Neo Geo Pocket Color
|Release date||March 16, 1999 (JP)|
|Predecessor||Neo Geo Pocket|
The Neo Geo Pocket Color (shortened NGPC), is a 16-bit colour handheld video game console manufactured by SNK. It is a successor to SNK's monochrome Neo Geo Pocket handheld which debuted in 1998 in Japan. The Neo Geo Pocket Color was released on March 16, 1999 in Japan, August 6, 1999 in North America, and some time in 1999 in Europe.
In 2000, following SNK's purchase by American Pachinko (mechanical game originating in Japan) manufacturer Aruze, the Neo Geo Pocket Color was dropped from both the North American and European markets. It did, however, last until 2001 in Japan, with a total of 2 million units sold.
The system enjoyed a greater success than any Game Boy competitor since Sega's Game Gear. However, it was hurt by several factors, such as the Neo Geo heads' (the Barone family) notorious lack of communication with third-party developers, the success of the Game Boy Color and the Pokémonfranchise, and anticipation of the Game Boy Advance.
The Neo Geo Pocket Color is built very similarly to its predecessor, the Neo Geo Pocket, sporting two face buttons on the right hand side of the system, and an eight-directional digital joystick on the left. It is designed to be held horizontally (as opposed to the Game Boy's vertical setup) and features a full colour screen in the center of the unit.
Like the Game Boy and subsequent Game Boy Advance consoles, the Neo Geo Pocket Color's screen is not back-lit, so games can only be seen in a well lit area. The Neo Geo Pocket Color is unusual in that it requires two sets of batteries; two AA batteries for the system itself, and an optional CR2032 battery to retain backup memory and keep the clock active. The Neo Geo Pocket Color has several other features such as generated horoscopes, an alarm system as well as a clock and calendar system.
- CPUs:Toshiba TLCS900H] core (16-bit), 6.144 MHz, Z80 at 3.072 MHz for sound.
- RAM: 12 k for 900H, 4k for Z80 (shared with the 900H).
- ROM: 64 k boot ROM.
- Interfaces: SIO 1 channel 19200 bit/s, 5-pin serial port.
- Resolution: 160x152 (256x256 virtual screen).
- DMA: 4 channels.
- Colors: 16 palettes per plane, 48 palettes. 146 colors on screen out of 4096 (or 20 colors out of 4096 in monochrome mode).
- Sprites: 64 sprites per frame (8x8), 4 colors per sprite.
- Scrolling: 2 scrolling planes, 8x8 character tiles (characters matrix shared with the sprites), 4 colors per tile.
- Sound: SN76489 variant, T6W28 (3 square wave tone generators with limited stereo capability + 1 monaural noise generator + direct access to the two 6 bits DAC).
- Cartridges: Maximum 4 MB (32 Mbit) with 4 to 16 Mbit flash memory.
- Batteries: 40 hours on 2 AA batteries. Lithium CR2032 battery backs up memory and clock.
The system has an on-board language setting, and games display text in the language selected (provided the cartridge supports that language). Other settings can be set on the handheld such as time and date, and the system can provide customized horoscopes when one's birth-date is entered.
Cables for linking multiple systems were available, as well as a cable to connect the NGPC and the Sega Dreamcast. There was a wireless connector released in Japan that allowed several players in proximity to play together, with some cartridge moulding reshaped to hold it. An MP3 audio player add-on was developed but was not released due to SNK's closure.