The animation of the characters is amazing. Your soldier can be seen breathing heavy when he stops, and enemies keel over with dramatic style. Soldiers on the lookout even alert the others by shouting with dialogue "bubbles". The background graphics are eye-catching, and depict huge towers and hulking aircraft carriers. Your basic weapon only lets you aim sideways or straight up, but certain weapons allow you to "spray" bullets over the whole range.
Metal Slug First Mission has some innovative elements. For example, getting captured might send you to an "escape from prison" stage, and when your plane gets shot down, you play a parachute sequence. Metal Slug took me by surprise by its high quality and playability. It's a very well designed game. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
When the ball is airborne, you can execute headers, volleys, or trap blocks. The pacing of the game is just right, and the penalty calling is mercifully restrained. Only a few flaws prevent Neo Geo Cup from achieving greatness. For one thing, your "window" view of the field is so small that you can rarely see who you're passing to. SNK tried to address this issue with an "outside pass cursor" (an arrow that runs along on the edge of the screen), but it's not very effective. Also, the automatic player switching can be erratic.
You can always link up with a friend, but Neo Geo Cup also offers a rewarding single player experience. The well-designed story mode lets you progress through a tournament, purchasing items like spikes and bandanas to improve your attributes. I tend to suck at this game, but I always have a good time playing it, so that should count for something. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The sound effects are virtually identical to the arcade, and rounding out the package are the "attract mode" screens and a full set of intermissions. The control could be better. The Neo Geo Pocket's tiny joystick isn't as responsive as it could be, so you'll need to begin your turn slightly before reaching an intersection. In addition, I was disappointed that this game doesn't save the high score. How hard would that have been? Pac-Man pales in comparison to other games for the Neo Geo Pocket, but it's still good, clean, old-school fun. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
You choose from nine anime-style players and five "fantasy" courts. The courts are colorful but not particularly interesting. Each is about one screen in size but the screen still scrolls to keep the ball in the center. The controls are refreshingly simple with a hit button and a lob shot. Holding in a direction when you strike the ball lets you aim to some degree. Your player automatically dives if the ball's a bit out of reach, or smashes a lob if it's in his wheelhouse. On the downside you can't really execute any fancy moves or wide-angle shots, so the volleys tend to be predictable.
Pocket Tennis Color has a great tournament mode. The idea of playing full sets over multiple rounds might seem a bit much on a handheld, but the matches progress quickly because the game doesn't waste your time with victory animations or replays. It would however be nice if it showed the score between games. And is there a reason why the court changes color halfway through each match?
When I reached the finals I was surprised to see my next opponent was a red blob called "Amiba". I beat him pretty easily, which is probably why you don't see many single-celled organisms in professional tennis. I was then presented with the Delta cup dated 4-12-2020. Hey wait - that's today! Sure enough the system has a clock! I expect to win many more cups in the future because Pocket Tennis Color may be the most sensible tennis game I've ever played. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Fortunately the main puzzle mode is madly addictive. I made it through the first 12 levels, and the game remembers so I can always pick up where I left off. The other two modes, cpu versus and survival, are just as engrossing. Like Tetris, the idea is to clear the screen, but this time by popping balloons.
You have a little arrow-shaped gun on the bottom that fires colored balloons toward the top. When three balloons of the same color are next to each other they pop, and any balloon connected to them below falls off the screen. There's not much eye candy except for a green cartoon dinosaur cheering you on. You can aim with surprising accuracy as you try to squeeze in shots or carom off the walls.
This could easily be an "A" game if not for a little problem. On my non-back-lit Neo Geo Pocket the colors don't exactly jump off the screen and I had to really strain my eyes to differentiate close colors like gray and green. In a game where you need to make split-second decisions, color confusion can cost you big time. Other than that, Puzzle Bobble Mini is pretty awesome and you don't need to be a cerebral puzzle geek to enjoy it either. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Puzzle Link is a little hard to grasp and that's its biggest problem. Also, the limited color palette forces you to differentiate striped yellow blocks from normal yellow. It's easy to write this off as an awkward variation on Tetris but the more I played Puzzle Link, the more I liked it. You need to think and react quickly to connect the right colors. Often you'll get one side under control only to discover the other side is piling up.
What makes the game exciting are its chain reactions, which are more the rule than the exception. I like how they unfold slowly enough for you to enjoy them. You can be teetering on the edge of oblivion, and then a single well-placed pipe brings the entire wall down. There are several skill levels and variations, and high scores are recorded. The game also features anime-style intermissions and unlockable Pokemon-style "cards". Unique and addicting, Puzzle Link is the sort of game every portable system needs. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum