Neo Geo Pocket Color
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|Product family||Neo Geo|
|Type||Handheld game console|
|Generation||Fifth generation era|
|Units sold||2 million, including Neo-Geo Pocket units (as of July 30, 2007)|
|Power||2 AA batteries for 40 hours of play, Lithium CR2032 for backup memory and clock|
|CPU||Toshiba TLCS900H core (16-bit) clocked at 6.144MHz, Zilog Z80 clocked at 3.072MHz for sound|
|Memory||12KB RAM for 900H, 4KB RAM for Z80, 64KB ROM|
|Display||160x152 resolution, 146 colors on screen out of a palette of 4096|
|Neo Geo Pocket|
|Predecessor||Neo Geo Pocket|
|Successor||Neo Geo X|
The Neo Geo Pocket Color (often abbreviated NGPC), is a 16-bit color handheld video game console manufactured by SNK. It is a successor to SNK's monochrome Neo Geo Pocket handheld which debuted in 1998 in Japan. The Neo Geo Pocket Color was released on March 16, 1999 in Japan, August 6, 1999 in North America, and on October 1, 1999 in Europe.
The Neo Geo Pocket Color was SNK's last video game console, and is backwards compatible with the Neo Geo Pocket. In 2000, following SNK's purchase by American pachinko manufacturer Aruze, 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.
The Neo Geo Pocket Color is built very similarly to its predecessor, the Neo Geo Pocket, sporting two face buttons on the right hand side of the system, and an eight-direction digital D-pad on the left. It is designed to be held horizontally (as opposed to the Game Boy's vertical setup) and features a color screen in the center of the unit.
Similar to the Game Boy and subsequent Game Boy Advance systems, the Neo Geo Pocket Color does not have a back-lit screen, and games can only be played in a well-lit area. The Neo Geo Pocket Color is unusual in that it requires two sets of batteries —two AA batteries for the system itself, and an optional CR2032 battery to retain backup memory and keep the clock active.
In addition to the clock and calendar, the Neo Geo Pocket Color has several other features such as generated horoscopes and an alarm system.
The U.S. version of the Neo Geo Pocket Color had an exclusive launch on the website eToys 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.
Prior to SNK's acquistion by Aruze, the Neo Geo Pocket Color was being advertised on U.S. television and units were being sold nationwide at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us, and other major retail chains.
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 and re-sold in Asia where the system would continue to be sold and supported. Some of the back-stock of American NGPC hardware and software began to resurface on the American and Asian markets in 2003. These units frequently appeared bundled with six games stripped of their cases and manuals. Two games often included, Faselei! and Last Blade were never previously released in United States, meaning that they have no U.S.-localized box or manual; however, these titles did receive a European release, incorporating an English translation.
The system enjoyed a greater success than any Game Boy competitor since Sega's Game Gear. 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 and the Pokémon franchise, and anticipation of the Game Boy Advance.
- CPUs: Toshiba TLCS900H 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: 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 Sega Dreamcast. Games that featured this option include King of Fighters R-2 (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 2 Clash Expand Edition (links with Capcom vs SNK) and Cool Cool Jam (links with Cool Cool Toon). There was a wireless connector released in Japan that allowed several players in close proximity to play together, with some cartridge molding reshaped to hold it. An MP3 audio player add-on was developed but was not released due to SNK's closure.