Title: Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2
Developer: Code Mystics
Reviewed On: Switch
SNK and Code Mystics have steadily been preserving the Neo Geo Pocket library for various platforms, and honestly, it’s been a good thing. The first wave of releases was brought together as one bundle in Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1, which honestly is a fantastic collection featuring some of the best portable fighting games ever made, and even a couple of solid Metal Slug releases too.
Another wave of releases followed since, and these are now bundled together in an all-new volume in Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2. Where the first compilation felt like an actual greatest hits curation, this follow-up feels like a collection of sloppy leftovers with a few noteworthy titles.
The games are preserved nicely as virtual renditions of boxes, manuals, and even cartridges can be held up. The actual emulation is solid, and there are various filters and display settings to play around with.
Of note is the ability to play most titles on different Neo Geo Pocket handhelds, as games can be played on emulated versions of the original monochrome Neo Geo Pocket, the standard Neo Geo Pocket Color, and even the relatively uncommon NEW Neo Geo Pocket Color. Unfortunately, the latter was a final hardware revision, which didn’t do much besides slightly enhanced audio. So it isn’t easy to notice the difference in the emulation, at least.
Some of the games featured in Vol. 2 have already been released individually, most notable being SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash, which remains a fun little tabletop experience comparable to Pokémon Trading Game on Game Boy Color. This is easily the strongest title in the collection, but it can be bought separately. Biomotor Unitron is included here, too; not the most compelling RPG by any stretch but still a fun portable experience.
Surprisingly, the most enjoyable titles featured in this collection are the sports games, with Pocket Tennis being a highlight. It’s such a fun and simple game to get into, yet the play mechanics click so smoothly.
Of course, there’s baseball too, which is just as fun and robust, and even soccer manages to be fun here. These are all great examples of how a sport can be interpreted as a bite-sized video game experience. They’re easy to get into and yet have all the necessary quirks to keep it accurate to the real thing.
Speaking of sports, there’s Big Bang Pro Wrestling which leans more toward being a fighting game. There aren’t that many pro wrestling games on portable consoles that have stood the test of time, so this one is a welcome inclusion, even though the grapple system isn’t the most interesting. The character sprites are detailed, and the game tries to nail the presentation right.
Another odd fighting game in Vol. 2 is Mega Man: Battle & Fighters, which feels like a boss rush mode presented as a one-on-one fighting game. The game is largely based on Mega Man: The Power Battle, which can be found in Capcom Arcade Stadium 2. It’s interesting for what it is but hardly a game to come back to again and again.
Some of the best portable experiences are puzzle games. While it would have been nice to see a little more included in Vol. 2, at least there is Puzzle Link, a simple mechanic of linking and chaining tiles works effectively to create a simple and compelling puzzle action game. It’s no Tetris or Puyo Puyo, but it does enough to help scratch an itch, even for a little while.
What makes Vol. 2 particularly interesting is also the very same reason why this package feels like a missed opportunity. There’s a board game based on The King of Fighters and a weird experimental simulation called Ganbare Neo Poke-Kun.
Unfortunately, both titles are entirely in Japanese here, with only their instruction manuals crudely translated. There are online walkthroughs that can help, and it is nice to see games like Ganbare Neo preserved, but for most players, these will be largely inaccessible and unplayable experiences.
Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2 is a collection of leftovers and interesting oddities at best. Baseball and tennis are a lot of fun, but not for the full price of admission. If you’re getting into the Neo Geo Pocket library for the first time, then you’re better off just enjoying Vol. 1 instead. The handheld didn’t have a vast library, to begin with, and so Vol. 2 feels like slim pickings.
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