One surprising omission from MESS / UME is working NeoGeo CD emulation, especially when you consider that one of the most popular original emulators was actually based off the MAME codebase!
In truth, until recently most NeoGeo CD emulators, including the aforementioned MAME based one have been rather big hacks, HLEing most of the bios code and loading the games almost instantly, although Final Burn Alpha came along and changed all that a while back now.
The FBA guys take a lot from MAME, so were quite happy for me to port their code, so over the course of yesterday I started porting it to MAME; the current porting is rather crude and ugly, but enough to get some games booting (although many will still hang and sound isn’t working yet)
As a system the NeoCD isn’t especially interesting, at the time it offered a low cost way of getting NeoGeo quality games in your home, the cost however was extreme loading times, and often reduced animation etc. These days it doesn’t even offer much in the way of exclusives now that the likes of Ironclad MVS has surfaced via Virtual Console etc. There are however a couple of things noteworthy.
First off, Crossed Swords 2, chances are this exists as an MVS prototype somewhere, it was clearly designed as such, but for the time being it hasn’t surfaced, or at least hasn’t been dumped, so for now Crossed Swords 2 remains exclusive to the NCD. Think of it as a medieval Punchout with Swords, much like the first game.
There was also the Samurai Spirits RPG, which was only released in Japan. This has however subsequently seen ports to other platforms, so isn’t a NeoCD exclusive, but is interesting in that it’s the only game on the NeoCD which was really developed as a NeoCD game rather than a port of one of the arcade titles.
Final Romance 2, part of the Video System Mahjong series didn’t officially appear on the MVS, although some people have since done fake conversions.
Interestingly that did see an arcade release, but as stated, not on the MVS, although it’s likely there is an MVS proto out there too, the actual arcade was a much fancier double screen setup, probably why it was chosen over the MVS, it has been emulated in MAME for a long time now.
Neo-Geo CD Special is another exclusive, but is basically just a promo disc, nothing interesting on it at all
ADK World is similar, but at least contains a very basic playable shooter themed with one of the World Heroes characters.
Kof 96 NeoGeo CD Collection again isn’t really a game, but a collection of bios and background info on the KOF characters
Rally Chase is interesting only in that it was rebranded from Thrash Rally for the home system, I don’t know if there is some history to this, or if ADK just decided Rally Chase was a better name, left is NeoCD, right is MVS
Art of Fighting 3 is interesting because it’s one of the games where you can most notice the degraded visuals compared to the original MVS, the NeoCD simply didn’t have enough RAM to fit the higher resolution character graphics in given the vast number of animation frames each character has, so it’s fixed to the lower resolution no matter how close your characters are. Again left is NeoCD, right is MVS.
ZinTrick probably deserves a mention too in that it also didn’t see an official MVS release, it was also the victim of a nasty fake prototype scam a couple of years back whereby somebody took the CD version, hacked it to run on a cart and sold it as a proto for some stupid amount of money; it was subsequently dumped and found to be fake, that set is supported in MAME. It has since been hacked further (various bugs due to the original shoddy hacking fixed and fake proto messages removed) and sold as bootleg carts. That one looks exactly the same however, so I’m not bothering with screenshots.
Of course the NeoCD also benefited from having high quality CD audio soundtracks, but it wasn’t much of a consolation when you factor in the loading times. Some games also had a bit of extra content in the menus, or slight tweaks but really nothing to write home about.
I’ll see if I can get to the bottom of some of the bugs, anyway, right now the screenshots make things look like they’re working better than they really are. Also only the Neo CDZ works, not the original Neo CD, but I believe FBA is the same for that issue.
Anyway speaking of loading, many games use the plain loading screen after booting the disk, mostly the earlier ones, this just plain text and a little animated TV
However a large number replace this screen with something a bit more custom, often with an amusing animation.
These animations sometimes vary for different parts of the game being loaded, with several using full-screen loading screens after the initial load, although some actually use full-screen ones from the start. They don’t really help make the loading any less painful, but they make for an interesting tidbit of information you won’t be familiar with if you’ve only played the MVS versions.