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What's a Neo Geo Pocket?

The Neo Geo Pocket is a handheld video game system made by SNK, makers of well-known games like King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown. The Neo Geo Pocket comes in 2 varieties: one with a grayscale screen, and the more recently released color version. The grayscale version can play most of the color games (in shades of gray, naturally), and the color version can play the all of the grayscale games.

Sound confusing? It really isn't. The grayscale system is called the Neo Geo Pocket (NGP), and the color system is aptly named the Neo Geo Pocket Color (NGPC). But for the sake of ease, just assume when anyone says "Neo Geo Pocket" or "NGP," he or she really means either system.

It should also be noted that in Japan, there is a system called the New Neo Geo Pocket Color (NNGPC). The only new things about the system are cosmetic. They are slightly smaller than the "regular" NGPCs and they come in some different case colors as well. NNGPCs play the same games as every other NGPC and do not provide any sort of enhancements over the NGPC in terms of graphics, sound, etc. The NNGPC was never officially available in North America.

I would recommend buying the NGPC. Only get the grayscale system if you want it as a collector's item, and only get the NNGPC if you live in Japan or absolutely must have one of the case colors that are not available as an NGPC.

NEOGEO Pocket NEOGEO Pocket Color
 New NeoGeo Pocket Color
The Neo Geo Pocket comes in 8 case colors, the Neo Geo Pocket Color comes in 6 case colors, and the New Neo Geo Pocket Color comes in 8 case colors.

Another interesting thing is that the system and many games are pretty much bi-lingual. If you set the system's settings to Japanese, the games play in Japanese -- and if you set it to English, the games play in English. However, some games are Japanese-only, and future titles are likely to all be Japanese-only, since unfortunately, the NGPC is no longer being supported outside of Japan.

There is also no territorial lockout on the NGPC, so any NGPC system can play any NGPC game no matter what region your system or games come from. There's no need to modify your system!

Moving right along...

So what, you ask? For a handheld,the NGPC is pretty powerful, sporting a 16-bit processor. In addition, the NGPC can display an impressive 146 colors on-screen at once. Plus, the unit features a thumbstick that easily rotates 360° for superb control. AND, the unit comes with some handy little features built-in, such as a clock, world time, calendar, and even a horoscope! The Neo Geo Pocket lets you play games that play almost identically to arcade games, and a whole lot more! Fans of all types of games like fighting, action, puzzle, casino, and sports all have a home on the Neo Geo Pocket.

King of Fighters R-1 King of Fighters R-2 Metal Slug:  1st Mission
King of Fighters R-1 King of Fighters R-2 Metal Slug: 1st Mission
Examples of NGP software.

Yet another interesting feature is the Dreamcast link. With this, you can transfer data from NGP games to your Dreamcast! King of Fighters R-2 is the first game to use this feature.

Should you buy one? Obviously, I want to say "yes" immediately, but I'll try to be more objective. I'll put it this way: Does a handheld Neo Geo sound good to you? If so, buy one! You won't be disappointed. If you can pass on games like King of Fighters R-2 or Metal Slug 1st Mission, you can probably go without an NGPC for now. However, I bet if you actually tried either of these games, you'd be sold on the NGPC! :)

However, it should be noted that the NGPC is no longer being supported in any region other than Japan. Since the release of the NGPC, SNK was purchased by Aruze, who decided that the foreign markets were apparently not worth supporting. Now, SNK is closed. So, if you want NGPC systems, games, and accessories, you'll probably have to purchase them from auction Web sites like eBay.

For other introductions to the NGP/NGPC, check out the links page.

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