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NGPC Console, Games & Advertising


cicinski
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NEO GEO POCKET COLOR CONSOLE, GAME AND ADVERTISING REVIEW

Japanese Launch: March 1999

American Launch: June 1999

European Launch: Autumn 1999

The Neo Geo Pocket was released in Japan on October 27, 1998. This original model was 16-bit but it only had a grey-scale screen, meaning that it displayed no colour detail at all and dealt in black and white and the 8 shades that could be produced with these. The main target for the Neo Geo was the Game Boy. The Game Boy had been successful in Japan, but only as a handheld it never really shifted a great amount of software until the arrival of Pokemon in 1995. Since then it had demanded respect from game developers and had become home to many titles which offered depth of graphical style (altho' for every good game there are around 30 terrible to fair titles). SNK hoped that their handheld would appeal to their key fans and a newer range of players who wanted graphics to match the gameplay. The first major problem arose when game software was delayed to get it completed, this lead to a period where only three titles were available for the first three months of the games life. All of this seemed to be improving with the launch of Samurai Showdown in the December of 1998. SNK then moved forward in terms of hardware by launching a colour version of the NGP in March 1999. SNK also altered the casing of the hardware by putting in a more impressive 4K colour TFT screen which could get 40 hours of running time from just two AA batteries. King of the Fighters Round 2 launched with the console, and it became the first title to boast connectivity with Sega's newly released Dreamcast. This is the point when the Neo Geo Pocket's and the Dreamcast's fate became inter-twined.

But at this point all was going to plan, the console didn't have massive success but it recieved high praise from gaming publications and the SNK faithful got to play their favourite franchises on the move and now in colour. In the June of 1999 the America recieved the console and later on the autumn so did Europe. Samurai Showdown 2, A new Fatal Fury title and Metal Slug launched with the console as well as King of the Fighters R2. The NGPC also has an integrated world clock, calendar, horoscope and alarm system. It also has a 1-channel 5-pin communications port with a max speed of 19200bps, a stereo headphones jack and an AC adaptor jack. A dedicated built-in lithium battery is used for its memory-backup system.

SYSTEM SPECS:

CPU: 16-bit Toshiba TLCS900H (6.144MHZ), Z80 sound processor (3.072MHZ)

RAM: 12KB for core processor, 4KB for Z80 processor

Colors: Pocket Color 4096 (146 on screen)

Resolution: 160x152 pixels

Sprites: 64 per frame

Screen: Reflective TFT LCD, 45 x 48mm

Sound: 6 tone stereo PSG

Game Media: 54 x 46 x 7.5mm 2MB cartridge

Power: Pocket Color 40 hours (2 AA batteries)

Weight: Pocket Color 195g (with batteries

As I said before the Neo Geo Pocket Color shared alot in common with the Dreamcast. It launched in a time, much like the market is today, where the gaming press was looking to the future but the consumers were happy with what they had.

In Europe in 1999 Pokemon had really caught hold of the younger (and some older) gamers imagination and, most importantly their, cash. The fact was that anime had broken into the mainstream, but it wasn't hardcore, it was cheaply produced Pokemon cartoons and Dragon Ball Z. King of the Fighters and Metal Slug just didn't satisfy the general publics needs from a presentation perspective. The system was again highly regarded by the press and all who played (much like the Dreamcast) but this didn't gaurantee commercial success. Sad fact is that the NGPC was pretty much still-birthed in the West, even Sonic's Sega developed handheld debut (Sonic had once appeared on Tiger's ill-fated Game.com system via a licenced out deal with Tiger) had little effect on sales.

It also had very little support from other game devlopers. Namco and Sega both shipped one title each for the system (Pac-Man and Sonic respectivly) but Taito and Capcom both supported the platform a little more. It was ultimatly left up to SNK to sustain the console, but surly this couldn't be a problem, they kept the Neo Geo home console alive for over a decade. While in Japan this wouldn't have been a massive problem but in the west the very limited software releases meant it quickly became relegated to the bottom shelves. Also a lackluster advertising campaigne ment few were fully aware of all the facts. You'd be lucky if you saw the occasional ad in a gaming magazine (in GamesMaster magazine SNK kept printing ads for two after they ditched the console and it had all but been removed from general sale in most high street stores... it makes you wonder don't it). What the console did tho' is something that hasn't yet been matched, not even by SNK PlayMore's attempts on the Game Boy Advance, they made excellent and playable handheld beat 'em ups. All of the SNK developed fighting titles were well above average, some verging on genius (ie SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium). SNK did release a range of casino based titles which were, well not worth the rather fancy plastic cases they were housed in.

