'Cult' 16-bit handheld videogame system developed by SNK. Superceded the (somewhat pointless) Neogeo Pocket monochrome model released in 1998. It is not compatible with or based on the home and arcade NeoGeo platforms (although SNK did port most of their big arcade titles to the machine).

The NGPC competed directly with the Game Boy Color, and by all accounts blew Nintendo's machine out of the water in terms of power. SNK withdrew the machine from Europe and the US even though it was turning a profit - they had predicted that their market share would never grow large enough to make the machine viable, especially in the light of the Pokémon phenomenon and the prospect of stiffer competition from the Game Boy Advance. (There was also the issue of alleged mismanagement of SNK's North American operations which did little to help the machine.)

There are two notable things about the NGPC that distinguish it from other handheld systems.

The first was the (award-winning) hardware design. The machine could run for 40 hours off of 2 AA batteries, thanks to the non-backlit TFT reflective screen. Unlike the original model GBA, the dot pitch and contrast of this screen allow it to be used comfortably in normal lighting conditions. Instead of a d-pad there is a small microswitched thumb-stick, which is much more accurate and comfortable to use, especially for fighting games. The system had a built-in clock and calendar, and practically every game released for the system allowed battery-backed saving, powered by a lithium watch battery in the machine itself.

The game cartridges (which could be up to 32 megabits in capacity) used 'flashable' ROM chips, allowing SNK to recall remaindered games and rewrite the carts with different game titles. There was a wireless RF-link peripheral available in Japan, which allowed for up to 8 players to compete in supported games (e.g. Faselei!).

The other notable thing about the system was that although there were hardly any third-party games released for it (outside of Japan at least), the library of 200 or so games for the system had an extremely high concentration of quality. (The same cannot be said, so far, of the Game Boy Advance although this will undoubtedly change.)

There are several games for the NGPC that are quite simply the best in their genre on any handheld system. SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is probably the high watermark, but there are several other games worthy of attention (such as Faselei! , Card Fighters Clash, Sonic Pocket Adventure, The Last Blade, King of Fighters, Rockman Battle and Fighters and Turf Masters). There are a large number of fighting games on the system, but most other (technically feasible) genres are represented in some fashion as well (with the exception of racing games).

Since SNK closed, the NeoGeo Pocket Color and its software have not been sold in stores, but occasional caches of stock turn up on mail order sites and there is a steady trickle of (overpriced?) NGPC goods on eBay.

Links:

Every ROM for the system: http://get.to/ngpc (N.B.: Software piracy is a crime.)
Stuff for developers: http://www.devrs.com/ngp/

The NGPC's controls are not analog but are in fact digital microswitches, complete with characteristic click noises when you push a direction.

Although a great little machine (the screen is brilliant) with some great games it suffers from some silly hardware limitations (3 colour sprites for example) and a chronic lack of games.

It has some odd features, such as the ability to connect to a Sega Dreamcast with certain games to transfer stats and data.

OTOH, it's almost worth it if only for a copy of SNK vs Capcom: Match Of The Millennium.

It would appear that SNK is pulling this little nifty device out of the UK too. Go buy one now while they're still available.

A 16 bit portable games console produced by SNK, known as NGPC for short.
It was released in summer 1999, but despite a marketing blitz it was no match for Nintendo's Gameboy and Pokemon. In June 2000 SNK of America and of Europe closed down discontinuing their support of the NGPC.

Luckily, like the Gameboy the NGPC has no region encoding so it is able to play import games which continue to be made by SNK Japan

The NGPC has the following properties (taken from promotional leaflet):

  • Built-in 16bit CPU
  • CPUS: Toshiba TLCS900H core (16bit), 6.144 MHz, Z80 at 3.072 MHz for sound.
  • RAM: 12k for 900H, 4k for Z80
  • ROM: 64kb boot ROM
  • COMMUNICATIONS:SIO 1 channel 19200 bps, 5-pin serial port
  • RESOLUTION: 160x152
  • COLORS: 16 palettes per plane, 48 palettes.
  • 146 colors on screen out of 4096.
  • NEO GEO POCKET color mode, 20 colors out of 4096.
  • SPRITES: 64 sprites per frame, 4 colors per sprite.
  • SCROLLING: 2 scrolling planes, 8x8 character tiles, 4 colors each.
  • SOUND: PSG 6 tone simultaneous output. Stereo sound.
  • CARTRIDGES: Maximum 2 MB (16 Mbit) with 4-16Mbit flash memory.
  • 160 x 152 dot 146 colors display out of 4096 TFT LCD
  • Is Capable of Connecting to the Sega Dreamcast system via link cable
  • Includes World Clock, Calendar, Horoscope, and Alarm system software
  • Memory back-up system installed (uses a built-in lithium battery)
  • Has 8 directional mini joystick stick rather then D pad control
  • Power supply: 2 size AA dry batteries (AA alkaline battery recommended)or AC adaptor
  • Play duration: about 40 hours (with alkaline dry cell batteries)
  • has several outlets allowing for AC adaptors, headphones and Dreamcast link
  • Handles 16M of continuous access
  • Scroll function: allows for priority display, windows, and character displays.
  • Sprite feature with position revision function, stacked character and stacked character chain ability, along with setting for the stacked scrolling screen
  • Smaller then most portable systems @ 130mm (w) x 80mm (h) x 30.5mm (d)
  • Standard screen composition: Sprite screen, scrolling A screen, scrolling B screen, and the background
  • 6 different color casings
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