Neo Geo Pocket Reviews N-Z

Neo Geo World Cup '98 Plus
Grade: B
Publisher: SNK (1999)
Reviewed: 2006/9/5

screenshotNeo Geo World Cup '98 Plus sure is a long title for such a tiny little soccer game! With responsive controls and a simple learning curve, World Cup is definitely an arcade-style experience. Played on a vertical scrolling field, the players are quite large and execute their moves in a fluid manner. On offense, the buttons are used to pass and shoot, and holding them down lets you "charge" your kick (at the risk of a steal). On defense, you can steal or slide to gain possession of the ball. 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 whom 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.

1 or 2 players 

Pac-Man
Grade: C
Publisher: Namco (1999)
Reviewed: 2004/4/7

screenshotThe Neo Geo Pocket can play a mean game of Pac-Man, as evidenced by this cart's close resemblance to the original arcade game. You can choose to play on a scrolling screen or a less-detailed full screen, and both work great. Although the graphics are easier on the eyes in the scrolling mode, there's something to be said for being able to see the entire maze at once. Although the dark blue maze border is faithful to the arcade game, it's kind of hard to see on the non-lighted screen. 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.

Our high score: 15100
1 player 

Pocket Tennis Color
Grade: B
Publisher: Yumekobo (1999)
Reviewed: 2020/4/14
Rating: Everyone


screenshotAccording to my site it's been five years since I last posted a Neo Geo Portable (NGP) review. That is criminal. So I picked up my little light-blue NGP and hit the power button. It came right on! The batteries are still working! The screen looks a bit dark but that's because my system isn't back-lit (*sad face*). So I cranked up the lights and discovered a little tennis game that plays like a champ! Unlike so many convoluted modern tennis titles Pocket Tennis Color is pure pick-up-and-play. 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.

1 or 2 players 

Puzzle Bobble Mini
Grade: B+
Publisher: SNK (1999)
Reviewed: 2020/4/14
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI wasn't sure what to expect from this, but Puzzle Bobble Mini turned out to be the Japanese version of Bust a Move. I'll never forget how obsessed my friends and I were over Bust a Move 2 (PS1, 1996) back in the day. I don't recall even trying its single-player mode, but on the Neo Geo Pocket you don't have much of a choice. 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 NGP 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.

1 player 

Puzzle Link
Grade: A-
Publisher: Yumakobo (1999)
Reviewed: 2015/4/15

screenshotIn the 1990's every game publisher was looking for the next Tetris. There were so many block-smashing games, they all started to look the same. That said, I was cynical about Puzzle Link. When I started playing it I had no idea what was going on. You shoot at a wall of colored blocks that encroaches toward the bottom of the screen. When you shoot blocks, colored pipes are created. The idea is to connect groups of like-colored blocks, causing them to disintegrate. 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 extra 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.

Our high score: 40460
1 player 

SNK Vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (1999)
Reviewed: 2015/4/15


screenshotThe Neo Geo Pocket has plenty of one-on-one fighters but this one pulls out all the stops. Match of the Millenium features 26 characters (!) from SNK and Capcom, including heavy-hitters like Terry Bogard, Mia Shiranui, Chun Li, Zangief, and Morrigan. The fighting quality is exceptional and the game looks about as good as a portable fighter can. The fighters are short but stylized. When attacking, their limbs are exaggerated to emphasize each hit. You only have two buttons - punch and kick, which actually makes the game a lot easier. All the basic special moves are included, from Ryu's fireball to Guile's flash kick. Counters are performed by hitting A and B at the same time which is kind of hard to do. The stages are a pleasant surprise. From the colorful lights of the downtown area to the waves lapping a sunny beach, the backgrounds are rich and picturesque. The tuneful soundtrack features a really nice rendition of the Street Fighter theme. All sorts of variations are available in the tournament and versus (link up) modes, and an "Olympic" mode offers a variety of mini-games. These include survival modes, time attack, dance games, and target-shooters. I wasn't crazy about any of them, but I like how your records are recorded. I would have preferred an arcade mode with a high score screen, but the variety is nice. SNK Vs. Capcom: Match of the Millenium packs quite a punch. I don't think I've ever had so much fun playing a fighting game this tiny. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Samurai Shodown 2
Grade: C
Publisher: SNK (1999)
Reviewed: 2006/9/5

