The Neo Geo Pocket Color (NGPC) existed for three years (at least if you include the monochromatic first model). That is around half of the typical lifespan of a console. While it may have only lived for a brief period of time, the NGPC was able to carve out a fantastic little library of games.
SNK being such an arcade-focused company is reflected in its library of games. There are a number of fantastic, arcade-like sports titles, classic puzzle titles, and a heavy focus on 2D fighting games (SNK's bread and butter). Thankfully, while the system may have faded before its time, many of its best games are available on more modern consoles.
10 Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince Of Zenobia
Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia is a spinoff of Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen (an excellent fantasy-themed, strategy RPG originally released on the SNES). Gaiden isn't a simple port of March of the Black Queen, though. Instead, it tells the story from the opposing viewpoint, which is pretty dang cool.
Ogre Battle Gaiden plays really nicely, too. It features the same real-time troop positioning, with automated turn-based combat encounters, that its predecessor did. Unfortunately, as unique as this game is, it never received an English translation. While you can absolutely fumble through it without any ability to read Japanese, you are certainly going to be missing the story. However, there are unofficial translations floating around for those curious enough. This is a wildly ambitious title; and that ambition alone makes it worth your attention.
9 The Last Blade
The NGPC has a number of fantastic fighting games, but that is in spite of the number of buttons it has (a paltry two). The Last Blade is a cousin to the Samurai Shodown games; as such, it doesn't have the same focus on combos that some other titles in the genre do. This makes it an excellent fit for NGPC.
The Last Blade's gameplay is more focused on spacing your attacks and hitting for big damage. Here, the longer you hold down the button, the bigger your sword swing. This is a game where a few short combos can, and will, kill. When it comes to portable fighting games, The Last Blade is among the best.
8 Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams
You can't have an underappreciated console without having a hard-to-find, and inevitably expensive, Cotton release to go alongside it, and the NGPC is no exception. This classic side-scrolling shoot 'em up flies again on the NGPC.
Cotton plays really well here. There are fewer enemies on screen, and the mid-bosses are missing, so it isn't content complete, but it is still a very engaging shoot 'em up on a portable console. Also, while this is an easier experience overall, the bosses do feel harder, so the developers seemingly did try to balance things out. Overall, Cotton's NGPC outing is a novel entry into the series and an excellent portable entry into the genre.
7 SVC: Card Fighters' Clash 2 Expand Edition
The first SVC was split into two versions: one for Capcom characters, and one for SNK characters. It played like a simplified version of Magic: The Gathering, but with classic characters from Capcom and SNK filling the role of the creature cards.
SVC: Card Fighters' Clash 2 Expand Edition takes both games, fuses them together, and then adds a ton more cards. It was never released outside of Japan, but there is a translation available for the intrepid fan (there is also a DS version that is mostly the same). If the idea of a portable Magic: The Gathering game with your favorite characters from Capcom and SNK sounds like a great idea, then you are the right audience for this title. It is a great idea, by the way. This game is awesome.
6 Baseball Stars Color
One of the all-time best arcade-like baseball series is Baseball Stars. Originally arcade titles, these games are vibrant, accessible, pick-up and play masterpieces. So, it goes without saying that it is a pretty big deal that the NGPC has its own version.
Swing away in this breezy, fun baseball game. Featuring lighthearted, expressive graphics, Baseball Stars Color draws the player in with its energetic presentation and holds their attention with its engaging gameplay. Despite its small package, Baseball Stars Color is absolutely a home run.
5 Bust-A-Move Pocket
Everyone's favorite arcade puzzle game is back. A staple of the signature red SNK arcade cabinets, Bust-A-Move (or Puzzle Bobble as it is known in Japan) is a mainstay of the SNK lineup. Try to match different bubbles by color. If you get the trajectory right, and are able to sneak around protruding stacks, you can take out a large number of them with a single shot.
Bust-A-Move Pocket is as gratifying as it is adorable. Anyone can pick up and play Bust-A-Move nearly instantly. It can get decidedly devious in the later stages, though. Bust-A-Move Pocket is another example of a well-executed port of a classic arcade title.
4 Big Tournament Golf
For some people, it is hard to get particularly excited about a golf game, which is understandable. Golf isn't typically a fast-paced sport. However, SNK's Neo Turf Master bucked this perception by providing accessible, fun gameplay and wrapping it in an entertaining package.
Despite not sharing the Turf Master name, Big Tournament Golf is absolutely an official portable adaptation of that game (fun fact: Big Tournament Golf is the name for Neo Turf Master in Japan).
Big Tournament Golf is entertaining, fast, and engaging. Using a simple system for determining power and accuracy, the learning curve is non-existent. It is also a game that pushes the system graphically, being unbelievably gorgeous. Big Tournament Golf is a hole-in-one.
3 Metal Slug Second Mission
The sequel to the excellent First Mission (also an NGPC game), Metal Slug Second Mission sees you run and gun through beautifully rendered 8-bit interpretations of the Metal Slug world. Second Mission isn't quite as busy as its arcade counterpart, but it still delivers a similar style of frenetic running and gunning.
As is often the case with direct sequels, Second Mission smoothes over some minor control issues from the first title (most notably, the command for throwing grenades). This is a fantastic game and does an admirable job of translating the mainline series to the portable format.
2 Capcom Vs. SNK: The Match Of The Millenium
Capcom Vs. SNK: Match Of The Millenium is more than just another excellent fighting game appearing on the NGPC. It is more than another excellent Capcom Vs. Fighter. This is a fighting game that just shouldn't work as well as it does. SNK was able to work within the limitations of the console beautifully. Like other fighting games on the console, holding the buttons will produce a heavy attack, while tapping the buttons produces light attacks. Surprisingly, it feels good here.
This title features a roster of 26 characters to choose from (13 from each side). The gameplay is fast and responsive, the sprites are beautiful and expressive (very Pocket Fighter-esque), and for those who are big into the single-player experience, there are a number of fantastic bonus stages. The Match Of The Millenium has enough charm to win over any fighting game stalwart.
1 Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999
Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999 is one of the more interesting arcade-to-portable conversions of an SNK arcade classic. Beast Buster was a light gun game, whereas this title could pass for a sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors. However, while Dark Arms is not a faithful attempt at recreating the arcade game, it is an example of the portable version being a huge improvement — for as solid as Beast Busters is, Dark Arms is an absolute classic.
Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999 is a top-down action game that has an expansive weapon upgrade system. Defeat enemies with your starting pistol and you will steal their souls. Those souls can be used to upgrade your weapons in a number of exciting ways. There is a ton of room for creativity when it comes to the weapon crafting system, and those weapons are put to good use in this slick, ghoul-slaying action title.
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