The Top 10 Neo Geo Pocket Color Games (in no particular order)
Read our Neo Geo Pocket Color Retrospective HERE.
Metal Slug: 1st Mission/ Metal Slug: 2nd Mission
Ever since Metal Slug made its 1996 arcade debut, the shooter has been one of the Neo Geo’s best-known series, and for good reason. There’s something deeply satisfying about making a tiny pixilated cartoon soldier blast the opposition into globs of blood, and though the Metal Slug games are undoubtedly hard, the difficulty never seems impossible, making them quite addictive. Admittedly, a high quality arcade or console game doesn’t always lead to a good portable game, but with the Neo Geo Pocket installments of Metal Slug, this is not at all the case.
Both Metal Slug: 1st Mission and Metal Slug: 2nd Mission are franchise installments well worth playing, and not just because they successfully miniaturize the series’ distinct appearance, odd sense of humor, and head-exploding gameplay. Each game includes a surprisingly interesting story mode and presents missions on an over world map, rather than ferrying players from battlefield to battlefield, like in the arcade. Though these may sound like small differences, they add a lot to the games, making them must-plays for Metal Slug fans, make them perfectly suited to a handheld system, and well worth a look for those new to the series.
SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium
Out of all the genres of video games, fighting games are probably the biggest rarity on any handheld system…except the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Further, it is even rarer to find a high quality fighting game on a handheld system. Match of the Millennium is not only the best fighting game for system, but it could very well be the best handheld fighting game of all time.
Large character roster composed of favorite video game characters? Check.
Deep and addictive gameplay and play control, despite having only two buttons? Totally.
Super moves that are easily pulled off because of the clicky analog stick? You bet’cha.
Mini games to hone your fighting skills? Absolutely.
A wealth of unlockables? Tons of them.
Grooving soundtrack with colorful sprite based graphics? In spades.
Two-player link cable support with connectivity to the Dreamcast? Ahead of its time.
Yes, this game has it all. Match of the Millennium was a system defining game. Even if this game were to be ported to a modern handheld system, it just would not retain the same flare and entertainment quality because of the hardware itself. Enough cannot be said about the clicky analog stick and how perfect it is for fighting games, and the processor that allowed for cute but detailed sprites to fill the screen. And even though the system only has two buttons, it was created in a way where any newbie can easily hop in but will take a very long time to master to please the hardcore gamers. I could easily write ten pages on how great this game is and I recommend buying a system off eBay just to play this game. MoM need to be played by any handheld gamer or fighting game fan.
Dark Arms: Beast Buster
This is the NGPC’s Zelda. From an overhead point of view, the player is sent on a quest filled with demons and dark worlds. Pleasing action adventure fans, fighting is performed in real time, with promotes a higher level of action, but also mixes in plenty of RPG elements.
Dark Arms is not so much an RPG as it is more of virtual pet. Instead of growing Pokemon-like creatures, the player constantly improves a gun. Upgrading your hand cannon might be a little confusing at first, as you need a few different parts to put everything together, but turns into a main source of addiction once the rules of upgrading are figured out. With a unique vampire/nightmarish theme, Dark Arms provides hours of unique gameplay.
Although there are a many sports games for this handheld, Baseball Stars definitely stands out. Using a gameplay style that closely resembles that of NES’s RBI, Baseball Stars has cute coat of paint but with simple gameplay that provides entertaining results.
Being able to move around freely in the batter’s box and throwing wicked curve balls make for an entertaining game of baseball. Because even the smallest things are controllable, Baseball Stars is a fun and lighthearted experience that never frustrates. Sometimes the AI might hit that mysterious homerun every once in a while, but for the most part is fair. But if playing against the computer is not your thing, then find a link cable and a friend and participate in some head-to-head action. Baseball Stars is one sports game that anyone can play, even non-sports and baseball game fans.
Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure
In today’s gaming market, it isn’t at all difficult to find a Sonic the Hedgehog game to play. Installments of the series are available on everything from the iPhone to the Playstation 3 and feature Sonic doing everything from go-karting, turning into a hairy creature of the night, pinball, and even attacking with a sword. What is difficult to find, however, is a really good Sonic the Hedgehog game that’s not just a re-release of one of the Genesis platformers. Though it’s not exactly new, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is an underappreciated entry in the franchise and it one of the better Sonic games.
