2, Issue 6
December 15, 1999
Full o' Love:
Still Chompin' After All These Years
if you haven't seen the commercials, the Neo Geo Pocket Color
is out here in America, and hopefully it's selling well. Frankly,
I'm really rooting for the system, since having a single company
in control is never good for us gamers, and in the case of the
NGPC, it's just a really cool piece of hardware (check
my last column for a rundown of its features). But, I promised
you that I'd share some thoughts on NGPC games, so let's get into
that, shall we?
I spoke about Bust-A-Move Pocket, which I consider to be
the system's "killer app" (to quote the book of Jobs).
This is true, but don't let that make you think there aren't any
other great games for the system. There are several great games
(and a bunch of decent ones). Taking a quick look at the top three
games over at Amazon.com,
you've got Bust-A-Move (ooh yeah), Sonic's Pocket Adventure
(look for an in-depth look at this in a future column - I'll be
comparing it to the old GameGear Sonic game) and the always
And no, this isn't some fancy-schmancy anniversary dealie, and
it's not a tacky side-scroller like the failed Lynx game Pac-Land.
This is Pac-Man. In all his no-bit glory. Actually, considering
that this is a simple port of the arcade version, it's pretty
impressive. Granted, it's Pac-Man. If you didn't like it
the first six thousand times, you're not going to like this very
much. But, if you're a Pac nut, then you simply can't live
start the game, you'll be presented with the option of playing
it "full screen" or "scrolling". What this
does is address the simple issue of the game's aspect ratio. This
is a concept familiar to movie buffs, but it's only classic games
that run into the aspect ratio problem. See, the original Pac-Man
arcade was played on a vertical screen. Not a square, like
the NGPC's or your television. So, when previous versions of the
game have been released, the designers had to implement a "scrolling"
feature, that made the game work, but deprived you of seeing the
entire maze all at once.
this version allows you to choose whether you'd like the full
screen effect, since when enabled everything gets really, really
small. Personally, I prefer to play full screen, but I find it
very difficult to do this for an extended period of time. Sure
it looks great, and it does change the gameplay, but everything
just gets way too small for my eyes.
that, what you get is a literal exact replica of the arcade. All
the stuff you remember is in here...the little "coffee break"
intermissions, the cameos by Ms. Pac-Man, the oddball intro that
introduces the characters. It's all here.
problem with Pac-Man comes from the Neo Geo Pocket's joystick.
Because the game was really designed for the old four-point joysticks,
the NGPC's more precise stick runs into some problems. Whereas
usually you could only press "up" with the NGPC, you've
got "up and kinda right" and "up and kinda left"
making it much more difficult to maneuver around some of those
tight corners (and keep going in the direction you actually want
to go in). Fortunately, the fine folk at SNK thought of this,
and they included a bizarre little adapter.
the "CrossRing", this little red ring of plastic gets
placed in the hole around the joystick, and constrains the movement
to the four standard axis. Even with the adapter you're still
going to run into some problems from time to time, but it does
make a world of a difference. The only other problem is remembering
to take it out when you play other games - it really doesn't make
life any easier in Bust-a-Move. And, because you're likely to
loose the little things, they've even included three of them.
all the time we've got this week, but come back next time for
a special look at handheld golf games. We'll try out Neo Turf
Masters on the NGPC, Tiger Woods on the Palm Pilot,
and Mario Golf on the GameBoy Color.
Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here
at loonygames. Yes, that's a GameBoy in his pocket, you pervert.