SNK Retrospective: ‘Their humble beginnings to Now’

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This is one of the arcade cabinets owned by SNK. This has some of their best fighting games like King of Fighters and Fatal Fury. Chris Ainsworth

Oscar Torres

SNK or Shin Nihon Kikaku was founded by Eikichi Kawasaki in 1973 and later reorganized as a stock company in 1978 under the same name with CORPORATIONS being added.

Later, when Kawasaki was seeing the growth of coin-operated arcade games, he established a developer and marketed the company to make arcade titles.

This led to the creation of some of SNK’s first arcade games like “Ozma Wars” a space shooter, and “Sally Rally” a maze game. They then began perfecting making these games.

Following the video game crash of 1983, SNK partnered with Nintendo to be one of their Third-Party partners for their Famicom/NES and started to port some of their arcade games to the console like “Ikari Warriors”, “Baseball Stars”, and “Crystalis”.

In 1986 they changed their company name to SNK CORPORATION while making a U.S branch in Sunnyvale, California.

They continued making games, later on wanting to make a console that would be one to one the same as their arcade games, even keeping the gameplay the same. Thus the Neo-Geo MVS was created in 1988, and later on the Neo-Geo AES, a more powerful version of the MVS.

Some of SNK’s greatest franchises spawned in the 90’s and AES, with some classic titles include “Fatal Fury”, “Art of Fighting”, “Metal Slug” and “The King of Fighters,” making SNK one of the greatest fighting game developers and rival to already popular fighting game company Capcom with their “Street Fighter” series.

In the early 2000’s, SNK was close to bankruptcy due to the market not favoring fighting games like they used to while also seeing the failure of SNK’s previous consoles.

SNK made a deal with Capcom to create a couple of fighting game crossovers with two of them being made by Capcom, selling well but making little money for SNK. They made their own crossover game with Capcom but it failed financially.

By the time SNK thought they could pull back from the brink it was too late. The original SNK filed for bankruptcy on October 22, 2001, having previously closed their U.S branch in 2000. Some of their employees left to work for Capcom and others went on to create their own companies like Dimps.

Between 2003 and 2016, SNK under the new name SNK Playmore began developing games for the current hardware while also distributing their classic titles to Nintendo’s Virtual Console. They continued to create new tiles of their long-running franchises like Metal Slug and King of FIghters from 2003 to 2013, with “KOF 13” hailed as a great fighting game with its art style and gameplay.

In April 2016, SNK dropped the Playmore name and began rebranding into a new SNK, signaling the return of the old SNK of the ’90s. With “KOF 14” being the first game under their new manager. Their second title, “Samurai Showdown,” was released to much acclaim.

Their next title, “KOF 15,” is still in development and will be released on all platforms in the future. Along with that, SNK began having character crossovers with other gaming franchises like “Soul Calibur”, “Tekken”, and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”.

With the future looking bright for SNK, it seems like they’ll be staying in the video game market for a long time. It wouldn’t feel the same without them.