|Fast facts on Neo Geo Pocket Color|
The Neo Geo Pocket Color (or NGPC) was released in 1998 in Japan. It was a 16-bit color handheld game console designed by SNK, the makers of the Neo Geo home console and arcade machine. It came after SNK's original Neo Geo Pocket monochrome handheld, which debuted in 1998 in Japan (and was released in the USA in 1999).
In 2000, following SNK's purchase by Japanese Pachinko manufacturer Aruze, the Neo Geo Pocket Color was dropped from both the United States and European markets, purportedly due to commercial failure. Remaining stock was bought back by SNK for repackaging in Asia. Before SNK was bought out, the Neo Geo Pocket Color was being advertised on US television and units were being sold nationally in Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and other large retail chains. In June 2000 SNK of America (and Europe) tried recalling most of the backstock of systems and games to be flashed and re-sold in Asia where the system would continue to be sold and supported. Some of the backstock of US NGPC hardware and software started showing up back on the marketplace in the US and Asia in 2003.
The system seemed well on its way to being a success in the US. Indeed, it enjoyed a greater success than any Game Boy competitor since Sega's Game Gear. However, it was hurt by several factors, such as the Barone family's (Heads of US Neogeo in late 90s early 00s) legendary lack of communication with third-party developers, and anticipation of the Game Boy Advance. The decision to ship American games in cardboard boxes in a cost cutting move rather than the much loved hard plastic cases that Japanese and European releases were shipped in also hurt the American sales.
The system is unique in that the language is set on the handheld device, and games display text in the language selected (provided the cartridge supports that language). Other settings can be set on the handheld such as time and date, and the system can provide customized horoscopes when one's birthdate is entered.
Cables for linking multiple systems were available, as well as a cable to connect the NGPC and the Sega Dreamcast for certain games. There was a wireless connector in the works that would have allowed several players in close proximity to play together. An MP3 audio player add-on was developed but was not released due to SNK's closure.
A single Sega game was developed for the console: Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure. Sega also brought evergreen Puyo Puyo Tsuu to the system, and Sega Toys released a third game, Bikkuriman 2000 Viva! Pocket Festival!, but only in Japan.