Neo Geo CDZ
The Neo Geo CD was first unveiled at the 1994 Tokyo Toy Show. The console uses the same CPU set-up as the arcade and cartridge-based Neo Geo systems, facilitating conversions, and SNK stated that they planned to release Neo Geo CD versions of every Neo Geo game still in the arcades. Three versions of the Neo Geo CD were released: A front-loading version, only distributed in Japan, with 25,000 total units built. A top-loading version, marketed worldwide, as the most common model. The Neo Geo CDZ, an upgraded, faster-loading version, released in Japan only. The front-loading version was the original console design, with the top-loading version developed shortly before the Neo Geo CD launch as a scaled-down, cheaper alternative model. The CDZ was released on December 29, 1995 as the Japanese market replacement for SNK's previous efforts (the "front loader" and the "top loader"). The Neo Geo CD had met with limited success due to it being plagued with slow loading times that could vary from 30 to 60 seconds between loads, depending on the game. Although SNK's American home entertainment division quickly acknowledged that the system simply was unable to compete with the 3D-able powerhouse systems of the day like Sega's Saturn and Sony's PlayStation, SNK corporate of Japan felt they could continue to maintain profitable sales in the Japanese home market by shortening the previous system's load-times. In response to criticism of the Neo Geo CD's long load times, SNK planned to produce a model with a double speed CD-ROM drive for North America (as opposed to the single speed drive of the Japanese and European models). However, the system missed its planned North American launch date of October 1995, and while SNK declined to give a specific reason for the delay, in their announcement of the new January 1996 launch date they stated that they had decided against using a double speed drive. Their Japanese division had produced an excess number of single speed units and found that modifying these units to double speed was more expensive than they had initially thought, so SNK opted to sell them as they were, postponing production of a double speed model until they had sold off the stock of single speed units. The CDZ was only officially sold in Japan during its production. However, its faster loading times, lack of a "region lock", and the fact that it could play older CD software, made it a popular import item for enthusiasts in both Europe and North America. The system's technical specs are identical to the previous models except that it includes a double-speed CD-ROM drive.