NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 – Review
Follow Genre: Retro collection
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
Platform: Switch, NeoGeo Pocket Color
Tested on: Switch

NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: High-quality ports of the featured games
Bad: If you bought any of the previous releases, you're forced to double dip
User Score
6.0
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.0/10 (4 votes cast)

Slowly but surely, SNK is bringing its entire backlog to the Switch. Retro enthusiasts already had access to a treasure trove of NeoGeo and NeoGeo Pocket Color games through the eShop. The available selection is now being expanded upon with NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1, which brings 10 classic titles to the table. While this is an exciting prospect for those eager to revisit these games, or to give them a try for the first time, this release does come with a few caveats.

We’re stepping away from our usual review format to look at this collection simply because of the way SNK has set things up. The ten games featured here cover a multitude of genres and although most of the games included are fighting games, there are a few outliers, such as Big Tournament Golf, which feels out of place. For reference, the complete list of games here comprises SNK Gals Fighters, Samurai Shodown! 2, King of Fighters R-2, The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny, Fatal Fury: First Contact, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, Metal Slug 1st Mission, Metal Slug 2nd Mission, Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999 and Big Tournament Golf. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that some of the titles listed above feature links to past reviews. This is because six out of the ten titles included here aren’t new arrivals on the Switch but were released as standalone ports previously.

The other four titles (Beast Buster, Big Tournament Golf and both Metal Slug games) make their debut on the Switch in this collection. If you’ve been eyeing up the previous titles but didn’t bite the bullet yet, then you’ll be happy to learn that picking up NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 comes with the added bonus of a hefty discount. Picking up any of the six previously released titles would’ve set you back €7.99, but the collection comes in at a far more reasonable price point of €39.99 or about half the price of picking up the games individually. This does mean that you’re forced to pay €39.99 if you only care about one of the four new titles, however, or that you’re going to double-dip if you previously picked up one or more of the earlier releases. The four “new” titles are exclusive to this collection, which feels like a scummy move on SNK’s behalf, and releasing these four titles as standalone releases, even at €7.99, alongside the collection would’ve been a sign of goodwill to those customers that already supported the company by shelling out for the previous releases.

If we look beyond these questionable monetary practices, however, we’re left with a collection that is well worth picking up if you’re a retro enthusiast. We’ve linked to our previous reviews for the titles that we took a look at in the past, and the other inclusions follow a similar formula when it comes to layout options and enhancements. Of the new games, the Metal Slug titles are arguably the main reason to pick up this collection, if only for brand recognition. These hold up amazingly well, given that they are watered-down versions of their home console counterparts. The hidden gem in this collection is action RPG Dark Arms: Beast Buster 1999, however, which offered a surprisingly deep and rich experience, given the limitations of the original platform. As we mentioned before, the odd one out in this collection of action-focused games is Big Tournament Golf, and we would’ve perhaps liked to have seen this one replaced by a title that fit the nature of the other titles better, such as Dynamite Slugger or Evolution: Eternal Dungeons.

That said, the quality of the ports themselves is top-notch. We saw gradual improvements as SNK continued to release titles over the previous months, and the latest batch is as good as the NeoGeo Pocket Color ports have ever been. Previous releases appear here unchanged from their standalone iterations, meaning that SNK Gals Fighters still suffers from the same muddy graphics as when it first graced the screen of our Switch, but luckily this is something that was fixed with later releases. Of course, these games aren’t the most visually impressive releases, as there is a limit to how far one can push a ROM of a 20-year-old handheld game.
The emulation is what matters here, and for the four new games this has been handled pretty much flawlessly.

A true retro port wouldn’t be complete without the addition of QOL enhancements to make the old-school nature of the game more palatable for modern-day audiences and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 delivers on this front as well. The NeoGeo “frames” are present, of course, as are the other additions that were introduced with the standalone releases of these games. The collection also adds a brand new feature that’s fun but ultimately pointless. 3D models of the cartridges and boxes for the software titles are included, and you’re able to rotate them and zoom in. While we can’t fathom anyone was actually asking for this to be a thing, it’s still an amusing little distraction for a few minutes.

Conclusion

The ultimate question then is whether or not you should pick up this collection. If you’re a retro game enthusiast that hasn’t picked up any of the previous releases, the answer is a resounding yes. Even if you already picked up all of the previous releases, you’re “only” paying around €10 a pop for each of the four new titles, although we’d argue that you’re perhaps better off waiting for a sale, as we felt that €7.99 a piece was already pushing it. If you’re only interested in one or two of these titles, however -looking at you, Metal Slug – then we’d argue that NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 is overpriced. It all really boils down to how many of these games you’re interested in adding to your collection individually. Either way, the Vol. 1 in the collection’s title indicates that more is on the way. Whether this means that we’re only getting collections from now on or if SNK is sticking to the previous business model of releasing a few games individually before dropping a collection with exclusive titles remains to be seen.

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Rating: 6.0/10 (4 votes cast)
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NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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