In 1998 SNK release the Neo Geo Pocket, a black & white handheld unit which was to compete with the Game Boy. Unfortunately Nintendo had just released the Game Boy Color and suddenly the world just wasn’t interested in a non-color gaming system. SNK went back to the drawing board and then in 1999 introduced the Neo Geo Pocket Color with many different shell colors and, of course, a color display.
One interesting aspect about the system is that many of the games can be played in both English and Japanese depending on how you have the region settings set for your unit. Unfortunately some of the games only have a Japanese aspect and I will explain why later on in the review.
One feature that sets the Neo Geo Pocket Color apart from the Game Boy Color is it’s minimal PDA applications. It has a calendar, alarm clock and even a little horoscope program. Granted none of these will replace even the cheapest of PDAs but it is a nice little added bonus.
Another nice feature which shows that SNK cares about it’s gamers is that it has a built-in battery back-up for save games to. How does this benefit gamers since the battery back-up could just as easily been put in each individual game? Well, not only does it keep the cartridge prices down but say you were 3/4 into Metal Slug and you lost the game. You run to the store and buy another one and instead of having to play it all over again it used the save game from the unit itself. Nice. Think of it like a mini X-Box in that the unit itself stores the saves, not on the game itself or a save card.
For the importers out there you may be happy to know that there isn’t a territorial lockout on the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Now you can play all the latest and greatest Anime inspired games without having to modify your system!
Remember earlier when we were talking about how some of the games could be played in English and Japanese but most are Japanese only now and I said I would explain later. Well, SNK close it’s U.S. door and no longer shipped Neo Geo Pocket Color to these shores in 2000. But select Electronic Boutiques are now selling special Neo Geo Pocket Color bundles. The bundles include the console and six games for around $80 dollars or a bundle of four games for around $40 dollars. This is great for gamers (well except the gamers who just spent $200 for a unit on eBay) and hopefully will see the Neo Geo Pocket Color dipping into the Game Boy Advances profits.