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SNK Neo Geo Pocket

The handheld system that stood out for SNK, trying to compete with Nintendo. Despite not outselling their competitor, the library of games for the Neo Geo Pocket are arcade ports of popular hits such as "Gundam" and "King of Fighters."

A company known for its amazing arcade games, porting them to the home console while retaining its 16-bit beauty and its big hit titles that were too pricey even to own for the average consumer, SNK has now revamped their awesome library of games in the palm of your hand! If you've never seen this handheld before, don't fret: this was only available in Japan and never made it here in the US. Too good to market? Nope, it was sales that kept this console from standing in the spotlight.

Despite the fact that SNK had a different focus in their part in video gaming, it's almost as if this console was released a little too late. Nintendo has struck it rich with its Game Boy series and only continued to do so with its Game Boy Color release, SNK gave it a shot with this handheld. Having been released in the same year as the Game Boy Color, this one was in "black and white." What's cool about this is the screen doesn't sport a green-ish hue on its screen; it is true monochrome. The screen is much bigger as well, not hogged up with a huge border, compared to the original Game Boy. The sound is superb and loud enough to show off the game's cool music tracks and sound effects.

For the buttons, the A and B buttons are switched. On the Game Boy, the A button is on the right, B button is on the left; On the Neo Geo Pocket, the A is on the left, B button is on the right, so those who are used to the Game Boy will find this a little getting used to. Above is the OPTION button which oddly enough acts like a START button when playing. On the left is the directional pad which, as you can see, is a joystick instead of the commonly used UP-DOWN-LEFT-RIGHT pad. Moving the joystick produces a physical clicking sound—something some people may grow annoyed with. Above that is the POWER button indicated with a red LED light. Compared to the ON-OFF switch from the Game Boy, this POWER button must be pressed and held until the system boots up, similar to booting a laptop computer by pressing and holding the button. Below the joystick is the speaker which is different from the 'grill' speakers of the Game Boy, but still plays great sound.

Over on the bottom, you have the following from left to right: VOLUME knob, headphone jack, AC adapter and CONTRAST knob. The volume may not be too loud for some folks, but I feel it's enough to showcase the beautiful sounds the Neo Geo can bring out. Depending on the game title, you'll hear some unbelievably good "musical noises" where programmers have very much maxed out what the Pocket can produce, and it is something your ears must hear. Headphone jack is self-explanatory; the AC plug next to it requires an adapter with a 3-Volt plug. Any higher than 3 volts and your Pocket will electrically bust! (If that's enough to scare you, just go with batteries.) Finally, it's the CONTRAST knob which, like many other monochrome handhelds, is something expected.

At the top of the unit is the Pocket's own EXT connector. Like the Game Boy, this enables to 'link' with other Pocket players. As for the sides, there is/are no ports, knobs and connectors on the system.

At the back of the unit, to the left, is the battery compartment. This requires two AAA batteries, and being that it's a non-backlit, monochrome screen, you're looking at a very long battery life (about 30+ hours). The most common problem with the battery compartment is the battery cover gets lost constantly. Similar problem with the Game Boy, it's more common with the Neo Geo Pocket and finding extra replacement covers aren't as readily available compared to the covers for the Game Boy. Right in the middle, near the top, is where the Neo Geo Pocket game cartridges are inserted. Lastly, on the right side is something that completely differentiates from the other handhelds: here lies the lithium battery. Think of it as a watch battery that keeps track of the date and time. We may as well discuss the usage of that:

When you power up the system WITHOUT a game inserted in, the system goes to a setup menu. Being that this is a Japan-release only, you still have the option to choose English or Japanese as your main language. From that point on is relatively simple—enter in the date and time, set up your calendar, and you can input your astrological sign keeping up on your horoscope readings. Kind of a strange feature but at least it's there, especially when you need to check the time, if you've been playing for hours.

This unique machine would've put Nintendo's Game Boy on edge had this been released the same time as the Game Boy Pocket. Also, its debut didn't garner enough sales unable to knock on the doors of third-party game developers. I truly believed this system would have had a big chance and would flood the markets because of its unique features. Also, its sharp screen is one that can truly rival the Game Boy Pocket. Missed opportunity despite bad timing was why my rating is at 4.5. Nevertheless, add me to the list of big fans of the Neo Geo Pocket—one of my all-time personal favorites.





  • Even if it lost against Nintendo, the games for the system are something to attend to.
  • Interesting addition of setting time and date (a feature Nintendo would add to their DS handhelds, eventually).
  • The screen is sharper with little motion blur.
  • Only requires two AA batteries and a 'coin' battery.
  • The horizontal build makes this a more comfortable gaming experience (á la Game Gear, Atari Lynx and/or SEGA Nomad)
  • Comes in unique colors, including Clear.
  • The switched A and B buttons will take time to get used to for Game Boy players.
  • Battery cover is most often lost/not included when purchasing used.
  • No backlight (though those who 'mod' handhelds have pursued such project in adding one).
  • Japanese version is a little smaller, physically, than the US version.
  • Depending on the game, the OPTION button acts as a "START" button.
95% (A)
Fan Rating
Game Console SNK Neo Geo Pocket
Description [In Japanese]
ISBN / Bar Code number T4964808 60006 9
Video Format 1.33:1 (4:3) Full screen
Audio Format Mono (Stereo via headphones, depending on game)
Region Compatible NTSC, PAL
Released 1998 (JP)
Video Specification Dot Matrix ("Black & White")
Licensed by SNK®
Company SNK®
Product / Item Number NEOP15010
Other Console Versions Neo Geo Pocket Color
Quoted Reviews --
Other The Neo Geo Pocket sold roughly 2 million handhelds, which included the Color version.


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