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April 23 2014

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  Hardware - Neo Geo Pocket/Pocket Color
If you are unfamiliar with the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color hardware, here is a guide to all the different versions you can buy. While the console itself is no longer officially supported, there is still a good library of games available (if you can find them), and the machine can be picked up quite cheaply, so it is well worth investing in!

Neo Geo Pocket Mono Version

Specifications:

  • 16 bit TOSHIBA TLCS-900H high performance core cpu

  • 32bit/16-bit register bank cofiguration @ 6.144Mhz

  • virtual screen 256x256 - 16 palettes/plane, 64 sprites/frame

  • Z80 8-bit cpu sound

  • 12 bit DAC & 6 psg tone simultaneous output

  • I/O serial SIO 1 channel 19200 bps

The Neo Geo Pocket was SNK's original hand held system. Released in late 1998, it wasn't long before it was succeeded by the Neo Geo Pocket Color (see below). However, there were some good games released on the system in black and white which were impressive. These included King of Fighters R-1 and Samurai Shodown. However, it was only a matter of months before SNK released the colour version and most of the good black and white games were re-released in color format (like King of Fighters R-2) which meant that the machine had an even shorter life then the NGPC. Most color games are still compatible with the black and white system, but they obviously don't look as good as if they were playing on a Color System.

If you are considering getting a NGP, you may find this machine available cheap, but you really should go for the Color version (see below), unless you are a collector and really must have everything made by SNK ;) For specifications, see the table on the left and hand side of this page. Please note that there are many other casing colors available other than the one shown in the picture above.


Neo Geo Pocket Color Version

Specifications:

CPU's:
Toshiba TLCS900H core (16-bit), 6.144 MHz, Z80 at 3.072 MHz for sound.

RAM:
12k for 900H, 4k for Z80

ROM:
64kb boot ROM

COMMUNICATIONS:
SIO 1 channel 19200 bps, 5-pin serial port

RESOLUTION:
160x152

COLORS:
16 palettes per plane, 48 palettes.

146 colors on screen out of 4096. NEO GEO POCKET color mode, 20 colors out of 4096.

SPRITES:
64 sprites per frame, 4 colors per sprite*.

SCROLLING:
2 scrolling planes, 8x8 character tiles, 4 colors each*.

SOUND:
PSG 6 tone simultaneous output. Stereo sound.

CARTRIDGES:
Maximum 2 MB (16 Mbit) with 4-16Mbit flash memory.

BATTERIES:
40 hours on 2 AA batteries.

MISC:
Lithium battery backed-up memory and clock


A while after the original black and white version of the Neo Geo Pocket was released, SNK announced a colour version it. This was released in Japan in the Spring of 1999. It was basically the same system, but obviously with a colour screen and available in 6 different casing colours: Carbon Black, Platinum Silver, Platinum Blue, Crystal White, Camouflage Blue, and Stone Blue.

Amazingly the battery life was still excellent (up to 40 hours with a decent set of 2 AA batteries), which is even better than Nintendo's Game Boy Color. This is perhaps partly due to the fact that it doesn't have a backlight like some other systems, Game Gear for instance. This means that you will need to be playing in a well lit area, or with a gamelight (you can buy these from various retailers, see my NGPC links page). This may sound like a pain, but the NGPC's screen is very clear and as mentioned the battery life is far better due to having no backlight. In my opinion its not a problem as Nintendo's Game Boy doesn't have a back light either and the Game Gear's screen seemed very blurry even with a backlight! As with Game Boy Colour, all older mono games will work with the new machine, but obviously won't look as good as their full colour counterparts.

The software catalogue for this system was great right from the start. At first there were updated colour versions of games that were already released for the short lived black and white machine. Games such as King of Fighters R-2, Puzzle Bobble Colour and a few others were released. Since then, lots of other fantastic new games were made available, including conversions of Metal Slug, Magical Drop and the handheld version of SNK Vs Capcom (Match of the Millenium). The third party game support was quite decent for a while too, with one highlight being Sega's "Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure" in December 1999.

Unfortunately, the dream ended in the summer of 2000, when SNK pulled the plug on the Neo Geo Pocket Color and support died out. This was down to a great many things, including SNK's internal restructuring, as well as the Gameboy/Pokemon phenomenon. It was very sad to see the machine go, especially considering it had lots more promising titles on the way, but at the end of the day, most people expected it to happen... afterall, at the time, no-one could really compete with Nintendo's heavyweight brand and Pokemon brainwashing.

The fact does still remain that the Neo Geo Pocket is a solid machine and has some great games on it, provided that you can find them. If you could pick one up for cheap, with a handful of games, then this is one handheld machine I can definitely recommend investing in! There is still a small "demo" scene too, and there are a few freeware games available on the Internet that have been made by Neo Geo Pocket enthusiasts; these can be played via the use of a Neo Geo Pocket linker (backup device). Keep an eye out on my Neo Geo Pocket news page, as I will update there with news on any new freeware games.



Neo Geo Pocket Color Slimline

SNK also released a slimline version of the NGPC a while after the original. The machine was about 13% smaller than the original unit, but the inside of the machine was exactly the same. I never tried one these slimline units personally.


NGPC Hardware Review

Please bear in mind that the following review was written in February 2000,
before the NGPC's unfortunate demise!

