Ironclad Cartridge: Fact or Fiction?
Someone has this!

Locked Away Until Today! Disclaimer:
The following article was written solely for the purpose of entertainment. Although it is accurate and factual in its content, it does not allow for those mentioned in the article to defend themselves. However, I have assumed the absence of an honest, cooperative and timely response from those individuals to be interpreted as their official statements. In each and every case, the individuals have had months if not years to corroborate their claims with proof yet they have failed to do so. Therefore, until they are able to provide evidence which proves otherwise, their claims are considered to be false.


As everyone knows, the NEO-GEO CD System had 8 exclusive titles which were not released on the cartridge system. Speculation has always surrounded this and over the years information has come through which has made us realize that several of them may have originally been intended to be made available on the cartridge format. However Ironclad has always been by far the most thought about and talked about of the 8 titles. This has always been due in part to the fact that it is a shooter and most neo-geo fans love shooters. Some of us have sought after and tracked down the CD version of the game as a bitter substitute for the real thing. Many who have, report the game to not be as great as we think. But I strongly believe that most of those people feel that way simply due to the games infamous hype. As a result, it is destined to let most people down since its' expectations have been set so high by us. But truthfully, it really is a great game.
My ID tag from the show

Announced as a coming attraction in a 2 page advertisement placed by SNK in Replay Magazine, Ironclad was without a doubt intended to be released on the MVS cartridge format. The ad not only described the upcoming release in detail, but also made mention of the games ability to earn high revenues based on the games initial location test results. The Ironclad proto first appeared in the SNK booth at the March 1996 ACME arcade show in Orlando, Florida. My self and a few of my friends saw and played the game there at the show. SNK's George Hicks who was sent to the show in place of Chad Okada was also there and can verify its' presence as well. In addition, there are pictures which show the game at the expo.

My own personal opinion of the game when I saw it was very high. For whatever reason, when I first saw it I assumed it to be Viewpoint 2. No doubt this was due to the fact that it is a shooter with a unique perspective which at a glance would seem very similar to Viewpoint. However, I was so excited about two other games which were at the booth (Neo Drift Out & Over Top) that I actually gave most of my attention to those instead. The Neo had very few racing games developed for it and seeing those upcoming games were what pressed my buttons the most at the booth. Hindsight is 20/20, but of course looking back and seeing as the two racing games saw release while Ironclad did not, I have always had regrets over not having paid closer attention to it.

Since this show, Ironclad Cartridges have had more false claims then any other NEO-GEO proto to date! Every year I receive several tips and leads through my website, email, and other venues regarding NEO-GEO protos but Ironclad exceeds them all. Obviously this is no coincidence to the fact that it is so much in demand by gamers and collectors. I decided to go ahead and document the majority of the Ironclad claims and share them with everyone just for fun.

The Infamous Bad Boys of NGF!
NGF Bad Boy Chris Ray NGF Bad Boy Dion Dakis

JULY 2002 / USA

The famous dynamic duo known as NGF provided pictures of what they claimed to be was a proto cartridge of Ironclad. The pictures were of only the cartridge itself. No screenshots were provided. In addition, the cartridge was comprised of two special MVS PROG & CHA boards which actually contained flash memory card slots in place of the P, V, & C ROMS. The problem was that without any additional supporting evidence, there was no way to dismiss the possibility that the proto cart was that of an already released game. The pictures proved nothing and they refused to provide more.

Very Classy


Long gone and almost forgotten from the NEO-GEO scene is Mr. Ray Young of Arcade Industries. Several contacts of mine who were among his best customers had informed me that he had been fast working on an Ironclad CD conversion cartridge, similar to the Jeff Kurtz Zintrick CD conversion cartridge. In this case, Ray did actually provide screenshots of the work in progress, but no pictures of the cartridge itself. The item was never completed or sold by Mr. Young and even if it had been, it would have been a "hack" and therefore although novel, it would not have been what we were really looking for anyways.

A Very Nice Box!
Ironclad Home Cartridge


A guy named Felix makes a post in the NEO-GEO.COM selling forums where he claims to be selling a NEO-GEO home cartridge conversion of the Ironclad MVS proto. He provides a picture of the actual box (with insert) allegedly containing the home cartridge inside. I exchanged a few emails with him for about a week or so where he did nothing more but change the subject and asked if I was interested in purchasing other cartridges which he had such as Riding Hero! Give me a break. Several months later after the hype died down, I contacted him again and he had all but forgotten about his own claim.

The Republic of Germany


An EBAY auction based in Germany claimed to have an Ironclad proto cartridge. Initially, the seller provided ONE picture at the start of the auction but immediately removed the picture just minutes into the auction. When asked for more pictures, he claimed that he was unable to provide them. Despite this, the auction did see completion and the winning bid was for 3000 euros from a bidder with only 1 feedback! My bid was of course just short of that! I contacted the next highest bidder several months after the auction and was told that the auction was indeed a fake.

MAK Japan - High End Gaming Store


This story has by far the most believable claim so far, but sadly also ends with no success. The trail is so long, that I cannot even cover it from start to finish because it would take me several paragraphs. In short, allegedly in 1999 an Ironclad MVS proto cartridge was sold at MAK Japan for 500,000 yen to a French collector. It then went on to exchange hands quite a bit! It was sold to another French collector who moved to Germany. Then, it was sold to a Japanese collector where it allegedly is today. Of course I have spoken about this with the owner of MAK Japan who happens to be a good friend of mine and he found it laughable to say the least.

Estamos Esperando!


A Spanish collector by the name of David claimed to be working with a team of emulation techs on hacking a CD version of Ironclad onto cartridge format. Again similar to what Ray Young was working on. He also claimed that the French emulation team led in part by HP MAN was also simultaneously working on the same project. Allegedly they were both "stuck" on different problems and had they been able to cooperate and share their knowledge, the projects may have been completed. Again, even if success could have been achieved, it would not have been the real deal anyhow.

Lots of smoke, but no fire


This one is pretty simple. A very well known member on the NEO-GEO.COM forums, Mr. KPJ, put forth a claim to having an Ironclad proto cartridge. Despite several requests for pictures, screenshots, or any kind of proof, none was ever provided. As with all other previous cases, the subject was eventually forgotten and is no longer mentioned there. But, make no mistake, despite his wonderful inventions and booming business, this is indeed an un-addressed skeleton in his closet. It remains unresolved, unanswered, and unsubstantiated.

Singapore Sling


This is the latest lead to come our way and actually seems plausible. I was recently contacted by a fellow named Winston who told me that Ironclad may have also been shown at an arcade show in Singapore. I believe that he has also now posted this at NEO-GEO.COM. Considering that SNK did indeed have an office in Singapore, it would seem at the very least possible. He is currently contacting as many operators and distributors as he can, to see if maybe by chance one of them turns up. For now, this claim remains open.

Billy Pitt - Proto King
San Francisco


How ironic! After 13 years, not only does Ironclad turn up, but it ends up being SNK themselves who provide it! And not only do we finally get the game, but we get it for a mere $10 (about 1,000 wii virtual console points buys it) and without any drama, name calling, or back stabbing. I only wish that all of the protos would come to us this easily! At the very least, the other NEO-GEO CD exclusives are sure to follow suit and we could end up with some great news in 2010. Also important to note is that with this level of uncertainty, anyone hanging onto a neogeo proto right now better wake up. Cash in now while you can. You might as well let us have the game now because we will eventually get it anyhow. SELL! SELL! SELL!