A long time ago I posted an informative "in case you wanted to know" article about the NEO-GEO memory card. I received alot of good feedback from it and so I decided to update it, make it more complete, and subsequently make myself the FAQ author on the subject. If anyone has any additions or corrections that can help enhance the FAQ, feel free to email me and I will gladly add it to the next revision if/when I find enough things to merit another update.
Interesting facts about the neogeo memory card:
The NEO-GEO was the FIRST home video game console to utilize a memory card save feature. Several consoles before it did allow for game saves, but they were saved internally on either a battery-backed cartridge (ZELDA for NES), or on-board the game consoles internal ram. (Turbografx-16, Sega-CD, etc.) The Sega CD did actually have an optional auxiliary RAM CART which could be purchased seperately and would increase the memory capability, but this was a "cart" and not a "card". The Sony Playstation, often thought of as being the first card saving video game console, was actually second to the Neo. The Neo was also FIRST at making the card "arcade-compatible".
Later down the road however, some other companies worked out and tried some other arcade-home promotions and tie-ins. Midway & Nintendo with NFL BLITZ 99 and the N64 memory card. Konami & Sony with DDR and the Playstation. Triforce (Nintendo/Sega/Namco) with F-ZERO & the Gamecube. And the latest, Namco's Tekken 5 & the Playstation 2.
The original SNK factory-issued memory card is marked as capable of storing up to "2K" (which is 2 kilobytes). It also claims to be able to store between 17-27 game save positions on the card. This variation is most likely due to the varrying size of the data from one game save to another. For example, saving your game in Magician Lord is merely a stage number from 1 through 7. You can only have 7 distinct possible differences so this takes little space on the card. Whereas saving a "season" of Baseball Stars 2 which actually can save in between innings, and actual stats such as the runs, hits, and score of the game has thousands of different possibilities and so it takes up more memory space.
However this average of 22 game saves was made in 1990. As time passed, and the larger meg games were released, as well as games whose saves required more information and thus more space, this original specification simply did not hold true anymore. The card's average now is more like 15. Non-factory-issued cards can hold FAR more game saves. However, simply doing "math" does not always ensure the correct statistic! One would think that a 64K card would hold 32 times more memory then the standard SNK card. This would translate as follows:
TYPE OF CARD
BUT, it actually maxes out at about 140 or so.
Therefore a 128K card is the minimum required to save every single neogeo game save on ONE card.
From the neo-geo owners manual: "Besides the official NEO-GEO Memory Card, only an IC unification card which is over Ver. 3 (JEIDA) with 68 pins can be used" Also in the manual, the memory card specifications are: "68 pin, 16 bit output memory card JEIDA SPECIFICATION (IC CARD, Guide Line of more than Ver. 3) In English, any PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) memory card with JEIDA (Japan Electronic Industry Development Association) version 3 or higher is compatible. The NEO-GEO saves data as "SRAM" (static random access memory) and NOT as FLASH ram.
The following 6 games DO NOT SAVE on the card:
(memory card capability was apparently not programmed in)
Pop 'n Bounce
Shock Troopers 2
The Irritating Maze
Pochi & Nya
Completing these games requires a straight walk through!
Perhaps someday somebody can figure out how to program game save features into these titles?
Many games can have multiple saves and take up more then one position.
(Top Players Golf, League Bowling, etc.)
However some games have alternate game play modes which DO save individually, BUT cannot BOTH be saved on the same card as they will over-write eachother.
These 2 games have a "multi-save" feature: (allow you to actually store more then 1 position
on the same card)
Puzzled -- actually lets you save 4 spots!
Savage Reign -- actually lets you save 3 spots!
Crossed Swords -- 2 spots!
The following games can also save "option" settings of the game: (in addition to the games
regular game level save)
Metal Slug X
Metal Slug 3
Metal Slug 4
Metal Slug 5
In addition, League Bowling saves the chosen ball weight for each player, but that is actually the only purpose of the save feature in that game.
