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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Unsung Systems: Neo Geo Pocket Color

The Neo Geo Pocket Color (from hereon referred to as NGPC) is often overshadowed by the Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System, Neo Geo MVS arcade cabinet, and even the Neo Geo CD.  The main difference which makes the little portable standout (besides the portability) is that the NGPC is really affordable.  I paid thirty dollars for mine, which I consider a fair price for one.  I was then lucky enough to get about a dozen of the best games in one lot for about the same price.  If you include the Japanese games, the library consists of about eighty games, many of which are quite good.  

The system is fantastic for gamers looking to play great 2D fighters on a handheld as it hosts what is known as the Pocket Fighter series.  Pictured above is what I consider the pinnacle of that series, The Match of the Millennium, which had a console counterpart on the Sega Dreamcast.  It's worth mentioning that there was a cable which linked the NGPC and Dreamcast allowing for things like unlockable content.  Match of the Millennium is a game packed full of fighters from various SNK fighting games and various Capcom fighting games.  Featuring characters from series like Street Fighter, King of Fighters, etc. it's a very versatile fighting game.

When I purchased the game lot, I received almost all of the U.S.-released games in the Pocket Fighter Series which included Samurai Shodown 2, King of Fighters R-2, Gal's Fighters, and Fatal Fury: First Contact.  The only exclusion was the Last Blade.  All of the fighters are amazingly fluid considering the NGPC utilizes just a digital clickity-clackity sounding omni-directional stick and two buttons.  There is also an option button which acts like a start button by doing things like pausing gameplay. 

As mentioned earlier, Neo Geo and Sega had a bit of a collaboration during the time of the NGPC and Dreamcast.  This resulted in a lesser-known Sonic game known as Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure and if you're a fan of the Genesis-era Sonic games, then you'll probably have a good time with this game.  There are many nods to the 2D Sonic games and it features levels quite similar to some of the memorable levels in them, while still feeling fresh.  

If you're a fan of Metal Slug, then Metal Slug: 1st Mission & Metal Slug: 2nd Mission will probably pique your interest.  They're not as good as their arcade counterparts, but are still very fun games.  I only have the first one, but I've been told the second one greatly surpasses the first.  I play it every now and then, as it's a nice break from the fighters, but I usually don't spend much time playing before moving on to something else.

There's also a trading card battle game known as Cardfighter's Clash which was released in two different versions, the SNK version and Capcom version.  The two versions have unique cards which can be traded from one game to the other via a link cable.  You can also battle another player, and I'm assuming these games were influenced by the success of the Pokemon franchise.  It's surprisingly unique and can be quite fun, but the game can be frustrating at times.  At first I played this game like crazy, but my fondness of it started to dwindle after awhile.  I still pick it up and play every now and then, but it's taking me a ton of mostly luck-driven battles to get cards useful enough to compete with the tougher AI opponents.

I can't get enough of Puzzle Bobble Mini.  You might know this game as Bust-A-Move.  Basically, a bunch of colored balls are cluttered around from the top of the screen and the screen is slowly moving down.  If they get to the bottom, it's game over.  You control a little lever at the bottom which can move back and forth and shoot balls up at the top.  You have to aim for balls of the same color, and if you get three of the same color stuck together, they fall off the screen.  Clear all the balls and you move on to the next level.  It's a simple and addictive puzzle game and it's made by Taito, so it features the little dudes you know and love from Bubble Bobble.

Now this games a little different from other games on the NGPC but I've been enjoying it on and off for a long time now.  It's a gothic horror action RPG where you level up your weapon by fighting werewolves, mummies, zombies, etc.  Your weapons include various guns and claws which can be upgraded in quite a few ways.

One of the games I'd like to pick up for my NGPC, but haven't gotten around to is Biomotor Unitron, which is compared to Pokemon in terms of gameplay, but you're leveling up parts of your giant robot.  I've heard a lot of people complain about the NGPC not having a backlit screen, but neither did its competitor the similar looking launch-model Game Boy Advance at the time, and this helped make the handheld affordable and gave it extraordinary battery life.  I believe it can run about 40 hours on two AA batteries.  Not too shabby.  It also has the crispest, easiest to see, and most colorful non-backlit screen I've ever seen.  

Considering the price, I think this is a handheld well worth picking up if you really enjoy playing or collecting portable games, especially since the unique stick really can't be emulated.  Although it can't compare to the vast size of the Game Boy line game library, it does feature some nice exclusive games and fluid control that give the NGPC its own unique flavor.


  1. I agree I bought one and it came with sonic years ago I played that game everywhere I went on the way to school on the way home from school the color was nice it was light could fit in any pocket and was very easy to handle it was grrrrrrrreat!

  2. Oh yeah, I forgot you said you had one. I can't believe how much I find myself just grabbing the thing without thinking to have some quick gaming spurts. It's hilarious when I play the thing cause the clicking from the stick drives everyone around me nuts.

  3. This is a great post, I also have a NGPC and it's always nice to see it get some attention and credit.

    I love mine and it still gets regular use to this day, such a shame that it was shunned so much.

    I still love the sight of SNK's finest characters in super deformed mode kicking the crap out of each other!!

    Great work.

  4. Thanks! (For the Follow and the compliment!) I've been playing the Pocket Fighters like crazy lately. Really into Samurai Shodown right now and want to delve into King of Fighters a little more. Nice avatar by the way!

  5. There's a second version of the Cardfighters Clash game, and it's been translated to English.

  6. There sure is, I wrote about it briefly in my Cardfighter's Retrospective (

    Thanks for the link! I'll add it into the Retrospective article under the paragraph about the sequel.