Get ready to burn a hole in your bank account as we take a look at the best Neo Geo Pocket games of all time!
Just in case you didn’t get it from that first sentence, these games are ex-pen-sive these days!
Many of the titles we’ve looked at in the list below are currently going for around $200 boxed, so it could be an expensive read if you’re planning on bolstering your gaming collection.
We’re huge fans of the Neo Geo, and the Neo Geo Pocket was a great little handheld with a cool collection of games. The Color version is never far from reach here at Retro Dodo Towers, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing the games listed below over the years.
But which are the best games for this portable beast? Which characters reigned supreme during its short 3 year lifespan, and more importantly, which title did we put at Number 1?
All of these questions are answered amongst the gibberish below. Happy scrolling!
15. Metal Slug: 2nd Mission (2000)
Metal Slug: 2nd Mission kickstarts this list of the best Neo Geo Pocket games of all time!
The 2nd intrepid Metal Slug mission for the Pocket plays very similar to the first, though there’s nothing surprising about that. It does address some key issues such as the farce involved with changing between grenades and guns in the heat of battle.
I was a big fan of the original game and still am, but the graphics do look better in the second instalment. Still, it didn’t stop me from putting it all the way up here in my list; I’m a harsh critic!
Like the first game, completing all the levels unlocks a third fighter. This soldier, Tequila, has access to every level and every weapon.
He’s basically the golden gun embodied in a gnarly-looking character!
From the original 5 levels in the arcade game to the 17 of Metal Slug: 1st Mission, the 2nd Mission now has a whopping 38 levels and 8 bonus stages to lay through. It gives gamers way more bang for their buck and a heck of a lot more firepower too!
14. Baseball Stars Color (1999)
Baseball Stars Color is one of those classic games that we could just kick back with while laying on the sofa and play all day, every day.
Out of the many baseball games for new and old systems, Baseball Stars has to be the most famous and well renowned. It isn’t based on the game for the Neo Geo home console or arcade, rather a stand alone handheld title that manages to capture the thrill of the sport perfectly.
Plus, with link cable support, playing against your mates makes the whole thing even better!
Baseball Stars Color doesn’t have any bells or whistles. It doesn’t even have real teams! This is for those players that just love playing ball and not the ones determined to take their team to the top of the championship.
What gamers can do is replace players, send in different pitchers, and wield power ups to get one over on your opponents.
I think that kind of thing is frowned upon in real Baseball and would probably end in a mandatory drugs test…
Listen, the background graphics aren’t as good as a certain golf game that is appearing further down this list, but for sports fans, this is a must have title that will provide hours of fun.
13. Magical Drop Pocket (1997)
Magical Drop Pocket is a handheld port that’s loosely based on Magical Drop III. From the front cover, it looks like some sort of mystical RPG adventure with tonnes of exciting Anime characters and possibly some magic thrown in for good measure.
What it actually is is a type of Columns/Dr Mario style game where players use different characters named after Tarrot cards. They don’t do anything apart from giving the player an identity and other characters to beat on the different levels.
Hey; I’m not here to sell these things to you. I’m just telling it like it is!
Despite the confusion between what the game looks like it should be and what it actually is, this thing is fantastic. Unlike MD III for the Neo Geo, there are only six columns in the battlefield which is more like the SNES version.
Play solo or multiplayer across multiple difficulty levels. Other characters will attack you as you’re playing just to make things more interesting/frustrating, but that’s part of the charm of the game.
For a game with a tonne of characters but no storyline, it’s great fun to play and immensely addictive. Fans of Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine should definitely give this one a look.
12. Crush Roller (1999)
Crush Roller, sometimes known as Make Trax in different regions, takes the 12th spot in this list of the best Neo Geo Pocket games of all time!
This game is like a cross between Pac-Man and my favourite mini game from Mario Party 4, a game where you have to bounce with a stamp to cover the most surface area of a white board.
Players control a paintbrush and must paint the entirety of a maze to continue to the next round. It sounds easy, but maniacal fish are trying to stop you at every turn.
If the fish touch your paintbrush, then you lose a life. The fish can be killed by rolling over them, but that’s dicing with death!
Seriously, who comes up with these games?
Running over fish scores extra points, and sometimes players have to paint over tracks left by an invisible man. It’s all pretty insane, but great fun. The graphics are bright and colourful too, and the whole experience is one that you’ll be pleasantly surprised with!
11. Pocket Tennis Color (1999)
Like Baseball Stars Colour, Pocket Tennis Color takes a lot of willpower to put down.