screenshotCompared to the lackluster Fatal Fury and King of Fighters for the Neo Geo Pocket, Samurai Shodown 2 isn't half bad. In fact, I actually enjoyed this one. The controls are pretty tight and the action is relatively smooth. Shodown's fighters wield weapons, which is far more conducive to playing on a small screen. Swords slashes leave streaks behind them, and clobbered foes tend to spin and tumble dramatically. There's even a decent one-player mode. It doesn't keep score, but it does convey a story, incorporate hulking bosses, and allow you to collect "cards". These cards not only look cool, but list special moves on the back! Shodown's graphics are as good as it's going to get on the Neo Geo Pocket, with scenic flowing streams and moonlit villages. The well-done background music is tinged with a traditional Japanese flavor. Samurai Shodown 2 can't compare to its big-screen counterpart, but this portable version still has all of the necessary ingredients for a playable fighter. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Reviewed: 2004/4/7

screenshotI've always been a big Sonic fan, and Sonic Pocket Adventure really captures the spirit of those classic games on the Genesis. In fact, these stages are basically modified versions of those from the original Sonic games. If you've already played through those old games, this one will seem awfully familiar, but if you're new to the series, you're in for a treat. What makes Sonic so great is his exhilarating speed. Although there is a certain amount of precision platform jumping, you'll spend much of the time watching your hedgehog whip through corkscrews, tunnels, and loops, collecting rings and plowing through enemies along the way. As you would expect from a Sonic game, the graphics are sharp and the colors vibrant, although the curves are surprisingly angular in this version. The levels could be better designed. Many seem to double-back on themselves, making it tough to tell which direction to head next. And it's always frustrating to fall off the "bottom" on the screen. One great feature is the inclusion of 3D half-pipe sequence (first seen in Sonic 2) which you play between stages. This fun bonus stage challenges you to collect a certain number of rings while avoiding bombs. At first, Pocket Adventure seemed like a bit of a rehash to me, but then I discovered a few extra modes that take the game to the next level. A time trial mode challenges you to clear each stage in the fastest time, and the best times are recorded. There's also a variation that requires you to collect 50 rings before finishing, which really changes your approach. As you progress through the stages, you collect puzzle pieces you can assemble in the puzzle mode. There's even a two-player duel mode. Sega threw in everything but the kitchen sink. If you're looking for platform action on the Neo Geo Pocket, you can't go wrong with Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Turf Masters
Grade: B+
Publisher: SNK (1999)
Reviewed: 2004/4/7

screenshotYou can't tell by the name, but Turf Masters is a golf game, and a very good one at that. Like so many SNK titles, Turf Masters has an arcade sensibility that makes it instantly fun and addicting. We're talking about fast pacing, simple controls, and crisp, smooth graphics. There are three 18-hole courses and eight golfers of varying abilities. The main screen displays two overhead views - one of the entire hole, and a closer view showing your current position. Hitting the ball is easy, thanks to two simple meters that determine power and accuracy. You can hook or slice the ball by varying degrees, but you cannot apply backspin. Turf Masters has a few odd features. If you hit the ball into the very edge of the water, you are given the option to attempt a risky "water shot", which I've never seen before in any golf game. When you hit the ball onto the green, it's VERY easy to hit the pin. On one hole, my ball kept hitting the pin and rolling off the green, which was truly annoying. Putting uses a single meter that moves up and down with the ideal spot marked on it (Hint: For short shots, wait for the meter to come back down). The contours of the green are well defined and easy to read. The game moves along quickly, so you can squeeze in 18 holes in about a half an hour. What also helps to speed up the game is the fact that you can't exceed four shots over par. Turf Masters is a terrific little golf game that's easy to play and a lot of fun. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 88
1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, GameSpot, Moby Games