Hardware Heaven: Neo-geo Pocket Color
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.