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Neo Geo Pocket Color

Neo Geo Pocket Color

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The Neo Geo Pocket Color (shortened NGPC), is a 16-bit colour handheld game console by SNK
SNK Playmore
SNK Playmore Corporation is a Japanese video game hardware and software company. SNK is an acronym of , which was SNK's original name. The company's legal and trading name became SNK in 1986....

. It was the last console they produced in the Neo Geo family. It was released on March 16, 1999 in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, August 6, 1999 in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, and some time in 1999 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.

The Neo Geo Pocket Color was designed to replace SNK's original Neo Geo Pocket
Neo Geo Pocket
The Neo Geo Pocket was SNK's first hand held video game system, released in Japan in late 1998; however, lower than expected sales resulted in its discontinuation in 1999, and was immediately succeeded by the Neo Geo Pocket Color. The system only had a retail release within the Japan and Hong Kong...

 monochrome handheld, which debuted in 1998 in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. In 2000, following SNK's purchase by Japanese pachinko
Pachinko
is a type of game originating in Japan, and used as both a form of recreational arcade game and much more frequently as a gambling device, filling a niche in gambling in Japan comparable to that of the slot machine in Western gambling. A pachinko machine resembles a vertical pinball machine, but...

 manufacturer Aruze
Aruze
, is a Japanese manufacturer of pachinko, slot machines, arcade games and other gaming products, and a publisher of video games. Aruze possesses licenses to both manufacture and distribute casino machines in the American states of Nevada, Mississippi and New Jersey. The company's corporate...

, the Neo Geo Pocket Color was dropped from both the North American and European markets. It did, however, last until 2001 in Japan, with a total of 2 million units sold.

US Release


The NA version of the Neo Geo Pocket Color had an exclusive launch on the website eToys
EToys.com
eToys.com is a retail website that sells toys via the Internet. It was established by a startup company of the same name during the dotcom boom, but the company went bankrupt towards the end of the boom, after which the site went through a number of changes of ownership, and was acquired by Toys...

 in 1999. eToys also sold the initial launch titles in the preferred plastic snap lock cases. The system debuted in the United States with six launch titles (twenty promised by end of year) and retail price of $69.95. Six different unit colors were available: Camouflage Blue, Carbon Black, Crystal White, Platinum Blue, Platinum Silver, and Stone Blue.

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
Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

, Best Buy
Best Buy
Best Buy Co., Inc. is an American specialty retailer of consumer electronics in the United States, accounting for 19% of the market. It also operates in Mexico, Canada & China. The company's subsidiaries include Geek Squad, CinemaNow, Magnolia Audio Video, Pacific Sales, and, in Canada operates...

, Toys "R" Us, and other large retail chains.

Post-Aruze buyout



Remaining stock was bought back by SNK for repackaging in Asia. In June 2000, SNK of America (and Europe) tried recalling most of the back-stock of systems and games to be flashed
Flash memory
Flash memory is a non-volatile computer storage chip that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. It was developed from EEPROM and must be erased in fairly large blocks before these can be rewritten with new data...

 and re-sold in Asia where the system would continue to be sold and supported. Some of the back-stock of NA NGPC hardware and software started showing up back on the marketplace in North America and Asia in 2003. These units frequently appeared bundled with six games stripped of their cases and manuals. Two games often included, Faselei!
Sacnoth
Sacnoth was a small Japanese based video games developer.Sacnoth’s high profile games include Koudelka for the PlayStation, the three Shadow Hearts games for the PlayStation 2, and Faselei! for the Neo Geo Pocket Color...

 and Last Blade were never previously released in United States, meaning that they have no US-localized box or manual; however, these titles did receive a European release, incorporating an English translation.

Legacy


The system enjoyed a greater success than any Game Boy
Game Boy
The , is an 8-bit handheld video game device developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was released in Japan on , in North America in , and in Europe on...

 competitor since Sega
Sega
, usually styled as SEGA, is a multinational video game software developer and an arcade software and hardware development company headquartered in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan, with various offices around the world...

