Fight Club!
Philip Wesley 1999

Neo Geo Pocket Color. There I said it. It's that system by SNK that they hope beats Game Boy. Well, there's a saying that Abraham Lincoln said: "You can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time; but you can not fool all the people all the time." What does that mean? I'll explain. I've gotten lots of e-mails and people in chat pages that are going around saying that Game Boy (and all it's evolutions) is dead-meat because "Neo Geo Pocket Color" is better. Some of these people even work for Game Boy ONLY sites.. how bad is that? It's like the owner of a Nintendo 64 site bragging on about how Dreamcast is better than the system he/she pushes on their site. It's a general hypocrisy really; but it's not their fault. Here, I'll explain.

When you hear about new technology, we are immediately smitten with a brain fluctuation that simulates a brain cell that hasn't been identified yet; but triggers the EGO and the SUPER EGO. Now, unlike the ID which is instinctive; the EGO and SUPER EGO run off of some even more primal urges. We all want to own/be the best right? And when something has "more" power... we want it. It's a natural thing. If we buy it; and are let down, we suddenly draw from the SUPER EGO/EGO and defend our aquisition; by downplaying what we had before. It's a "Velveteen Rabbit" syndrome. That downplaying of previous possessions may be rooted in the self-esteem of the person; but that's a different subject.

Just to clear something up.. the Neo Geo Pocket Color is not more powerful than the Game Boy Color in means of displaying colors. Tricks in programming can make the Game Boy Color display literally several hundred colors. About 256+, compare that to the Neo Geo Pocket's 146 colors simultaneously. The Game Boy Color has a larger pallette. It has 32,000. Neo Geo Pocket has 4,096. The Neo Geo Pocket Color is an evolution console; just like the Game Boy Color. There was a black and white version; before and so far.. none of the games for the Neo Geo Pocket Color are NGPC only. They are all backwards compatible and ports of existing black and white games. (Meaning: Held Back.) And the control stick for the Neo Geo Pocket Color is not analogue; it's a normal joystick with "Microswitch" technology. The Resolution for the NGPC is 160 x 152 compared to the GBC's 160 x 144. The screen isn't better by much. In terms of that sort; the systems are evenly matched. Although, in a full out color demo.. the Neo Geo Pocket Color could not out-perform the Game Boy Color; because the NGPC has less colors to choose from. Battery Power is longer on the NGPC; and that is a big plus; although.. the Game Boy Color lasts up to 45 hours on lithium batteries. (Those are the only batteries I like to use.)

The Neo Geo Pocket Color was made "to sell" in Japan and won best design awards; but not the hearts of gamers/developers. If there's something we should all note about Japan; the Neo Geo Pocket Color has already been considered dead over there. It's where the N64 was before Legend of Zelda 5: Ocarina of Time. With black and white systems like Sony's Pocket Station, Bandai's Wonderswan, and the Dreamcast VMU selling more units than the Neo Geo Pocket Color and those systems are black and white. To add a nail into the coffin of the system in Japan; the Game Boy "Advanced" was announced. This and the fact that Bio Motor Unitron is a year too late to make a difference equals a dying NGPC. Sega, and a few kind developers like Namco and Capcom plan to help it a bit with games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Capcom VS SNK, and Orge Battle; but in the end.... the Neo Geo Pocket is dead in Japan. Especially with Square developing games for the Wonderswan, and Pocket Station. Enix, Konami, and Rare developing for the Game Boy Color. And the VMU being focused on more by Sega. In Japan, RPGs make or break a system. And the NGPC game Bio Motor Unitron has a snowballs chance in Hell versus Dragon Quest 1 & 2 for GBC or let alone: "Pokémon 2" this Christmas in Japan.