I can best describe this game as being like Super Tennis for the SNES. There are different court colours for different surfaces, and while the characters look quite simple, they have certain characteristics that mimic the actions of a real player.
The Neo Geo Pocket was great for sports games, and this is an absolutely perfect way to kill time while on the bus, the toilet, or just waiting for your pizza to come out of the oven.
Like Mario Kart, this is a game that you need zero gaming experience to be able to play. The controls are so simple that it hurts, meaning that everyone from grandchildren to grandparents can try their hand on the court.
Play up to 5 sets against a computer or friend in exhibition mode, or try your hand in the Tournament mode against a series of AI characters. Game, Set, and Match!
10. Neo Turf Masters (1996)
Neo Turf Masters continues the pocket sports series in this list of the best Neo Geo Pocket games. Made by the same team as Metal Slug, this golfing title is one of the most popular games on the console and still has a cult following today!
I’m terrible at golf in real life, but get me on N.T.M and I’m basically Tiger Woods. View the map from a top-down perspective and control hit strength on the left hand side of the screen. It’s so simple that even a baby could do it… not that they’d want to…
For a handheld game, the details in the scenery and general landscape is pretty good too. There’s tonnes of information to view to help your game, and with 54 holes to play through over multiple courses, it’s not a game that you’ll get bored of any time soon.
Ok, so there’s no Bowser’s Castle or Piranha Plants to avoid, but it’s a cool title to kick back with like all the other sports games on this list. I like to play them all one after the other every now and again and feel like I’m in the Olympics.
It’s also the only game that calls golf ‘juiced up and high speed’. They aren’t words I’d use to talk about this game, but if it makes golf sexier for people, then at least it’s done something positive!
9. SNK Gals’ Fighters (2000)
SNK Gals’ prove that these gals are the stars of the show in this next best Neo Geo Pocket games entry.
8 fantastic female fighters from three classic SNK games battle to see who is the the fiercest femme fatale.
I’m very proud of that sentence….
Choose from characters pulled from The Last Blade, Samurai Shodown, and King of Fighters, and fight in the Queen of Fighters Tournament to see who can beat Miss X.
While I don’t think the female fighters of these games need their own game to see who is strongest, it is nice to see them taking precedence in their own title. They’re all badass and have some serious moves that would knock Zangief down in 3 seconds flat.
Wield items to sway the battle in your favour and try to take down your opponent in 60 seconds. It’s fast paced action that King of Fighters fans will take to right away.
8. King Of Fighters: R2 (1999)
Speaking of King of Fighters, King of Fighters: R2 is up next! It shares the same storyline as King of Fighters ’98 and features more brutal beatdowns on Neo Geo’s portable powerhouse.
Ok, so it doesn’t have much of a storyline past ‘fight to become the champion’, but the characters and tense fighting action keep gamers hooked 24/7.
Fans of the KOF series will know how the game works before even turning it on. All the move sets and fighting styles are similar, and all the characters from KOF: R1 make a return.
Play against mates using a link cable or try your luck against the computer in one player mode. There’s even a customisation mode where players can customise their fighters before going on a mission to defeat bad-boy Rugal Bernstein.
This Neo Geo Pocket game regularly receives top scores from critics across the globe and has often been cited as one of the best portable fighting titles of all time.
If that isn’t reason enough for it to make it into this list of the best Neo Geo Pocket games, then I don’t know what is!
7. Metal Slug: 1st Mission (1999)
Metal Slug: 1st Mission certainly wins the prize for the coolest Neo Geo Pocket game case going. Guns, tanks exploding, and a dude that looks as though he’s seen some stuff that we wouldn’t understand cos ‘we ain’t been there’.
If you’ve ever played a Metal Slug game before or come across them on our list of the best Neo Geo games of all time, then you’ll already know the score. Dodgy arms deals, people in positions of power up to no good, and lots of explosions.
It sounds like a job for the Peregrine Falcons Special Forces Squad!
Compared to the first Metal Slug arcade title, 1st Mission has a tonne more levels to complete. We’re talking almost three times as many, with seventeen available for gamers to work through.
Weirdly, you can complete the game without doing every mission too, but where’s the fun in that!
The best bit about this game is the firepower, especially when combined with epic vehicles.
Climbing into the SV-000 or the Slug Flyer feels fantastic and certainly makes boring subway journeys more exciting!
Play as ‘Hero’ or a female fighter once the game ends. It’s good fun and a credit to the handheld!
6. The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny (2000)
The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny takes the 6th spot in this list of the best Neo Geo Pocket games of all time.
