Monday 28 November 2022

Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Volume 2 Review (Switch)

Like the first Neo Geo Pocket Collection, Volume 2 brings another ten games to the Switch (Eleven if you count both versions of SNK VS. Capcom Card Fighters’ Clash). It means that around a quarter of all the games available on the system are now on Nintendo’s hybrid and we can only hope this continues. It also helps that there’s some really good games on here.

Like the first volume this collection brings together the individually released Pocket games from the year, compiles them and adds a host of others as well. We’ve had fewer individual releases this time around so it’s an enticing prospect even if you’ve already broken cover and purchased some of the games already.

Included are three sports games. Neogeo Cup 98 is an easily forgettable football game but the other two fare far better. Pocket Tennis is great and evokes memories of Super Tennis back on the SNES. We found ourselves losing far more time than we intended, and it works great for quick goes. Baseball Stars is also a lot of fun with each of the teams having unique stats and each area of the game being represented well. Both may not have warranted individual releases, but they are far more than just filler here.

There are two quirky games on here as well with The King of Fighters Battle De Paradise providing a sort of weird board game version of the game and the notoriously quirky Ganbare Neo Poke-Kun also here. Unfortunately, both games are in Japanese (though the manuals have been translated). Both games are confusing enough without having to fight through a foreign language as well. Ganbare in particular has a fair amount of text so you’ll need to keep going back an forth to know what is going on. The game itself has a weird creature developing mini games which you can then play, and you have to effect his environment to keep him awake. Yes, it’s very strange.

Biomotor Unitron adds a much-welcomed RPG to the collection though in truth it’s quite average. It’s a bit Pok√©mon like but instead of creatures you are collecting resources for your robot. It’s solid but we can’t see many people seeing it through to the end. The previously released Mega Man Battle and Fighters is also included, (and not translated from Japanese), which provides two games which are effectively a succession of boss battles in a kind of basic fighting game. It’s fun, but nothing amazing and without the license would likely be forgotten.

What is a wonderful surprise is Puzzle Link 2. On the surface it seems like a sort of Magical Drop or Puzzle Bobble clone but that is not the case. You do have to match colours, but you do this by connecting them with pipes that you throw up the screen. It’s a fresh and clever take on the genre and one you’ll lose a lot of time to. Who knew Pipemania crossed with Magical Drop was the game we all needed?

The remaining two games have both been released separately. Big Bang Pro Wrestling has proved to be a really nice surprise. We had never even heard of it but it’s now up there with SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters Clash as our most played NGP game. It plays well, it’s inventive, the graphics and sound are satisfying, and it uses the control scheme the best you can possibly expect for the system. There’s also a wide range of characters and match types to pick from.

SNK Vs, Capcom Card Fighters’ Clash is of course the headline act here with both versions of the games included and the English and Japanese language versions of both those games as well. The card battles themselves are deceptively complex. Battles play on out on a table where players can lay a maximum of three cards down. When played, cards add whatever special points they have to the players total and also present a battle point value to attack and defend with. The special points then allow for things like dual attacking and launching special abilities. Once cards are down players can either attack with them or hold them back to defend. Once an action has been taken the card in question is then frozen. This is important as you must weigh up how likely you are to be able to defend against incoming attacks and if an all-out strike by your team is worth leaving yourself defenceless for.

The key here is that you aren’t trying to eliminate all your opponent’s cards but instead knock down their health bar. If they are unable to block an incoming attack with a card the battle points value of the card will be removed from their total. Once it reaches zero, they lose. The same goes for you of course, so the balance between attack and defence is key. The only frustrating thing here is of course that there is always a certain random element to how cards come out so some games can be lost very early on with little the player can do about it. Of course, when you get hold of a few better cards to add into your deck this also works the other way as you can destroy your opponent very quickly if they start with a bad hand.

Overall, this second volume of Neo Pocket games has been put together very well. There’s enough here to warrant buying the whole package if you’ve already bought one or two of the other games and there is a good mix of different styles and genres. It also shows the handheld was far more than just mini versions of 2D fighters. If haven’t bought Card Fighters’ separately already this is pretty essential, and even if you have the other games are well worth playing. Let’s hope more collections appear in the future.

Overall 8/10

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