The Neo Geo Pocket was released in 1998, followed by the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999. This handheld console was made by the Japanese video game company SNK and competed with Nintendo’s Game Boy and GameBoy Color.
Did you know there were 82 games made for the Neo Geo Pocket? Many of the games made for the Neo Geo Pocket could be played on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, although they were still in monochrome.
Of those 82 games, how many do you remember? Some of them were only released in Japan, and others met with a challenging market due to competition from Nintendo.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some super fun games out there for anyone looking for a handheld, retro gaming experience. Here are 10 of the best Neo Geo Pocket Games that you may not have ever played!
1. Dark Arms: Beast Buster
Role playing games were a staple of the handheld console world, and Dark Arms: Beast Buster was no exception. Released in 1999 for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, this awesome game follows a female protagonist named Meghan Loughlin as she tries to protect our world against demonic creatures.
As the player, you work to become a “Beast Buster” of your own, by crafting your own set of “Dark Arms” that can be wielded against the demons and other dangerous beasts that have entered the world.
Dark Arms: Beast Buster also includes a crafting system that uses seeds you collect from the demons you kill, and allows you to build better and better weapons.
This game isn’t one of the harder Neo Geo Pocket games by far, but it is one of the best Neo Geo Pocket Games because of its cool graphics and atmospheric background music. Sometimes, life can be easy – even when you’re chasing and killing monsters!
2. Legend of Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia
Legend of Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia is the only game in the Gaiden universe to be released for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. It was also never translated into English, so you’ll be forgiven for not knowing about this hidden gem of a strategy game.
In Legend of Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, you run through a campaign of thirteen states, with a handful of cool bonus areas.
At the end of the game, you’ll encounter a variety of different endings based on the campaign you chose to play. Select your alignment and dialogue options carefully, and know that there’s no middle road – the game doesn’t include a neutral alignment option!
Excellent level design maintains the traditionally high difficulty of a Gaiden game. Although it’s a bit old fashioned, it does a good job translating the world of Gaiden games to a smaller console like a Neo Geo Pocket Color, and is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of other Gaiden games.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure
Long before he starred in a strange and ill-fated movie trailer, later to become a slightly less strange movie, everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog was the protagonist of a 1999 game for the Neo Geo Pocket Color.
Unlike some of the other games we’ve listed here as the best Neo Geo Pocket games, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is a platformer, not an RPG or story-based game.
Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure was praised at its release for staying faithful to the style, formula, and gameplay of other Sonic games, while ensuring playability and fun for the much smaller Neo Geo Pocket Color console.
All the levels and stages are unique to the Neo Geo Pocket release. Plus, the Neo Geo Pocket game includes a variety of exclusive and even hidden modes. If you’re a die hard Sonic head looking for a challenge you’ve never met before, this is definitely one to check out!
4. SNK Gals’ Fighters
SNK Gals’ Fighters was released in 2000, a year after the Neo Geo Pocket Color made its way onto the scene. It also had a comeback in 2020, when it was made available on the Nintendo Switch to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Neo Geo console system.
Girl power is the name of the game in SNK Gals’ Fighters, which is populated by female characters from other SNK games.
All of these characters have been drafted into a fighting tournament by a character named Miss X. Beating Miss X in the final fight grants the fighter an opportunity to have one of her wishes granted!
Players help out the “gals” of SNK by playing one-versus-one fighting matches on various stages based on different parts of the world.
Start out in Paris, fighting above classic French monuments, battle on the pyramids of Giza, the visit the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, all from your handheld Neo Geo Pocket Color!
5. Biomotor Unitron
Like many of the best Neo Geo Pocket Color games, Biomotor Unitron is a roleplaying game, or RPG. But unlike some of the other games on this list, like SNK Gals’ Fighters and Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, which have pre-made levels, Biomotor Unitron has what’s called pseudo random dungeons, generated from different options within the game.
In Biomotor Unitron, the player controls a robot – called the Unitron – as it moves through a dungeon, battling monsters and collecting upgrades.
There’s plenty to do in Biomotor Unitron. You can visit the town, where townspeople provide boosts and upgrades. You can also go to the arena, where you can fight with other Unitrons to win prizes.
6. Cool Boarders Pocket
Cool Boarders Pocket is the only snowboarding game released for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. It’s less about tricks and more about dodging obstacles as you barrel downhill at breakneck speeds, trying to beat the level’s par speed.
Cool Boarders Pocket was part of a line of Playstation games called Cool Boarders, but the version for the Neo Geo Pocket Color differs in that it takes an overhead point of view, letting you see and control your rider from above.
In a world dominated by first person style games, this unique visual aspect makes Cool Boarders one of the best Neo Geo pocket games for players who enjoy variety.
7. Dive Alert: Becky’s Version & Dive Alert: Matt’s Version
We’re including these two Neo Geo Pocket games as one, because together, the story they tell makes up one of the coolest and best Neo Geo Pocket games especially in the RPG and storytelling space.
Both games tell the story of a different character – either Matt or Becky – but both live in the same underwater world. Expanding the world through different items and boats, but maintaining the same premise and storyline, allows this game to create a complex world with very limited console resources.
8. Evolution: The World of Sacred Device
It’s no secret that most of the best Neo Geo Pocket games are role playing games. There’s something about the handheld format and the Japanese styles that made these sorts of games ideal for the Neo Geo Pocket and other similar consoles.
Also available for the Sega Dreamcast, Evolution: The World of Sacred Device is no exception. Like Biomotor Unitron, Evolution: The World of Sacred Device is a dungeon crawler set in a world where large robot-like creatures help the dungeoneers on their quests.
Combat in Evolution: The World of Sacred Device is non random and turn based, giving you time to plan your strategy or play through a level with a different set of tactics.
There’s also a great story, with plenty of characters and different areas to explore as you find and build your own “sacred device.”
9. Fatal Fury: 1st Contact
One of many fighting games in the Fatal Fury series, Fatal Fury: 1st Contact is the only Fatal Fury game released for the Neo Geo Pocket Color.
Combining familiar characters from the Fatal Fury franchise (say that five times fast!) with a brand new unlockable character named Lao, Fatal Fury: 1st Contact expands the Fatal Fury universe but maintains the same classic fighting game style.
Fatal Fury: 1st Contact brings the arcade style of the other Fatal Fury fighting games to a pocket sized console, so even if you’re out of quarters, you can still participate in the awesome street brawls this game is known for.
10. Melon Chan’s Growth Diary
This adorable game was one of the first games ever released for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Capitalizing on the popularity of pet and life simulation games like the Tamagotchi, Melon Chan’s Growth Diary lets the player care for a little girl named Melon Chan.
Cute “chibi” style graphics and simple icon-based menus let you feed, care for, and dress little Melon Chan.
Though many players were put off by the fact that Melon Chan’s Growth Diary has you care for a human girl rather than a fantastical creature like a Tamagotchi, we still think the game stands strong on its playability and numerous care options, making it one of the best Neo Geo Pocket games.