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Neo Geo Pocket Color FAQ

....back from the dead....back from the mists of time....It's....

RALPH BARBAGALLO's

        NEO GEO POCKET COLOR FAQ:  V 1.0

        (C) 1999 Ralph A. Barbagallo III


Disclaimer: HEY!  This list is in no way endorsed or connected with SNK
Home Entertainment.


HISTORY:        First release, V 1.0 - August 22, 1999

INTRO:

     Yeah, that's right.  Back in the spring of 1993, I created the
original NEO GEO FAQ.  At the time, I had purchased my friend's old NEO GEO
and was hanging around at home, waiting to pick my new toy up.  So, in a
combination of extreme ennui and heady anticipation, I wrote a novice's
guide to the glory of SNK's 16-bit beast.  To my surprise, the venerable
Neo Geo is still going strong as I write this in the summer of 1999.  But
the NEO GEO FAQ isn't.  It fell victim to my crippling apathy sometime in
1994.  There was no shortage of user interest.  I got lots of requests for
the FAQ and submissions for new info, but I totally lost interest in the
platform and my document.  It's still up on my web page, and available on
www.gamefaqs.com, but I haven't touched it in almost half a decade.
     So, here we are entering the new millenium and SNK has another little
gem on their hands.  I'm not talking about the Hyper Neo Geo 64 fiasco--No,
this is the era of SNK's portable GameBoy competitor, the Neo Geo Pocket
Color.
     For 10 years, Nintendo's unstoppable reign over portable gaming has
gone largely unchallenged. Attempts by Sega, Atari, NEC, and a host of other
companies failed to knock Nintendo's various iterations of the GameBoy from
the leading position.  SNK is part of a new volley of portable systems
trying once again to take a bite out of the portable gaming market that
Nintendo completely owns.
     This FAQ will serve as a guide to new owners and seasoned pros
alike, with information on hardware specs, upcoming games, and other
developments in the NGPC world.  Will it fall victim to the same forces
of evil that took down the mighty Neo Geo FAQ?  Possibly.  Stay tuned.
In the interim, feel free to email me at flarb@concentric.net to see if
my pulse is still registering.


WHAT IS THE NEO GEO POCKET COLOR?

     Released in the spring of 1999 in Japan, the NEO GEO POCKET COLOR
is SNK's 16-bit color portable gaming system.  It is preceded by SNK's
earlier machine, the NGEO GEO POCKET released back in late 1998.  As
you can probably guess, the NGP was the monochrome version of the NGPC.
The NGPC has the same form factor and similar hardware, but includes a
new color screen and color graphics hardware.  Also gone is the contrast
dial, since none is needed with the TFT color screen.  Original
monochrome NGP cartridges are compatible with the NGPC and vice-versa.
(The latter without color)

WHAT ARE THE CAPABILITIES OF THE NEO GEO POCKET COLOR?

     CPUS:          Toshiba TLCS900H core (16-bit), 6.144 MHz,
                    Z80 at 3.072 MHz for sound.
     RAM:           12k for 900H, 4k for Z80
     ROM:           64kb boot ROM
     COMMUNICATIONS:SIO 1 channel 19200 bps, 5-pin serial port
     RESOLUTION:    160x152
     COLORS:        16 palettes per plane, 48 palettes.  
                    146 colors on screen out of 4096.**
                    NEO GEO POCKET color mode, 20 colors out
                    of 4096.
     SPRITES:       64 sprites per frame, 4 colors per sprite*.
     SCROLLING:     2 scrolling planes, 8x8 character tiles, 4
                    colors each*.
     SOUND:         PSG 6 tone simultaneous output.  Stereo sound.
     CARTRIDGES:    Maximum 2 MB (16 Mbit) with 4-16Mbit flash
                    memory.
     BATTERIES:     40 hours on 2 AA batteries.
     MISC:          Lithium battery backed-up memory and clock

     *this includes transparent color, so it's really 3 colors

     **also, I don't get how if you have 3 colors per tile/character,
     and 48 palettes, you arrive at the figure of 146 colors.
     3 * 48 = 144, No?

