More Pocket Color Commentary

Further affection towards SNK's Game Boy beater

I’ve already talked about the Neo Geo Pocket Color, but it deserves to have its praises sung at every given opportunity, so I’ll take the twentieth anniversary of its US release as an excuse. Its beautifully tactile microswitch “nub” and lovely, chunky form factor are still a pleasure to use, and the inability to play any of its astoundingly high-quality library on modern systems is something of an international tragedy. There’s an exclusive Sonic, on there, for god’s sake. Everyone’s always crowing about re-releasing the Sega 32X catastrophe Knuckles Chaotix, but you never see anyone stamping their foot and demanding Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure on 3DS Virtual Console. Well, I’m doing it. Thump, thump, thump.

Sonic Pocket Adventure is a mash-up of elements from Sonic 1, 2 and 3...

In fact, I don’t entirely understand why not one single piece of Neo Geo Pocket Color software ever showed up on Nintendo’s stereoscopic juggernaut when we got Game Boy/Color and Game Gear. We could buy Sonic Labyrinth but not Pocket Adventure!? Though, of course, it could be a hardware limitation. You can load Neo Geo Pocket roms on a custom firmware (hacked) 3DS, but they don’t run to an acceptable standard, borderline unplayable. I’m no developer but there must be some reason that the handheld struggled to emulate the miniature marvel. SNK aren’t shy about re-releasing their back catalogue and I’m certain that if it had been possible, we’d have seen the likes of King of Fighters R-2 on Virtual Console.

...most prominently Sonic 2, from which the stage archetypes are taken...

At this point I feel obligated to mention that the Neo Geo Pocket Color is possible (and extremely easy) to emulate at full speed on Sony’s defunct and wide-open PlayStation Portable, complete with its backlight and all the other benefits that emulators offer. The only thing missing is that gorgeous clicky stick. In the absence of any re-releases whatsoever, may I heartily recommend buying a PSP? You don’t even need custom firmware, just drag and drop the easy-to-find digitally “signed” RACE emulator into the “GAME” folder on your memory stick. Then you too can join in the fun, play Neo Turf Masters and join me in despair that it has been forgotten by history.

...but the level designs are all-new, and excellent.

Say it with me, folks – there has still never been a more undervalued piece of hardware than the Neo Geo Pocket Color.