Hard­ware Heaven: Neo-geo Pocket Color

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

We take a brief look at SNK’S sec­ond at­tempt to crack the hand­held mar­ket

» Man­u­fac­turer: SNK » Year: 1999 » cost: £59.99 (launch), £30+ (to­day)

Less than six months af­ter re­leas­ing the ill-fated Neo-geo Pocket, SNK de­liv­ered its suc­ces­sor – a sub­stan­tially sim­i­lar hand­held con­sole with back­wards com­pat­i­bil­ity and a full colour screen. The re­sult was a rather stun­ning piece of kit, which de­liv­ered on ev­ery front. The 16-bit CPU and strong sprite-shift­ing ca­pa­bil­ity al­lowed the ma­chine to de­liver faith­ful minia­ture ver­sions of

Neo-geo ar­cade hits, and the mi­croswitched dig­i­tal thumb­stick made for a per­fect con­troller. The con­sole ran for many hours from just a pair of AA bat­ter­ies, and it was even a lit­tle cheaper than Nin­tendo’s Game Boy Color.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Neo-geo Pocket Color fal­tered in the mar­ket­place. Metal Slug: 1st Mis­sion, Neo Turf Mas­ters and The King Of Fight­ers R-2 were great games but not the most high-profile, and SNK recog­nised that, smartly li­cens­ing hand­held-friendly games such as Pac-man, Puz­zle Bob­ble Mini and Sonic Pocket Ad­ven­ture. But the Game Boy line was un­der­go­ing a rad­i­cal re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion fu­elled by the Poké­mon jug­ger­naut, and SNK’S peak share of the US hand­held mar­ket was just two per cent. Aruze pur­chased SNK in Jan­uary 2000 and with­drew the com­pany from in­ter­na­tional mar­kets in June 2000, and with lit­tle but pachinko games to of­fer, the Neo-geo Pocket Color fell into de­cline in Ja­pan be­fore ul­ti­mately suc­cumb­ing to SNK’S bank­ruptcy in Oc­to­ber 2001.

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