is a hard game with intricate bullet patterns that will take dozens of playthroughs to memorize. It’s a niche title, but fans of the genre will love every second.

#9 Sengoku 3

10 best Neo Geo games ranked
Image: Noise Factory

If you’re a fan of side-scrolling beat-em-ups, like Streets of Rage, you’ll love the Sengoku games. Sengoku 3 is a stylish beat-em-up featuring four playable characters with distinct playstyles.

Unlike many titles in the genre, movement in Sengoku 3 is fast-paced and responsive, and you can effortlessly dash around the screen. Special moves are flashy, and the visuals are a straight upgrade from earlier games.

If you’ve played games like Sengoku 3 in the arcade, you’ll know how difficult they can be, and that’s no exception here. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and I frequently lose lives to armies of enemies. Still, the difficulty comes with the territory and the titles’ arcade roots. If you’re up for a challenge, Sengoku 3 is superb and encourages future playthroughs with unlockable characters.

#8 Neo Bomberman

10 best Neo Geo games ranked
Image: Hudson Soft/Produce!

There are two Bomberman games on the Neo Geo, but I prefer Neo Bomberman as the other is a puzzle game. Neo Bomberman is a fantastic party game where multiple players try to blow each other up in a small arena. Every round is an arms race, and players frantically compete to earn more bombs and increase their firepower.

If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game, you know what to expect, but there’s a reason the title is so popular. If you can get four players together, you can easily spend a night blowing up your friends. Like all of the best party games, Bomberman is easy to understand and accessible but with layers of complexity. The Bomberman franchise is still relevant today, with a new entry in the series released in 2023.

#7 Magical Drop 3

10 best Neo Geo games ranked
Image: Data East

Magical Drop 3 is an addictive puzzle game where you match gems and try to clear your playfield as fast as possible. The better you do, the harder the game becomes for your opponent as their playfield fills with gems faster. Unlike puzzle games like Puyo Puyo or Bust-a-Move, you arrange what’s already on the field instead of adding to it. Rounds are fast-paced as you race to organize your gems into columns, making for intense battles against equally skilled players.

Magical Drop 3 has everything you could want in a puzzle game; It’s accessible, easy to learn, and hard to master.

#6 King of Fighters 98

10 best Neo Geo games ranked
Image: SNK

Few fighting game franchises can boast a legacy like King of Fighters (KOF). While never reaching the lofty highs of Street Fighter or Tekken, KOF has always retained a die-hard fan base. Many in that passionate group see King of Fighters 98 as the best in the series, making it an easy pick for this list.

There are several King of Fighters games on the Neo Geo, but 98 feels like it takes the best parts of all of them. It has a gigantic roster of over 60 characters, and combat feels tight and responsive. The music is excellent, and the whole package feels like a celebration of the series. Some of the new KOF games are more refined and balanced, but many have a soft spot for 98. It’s one of the best fighters on the system and one that’s still played today.

#5 Shock Troopers

10 best Neo Geo games ranked
Image: Saurus

Shock Troopers is a 3D scrolling shoot-em-up with frantic gunfights and a bizarre soundtrack I still can’t decide if I love or hate. Many shoot-em-ups stick to a 2D perspective like Metal Slug. Shock Troopers is similar but with a play area more like Sengoku or Streets of Rage.

You feel like Rambo when you’re playing Shock Troopers, and while the game is challenging, you have the tools to stay alive. The dodge roll is a great defensive move, and it feels so satisfying to avoid attacks when everything goes your way.

#4 Twinkle Star Sprites

Twinkle
Image: DotEmu

This game has a dumb name, but it more than makes up for it with the gameplay. Twinkle Star Sprites offers a memorable take on the shoot-em-up genre, combining it with puzzle-battler elements.

You play against an opponent in a race to destroy as many enemies as possible. If you defeat enemies of matching color, you send reinforcements for your opponent to deal with. There’s a little more to it than that, but Twinkle Star Sprites is an addictive game with a unique premise.

#3 Windjammers

Wind
Image: Data East

Windjammers is a fantasy sports game that combines the best parts of Tennis, Volleyball, and Air Hockey into one unique package. This title is best played with friends, and provided you have someone to play with; there’s a lot to enjoy here.

The camera is above the playfield with a net in the middle. Each player tries to land the ball in the opponent’s goal, and it’s as simple as that. Simple doesn’t mean easy, as you can bounce the ball off the walls like on an Air Hockey table. Once you get the hang of it, Windjammers becomes addictive as you and your opponent try to outsmart each other. The game is accessible enough that anyone can play, with enough nuances for competition.

Honestly, I loathe sports games, but Windjammers is an exception to the rule and is one of the most enjoyable two-player experiences you can have with the Neo Geo library. Windjammers was released in 1994 and its lasting legacy as one of the best games on the Neo Geo got it a sequel released in 2022.

#2 Metal Slug X

Slug
Image: SNK

There are several Metal Slug titles on the Neo Geo, and you could argue for any of them to appear on this list. Metal Slug X is my favorite and the one I’ve played the most. If you’re new to the series, Metal Slug X is a horizontal shoot-em-up that isn’t too dissimilar to Contra. The graphics are bright and colorful, and there’s a staggering amount of detail in the environments and enemy designs.

Gunfights are intense, and environments are often on multiple levels, forcing you to split your attention between targets while trying to avoid getting shot. Metal Slug X is extremely hard, and you always feel ill-equipped to deal with the hordes of enemies. Still, the difficulty is part of the fun. If you can coax a friend into a co-op session, the game is even better.

Metal Slug has everything, from ridiculous weapons and tanks to mighty bosses that drown the screen in gunfire.

#1 Garou: Mark of the Wolves

Garou
Image: SNK

The Neo Geo has plenty of solid beat-em-ups, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves is one of the best. I’ve already mentioned King of Fighters, and Garou is part of that series but more of an offshoot than a mainline entry. While it’s a side title, the high quality you expect from SNK fighting games is still here, with smooth, responsive controls and gorgeous visuals.

Garou: Mark of the Wolves is like SNK’s answer to Street Fighter: 3rd Strike, which is still popular today. The game feels experimental, with unique mechanics and even retains a close-knit competitive circuit. Many regard Garou: Mark of the Wolves as one of the best fighters ever. It’s easy to see why.

If you don’t have a Neo Geo, many of these titles are playable on PC. There’s also a decent selection of Neo Geo titles on the Nintendo Switch eShop.


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Author
Image of Anthony Yates
Anthony Yates
Anthony is a freelance writer for PC Invasion and has worked in the industry for four years. He's furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony thrives in high-stakes games like Escape From Tarkov and Sea of Thieves. He is also passionate about speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events. When he's not grinding leaderboards, Anthony enjoys visiting Arcades, retro gaming, and horror movies.
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