WHAT HARDWARE/ACCESSORIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE NEO GEO POCKET COLOR?

     There aren't a whole lot of accessories for the NGPC, but there
are some.  Most notable is the upcoming wireless control adapter--a radio
link that can network up to 64 non-synchronized or 12 synchronized NGPC
units.  The only game announced that will support this is the upcoming
Dive Alert.  This is different from the currently available link cable,
which merely links two NGPCs together.
     Also available is the AC adapter, which is hardly necessary since
the battery life is approximately 40 hours.  And, just in time for the
Japanese strap craze is SNK's wrist and neck straps that hook into a
little slot hole located in the upper right corner of the unit.
Also, a mysterious 'case' has appeared at various mail order outlets.  It's
a transparent plastic envelope/skin that snugly fits over the NGP or NGPC
and protects the screen and casing from scratches.
     Last but not least is the Dreamcast cable.  This cable hooks up to the
serial port to exchange information between the NGPC and the Dreamcast.  The
only game that currently supports this option is King of Fighters Dream
Match 1999 which links with KOF-R2 on the NGPC.  Once you beat KOF R-2 with
any character, the DC mode becomes available. The link mode allows you to
unlock a few new features in the game on the Dreamcast side.  A minor
gimmick, but hopefully this feature will be elaborated upon in future
titles.  It is rumored that SEGA's new NGPC Sonic title will link with
Sonic Adventure, and Beast Busters Pocket along with Cool Boarders on the
NGPC are said to be linkable with their Dreamcast counterparts upon
release.

WHAT NEO GEO POCKET COLOR STYLES ARE AVAILABLE?

     The NGPC comes in six different styles.  These include Carbon Black,
Platinum Silver, Platinum Blue, Crystal White, Camouflage Blue, and Stone
Blue.  The original NGP had a few different colors, including different
camouflage color schemes and a limited edition clear version that was
packaged in a special Samurai Spirits box set.  The Crystal White is fairly
similar to this style.

WHAT GAMES ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE NEO GEO POCKET COLOR?

     There is a small amount of titles available in Japan, USA, and Europe.
The slow trickle of titles is beginning to increase as the first third party
titles hit the shelves (most notably, Namco's Pac-Man).
     Here's where my apathy sets in.  It takes a lot of effort to maintain
a list of current releases-so don't expect this to be super timely.  Also,
in the case of the USA releases, some are exclusive to mail-order and won't
be found at stores.  Here goes:

USA:

Baseball Stars
Baseball Stars Color
Biomotor Unitron
Bust A Move Pocket
Crush Roller
Fatal Fury: First Contact
King of Fighters R-1
King of Fighters R-2
Metal Slug: 1st Mission
Neo Cherry Master
Neo Cherry Master Color
Neo Dragon's Wild
Neo Geo Cup '98
Neo Geo Cup '98 Plus Color
Neo Mystery Bonus
Neo Turf Masters
Pocket Tennis
Pocket Tennis Color
Puyo Pop
Samurai Shodown!
Samurai Shodown! 2

ASIA:

Baseball Stars
Baseball Stars Color
Big Tournament Golf
Biomotor Unitron
Crush Roller
Dokodemo Majong
Dokodemo Majong Color
Fatal Fury:  First Contact
King of Fighters R-1
King of Fighters R-2
Magical Drop
Melon Chan's Growth Diary
Metal Slug: 1st Mission
Neo Cherry Master
Neo Cherry Master Color
Neo Derby Champ
Neo Dragon's Wild
Neo Geo Cup '98
Neo Geo Cup '98 Plus Color
Neo Mystery Bonus
Pocket Tennis
Pocket Tennis Color
Professional Baseball
Puyo Puyo
Puzzle Bobble Mini
Samurai Spirits!
Samurai Spirits! 2
Shogi No Tatsujin
Tsunagete Pon
Tsunagete Pon Color

WHAT GAMES ARE COMING SOON?

