Though they never quite reached the same worldwide cult status as Sega or Nintendo, SNK’s name is firmly engraved at their side. They are fondly remembered for their 80s arcade classics like ASO (1985), Ikari (1986) and Athena (1986) and of course their powerhouse Neo Geo console.
They reached their peak in the mid-90s, when their fighting game series The King of Fighters and Samurai Spirits were leaders of the genre, with each instalment full of innovation and memorable detail.
But what makes them really stand out from the competition is their cunning, daring, ‘dark horse’ approach and their distinctive ‘Osaka Cool’ character designs. Business-wise they were a risk-taking, challenging, pioneering, and sometimes downright stupid bunch – and that’s what made them such an endearing act to follow.
Sadly they started to struggle in the late 90s – the failure of their Hyper Neo Geo 64 arcade hardware and horribly ill-advised Neo Geo Pocket handheld lead to them filing for bankrupcy in 2001, only to be almost instantly re-born as ‘SNK Playmore’. They are still struggling on today – but only just.
Regardless of their flaws, SNK will forever remain an enduring source of quality gameplay, style and concept design with a colourful history to boot.