In the late 1990s, the handheld gaming industry witnessed the arrival of the Neo Geo Pocket. Developed by SNK, a renowned name in the arcade and console markets, this device marked their foray into the portable gaming scene. Its launch in 1998 introduced gamers to a new realm of possibilities.
The Neo Geo Pocket was designed as a competitor in the burgeoning handheld gaming market. It boasted an innovative joystick and an efficient 16-bit processor. The initial monochrome version struggled in a market dominated by Nintendo’s Game Boy. Recognizing this challenge, SNK swiftly pivoted. In 1999, they launched the Neo Geo Pocket Color (NGPC). This color version, with its enhanced display and expanded game library, aimed to capture a broader audience.
The NGPC entered a handheld market fiercely contested by Nintendo and Sega. While it offered unique games and superior hardware, the dominance of the Game Boy and the emerging popularity of the Game Boy Color posed significant challenges. Despite these hurdles, the NGPC carved a niche for itself, especially among fighting game enthusiasts. Games like SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium showcased its capabilities and appealed to a dedicated fan base.
The journey of the Neo Geo Pocket series was brief. By 2001, due to market pressures and corporate changes at SNK, production ceased. This end, however, did not diminish its impact. The NGPC remains a beloved part of gaming history, celebrated for its quality and innovation.
Let’s take a look at the best games on the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color.
#24. Crush Roller (1999)
Crush Roller for the Neo Geo Pocket is a hidden gem that offers a delightful twist on the classic paint-the-maze gameplay. As you navigate through the vibrant levels, your goal is to cover the entire area with paint while outsmarting pesky enemies. The game’s simple controls and engaging mechanics make it easy to pick up, yet it provides a satisfying challenge for those looking to master its quirks. With its charming graphics and catchy soundtrack, Crush Roller captures the essence of retro gaming fun. Its pick-up-and-play nature makes it an excellent choice for quick gaming sessions, ensuring that both newcomers and seasoned gamers will find something to love in this nostalgic arcade experience.
#23. Magical Drop III (1999)
Magical Drop III is a captivating puzzle game that stands out on the Neo Geo Pocket. Its fast-paced gameplay requires quick reflexes as players match colored bubbles to clear the screen. The game offers a variety of modes, including a challenging single-player campaign and a competitive multiplayer experience. With its vibrant graphics and catchy soundtrack, it captures the essence of arcade fun. The intuitive controls make it easy to pick up, yet the game’s depth ensures lasting appeal. For retro gamers, Magical Drop III delivers a delightful blend of strategy and action, making it a must-play title on the system. Its charm and replayability make it a standout game that continues to entertain.
#22. Fatal Fury: First Contact (1999)
Fatal Fury: First Contact is a hidden gem for the Neo Geo Pocket, offering a nostalgic trip for any retro gamer. Its crisp graphics and fluid animation stand out, showcasing the power of the handheld console. The game features a robust roster of fighters, each with unique moves and combos, ensuring a diverse gameplay experience. The controls are tight and responsive, making every match a thrilling encounter. Moreover, the game introduces the “Potential Power” mechanic, adding a strategic layer to the classic fighting formula. With its engaging single-player mode and addictive two-player battles, Fatal Fury: First Contact is a must-play for fans of the genre seeking a quality fighting game on the go.
#21. Puzzle Link 2 (1999)
Puzzle Link 2 is a captivating sequel that brings back the addictive gameplay of its predecessor with a fresh twist. This 1999 release for the Neo Geo Pocket offers a unique blend of puzzle-solving and quick reflexes, perfect for fans of the genre. Players connect colored blocks with a limited number of moves, creating an engaging challenge that tests both strategy and speed. The game introduces new modes and power-ups, enhancing the experience and keeping it exciting. With its vibrant graphics and charming sound effects, Puzzle Link 2 stands out as a must-play for retro gamers seeking a delightful mental workout. Its intuitive mechanics make it easy to pick up, yet the increasing difficulty provides a satisfying depth for seasoned players.
#20. Pocket Tennis (1998)
Pocket Tennis, released in 1998 for the Neo Geo Pocket, stands as a charming classic for retro gaming enthusiasts. Its simple yet addictive gameplay captures the essence of tennis in a way that’s both accessible and engaging. With crisp graphics and responsive controls, the game offers a satisfying experience that harkens back to the golden age of handheld gaming. Players can choose from a variety of characters, each with unique strengths, to compete in matches that require strategy and quick reflexes. The game’s tournament mode provides a solid challenge, while the practice mode allows for skill honing. Moreover, the two-player link option adds a competitive edge, making Pocket Tennis a delightful pick for anyone looking to relive the joy of straightforward, fun-filled sports gaming.
