Analogue Interactive

Consoles become furniture with these expensive, beautiful, wooden NEO GEO consoles

Consoles become furniture with these expensive, beautiful, wooden NEO GEO consoles

The NEO GEO systems were as famous for their price as their ability to bring arcade-like gaming into your home. There were aspirational objects that rested on the shelves of your local Babbage's, and we marveled at games that cost upwards of $200 apiece. This aspect of the hardware has made collecting the games and consoles appealing for gamers who can now afford the price tag, or for the game and hardware that have since fallen in price. The Analogue Interactive Black Label systems, on the other hand, take these ideas to their spectacular, wallet-bending conclusions.

Encased in wood, made of love

“We use original SNK MV1C motherboards,” I was told when I asked about the systems. “Outside of that, every single piece of the product, electrical component or otherwise, is brand new or custom designed and manufactured just for our products.” The Black Label systems takes those MV1C motherboards and encase them in your selection of wood, and the effect is amazing. A system created using domestic woods, including Cherry, Mahogany, or White Oak, will only run you $1,299. Once you move into the rarer woods, such as Cocobolo, Purpleheart, or Leopardwood, expect to pay a few hundred dollars extra. I don't think Ron Swanson would ever play a video game, but if he did, this is the console that he would place in his living room. “Every single wood is different. They each have a different hardness, softness, pore size and other things too. This results in have to use higher strength tools and bits for harder woods. We haven't had to turn down any custom woods yet, but we have had to tweak specific aspects during the build process to accommodate certain unique qualities in particular woods,” a representative told me. This attention to detail is also part of what makes these products so interesting; they spoke to me as woodworkers, not as someone who is selling a piece of electronics. “This is why the higher price tag exists for Black Label. If we get a wood we aren't familiar with, we have to do a noteworthy amount of research and experimenting to make sure it will be perfect. This is one of the most exciting aspects of it though, being able to regularly work with some of the rarest and most exotic woods in the world is a real treat. When you work with a new wood for the first time and finally have the finished product in your hand, it never ceases to amaze me.” They experimented with different metals and plastics, and made a variety of prototypes for the systems, but they kept returning to wood and finding it the best material for the consoles. “I'm not sure if it's that wood is attractive in video games - I think wood is just attractive in general. But there is certainly a match for NEO GEO. NEO GEO fans are hardcore collectors and they want the absolute best,” I was told. “I mean, you can look at the pictures we put up online and be wowed, but seeing one in person, holding it in your own hands - it's completely different. When we first launched, the second the very first orders were actually in peoples hands it was a virtually unanimous, 'holy shit!'. Wood really is that special.” They offer a price list for most woods you would be interested in, but they will also build you a system out of any wood you choose… but you'll pay for the privilege. I'm not sure how large of a market there is for this sort of product, but I'm glad this service exists. If one were to win the lottery, why not go on a bender and pick up one of the best arcade systems in the finest wood of the land? This is a console that you could place in your den, complete with the heads of dead things on the wall, your shotgun over the fire place.