's Game Gear
Sega Game Gear
The was Sega's first handheld game console. It was the third commercially available color handheld console, after the Atari Lynx and the TurboExpress....

. However, it was hurt by several factors, such as the Neo Geo heads' (the Barone family) notorious lack of communication with third-party developers, the success of the Game Boy Color
Game Boy Color
The is Nintendo's successor to the 8-bit Game Boy handheld game console, and was released on October 21, 1998 in Japan, November 19, 1998 in North America, November 23, 1998 in Europe and November 27, 1998 in the United Kingdom. It features a color screen and is slightly thicker and taller than...

 and the Pokémon
Pokémon
is a media franchise published and owned by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Originally released as a pair of interlinkable Game Boy role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, Pokémon has since become the second most successful and lucrative video...

 franchise, and anticipation of the Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance
The is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured, and marketed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001; in North America on June 11, 2001; in Australia and Europe on June 22, 2001; and in the People's Republic of China...

.

Technical specifications

  • CPUs: Toshiba TLCS900H
    Toshiba TLCS
    The Toshiba TLCS series are a family of CISC and RISC microcontrollers from Toshiba.- TLCS-47 Family :The microcontrollers in the TLCS-47 family are 4-bit systems...

     core (16-bit), 6.144 MHz, Z80 at 3.072 MHz for sound.
  • RAM: 12 k for 900H, 4k for Z80 (shared with the 900H).
  • ROM: 64 k boot ROM.
  • Interfaces: SIO 1 channel 19200 bit/s, 5-pin serial port.
  • Resolution: 160x152 (256x256 virtual screen).
  • DMA
    Direct memory access
    Direct memory access is a feature of modern computers that allows certain hardware subsystems within the computer to access system memory independently of the central processing unit ....

    : 4 channels.
  • Colors: 16 palettes per plane, 48 palettes. 146 colors on screen out of 4096 (or 20 colors out of 4096 in monochrome mode).
  • Sprites: 64 sprites per frame (8x8), 4 colors per sprite.
  • Scrolling: 2 scrolling planes, 8x8 character tiles (characters matrix shared with the sprites), 4 colors per tile.
  • Sound: SN76489 variant, T6W28 (3 square wave tone generators with limited stereo capability + 1 monaural noise generator + direct access to the two 6 bits DAC).
  • Cartridges: Maximum 4 MB (32 Mbit) with 4 to 16 Mbit flash memory.
  • Batteries: 40 hours on 2 AA batteries. Lithium CR2032 battery backs up memory and clock.

The system has an on-board language setting, 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 birth-date is entered.

Cables for linking multiple systems were available, as well as a cable to connect the NGPC and the Dreamcast. Games that featured this option include King of Fighters R-2
King of Fighters R-2
King of Fighters R-2, is a fighting game released by SNK in 1999 for the Neo-Geo Pocket Color handheld system. It is the only game from the King of Fighters series released for Neo-Geo Pocket Color...

(links with King of Fighters '99 Dream Match and King of Fighters Evolution), SNK vs Capcom - Match of the Millennium (links with Capcom vs SNK), SNK vs Capcom - Card Fighters' Clash (links with King of Fighters Evolution), SNK vs Capcom - Card Fighters' Clash Expand Edition (links with Capcom vs SNK) and Cool Cool Jam
Cool Cool Jam
Cool Cool Jam is a rhythm video game which appeared on the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 2000. Cool Cool Jam is comparable in gameplay to other rhythm games such as: PaRappa the Rapper, Donkey Konga or Beatmania.- Storyline :...

(links with Cool Cool Toon
Cool Cool Toon
Cool Cool Toon is a rhythm-based music video game exclusive to the Dreamcast. It was developed and published by SNK and released in Japan only on August 10, 2000.-Gameplay:...

). There was a wireless connector released in Japan that allowed several players in proximity to play together, with some cartridge moulding reshaped to hold it. An MP3
MP3
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

audio player add-on was developed but was not released due to SNK's closure.