Ho-ho-holy Mega Shock: there's a new Neo Geo Mini coming this Christmas

This model of the tiny arcade machine is finally the right color: red, as baby Jesus intended

We have reached day 317 of 2018 (is that all? It feels like Monster Hunter World and Dragonball FighterZ launched six years ago) and SNK has decided to sneak in one more surprise in this, the Year of Celebrating SNK's 40th Anniversary. After delivering two distinct miniature arcade cabinets loaded with Neo Geo games and a delightfully thorough collection of pre-Neo Geo arcade classics, SNK has announced one more way fans can revisit the company's past work: a third miniature arcade cabinet, this time imbrued with holiday cheer.

Dubbed the Neo Geo Mini Christmas Limited Edition, the already cute device will be colored red with gold buttons and include festive-but-not-religious Xmas decorations on the cabinet's exterior. The bundle will include extra controllers (also red and gold) and a (red) HDMI cable to connect the Mini to an HD TV, items that were previously sold separately.

If the cosmetic changes and all-in-one-packaging were not enough, the Neo Geo Mini Christmas Limited Edition features a different library of games than either of the previous Mini incarnations. No, there's no Christmas NiGHTS-style yule-ification of established properties, SNK is simply rearranging the games included with the hardware, bringing the total number of games up to 48. However, it's not as simple as "eight new games" because there are in fact nine new games added while a few titles have been removed. New to the Xmas Mini are Magician Lord, Ninja Combat, The Super Spy, League Bowling, Soccer Brawl, Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury 3, and Real Bout Fatal Fury Special. To make room for these additions, some established titles like Fatal Fury Special and The King of Fighters '95 are missing.

It's hard to know how to take this news. On the one hand, this is a more attractive package for consumers because there are more games and more peripherals bundled from the start. That stings a bit because SNK announced this long after the other Neo Geo Mini cabinets went on sale, meaning that eager SNK fans never even had the option to wait for the premium bundle. While early adopters often end up paying more for less in the video game world as hardware revisions follow launch, rarely do we see same-year releases show such clear and present upgrades.

On the other hand, it's a Christmas-themed video game console that will look odd in a living room once the tinsel and egg nog have vanished (or at all, if you don't celebrate Christmas). Again, hardware revisions and color changes tied to certain games or even brands are nothing new in the video game business, but a Christmas-specific console seems like new ground to me. There's also the matter of a new selection of games which invites another round of "THIS over THAT? Why??" head-scratching and second-guessing.

On a superficial level at least, this Neo Geo Mini Christmas Limited Edition does address my concern with the original Mini that the lack of essential peripherals made the package feel incomplete. And if you didn't take the plunge on either edition of the Mini already, maybe this is your chance to land a new-and-improved version. SNK declined to announce a release date or divulge a price tag but given the theme, it seems destined to arrive before the annual A Christmas Story marathon begins.

But seriously though...Fatal Fury 2 over Fatal Fury Special? Why??