#19. Neo Geo Cup ’98 Plus Color (1998)
Neo Geo Cup ’98 Plus Color is a delightful gem for retro gaming enthusiasts. This 1998 release on the Neo Geo Pocket brings vibrant, colorful graphics to the small screen, capturing the excitement of soccer in a portable format. The game offers intuitive controls, making it easy for players to jump right into the action. With a variety of teams to choose from, gamers can enjoy a global soccer experience, strategizing their way through matches to victory. The gameplay is fast-paced and engaging, ensuring that each match feels fresh and competitive. Moreover, the game’s battery-backed memory allows players to save their progress, a feature that was quite advanced for its time. Overall, Neo Geo Cup ’98 Plus Color stands out as a must-play for those who appreciate the charm of classic sports games.
#18. Pac-Man (1999)
Pac-Man on the Neo Geo Pocket is a delightful throwback that captures the essence of the arcade classic. Its simple yet addictive gameplay offers endless entertainment, as players navigate mazes to gobble up dots and fruit while outsmarting ghosts. The game’s crisp graphics and responsive controls make it a joy to play on the handheld system. Moreover, the inclusion of multiple difficulty levels ensures that both newcomers and seasoned gamers can find a suitable challenge. The portable nature of the Neo Geo Pocket allows players to enjoy Pac-Man on the go, making it an excellent choice for quick gaming sessions. With its timeless appeal, Pac-Man remains a must-play for fans of retro gaming, offering a pure and satisfying arcade experience.
#17. Biomotor Unitron (1999)
Step into the world of Biomotor Unitron, a hidden gem on the Neo Geo Pocket that combines the thrill of role-playing with the excitement of mech customization. As a player, you’ll pilot a Unitron, a powerful and customizable robot, through a series of engaging battles and dungeons. The game shines with its deep customization options, allowing you to tailor your Unitron’s weapons, armor, and stats to your playstyle. The turn-based combat system is easy to grasp yet offers strategic depth, perfect for both newcomers and seasoned gamers. With its charming graphics and catchy soundtrack, Biomotor Unitron delivers a nostalgic experience that stands out in the handheld console’s library. Its blend of exploration, combat, and personalization makes it a must-play for fans of retro gaming looking for a satisfying adventure.
#16. The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny (2000)
The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny on Neo Geo Pocket is a hidden gem for fans of classic fighting games. Its rich, historical setting transports players to the twilight years of the samurai, offering a unique backdrop for intense battles. The game boasts a diverse roster of characters, each with their own distinctive fighting styles and special moves, ensuring a fresh experience with every match. The controls are tight and responsive, making for satisfying gameplay that rewards skill and strategy. Additionally, the game includes various modes, such as Story and Survival, providing ample content to keep players engaged. The charming, scaled-down graphics capture the essence of its arcade predecessor, making it a visually appealing title for retro enthusiasts. With its blend of engaging gameplay, varied modes, and appealing aesthetics, The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny stands out as a must-play for anyone with a love for the classics.
#15. SNK Gals’ Fighters (2000)
SNK Gals’ Fighters is a hidden gem for the Neo Geo Pocket, offering a vibrant all-female cast from the SNK universe. This 2000 release shines with its charming graphics and fluid animation, capturing the essence of classic fighting games on a portable platform. The controls are tight and responsive, making each match a joy to play. With a variety of unique characters, the game provides a diverse range of fighting styles to master. Additionally, the inclusion of special moves and a compatibility mode with the Neo Geo Pocket Color enhances the gameplay experience. The game’s lighthearted tone and engaging combat system make it a must-play for retro gaming enthusiasts looking for a fun and competitive fighter on the go.
#14. Puzzle Link (1998)
Puzzle Link is a captivating game that stands out on the Neo Geo Pocket platform. Its unique gameplay involves connecting colored blocks with lines to clear them from the screen, offering a fresh twist on the puzzle genre. The game’s increasing difficulty curve provides a satisfying challenge for players, while the vibrant graphics and catchy soundtrack enhance the overall experience. Moreover, Puzzle Link includes a variety of modes, ensuring longevity and replayability. Its intuitive controls make it easy to pick up, yet mastering the game requires strategic thinking and quick reflexes. For retro gamers seeking an engaging and rewarding puzzle experience, Puzzle Link is a hidden gem that delivers hours of fun.
