SNK’s portable console burned quickly, but it burned brightly. Although it got trampled by Nintendo’s Game Boy, it’s built a strong and deserved reputation thanks to its great range of games and having one of the best handheld sticks of all time. Some of the games are rising in price, but it’s a console that’s definitiely worth owning.
SNK Vs Capcom: CardFighter’s Clash
A card game starring Capcom and SNK characters might not sound like a recipe for success but it has proved to be one of the handheld’s most enduring titles – hell, there’s even a DS version on the way. For those unaware of its heritage, the Cardfighter’s series is best described as a hybrid of the now popular Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon games that are available for Nintendo’s current handheld range (it also came in SNK and Capcom editions). For us though, it was the beautifully drawn images that prove to be the game’s real trump card (ouch). It takes a while to get used to the duelling system, but once mastered you’ll never put it down. Easily our most favourite Pocket title.
Puzzle Bubble Mini
No portable console is complete without a classic puzzle game to tide it over, and the Neo Geo Pocket is no exception. While the Neo version of Puyo Pop is extremely good and well worth owning, if we had to choose one puzzle title, we’d go for the amazing Puzzle Bobble Mini; mainly because it’s got everything you can ask for in a good puzzler. The visuals are perfectly defined, the computer characters put up a fantastic challenge (especially on the later levels) and the actual gameplay has the sort of fiendish quality that would have a crack addict begging for mercy. Utterly compelling.
SNK Vs Capcom: Match Of The Millennium
There’s a host of excellent little fighters available on SNK’s diminutive handheld, but few can match the sheer diversity and greatness of the sublime Match of the Millennium. There’s a staggering amount of options on offer, a huge roster of fighters to choose from and the ability to link up to both of the original Cardfighter’s game and Sega’s Dreamcast. Add in three vastly different fighting styles, the ability to play one-on-one or use a tag team system that mimics Capcom’s Vs series and its little wonder that SNK had to use a 32Mb cartridge in order to cram all the goodness in.
Neo Turf Masters
Neo Turf Masters was an essential purchase for the Neo Geo AES (providing you could afford its hefty price tag) and this pocket translation is just as vital as its bigger brother. Essentially, it is a scaled down version of the classic arcade game and is instantly accessible thanks to its elegant control system and wonderful presentation. Eight different golfers are on offer (each with their own distinctive attributes) and the three available courses are beautifully designed. Like many Pocket titles, everything has been given an exaggeratingly cute look and the end result is an utterly charming game that’s an essential purchase for SNK’s handheld.
Metal Slug 1ST Mission
While 2nd Mission is generally considered to be the better title, it’s the original Metal Slug game that has managed to secure a special place in our hearts. Considering the sheer size of the original arcade games, it’s amazing to think that so much of Metal Slug spirit was captured so perfectly. Like its arcade parents, the level design throughout 1st Mission is flawless; it’s also extremely tough in places, but is balanced so perfectly that you’ll constantly return to it. Add in some fantastic animation, a wide variety of detailed locations and some boisterous sound effects and you have yet another must-have title.
Sonic The Hedgehog Pocket Adventure
Sega had a strong relationship with SNK at one stage, but never for one moment did we expect its flagship mascot to appear on a rival machine. Nevertheless that’s exactly what happened and Sonic and platform fans alike squealed with joy. From the moment “Sega” blared through the Neo’s humble speakers to the sheer addictiveness that the fantastic multiplayer offered, Sonic Pocket Adventure was handheld perfection. Sure it was easy to complete (although collecting all the puzzle pieces took time) but its wonderful visuals, level design and playability were the perfect payoff.
Faselei! is one of the Neo Geo Pocket’s most coveted titles, mainly because SNK pulled out of the US before it was released. Surprisingly, this excellent little strategy title did make it to the UK in limited quantities, so the demand for Faselei! remains extremely high. While you can pick up a bog standard cart for around a tenner, a mint condition specimen can go for as much as £70. Don’t be fooled by the giant mechs, bland visuals and less than impressive sound, Faselei! Is an incredibly absorbing strategy title and definitely worth its high price tag.
Ganbare Neo Poke-Kun
Don’t be put off by the fact that this quirky looking title appears to be nothing more than an upgraded Tamagotchgi experience; as it contains some of the most enjoyable experiences that the Neo Geo Pocket has ever offered. The idea is to keep your little Ganbere happy by manipulating his surroundings. The happier he is, the faster he’ll create the 30 mini-games that you’ll eventually get to savour. The mini-games are based on a variety of arcade hits that range from Asteroids to King of Fighters and will be instantly recognisable to any that played the original games. One of the most charming titles.
The Last Blade: Beyond The Destiny
We’ve always preferred The Last Blade franchise to the more popular Samurai Shodown! series and the Neo Geo Pocket version is no exception. While Samurai Shodown! 2 is a solid little brawler in its own right, we just found that there’s so much more depth to Beyond the Destiny. Like the fantastic Match of the Millennium, there’s a strong roster of characters, a variety of playing styles and a heck of a lot of depth. Add in amazing animation, the ability to collect special scrolls and two nifty mini-games and the end result is a game for those that prefer slashing blades to simple fisticuffs.
Pocket Tennis Color
Don’t be tricked into buying the original black and white version, this is the one you want. Like Neo Turfmasters, Pocket Tennis features cute character design, instantly accessible gameplay and some increasingly tough opponents. Sadly, due to the cart capacity, the animation isn’t quite as good as some of the later Pocket titles that are available, but what’s on offer are perfectly acceptable. And besides, it’s the actual gameplay that’s important and you’ll find no quibbles from us. With four different arenas to choose from, the ability to play against a human opponent and some nice unlockable features, Pocket Tennis Color is another must have.