October 2011: SNK makes way for SNK Playmore
Shin Nihon Kikaku. That’s the original name of the video game company SNK, which was established by Eikichi Kawasaki in Japan in 1978. It was created during a time when arcade games were beginning to boom and bloom. Success in Japan led the company to expand to America in 1981. SNK settled into offices in Sunnyvale, California, with John Rowe at the head of operations. (Rowe is the currently the president and CEO of High Moon Studios, which is owned by Activision Blizzard.)
SNK weathered the storm of the video game crash of the 1980s by developing and licensing games for both arcades and consoles, but it also found success with its own games such as Alpha Mission (1985) and Ikari (1986). SNK also became one of Nintendo’s third-party licensees for the Famicom, and it helped bring a number of games to both the NES and SNES.
SNK’s development of its own system, the Neo Geo, helped cement the company in the grounds of history. Released in 1990, several popular franchises were founded on the system, including Metal Slug, Samurai Showdown, and Fatal Fury. The NEO Geo survived for 11 long and fairly successful years before being discontinued. The end of the Neo Geo also marked the end of SNK, which met with financial troubles around the turn of the millennium. That year, a number of its executives jumped ship to form Playmore. SNK eventually went bankrupt and Playmore bid successfully on its assets. The company became known as SNK Playmore in 2003.
Did you play any of SNK’s early games? Or maybe you were a Neo Geo player? Or did you give any number of the popular “SNK vs.” games a go? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!