#13. King of Fighters R-2 (1999)
King of Fighters R-2 is a must-play title for any retro gamer looking to relive the golden era of pocket fighting games. Released in 1999 for the Neo Geo Pocket, this game offers a rich roster of characters, each with unique moves and combos to master. The gameplay is tight and responsive, ensuring that every match is as thrilling as it is strategic. Moreover, the game’s “Making Mode” allows players to customize their fighter’s abilities, adding a layer of personalization to the experience. With its vibrant graphics and catchy soundtrack, King of Fighters R-2 captures the essence of arcade-style fighting games in a portable format. Its engaging single-player mode and competitive two-player battles make it a standout title that still delivers hours of fun today.
#12. Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999 (1999)
Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999 is a hidden gem for the Neo Geo Pocket, offering a unique blend of action and RPG elements. As a Beast Buster, you embark on a thrilling quest to vanquish the undead, using a fascinating mechanic where you collect and nurture weapons, known as “beast arms,” that evolve as you feed them the souls of defeated enemies. The game’s engaging progression system ensures a satisfying sense of growth and power. Its atmospheric graphics and sound design transport players to a haunting world, while the intuitive controls make gameplay both accessible and challenging. With its compelling storyline and innovative mechanics, Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999 stands out as a must-play title for any retro gaming enthusiast seeking an immersive and rewarding experience.
#11. Samurai Shodown! 2: Pocket Fighting Series (1999)
Samurai Shodown! 2: Pocket Fighting Series is a gem for any retro gamer’s collection. Released in 1999 for the Neo Geo Pocket, this game offers a portable fighting experience that rivals its console counterparts. With a roster of 15 characters, each with unique moves and fighting styles, the game ensures a diverse combat experience. The controls are responsive, making the gameplay both challenging and rewarding. Additionally, the game features a variety of modes, including a two-player link option, which adds to its replay value. The vibrant graphics and detailed sprites stand out, showcasing the capabilities of the handheld system. Moreover, the game’s blend of strategy and action captures the essence of the classic arcade fighter, making it a must-play for enthusiasts of the genre.
#10. Fantastic Night Dreams: Cotton (2000)
Embark on a whimsical journey with Fantastic Night Dreams: Cotton on the Neo Geo Pocket, a game that captures the essence of classic shoot-’em-up action with a charming twist. As the endearing witch Cotton, you’ll navigate through enchanting levels, casting spells and dodging a barrage of enemies in a quest to satisfy your insatiable appetite for willow candy. The game’s vibrant graphics and responsive controls make for an immersive experience, while the escalating difficulty ensures a satisfying challenge for veterans and newcomers alike. With its delightful blend of fantasy and arcade-style gameplay, Fantastic Night Dreams: Cotton stands out as a must-play title that offers a refreshing take on a beloved genre.
#9. Bust-A-Move Pocket (1999)
Bust-A-Move Pocket is a captivating puzzle game that stands out on the Neo Geo Pocket platform. Its addictive gameplay involves aligning colorful bubbles to clear the screen, offering a satisfying challenge for players. The game’s intuitive controls make it easy to pick up, yet it requires strategic thinking to master. With a variety of levels and increasing difficulty, it promises hours of engaging fun. The charming graphics and cheerful music enhance the experience, making it a delightful choice for any retro gamer. Its portability allows for on-the-go entertainment, ensuring that classic puzzle action is always at your fingertips. Bust-A-Move Pocket is a testament to the timeless appeal of well-crafted puzzle games.
#8. Samurai Shodown!: Pocket Fighting Series (1998)
Samurai Shodown!: Pocket Fighting Series is a gem for retro gaming enthusiasts. Released in 1998 for the Neo Geo Pocket, this game captures the essence of classic arcade fighting with a portable twist. Its vibrant graphics and fluid animations stand out, showcasing the capabilities of the handheld console. The game features a roster of memorable characters, each with unique moves and fighting styles, ensuring diverse gameplay experiences. The controls are responsive and well-adapted to the Neo Geo Pocket’s interface, making for an intuitive and engaging combat system. Additionally, the game offers a variety of modes, including a story mode that adds depth to the characters and their motivations. With its combination of portability, engaging mechanics, and strong visual appeal, Samurai Shodown!: Pocket Fighting Series remains a compelling title for fans of the fighting genre.