Things sure do happen in strange ways... For many months I really hyped my friends up about Neo Geo Pocket and told them they should go out and buy it. Due to being really short of cash for a while, I couldn't buy one myself however, so it turned out that all my friends went out and bought one before me! Then all my friends kept asking me: "This machine rocks, but why the hell did you hype it up so much if you weren't going to buy one yourself?". I was really disappointed that I couldn't get my own machine, but finally (when I gathered the cash) I went out and bought the Aquatic Blue version with a copy of SNK Vs Capcom Match of the Millenium. All I can say is that it was well worth the wait!

After unpacking the NGPC and turning it on without a game inside, you are presented with the Pocket menu screen. From here, you can change the date, time and language settings. There are also some other interesting bits and pieces included here. There is a calendar, World time and alarm, plus a horoscope thing which is kinda funny to use. Choose horoscope and you are presented with a screen where you insert your birthdate and it gives you a horoscope reading. It gives marks out of five for Money/Health/Romance/General. Well it seems the day of me writing this review is my lucky day because all of my ratings are good, hehe :P

After you've messed about with that for a while, you will obviously be raring to start up a game. After all that is what you bought it for! My first impressions of the machine were very good. The screen is pretty similar to the Game Boy Colors, so if you have seen that, then you will know what to expect. It is NOT backlit (like the Game Gear and Atari Lynx), but it is pretty clear and I think its maybe a little better than the Game Boy Colors. It can seem a little too reflective at times, but you do get used to it. The fact its not backlit is no big deal either in my opinion. If you ever played for any long periods on a Game Gear or Lynx, you will know that their screens suffered from being horribly blurry at times. In fact, it could be hard to play for a long period on them, because the battery life was VERY poor! You will be pleased to know that it is far better on the NGPC, which can manage up to 40 hours of continuous play, on just 2 AA batteries. Pretty impressive.

I quite like the mini joystick controller as well, its far better for most games than the usual D-Pad you get on other handhelds. When I loaded up SNK Vs Capcom MOTM, I had a little trouble pulling off some special moves, but after about 10 minutes on it, I was kicking ass! Everyone has their favourite controllers on certain machines and I really like the controller on this one now. I wasn't sure if I would, but safe to say its cool when you get used to it.

The Neo Geo Pocket sound is very similar to the Gameboy. At the time of writing this review, I have only really heard what SNK Vs Capcom Match of the Millenium sounds like. Although the sound isn't amazing, I do think it is quite nice. A lot of the music in this game is instantly recognizable if you have ever played a King Of Fighters or Street Fighter game etc. Some other games apparently have a little speech here and there which is suprisingly clear. Apparently Sonic Pocket Adventure has some speech (the famous "Sega" sound) and so does SNK Vs Capcom Card Clash (listen to the small sample below). So while you probably wouldn't want to turn it up real loud (especially not if you were travelling on a train/bus or whatever :) it is still very satisfactory. I actually found my self tapping my feet to some of the music on certain stages of SNK Vs Capcom!

Overall impressions then? The machine kicks ass, no question. I'm not disappointed in any way at all with my purchase of this machine and I can see myself buying LOTS more games for it in the future. Its especially useful to me when I go on long journeys too. Finally I would like to say one thing to everyone out there who uses the various emulators that are available for this system: I have a lot of respect for the authors of certain Neo Geo Pocket emulators out there, however I also have lot of respect for SNK. If you like the Neo Geo Pocket, then please buy it! It isn't all that expensive really, plus playing games on a PC screen is nowehere near the same as playing them on the REAL thing. The main reason for having a NGPC is *portability*, which you don't really get with a PC, not even with a laptop PC. The games also LOOK better on the real system, they look awefully blocky on a PC monitor.


Comparison with Game Boy Color:


As you can probably tell, the picture on the right is taken from the Neo Geo Pocket. I'm also sure that you will agree it looks a lot better than the dingy graphics on the Game Boy version of Street Fighter Alpha. Admittedly it isn't exactly the same game and the style of graphics are different (with SNK Vs Capcom having big headed "super deformed" style fighters) so its hard to do a proper comparison, but you get the idea. Although SF on Nintendo's little machine plays well, the latter game is far superior in every way and also looks and moves a lot more fluidly too (you really need to see it running). I'm sure if they ever released a version of it on the Game Boy (which somehow I dont think SNK will do :) it wouldn't come close to touching it.

SNK's machine has by far the best selection of fighting games for any portable and is also beginning to get lots of great games in other genres. In my opinion its a far better choice for most people, with GB being perhaps a good choice for the younger gamesplayers.


Listen to the Neo Geo Pocket:

SNK Vs Capcom Match of the Millenium Intro - 178 Kb

SNK Vs Capcom Card Fighters Clash Intro plus a little speech - 188 Kb


Right click and save as. Two examples of how the Neo Geo Pocket sounds.


  Comments
#1 | hasary on February 15 2007 23:42
SNK vs Capcom match of the Millenium, realy a great shot.
#2 | vanilla8282 on June 22 2010 18:33
i think this is an awesom machine but i mean with technology unless your being nostalgic i wouldnt buy one. i would just get a dingoo . i have one its amazing it really plays anything .. (emulator wise) anything!!!! Smile

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