Saturday, May 18, 2019

Gaming Ads: SNK Corporation of America

Originally founded as Shin Nihon Kikaku (translates to New Japan Project) in 1973 and reorganized in 1978 as Shin Nihon Kikaku Corporation, the company released its first game, the scrolling shooter Ozma Wars, in 1979. In 1981 it abbreviated its name to SNK as well as opened SNK Electronics Corporation in California to distribute arcade games. The SNK name was made official in 1986 at which time SNK Electronics was renamed SNK Corporation of America. Throughout the '80s SNK released more than 20 arcade games, including the Ikari Warriors series, and many of its games were ported to video game consoles and home computers.

SNK may be best known for the Neo Geo that launched in 1990 as a cartridge-based arcade system called the Neo Geo MVS (Multi Video System). This allowed an arcade cabinet to hold up to six games; users could navigate a menu and select which game they wanted to play. Later that year SNK unveiled the Neo Geo AES (Advanced Entertainment System) that was available first to rent and then hit retail in 1991. The console's debut price was $599.99 and was bundled with one game, and additional games typically cost $199.99 each! During the '90s SNK also became well known for the Metal Slug shooter series and its 2D fighters, such as The King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury, World Heroes, and Art of Fighting.

In 1998 the Neo Geo Pocket (NGP) released in Japan. NGP has a monochrome screen and didn't fare too well, though SNK quickly replaced it in 1999 with the Neo Geo Pocket Color (NGPC) that did release outside of Japan. While it is a fine handheld system, it faced stiff competition and with SNK already struggling financially, the handheld didn't stick around long. Pachinko/slots maker Aruze acquired SNK in 2000, closed the U.S. offices, and then SNK went bankrupt in 2001. SNK employees had begun leaving the company before it closed and many founded other game developers, including Dimps and BrezzaSoft. SNK founder Eikuchi Kawasaki went on to found Playmore and reacquire the rights to numerous SNK assets as well as hire former SNK employees.

I've reached the end of the original SNK and don't want to drag this out too much so I'll summarize quickly by saying Playmore become SNK Playmore (there was an SNK Playmore USA too), and in 2015 a Chinese investment group acquired controlling interest in the company. In 2016 Playmore was dropped from the SNK Playmore name and so we have a new version of SNK Corporation now.

SNK Corporation of America albums: Facebook - Google Photos

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