An amazing console which ultimatly added to the demise of an amazing company. The good news is that some of the guys who worked so hard on the handheld versions of many of SNK's key franchises left the crumbling SNK and founded Dimps, who are now known for working on the Game Boy Advance versions of Sonic the Hedgehog with Sonic Team.

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The NGPC now retails on some independent web based stores for as little as £65 with six titles (only three are good tho!) so if you decide to invest in one of this babies here is what to grab and what to avoid.

NEO GEO POCKET COLOR GAMES YOU NEED AND SCORES

Bust A Move Pocket ...7

Puzzle update of the classic and rather sluttly franchise, it really has got around.

Gal Fighters ...7

More of a gaming-lite version of all the other beat 'em ups on the NGPC. A simple combat system was fleshed out with breast and panty shots

King of the Fighters R2 ...8

Sequel to mono-chrome original. Enhanced graphics, more characters, better audio. A fine tuning of an already accalimed beat 'em up.

Metal Slug: First Mission ...8

Metal Slug: Second Mission ...8

They vary little in gameplay but they are classics both of them, they both deserve to be held in high regard, together

Samurai Showdown 2 ...7

Perhaps the second best beat 'em up on the system. It feels more complete and balanced than KotFR2 but lacks the polish and shine of SNK vs Capcom

SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash ...7

This is what that Pokemon card game should of been, highly addicitve and a rare challenge.

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium ...9

Easily the greatest game on the system, you cannot grab this for less than £40 boxed now adays but it is definatly worth considering, especially if you are loaded.

Sonic Pocket Adventure ...9

I have reviewed this in length before and it is indeed the best and only vaiable platforming titles on the system. It captures the essence of Sonic at his purest, substance over style something missing from Sonic's later day adventures.

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If you are still looking for some gaming thrills try out these but remeber that if they are priced above £30 you really should re-consider they are all good, but nothing above that.

Fatal Fury: First Contact ...6

King of the Fighters R1 (import) MONO-CHROME ORIGINAL ...7

Last Blade ...5

Mega Man Battle and Fighters (import) ...5

Pac-Man ...6

Puyo Pop ...5

Puzzle Link 2 ...5

Turf Masters ...7

Pocket Tennis ...5

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IN SUMMATION THIS, LIKE THE DREAMCAST, IS A LITE-NEXT GENERATION CONSOLE THAT OFFERS SOLID AND PURE HARD GAMEPLAY. SUBSTANCE AND DEPTH OVER COMMERCIAL APPEAL IN ALL ASPECTS. IT WILL BE FORGOTTEN, IT WILL DISAPPEAR FROM THE GENERAL GAMING MEMORY BUT IT COULD BECOME A FOND MEMORY AND AN ACTIVE PIECE OF YOUR GAMING LIFE IF YOU GIVE IT THE CHANCE.

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Helpful links:

Neo Geo Pocket Color @ Special Reserve

http://uk.special.reserve.co.uk/q_GG9648_n...colour_han.html

Neo Geo Pocket Color @ Play-Asia

http://www.play-asia.com/paOS-13-71-2r-70-2aw-4-14.html

Neo Geo Pocket Color @ Lik-Sang

http://www.lik-sang.com/list.php?category=99&

My Sonic Pocket Adveture Review

http://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?showtopic=30669

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What the scores mean:

1: Disgusting, Unplayable

2: Playable but to the point of desperation

3: This game will stand up against the best 3DO titles in terms of quality, not good!

4: Below Average

5: So Average

6: A Solid title, with a few nice parts

7: A well put together title that will keep you engaged and playing

8: Very Good

9: Amazing, a definate buy

10: AMAZING, UNPARTABLE, UNSPEAKABLE QUALITY, A GAME THAT YOU WOULDN'T STOP PLAYING AFTER ONE RUN THRU. A TOTAL CLASSIC

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That's a cool overview for the most UNDER-RATED Handheld of all time.I love my NGPC.The battery lifealways was a problem for portables in my opinion...but the NGPC lasted for so long...i hardly ever change the battries.Also the Click mirco switch is simply awesome...best controls for a handheld and perfect for the fighters.

Ummm i think Turfmasters should gain a higher mark and Last Blade was a awesome game and kept very faithful to the Neo version.

Nice read...i might try my review at something like this is the near future.

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i have had a change of heart after spending three hours on the train playing turfmasters, but Mario Golf on the GBC just seems to edge it out on handheld golf games... but i conseed its worthy of a 7!

Last Blade tho'... I stand by that, compared to the other SNK beat em ups i dunno it feels lower than them.

Oh and I'm hoping to put together another overview of other consoles, so what would people be interested in? Old and not-to-popular? (eg Jaguar 3DO etc) or classic and under-rated (Dreamcast, Virtual Boy (!?) or Saturn.)

Let me know.

cheers!

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