TIDBIT: Only two neogeo games actually save the "high score" on the memory card:
Over Top (saves the fastest lap times and game completion times)
Zintrick (saves the top high score only)
TIDBIT: Alpha Mission 2 is capable of storing your initials on a game save.
(most of these lessons I learned the HARD way)
-- Riding Hero is NOT COMPATIBLE with "3rd party" memory cards!
(if you try to save it on one, it will save, but it will DELETE ALL OTHER DATA!)
-- NEVER use the memory card options from the menu of a modded
system with your card plugged in. It will DELETE ALL YOUR DATA!
(also never mess with the dip settings while the card is plugged in either)
-- King of Fighters 2000 & 2001 will save under the SAME position on the card.
They actually OVERWRITE eachother.
-- The Puzzle de Pon games save data specific to difficulty selection, but will
write over the save position taking priority to difficulty over distance!
So if you have final level 39 saved as "normal" and start a new game in easy, mvs,
or hard then the game will not read the save. Furthermore, if/when you proceed to save,
it will overwrite the save position on the current dificulty selection.
The memory card was intended to be used by operators in a "statistical" way by allowing operators to copy the MVS bookeeping data on their machines onto the card for view on their PC's. (this ability in conjunction with a jeida card reader attached to their PC)
Some games will save under a different name depending on the console's country code designation. (Karnov's Revenge or Fighter's History Dynamite) (Spinmaster or Miracle Adventure)
And some games save in japanese language ONLY. It is 100% un-avoidable :(
Apparently the designers "forgot" or were "lazy" etc. Here are SOME examples:
Fatal Fury 2
Fatal Fury Special
Fatal Fury 3
The Last Blade
The Last Blade 2
Super Sidekicks 4
Samurai Shodown 5 Special
Baseball Stars Professional was the ONLY neogeo game to have actually had a PASSWORD feature!
(it also saves on the memory card as well)
Karnov's Revenge saves with a minor "glitch" of "garbage" in the upper right hand corner of it's entry. It is un-removable :( However, the game can be saved as Fighter's History as well.
King of Fighters 1995 is the ONLY kof that will save a THIRD position: Single, Team, AND Single versus ALL
King of Fighters 2003 is the ONLY kof that does NOT save the "team" and "single" modes seperately. They basically OVERWRITE eachother.
Metal Slug 3, 4, 5 ALL save as "Metal Slug V3", however they do not appear to overwrite eachother.
The SNK card itself does actually have a built-in lithium battery. However the battery is not "user-friendly" replaceable. It CAN be replaced but requires some work and patience) The battery is reported to last for approximately 5-7 years depending on how much data is on the card, how often it is used, and how well the card is treated and handled. But while some cards have indeed died over time, other cards to this day still seem to work, even 14 years later.
Most 3RD PARTY cards have more "professional" batteries. They are housed in compartments which can be opened to remove and replace them. Also the higher end cards even have mini back-up batteries which actually HOLD your data for 20 seconds or so DURING the battery change whereby preventing data loss.
The general application for these "large" (not by todays standards) memory cards was actually for photography. They were used in certain cameras (no, not digital as you may be thinking!) for the photography industry. These were used to add file storage to older PDA type devices, add sound banks to midi synthesizers, save system settings on older routers from cisco, add new, fancy stitch patterns to VERY expensive professional sewing machines, etc.
Over time, they saw limited applications and uses in some home computers and laptops, but they quickly became out-dated and replaced with smaller cards, and present day flash cards.
It is however still possible to purchase NOS 3rd party cards from a few distributors, but the general consensus is that they are no longer being manufactured and once the remaining stock has cleared from these outposts, they will no longer be available.
SRAM, which requires battery back up to prevent data loss, has become outdated for data storage and FLASH RAM, which does not require "power" to save is now the more widely accepted and used standard.
I hope you enjoyed reading this FAQ and found the information here to be usefull. The NEO-GEO memory card was just one of many little things that made the system so unique and appealing. See you again!