Is that a gaming console in your pocket? or are you just happy to see me

 

By Ben

 

 

It’s been a while, but my ongoing series dedicated to the history and legacy of the handheld gaming platform is back! Join me as today we look at what I have always considered the number two spot on my top 5 list of handhelds. With excellent games, fantastic graphics, and the ability to connect with Sega’s swan song, the Dreamcast this little handheld was a personal favorite when I first experienced it back in good ol’ 1999. Join me as I return to the land of the handhelds in this week’s “Is that a gaming console in your pocket…” as we look at the short lived, but impressive Neo Geo Pocket.

 

Ep 4: The Little Handheld that Could.

 

 

Well, ok. Technically it was the Neo Geo Pocket Color. But hey, the original only had 10 games and was an Asian market exclusive for barely a year before it was discontinued. However its successor, with a full color display, had at least the graphical capability, if not the game library, of any console on the market. Released in 1999, the same year the original NGP was released, the NGPC brought with it some of SNK’s more popular titles. Games like Samurai Showdown, King of Fighters, and SNK vs. Capcom showed both graphical capabilities as well as taking advantage of the system’s analog style thumbstick. Playing those fighting games with the thumbstick’s smooth motions was a fantastic experience that made super-moves and combos an ease to input.

Another feature that was of interest on the NGPC was its ability to connect to not just other systems, a trait that other consoles shared, but the optional cable to connect with the “too soon” Sega Dreamcast. This allowed cross platform interaction light-years before the current gen systems. Though the Dreamcast had nearly as short of a run as the original NGP, this connectivity was a sign of what was possible with tying in handhelds and home consoles. Another option released only in Japan (they go all the cool stuff in the 90s and early 2000s) was an add-on that allowed for wireless connectivity between handhelds, which allowed multiple players to join together for gaming sessions.

Sadly, even with these features coming from a price point of only $69.99, the NGPC was nearly doomed from the start. With powerhouse titles like Pokémon and many years of player base, Nintendo was as always the dominant player in gaming. There was also the notorious habit of ignoring third-party developers by the corporate heads; something these execs should have known by then (and by now) would cause a seriously deficient library of games. With this unfortunate combination in place, the NGPC faced the same fate as its predecessor. Discontinued in 2001, this death throw was the last SNK would see of the handheld market shares and with crippling financial issues a few years later, the SNK brand folded entirely.

Still, for the short time it was around, the NGPC had some impressive technical aspects, and though a small library, some exceptional games. For a young me, playing this system way back in ’99 with some Type-O Negative playing in the background, this system was the future. I saw the potential in it. The graphical ability, the sleek casing and thumbstick, and that connective ability with one of the unsung heroes of gaming I had and always will have fond memories of this little system that was gone before its time.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Is that a gaming console in your pocket? or are you just happy to see me”
  1. This makes me miss my Gameboy color and the countless hours I spent trying to catch them all. I hope my Pokemon are okay wherever they are.

    • nerdstafari says:

      I feel your pain, trust me. This series of articles is bittersweet, but I have always felt that the handheld market is sorely unrepresented when it comes to articles and tributes. Good to see that people see that, too.

      Ben

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