     There are a bunch of upcoming titles.  Some major developments include
Sonic, Dive Alert, NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat, Pac Man, SNK vs. Capcom, and
various other titles.  For more up to date information, I suggest checking
out Dimension-Sega's website, that's where I got all the released title
information from anyway.

WHERE CAN I BUY A NEO GEO POCKET COLOR?

     Previously, the NGP and NGPC were only available in America from SNK
USA's website (www.snkusa.com).  Now, you can purchase them at retail
outlets such as Electronics Botique as well as other websites such as
etoys.com.  Soon, the machine should be available across the nation, but it
seems supplies are limited at the moment.
     Good sources for import NGPC stuff are such reputable dealers as
www.ncsx.com, www.tronixweb.com, and www.therage.com.  There are plenty of
other dealers on the net, providing English versions of NGPC games before
they hit the States.  Apparently, some general Asian releases are bi-lingual,
unlike their Japanese-exclusive counterparts.

ARE JAPANESE CARTRIDGES COMPATIBLE WITH THE AMERICAN SYSTEM?

     So far, yes.  SNK has no country lockout so you can play Japanese,
European, and American cartridges in any machine.  SNK has hinted that they
may be changing this policy in the near future.

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE GAME BOXES?

     Originally, NGP and NGPC games came with a hard plastic case-reminiscent
of SNK's old Neo Geo packaging.  To compete in the cutthroat retail sector,
they replaced the handy plastic cases with cheaper cardboard packing.
However, the cardboard boxes still double as fold-out storage cases and the
cartridges still come in their tiny clear plastic clamshell cases inside the
package.  These cardboard cases first appeared in America, but the Japanese
packaging will change to this format soon.

WHAT'S UP WITH THIRD PARTY DEVELOPMENT?

     SNK has an ongoing third party development program.  You can check out
the developer's area on the American website, www.snkusa.com, for more
information.  You must provide a developer profile and they will send you a
packet with information on how to progress through the various phases of the
developer program.  SNK has a policy similar to other console makers of
having your project approved by the company, and a percentage going to SNK
for every unit sold.
     Some big name developers such as Namco, Acclaim, Hasbro, and SEGA have
signed up for the program and we should start seeing more third party titles
shortly.

WHERE CAN I GET UPDATED NEO GEO POCKET COLOR INFORMATION?

     SNK JAPAN - www.neogeo.co.jp
     The Japanese headquarters of SNK.  If you can read Japanese, or
     otherwise decipher the text, there is a bevy of NGPC information
     here.

     SNK USA - www.snkusa.com
     This is the home base for SNK in the States

     DIMENSION-SEGA - www.digiweb.com/~dimension-sega/sngp/
     Sure, it's a Sega website, but because of the Dreamcast
     connectivity, there is an excellent section dedicated to the
     NGP/NGPC.  It's pretty much the definitive spot for NGPC
     information.

     POCKET IGN - pocket.ign.com
     As part of IGN's gaming site empire, their new pocket game site
     features generous helpings of NGPC information.

     EURO-ASIA GAMEBOY - gameboy.s-one.net.sg/
     Sure, it's primarily a GameBoy site, but they do have a section
     dedicated to 'other' portables such as the NGPC.

     KIM'S NEO GEO POCKET ZONE - www.angelfire.com/or/kim/index.html
     A small homegrown site dedicated to the NGP/NGPC.
        
     POCKETFAN - www2.eos.net/bevans/ngp/
     The late, great Pocketfan was probably the first dedicated NGP site
     on the net.  Unfortunately, the updates have ceased and all that is
     left is a dead site with some old info.

SOURCES:

     Sources used for this document include SNK USA's info packet,
Dimension-Sega's NGP site, www.tronixweb.com, www.ncsx.com, and various
posters on UseNet.

        Contact me at flarb@concentric.net or check out RalphSpace at
www.concentric.net/~Flarb for more information, updates, etc.

(C) 1999 Ralph A. Barbagallo III
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