Though there are currently several Sonic games available for portable systems, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure was one of the earliest on a system not produced by Sega and remains one of the best (if not THE best). The game takes full advantage of the Neo Geo Pocket Color’s hardware in order to run the game at an excellent speed with colorful, high quality graphics, and the level designs are at least as good as those of its Sega Genesis counterparts. The game also has the good sense of keeping things simple, focusing on high quality platforming rather than character switching nonsense, unlike its later cousins. Though there might not be much platforming to be found on the NGPC, Sonic Pocket Adventure makes up for a lack of genre quantity with quality.
The Pocket Fighting Series
Though the Neo Geo Pocket Color’s set of games known as the Pocket Fighting Series certainly isn’t limited to one title, the included games are of such a high quality that listing them together is the best way to stop them from shoving piles of other games off of this list. It includes entries in several fan favorite series, such as Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury, and King of Fighters, and though there are certainly differences between these portable titles and their arcade counterparts, they still stand as some of the best 2D fighters created for any portable system.
Before the NGPC existed, several SNK fighters were available on Game Boy, but they were often of a low quality, with generic graphics, poor sound, and gameplay so simplified that it was difficult to recognize. In the NGPC specific Pocket Fighting series, however, the games were finally both portable and playable, with a cute, quirky, and distinctive style, and controls that, while they were still simplified, remained much closer to their arcade counterparts, thanks to the system’s pressure sensitive buttons and clicking joystick. Titles like Fatal Fury: First Contact, pleased fans with a pile of series favorite characters, while King of Fighters: R2 provided new features to the series with an addictive character modification mode. There’s something to recommend about every entry in the Pocket Fighting series, whether it be graphics or gameplay or entertaining stories, and their unique style and sense of humor has not been replicated in portable fighting since.
SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter’s Clash
At first glance, SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter’s Clash is a strange, fighting game themed attempt on SNK’s part to cash in on the success of the Pokemon Trading Card Game for Game Boy Color, and it would be hard to argue that it isn’t. The goal of the game is to collect hundreds of cards, featuring characters from games throughout Capcom and SNK’s histories, and then use them to build decks with which to battle a series of opponents, ranging from generic teenagers to voice actresses from Street Fighter, at the card game from which they came. No matter what the origins of the game are, however, it is very fun to play and holds up incredibly well.
I’m sure that I could think of dozens of informative and objective things to say about SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter’s Clash that would describe it well and recommend it to gamers of all sorts, but I think the best thing I can possibly say for the game is that it took over my life for years at a time. Because of my wild addiction to the video game themed virtual TCG, I would cart my NGPC everywhere with me, from hour long car trips to drives several states away, and when my friends were out sick when I was in high school, I remember at least once sitting down with a pen and paper to try and figure out how to best defeat the game’s final opponent, thanks to the school’s no portable gaming policy. Capcom vs. SNK: Card Fighter’s Clash is an intensely addictive game, filled with bizarre inside jokes and obscure characters, and, as it’s much better than its recent DS sequel, is still well worth checking out today.
Bio Motor Unitron
It seems for every popular Gameboy game, NGPC had a counterpart. If Dark Arms is referred as the Zelda on NGPC, then Bio Motor Unitron is probably the Pokemon.
While there is no monster farming, Bio Motor used Pokemon’s RPG themes to make the player constantly grow stronger. Leveling up and collecting parts for your mech is the focus of the game. Instead of capturing a new type of Pokemon, players would collect different types of mech parts and grow stronger with experience. With over 200 parts to collect, players might have difficulty finding them all which is why player’s could swap parts via link cable. Sure the Unitrons look like bad Power Rangers, but Bio Motor gave RPG fans a reason to pick up a NGPC. It even had enough of a following to spark a sequel.
After my first five minutes of playing Faselei!, I had made up my mind that the game was some sort of cruel torture device. As a turn based strategy game, it’s natural that it wouldn‘t be the fastest thing ever, but programming the movements of a giant robot one step at a time seemed to be overkill, making the game so slow and methodical that eating a three-course dinner in the time it took to finish one battle didn’t at all seem to be unreasonable. In order to give the game a fair chance, however, I kept playing, and my mind was quickly changed.
Even though I don’t think it could ever be argued that Faselei! is a fast-paced thrill ride of a game, it is a unique, thoughtful, and interesting strategy RPG. Being able to determine every move that your mech will make means that, no matter how difficult things get, it’s always easy to see where a lost battle went wrong and modify your plans accordingly. There are also tons of customization options available for gamers who want even more micromanagement to take care of, and the heavily anime influenced artwork and story are well executed and interesting. Even if playing Faselei! seems daunting at the start of the game, it is well made, rewarding, and worth playing to the end.&