Rumours of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games coming to the Switch might have set the internet on fire this month, but what many don't realise is that there is also a collection of handheld titles from the same era on the hybrid machine. The NeoGeo Pocket Color Section Vol.1 compiles several of the greatest titles from one of the Game Boy's largest competitors and it includes nifty extras such as the box art and manuals for each game. The collection was released this March, but with the Metal Slug 1st & 2nd Mission Double Pack coming out recently, we thought we'd take a look at the package it was formerly a part of.
First of all, you might be asking just what games are included here? Well, there are ten different titles on the cartridge and these include entries into some SNK's most beloved franchises. Obviously, we're not going to have time to review every title included here, but we will shine the spotlight on some of our favourites. Metal Slug 1st and 2nd Mission are great fun as they are packed with a variety of vehicle segments and scenes that would differ depending on whether we died. Dark Arms is an intriguing gothic RPG where you upgrade the skills of your weapons and it was always fun to jump in and play a few holes of Big Tournament Golf due to its easy-to-grasp gameplay and relaxing tone.
The other titles in the collection that we haven't spotlight here include SNK Gals' Fighters, Samurai Showdown! 2, King of Fighters R-2, The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny, Fatal Fury First Contact, and SNK Vs. Capcom: The Match Of The Millennium.
Something that I was impressed to see is how well these titles have held up visually over 20 years later. The sprites here just look so clean and the colour palette feels much more varied than what the competition had to offer back in the day. The biggest issue I can see people having with the package though is with regards to variety, as there are six fighting titles and two games from the Metal Slug series. This we can kind of forgive though, as SNK is so closely associated with the fighting genre and the NeoGeo Pocket Color only had 82 released for it, so the list of selectable titles is pretty limited. There are some titles like Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure and Puyo Pop that we would have liked to have seen, but it's possible these are being saved for a potential second volume.
When it comes to collections of older titles like this it's the extras that really seal the deal, and fortunately, there are plenty to be found here. All games included can be played in either their English or Japanese version and you can switch between colour and monochrome visuals. The packaging and manuals for each game are also present, and you can freely move around the camera to zoom in and examine them from different angles. Just like the Switch Online titles, there is also the option to rewind to reverse mistakes and you can even toggle between different console variants for the outer borders.
There is plenty to toy around with here that will surely impress retro gaming fans, but we wish that a few tweaks would have been made. Whilst you can zoom in slightly, there is no way to play these titles full screen and the outer borders of the console can prove to be distracting. You're also unable to freely switch between colour schemes and regional variants without having to close the game you're playing and exit to the main menu. These aren't major issues by any means, but they do present some minor annoyances.
As for as retro games collections go this is a pretty solid one, as it compiles together some of the system most recognisable titles and adds a handful of features that fans will surely respect. Sure, the Neo Geo Pocket Colour was pretty much a commercial failure when it launched back in the late 1990s, but this compilation shows that it had some real lost potential. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the second volume is just as strong if SNK decides to delve back into the archives once more.