There are too many names to list here – the likes of JAMMA+, Arcade Otaku, the Neo Geo Development Wiki and more have all been helpful – but man, do I love the people who share their expertise about arcade games online.
I recently picked up a Neo Geo MVS motherboard from eBay, with the assurance that it was tested and working (but naturally, the caveat that all sales were final because it was an old board). Well, it might not have been tested too thoroughly, because the first time I tried to boot a game up, I got some pretty annoying graphical glitching. Take a look:
Those lines vertical lines followed every sprite on the screen. Now, I didn’t particularly feel like shipping a fragile PCB around further, nor paying someone else to fix it. However, I didn’t know the first thing about what the problem was or how I’d go about fixing it. Luckily for me, a vast community of people online have shared their knowledge about Neo Geo technical problems, what causes them and how to fix them. In particular, one user by the name of channelmaniac keeps an excellent log of his repair jobs.
With the help of the information I read online, I tracked the problem down to a problem with the graphics data – and specifically, it turned out that a pin on the NEO-ZMC2 chip wasn’t properly soldered to the PCB. I’m no electronics expert, but I’ve got a steady hand with a soldering iron and after a quick refresher on best practice, I figured I might be able to fix the problem myself.
This might seems like a foolhardy course of action – it’s a fine pin to be getting at, and that’s before you consider how long it had been since I’d actually used a soldering iron. Still, between a little bit of manual dexterity and a lot of borrowed knowledge, I managed to wrangle myself a working Neo Geo board in quick fashion and can enjoy my SNK games the way they were intended.
Had this happened to me in the days before such widespread information, I’d have been stuck and definitely would have had to contact a professional engineer for something that turned out to be a pretty simple fix. That’s why I’ll forever owe a debt of gratitude to the arcade community for sharing their knowledge.