Inside the Neo Geo X Mega Pack

It’s been several months since the Neo Geo X was released, and in that time we’ve had….well, nothing. As such, I was skeptical that the Neo Geo X Mega Pack actually existed until I got my hands on it and I’m still in a state of disbelief even after going through it. It’s an unfortunate indication of how times have changed with the console, as the idea of getting fifteen additional games used to be expected. The original distribution model (although never confirmed, but suggested by the packaging of the included Ninja Master’s cartridge) was to release the games in blister packs individually or in small compilations on a regular basis, but after the console’s disappointing reception, sales and interest, getting any additional support whatsoever become questionable. While Tommo has never released any numbers, the console has been discounted numerous times, appeared on resellers and never really made it into retail stores. Thankfully, however, they seem determined to support it and while we’re now getting the games in giant batches, it’s comforting that we have them and a system update that improves the console for fans and make the purchase sting less for those who were originally underwhelmed.

The release pattern for the games is a bit odd. Instead of releasing them as detailed above, they can only be found in five volumes of three games or the Mega Pack that includes all fifteen. The individual volumes include a the ROCKET cable and an SD card. As I’ve been unable to get my hands on one, I can’t confirm if they include any other sort of insert. Instead of coming in a plastic case like the Mega Pack, each comes in a cardboard box. Retailing for $24.99 a pop, they’re priced far too high, making each game $7.33 a piece, which is too much for a simple port on an SD card. Luckily, the Mega Pack is a much better deal at $79.99 for the same amount of games. Included in the box is an SD card with all fifteen games, a nicely printed instruction manual that includes a page of cover art/synopsis/basics instructions for each game, stickers, the ROCKET high speed cable and an instruction manual for how to use it to charge and update firmware. Coming housed in a nice plastic outer-shell, the box itself is also a draw, modeled after an original AES case. While there’s been some early complaints about the box, I find it to be of high quality. It doesn’t quite match the elegance of the original cases (made in Japan), but it’s hefty, hard plastic with a insert printed on nice stock that looks great on a shelf and feels sturdy in your hands. It’s thicker and less flimsy than the larger MVS Shockbox (which cost about eight bucks a pop), so there is definitely value there.

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Thanks to foam inserts inside, the box also doubles as a storage case for the console itself. It’s no replacement for the promised travel case (and I hope it’s not what they meant), but it’s a way to keep the console safe and free of dust (something it’s quite prone to collect). Much like Ninja Master’s, the game card itself seems a bit flimsy, with a pointless lock switch on the edge that reminds you it began life as a generic SD card and not the “specially formatted Neo Geo X game card” they claim it to be. Of course, one of the biggest draws to the set is the firmware update and ROCKET cable. Let’s make it clear that it’s ridiculous that this is the only way to get the firmware update. Firmware updates should be free and while it’s a fine way to distribute it, Tommo needed to find an alternate way to update it from a PC or simply bite the bullet and send out SD cards for free to owners who request them (how much of an expense would that even be?). That being said, those who don’t care about the games and just want the update can choose there favorite individual pack and snag it that way, so while forcing you to buy more of their product to improve issues with their system is detestable, at least it’s within reach of most people.

The ROCKET cable is little more than a two inch adapter to use with the original AC adapter. To charge with the ROCKET cable, you plug the AC adapter into the ROCKET and the ROCKET into the console. The console automatically turns on during this process, which a bit jarring, although eventually does go black after about ten minutes (hopefully into sleep mode). It’s certainly a better and more realistic option (especially for travel) to charge the console than the AES dock, so its presence is appreciated even if it doesn’t amount to much. It’s also necessary to use for the confusing system update. There’s a manual included that clearly explains how it works, but it’s a bizarre process. Basically, you switch a toggle on the ROCKET to “X”, plug it into the AC adapter, put the game card into the console, hold down start on the console as you plug the cable into the top of the console and release start when the cable flashes blue. Like practically everything with the Neo Geo X, it’s incredibly unintuitive and seems needlessly complicated. The update takes about 5-7 minutes to complete…when it works correctly. Unfortunately, there’s been widespread reports of the update failing or crashing the console. Some have been able to get it to work with multiple tries while others have been forced to send their console to Tommo for repair. It took me six tries to get it to work, with each try requiring the process to be restarted from step one (suffice to say, it was a frustrating and long night). The ROCKET doesn’t match up with the port on the console well, feeling loosey-goosey and easily disconnectable with the slightest movement. I began to think this could be the source of the problem, so carefully inserted it on level ground with the charger on the successful try. While it may have been a fluke, be sure to keep it mind when going through the process yourself.

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