In America, the situation is a bad one too.. none of the stores in a 300 mile radius from my house sell the device. If you wanted one; you would have to travel very far and most parents would rather walk over to the Wal-Mart and pick up a Game Boy Color for their kids. Many stores like Target, and Wal-Mart are not carrying them. Around 70% of the orders for the device are on-line orders. At least it has that going for it. Another hinderance for the device is it's ad campaign and the company behind it. With slogans like "Game Over, Boy" or "I'm not Boy"; the system is making clear who it wants to "hurt". But the ad campaigns are based on specs. The common consumer wants to see the games in ACTION. In example: A TV Comercial. No TV commercial, no success. Although better slogans wouldn't hurt. Seriously, "I'm not boy"? That's even cheesier than "Power in the palm of your hand". It has no exposure and a company that no one -save for arcade junkies- knows about. When I first showed the pictures of the system to customers at Wal-Mart; claiming that this system is the "next" competition for Game Boy; the first words from the mouths of most people was "Who's SNK? Are they like.. Sega?"

The games make the system. The NGPC has a strong list of good fighting games. Unfortunately, thanks to Takara, versions of these games are also available on Game Boy and Game Gear. Samarai Showdown is available on both Game Boy and Game Gear. The King of the Fighters series has three Game Boy games; and the NGPC version is an update of those. Fatal Fury is also available on Game Boy in two games. As is World Heroes, and World Heroes 2 Jet. Now, Fighting games are the systems be strong point; especially compared to the the GB line-up of Power Quest, Street Fighter 2, Killer Instinct, Battle Arena Toshinden, and a ton of unfortunate Mortal Kombat games. (Forget that last game series.) NGPC has the cut for the Fighting Genre; especially with Street Fighter VS SNK coming. Although the GBC will be getting Street Fighter Alpha.

Action games, or "shooters" are a weak genre in the NGPC; with only the game Metal Slug out on the streets; the system needs something else quickly; especially when you compare Metal Slug to the old Contra games on Game Boy, pop in Contra: The Alien Wars, and then return to Metal Slug.. you'll see. With no other shooters on the horizon and no side-scrolling or vertical scrolling shooters ala R-Type or 1942 hitting the NGPC.. it loses this one.

Role Playing Games... well, the Game Boy Color has more RPGS than the NGPC; especially in Japan; where there are more GBC RPGS on the shelves than there are NGPC games in total.

Platformers, Puzzle games, racing games, sports games.. they are all weak on the NGPC, the original Golf for Game Boy is more likeable and responsive than the NGPC Golf. And just put Baseball Stars (NGPC) up to Ken Griffey's Slugfest (GBC). Do you see what I mean? As for Puzzle games.. how can a portable expect to live without a Tetris game or at least a good clone of it? Not to mention that there is no novelty games like Beatmania on NGPC. Or Retro games.. let's face it, Game Boy Color has this genre down flawlessly.

If the list of games isn't enough to make a current NGPC gamer a little sore; I feel sorry for those who actually sold their Game Boy Color to get it. Especially with less than 20 new games headed for the NGPC by the end of the year; compared to the more than 40 that will be out for Game Boy Color by the end of December.

I love seeing silly people gripe about Nintendo being "kiddy" and NGPC being "mature". Amazing, they play a few games with SD Kawaii kid-like fighters; and they decide that the system with games like Mysterium, Shadowgate Classic, Revelations: The Demon Slayer, four Final Fantasy games, R-Type DX, Contra, Castlevania, Deja Vu, Ultima, etc is "childish". Uh huh. Yup. I think that you have lost any relevancy you ever had; if that is what you believe.

The NGPC has built-in features and that is a very handy idea; but to be honest..  remember Game.Com? And with no infrared ports.. Data will be a bit clunky to trade because of trying to find the cord. That Joystick feels flimsy too; and I am not sure if SNK offers good customer service. The NGPC is not going to make it; but.. hey.. at least someone will have fun. 

I don't "hate" the NGPC; I like competition in the field. I just don't see this competition standing a chance; whatsoever. It's like sending the 32X out against the Playstation. I'll probably get an NGPC.. next fall; from the clearance bin.