With a three-month waiting list, Analogue’s CMVS is a highly desirable item with a premium price tag. The price reflects the quality and high level of support on offer, and on arrival, it’s immediately clear why this product has been earmarked as the ‘Bentley of video-game systems” by Classic Game Room

Quality permeates right through its DNA, from design to execution. It is beautiful and an item that comfortably integrates in the modern home.

The Black Label purchase includes:

– Analogue CMVS Slim.
– x2 Analogue Arcade Sticks.
– Brass ‘Black Label’ product tags.
– Universal power supply.

Video leads and joystick connectors are purchased as extras and not included. Additional extras selectable from their store include:

– Virtual Memory Card.
– Component Cables.
– SCART cables.
– Neo Geo Extension Cables
– Dust Covers.

For a surcharge the set can be constructed from a suggested range of exotic woods, listed within the wood database. You also have the freedom to customise specific parts at your request, expanding upon an already beautifully crafted system.

The design of the unit is sublime, and it’s true to say nothing else compares in aesthetics in the CMVS range currently on offer. Using natural materials with classic hardware may have seemed like a strange decision on paper, but going against the trend of plastic mould manufacturing processes is one of the greatest strengths for Analogue’s console, giving it a strong brand identity and a definable marketable selling point. There’s a clear ethos and philosophy being followed here and I say with great positivity it echoes the sentiments of Apple’s own resurrection, when Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive conceived the iMac.

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Hardware

The hardware in the system comprises of the original SNK 1 Slot PCB MV-1C motherboard. Outputs on rear as standard accept A/V cables with 13 DIN connectors and a universal power supply socket that is compatible worldwide.

This simplistic approach is welcome with further aesthetic compliments, such as the stylish blue LED power light, from the front.

The power supply unit packaged is a two pin and will require converting for some countries without the need for step-down conversion. A travel plug would suffice for this.

Our purchase was personal and we made small changes, including coloured buttons to the joysticks, but maintained the standard black ash ebonized wood. Seimitsu parts are used for both joystick and buttons as standard unless requested otherwise, and each joystick is completely cross compatible with other Neo Geo hardware such as the AES and NEO-GEO CD. All joysticks and game pads can be used on Analogue’s system.

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Playing the game

The system is very simple to use. Place an MVS cartridge in the slot, and turn on the power button. You can access the region settings via the UNI BIOS 3.2 by holding down the A, B, C buttons on the controller, giving you menu access to region selection (Japan, USA, Europe) and hardware state. Changing the state of the MVS from arcade to console (AES)
mode, allowing the system to play as an AES Neo Geo would.

Holding the B, C, and D buttons while the system boots opens up the soft dip settings menu. Difficulty, blood, life count, time – all specific to each game can be altered here.

While the game is loaded you are again free to access the UNI BIOS any time by pressing, both, start and credit buttons on the rear of the control stick.

Each game responded perfectly to the controls, just as it would from a coin operated machine. The ergonomics of the control stick are identical to the arcades. Micro switches sound off on every direction change and the weight of the wood, when laid on a flat surface, provides a quality experience.

The experience is less authentic when playing from a sofa and the unit sits on your lap, but then, you wouldn’t have purchased a CMVS if this was a concern?

It’s all about image

The picture produced from the SCART lead on an HD television provided interesting results. The edges of the graphics are very defined, even when we tested it on the 50 inch HD flat screen. This was unexpected yet impressive.

My viewing preference and recommendation is on a 4:3 CRT using the SCART lead. It looks amazing and I got an emotionally giddy feeling when we fired up games that I hadn’t played for over 20 years. It was the experience I longed for and the package that carried it was more than worthy. Our CRT playthroughs were tested on our Bang and Olufsen MX4000.

As someone who never owned an AES, comparing the cables which connect the joysticks to the console is difficult.

The leads available feel of less quality when compared to the hardware, and although there has never been any connection issues, they felt to ‘sit in place’, rather than securely connect. This is especially in comparison with commercial products like the Super Nintendo or Mega Drive.

The lead itself was quite airy and rigid, which was against my expectations of what the lead would be. I had a pre-conceived notion it would be more like the traditional 4th/5th generation console.

As each piece of equipment was throughly examined there were a few points that we questioned. These points were addressed right away by Analogue, reinforcing their customer support and reputation.

In fact, they emailed me before I could contact them as my concern was picked up over our Twitter feed. This kind of attention deserves recognition and I wish other companies were as attentive.

First, they addressed the question that the stripped screws belonging to the base of the joysticks, and offered to fix the issue at no cost, covering any shipping charges.

This point isn’t a concern for me personally, as if I had any issues I’d send the unit back, but it was a great response and much appreciated.

The second issue was linked to the rear connection port. A screw was loose/missing and
Analogue sent replacements straight away.

The product commands a high price, and with that comes expectations. Sure enough, there will be customers that might find this unacceptable given the high quality of every other aspect, and Analogue happily shares that sentiment.

In conclusion

Analogue’s CMVS is a great product that well justifies its cost. It looks beautiful and sets the bar high with its level of craftsmanship and playing this consolised arcade unit delivered in all areas. The games, the functionality, the aesthetics and company support all make this a reasonable purchase, not for only NEO GEO fans, but to those who appreciate retro gaming in general.

The introduction to Analogue Interactive’s Black Label CMVS Slim makes their future products in development an exciting prospect because the product they produced here genuinely feels fresh and unexpected, even in 2015.

We are in a time where technology is pushing the envelope with realism and immersive
content captured in V.R worlds, yet this eloquently designed console retains the core importance of gaming. Fun.

And it has it in spades.

Visit Analogue Interactive’s website for more details on their available products.

Music by @disyman

Drone footage by Danny Cooke

Analogue Interactive CMVS Slim by Ash RGB_RetroBlog

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