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Pocket Tennis Color

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Released: 1999

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Neo Geo Pocket Color

Publisher: SNK

Developer: Yumekobo

If you want to blame anything, blame Neo Turf Masters – I picked up the Neo Geo Humble Bundle just before Christmas, and returning to the arcade game gave me cravings for the pocket one I also loved. That caused me to bring my entire Neo Geo Pocket collection back to Bournemouth, and now I’m revisiting all sorts of games. Pocket Tennis Color is just the latest one.

If you’ve never played it before, the game is a pretty simple arcade-style tennis game with a standard shot button and a lob button. You get a choice of characters with varying attributes, and then toddle off for either an exhibition match or a tournament. It doesn’t matter tremendously which one you choose, as a tournament is just three matches with a trophy at the end if you win, which is handily saved in your records. Naturally, I’m obsessively collecting the trophies. That’s it for modes, with the exception of a multiplayer mode for you to play with your dozens of Neo Geo Pocket-owning friends (or if you’re like me, two Neo Geo Pocket-owning friends, neither of whom have Pocket Tennis Color anyway).

It’s a slight package then, but the core gameplay itself is good. You’ll have to pay more attention to timing your swings than in the likes of Virtua Tennis and ball impact feels a bit soft, but it’s easy to direct the ball around the court as you please. It doesn’t have as much long-term appeal as other Neo Geo Pocket Color games, but if you’re looking for some good pocket tennis, you could do a lot worse.