NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2 in the Test - An entertaining excursion into the past

NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2 in the Test - An entertaining excursion into the past

NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 was released for the Nintendo Switch in March 2021 and was also released on the PC six months later. The collection includes ten games originally developed for the NeoGeo Pocket Color. SNK's handheld console made its debut in the Japanese market in March 1999 and hit store shelves in western countries later that year. However, there was no great success in this country and many good games did not get the attention they deserved. SNK, in cooperation with Capcom, now wants to change that and regularly publishes selected classics of the portable system for the hybrid. With the NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 mentioned at the beginning, last year was well presented and showed how simple emulation can be staged in an appealing way. The focus of the last collection was on the beat 'em ups genre, as you can read in our dedicated review, and includes gems like Samurai Shodown! 2 or SNK Gals' Fighters. The second collection, NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2, has been available for a month now and includes another ten titles. You can find out in our following test whether the package can convince again this time and which genre is in the foreground this time not missing.

© SNK Corporation / CAPCOM Co.,Ltd. / CAPCOM U.S.A., Inc.

NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2 continues the virtue of its predecessor, presenting itself in a clear menu with 3D models of each game module and packaging. At the push of a button you can view a detailed, digital replica of the cases, open them and even remove the cartridge. That was already chic in the first issue and nostalgics will be happy again this time. In addition, each individual game has a digitized, color manual that is available at any time and invites you to browse. The loving presentation and the many comfort functions, such as a rewind feature, image scaling or quick resume, almost make you forget that you are dealing with an ordinary emulation here.

But the appealing façade is only one aspect of the ten-strong collection. After all, the core are the games – and there are a lot of them. Big Bang Pro Wrestling, Baseball Stars Color, Pocket Tennis Color, NeoGeo Cup '98 Plus Color, SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash, Biomotor Unitron, Mega Man Battle & Fighters, Puzzle Link 2, Ganbare Neo Poke-kun and The King of Fighters Battle de Paradise form the foundation of what is now the second collection and an interesting genre mix. Most of the games have an English localization, but a handful are only playable in Japanese - only the manual has been translated into English. While Mega Man Battle & Fighters works reasonably well without language skills, the hurdle in Ganbare Neo Poke-kun and The King of Fighters Battle de Paradise is much higher and difficult to master without patience or external help. That could overwhelm some players and consequently put them off.

A colorful mix - but one genre dominates

The dominance this time undoubtedly belongs to the sports games, which we now want to look at first. Big Bang Pro Wrestling was released for the Nintendo Switch in March of this year and received a review from us a little later. The pixelated show fight can't keep up with modern simulations, of course, but offers everything for a few entertaining minutes in front of the console, as long as you can master the harsh timing of the counterattacks. Customizable single matches let you get into the game quickly and a small solo campaign with short promos ensures additional longevity. A multiplayer mode is also on board and invites you to exciting battles against friends. To do this, the image is duplicated and rotated ninety degrees. A Joy-Con serves as an input device.

If you play against each other, the screen of your Nintendo Switch is divided.

© SNK Corporation / CAPCOM Co ., ltd. / CAPCOM U.S.A., Inc.

Meanwhile, Baseball Stars Color lets you take part in thrilling baseball matches. As one of two teams, you try your hand at pitcher, batter, catcher or umpire to lead your team to victory. The implementation of the North American ball game is simple, but entertaining and can be enjoyed without major hurdles. The same can be said of Pocket Tennis Color, where your racquet rushes across the court swinging to send your opponent's balls back to the opposite court. Both games have an intuitive control scheme that becomes second nature after a few minutes. For additional details, you can - as already mentioned - take a look at the detailed manual at the touch of a button. The game will be paused in the meantime. NeoGeo '98 Cup Plus Color is a little less appealing. Although the football game offers almost everything you would expect from such a title, its limited foresight causes disorientation in the essential passing game. The close-up perspective may give you a perfect view of the large, homogeneous sprites of the players, but you do without a reasonable overview, which results in blind crosses towards the opposing penalty area.

In SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash, duels are not fought in the ring or on the court, but at the card table. This title has also already been published on the hybrid and was dealt with by us in an associated test report. Compared to modern trading card games, SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash is quite simple - but that's its great strength. The title doesn't overwhelm you with different summoning methods and countless card types, but can be overwhelmed and played within minutes. In the solo campaign, you try to qualify for a major tournament through a series of duels. For every win, you get one more card to add to your deck in the somewhat understated deck builder. The integrated multiplayer mode also promises gripping card battles against your friends. Unfortunately, you can only compete with the same deck, which makes the competition less fun. Nevertheless, SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash is undoubtedly a highlight of the present collection.

SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash is one of the highlights of the present collection .

© SNK Corporation / CAPCOM Co.,Ltd. / CAPCOM U.S.A., Inc.

With Biomotor Unitron we move away from simple competition and embark on a futuristic role-playing adventure that lets you wander through dungeons and fight a variety of creatures. Like Big Bang Pro Wrestling and SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash, Biomotor Unitron had a previous release on the Nintendo Switch. At the wheel of a so-called Unitron - a battle-tested exoskeleton - you travel the extraterrestrial game world, explore randomly generated dungeons, earn money, improve your military base and hold talks with the civilian population. Battles are decided in classic turn-based battles reminiscent of the first generation of Pokémon games, but without reaching their level. Visually, the RPG is also relatively sparse, considering that Pokémon appeared three years earlier. Biomotor Unitron is entertaining, but not a hit.

If you strip the Mega Man games of their platformer passages, you get Mega Man Battle & Fighters . The title is only available in Japanese, which is why the menu navigation is a bit difficult. The game itself, on the other hand, is self-explanatory. As one of four selectable fighters, you will face off against well-known bosses from the Mega Man universe in a classic duel. If you defeat your opponent, you will receive his weapon and face the next challenger. This continues until all of your opponents have been defeated. Each opponent has its own attack pattern that you want to recognize and read. The level of difficulty is correspondingly high for the franchise, but can be regulated appropriately using the rewind feature mentioned at the beginning. Despite the language barrier, Mega Man Battle & Fighters is entertaining and one of the more interesting titles in the collection.

Such scenes are not uncommon in Ganbare Neo Poke-kun.

© SNK Corporation / CAPCOM Co.,Ltd. / CAPCOM U.S.A., Inc.

While there was no puzzle game to be found in the first edition, NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2 brings us Puzzle Link 2 . Its game principle is also over-the-top and offers potential for a few minutes of fun, but is by no means in the same league as Tetris or Puzzle Bobble. As in the latter title, you are confronted with a wall of card symbols instead of colored balls, which builds up step by step and you have to clear it. For this you connect the same symbols with each other and can thus trigger chain reactions. A game ends when the two "C blocks" that are randomly found in the wall later in the game are connected. In addition, you can earn cards and use them in another mini-game. In endless mode, on the other hand, there are no “C blocks” and only exceeding the growth limit ends the run. In addition to various solo modes, Puzzle Link 2 also has a multiplayer mode for up to two players on one console.

Like Mega Man Battle & Fighters Also, Ganbare Neo Poke-kun is only available in Japanese - and that severely detracts from the fun of the game. Ganbare Neo Poke-kun is quite an experimental game that doesn't want to reveal itself right away. Ultimately, you are constantly watching Neo Poke-kun, a strange being who is crouching lonely in his room, and triggers absurd events by pressing a button. If you do this long enough, various mini-games can also be unlocked and played, but the continuous helplessness will force many to capitulate. Unfortunately, this time the English-language manual isn't particularly helpful either, the virtual scan of which turns out to be relatively thin foreign language copy. This is a board game with various mini-games. In classic Mario Party style, you maneuver well-known characters from The King of Fighters across the field and occasionally compete against each other in simple disciplines. The aim of a game is to get the most stars. But first you have to earn a few coins. The resemblance to the virtual board game fun from Nintendo is really striking - it's still fun. Unfortunately, the language barrier here also means that you have to click through the extensive menus in order to start a halfway usable game.

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