#7. Neo Turf Masters (1999)
Neo Turf Masters on the Neo Geo Pocket is a classic that any retro gamer would appreciate for its simplicity and charm. This portable adaptation of the arcade hit delivers an engaging golf experience with easy-to-learn controls and a competitive edge. Players can choose from a variety of golfers, each with unique attributes, to tackle diverse courses that offer a range of challenges. The game’s crisp graphics and responsive gameplay ensure a satisfying round of golf every time. Moreover, the pick-up-and-play nature of Neo Turf Masters makes it perfect for quick gaming sessions, while its depth keeps players coming back for more. With its balance of accessibility and strategy, this title remains a standout in the sports genre for retro gaming enthusiasts.
#6. Puyo Puyo 2 (1999)
Puyo Puyo 2 on the Neo Geo Pocket is a classic puzzle game that stands the test of time. Its simple yet addictive gameplay hooks players from the start. You match four or more colorful Puyos to clear them from the screen, strategizing to create chain reactions for high scores. The game’s increasing difficulty ensures a satisfying challenge for both beginners and seasoned gamers. With its vibrant graphics and catchy music, Puyo Puyo 2 offers endless entertainment. Its portable format makes it perfect for gaming on the go. This gem from 1999 is a must-play for any retro gaming enthusiast looking for a blend of fun and strategy.
#5. Faselei! (1999)
Embark on a tactical adventure with Faselei! on the Neo Geo Pocket, a hidden gem from 1999 that’s sure to captivate any retro gamer. This strategy game stands out with its unique ‘Programmable Command System,’ allowing players to pre-plan their mech’s movements and attacks, creating a chess-like experience on the battlefield. The game’s engaging storyline propels you through a series of challenging missions, each demanding strategic foresight and adaptability. With its charming pixel art and a soundtrack that perfectly complements the gameplay, Faselei! offers a satisfying blend of nostalgia and innovation. The game’s depth and replayability make it a must-play for fans of the genre, ensuring hours of entertainment as you master the art of robotic warfare.
#4. Metal Slug 2nd Mission (2000)
Metal Slug 2nd Mission is a hidden gem for the Neo Geo Pocket, offering a thrilling run-and-gun experience. With its vibrant graphics and smooth animations, the game captures the essence of the classic arcade series. Players can choose between two characters, each with unique missions, enhancing replayability. The controls are tight and responsive, making the action-packed gameplay both challenging and rewarding. Furthermore, the game boasts an impressive variety of weapons and vehicles, keeping the combat fresh and exciting. The chiptune soundtrack adds to the nostalgic charm, making Metal Slug 2nd Mission a must-play for fans of retro gaming. Its engaging levels and boss fights will keep you hooked, proving that great things come in small packages.
#3. Metal Slug 1st Mission (1999)
Metal Slug 1st Mission is a thrilling run-and-gun adventure that brings the classic arcade action to the Neo Geo Pocket. Released in 1999, this game captures the essence of its arcade predecessors with fast-paced gameplay and engaging combat. Players embark on a mission to thwart an evil organization, navigating through diverse levels filled with enemies and obstacles. The game’s vibrant graphics and smooth animations stand out, offering a visually appealing experience. Its intuitive controls make it easy to jump right into the action, while the variety of weapons and vehicles adds depth to the gameplay. With its challenging boss fights and multiple endings, Metal Slug 1st Mission provides a satisfying and replayable experience for any retro gamer looking for a portable dose of high-octane fun.
#2. SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (1999)
SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is a classic that no retro gamer should miss. Released in 1999 for the Neo Geo Pocket, this game offers a thrilling crossover experience, bringing together fan-favorite characters from two iconic franchises. Players can choose from a diverse roster, featuring fighters from both SNK and Capcom universes, each with their unique moves and combos. The game shines with its tight controls and fluid gameplay, ensuring that every match is both challenging and satisfying. Additionally, it boasts a variety of game modes, including single-player, tag team, and even mini-games, providing hours of entertainment. With its charming pixel art graphics and catchy soundtrack, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium captures the essence of what makes retro gaming so beloved.
#1. Sonic The Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (1999)
Sonic The Hedgehog Pocket Adventure for the Neo Geo Pocket is a gem for retro gaming enthusiasts. Released in 1999, this game captures the essence of classic Sonic titles with its fast-paced gameplay and vibrant graphics. Players will find familiar zones reimagined for handheld play, offering a fresh yet nostalgic experience. The game also introduces unique puzzle pieces to collect, adding an extra layer of challenge and replayability. With its tight controls and engaging level design, Sonic The Hedgehog Pocket Adventure stands out as a must-play title. It’s a testament to the enduring appeal of the Sonic franchise and a delightful addition to any retro gamer’s collection.