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SNK Neo Geo Pocket/Pocket Color

SNK's first venture into the handheld gaming market came in the shape of the Neo Geo Pocket released on October 27, 1998 in Japan.  The Pocket was a 16-bit grayscale handheld meant to compete with Nintendo's Game Boy.  The main selling point of the unit would be fans' confidence in SNK and their quality line of games.  As with many other consoles before it, however, games were released later than expected, which left the NGP with a very small initial library of games.  The release of Samurai Shodown in December of that year was an encouraging step forward.  SNK still needed to have an edge over their main rival, which prompted them to release a color version of the NGP.

The Neo Geo Pocket Color (NGPC) was released in March 1999 in Japan and showcased an impressive reflective 4K color TFT screen with approximately 40 hours of running time powered by just two AA batteries.  King of Fighters R-2 was available at the time of the NGPC's release and was the first game to have the option of connecting to the Sega Dreamcast.  The American release soon followed in June along with three highly-anticipated titles: Samurai Shodown 2, Metal Slug: First Mission and Fatal Fury: First Contact.  Shortly after that, SNK released a new version of the NGPC dubbed New Neo Geo Pocket Color with a lighter and physically smaller design.

The NGPC comes with a range of added features making it somewhat of a PDA.  The added features are a world clock, calendar, horoscope and alarm system.  It also has a 1-channel 5-pin communications port with a max speed of 19200bps, a stereo headphones jack and an AC adaptor jack.  A dedicated built-in lithium battery is used for its memory-backup system. The NGPC is slightly thicker than the NGP, but doesn't feel any bigger or heavier.

I have yet to read any bad reviews of the NGPC.  In fact, both SNK fans and non-fans praise the system's power, portability and performance.  What hurt it most was its library's slow growth and lack of aggressive advertisement compared to what Nintendo was doing.  Competing with a company that has a strong financial back and a monopoly on the market is a tough job for anyone.  Competition in the American handheld gaming market is especially tough, which is why other companies like Bandai (makers of the Wonderswan) are so reluctant to risk entering it.

Technical Specs:

CPU: 16-bit Toshiba TLCS900H (6.144MHZ), Z80 sound processor (3.072MHZ)
RAM: 12KB for core processor, 4KB for Z80 processor
Colors: Pocket 8 / Pocket Color 4096 (146 on screen)
Resolution: 160x152 pixels
Sprites: 64 per frame
: Reflective TFT Lpocketc, 45 x 48mm
Sound: 6 tone stereo PSG
Game Media: 54 x 46 x 7.5mm 2MB cartridge
Power:  Pocket 20 hours (2 AAA batteries) / Pocket Color 40 hours (2 AA batteries)
Weight: Pocket 160g (with batteries) / Pocket Color 195g (with batteries)


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