It’s got a crazy long name when you translate it from Japanese that sounds way cooler, but it would look to Brandon like I was upping my word count by including it…
… that’s not a bad idea. Ok, so it’s Romance of the Bakumatsu Special: Swordsman of the Moonlight – On the Moon a Flower Blooming, a Petal Falling. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it!
The Last Blade series feels a lot like Samurai Shodown. I love the emphasis on Japanese culture and mythology in this game as well as the great musical backing on each level. The backgrounds look full without looking too busy as well; pefectly designed!
Ok, so they might not look as impressive as the Neo Geo console version, but this game looks amazing to say it’s on a little console.
In terms of gameplay, imagine Street Fighter with swords, and you’ve pretty much got the general gist of how it works.
Blade of Destiny is a remake of the first two games and keeps true to the series wining formula. Win points, buy players and other goodies, and slay your enemies in epic side-scrolling battles!
5. SNK Vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (1998)
SNK Vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium takes the 5th spot in this list of the best Neo Geo Pocket games of all time! I’m a huge fan of pretty much every Capcom crossover title, and any game that pits Ryu against Ryo and Guile against Geese is a winner in my book.
That’s Geese Howard and not just a tonne of feathery honking pond-dwellers!
There are 26 characters in The Match of the Millennium, thirteen from each franchise. Eight of those are unlockable, so blasting back foes as M.Bison isn’t going to happen easily!
Like many of the later Street Fighter titles, tag teams and queued fighters play a big role in the gameplay mechanics. Key elements from each franchise appear such as level gauges and meters that signify when special moves can be unleashed.
Special attacks can also be bought by completing mini games from classic titles. Take a trip back to Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Metal Slug and compete in tricksy challenges to earn points. It’s a weird add on, but we love it all the same!
4. Bust A Move Pocket (1999)
Bust A Move Pocket also known as (Puzzle Bobble Mini), sees everyones favourite humans turned dragons return for more ball-destroying mayhem.
If you’ve every played any Bubble-Bobble or Bust A Move game before (even Beehive Bedlam on Sky), then you’ll be all over this handheld puzzler. These games are so addictive that they should come with a warning!
Like Nena’s red balloons, there are 99 puzzles to complete in the main puzzle mode. Think of this game as ‘Gold – The Very Best Of Bust A Move’. It’s like best of title featuring all of our favourite levels from yesteryear.
Which is great as I can’t actually remember any of them, so it’s like I’m playing them all again for the first time every time I turn it on!
The gameplay is the same Bubble-Bobble pointer-firing action that we know and love. Hit a button as the arrow moves towards the target zone and WHAM! Connect colours, clear the screen, and move on to the next stage!
3. Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (1999)
Say what; Sonic on a non-Sega console?! That’s right, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure comes from a time when Sega and SNK were as tight as Sonic and Tails.
It’s a classic adventure that quite often gets overlooked when considering the best Sonic games, and as it’s basically based on the first two Genesis games, it’s actually a bonafide Sonic adventure too!
Looking at the picture above, it would be easy to think that it had been pulled straight from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonics movement is pretty much the same as the original games, and all of his signature moves including the Spin Dash make an appearance.
But who is that other character stopping Sonic in his tracks? Come on, that would be giving too much away!
This pocket-sized adventure also features a time trial mode and puzzle mode. Don’t get too excited; it’s basically a Sonic-style jigsaw.
Hang on, that sounds ace!
2. SNK VS Capcom: Cardfighters Clash (1999)
SNK VS Capcom: Cardfighters Clash takes the penultimate spot in this list of the best Neo Geo Pocket games of all time!
Wait a minute; he’s put a card game at number two in this list? What’s that all about?
I have one thing to say to any trolls that thought that sentence was dumb – Pokemon Trading Card game, one of the best Gameboy Color games of all time. It’s all good and well fighting with fists, but using cards in games like Yu-Gi-Oh and PTCG will never, ever get old.
I know we might think of The Match of the Millennium or any of the other Capcom/SNK crossover titles before this obscure card game, but this was the very first mash-up title featuring both franchises.
In terms of gameplay, it feels a little like Pokemon Red (or Blue, I’m not judging). Players start with a deck of cards and pick up more as the game progresses.
Fans of Magic the Gathering and the other fighting games listed through this list (that could be a niche audience) will love this game. It’s one of the most popular games on the console (as voted by users, not just me) and is just a solid, fun game to play!
1. Rockman Battle & Fighters (2000)
And finally, Rockman Battle & Fighters takes the crown as the best of the best Neo Geo Pocket games of all time.
Hang on, that’s not Rockman… that’s Mega Man! Nothing gets past you, reader!
This game has everything I love about the Mega Man games in one portable package – all the boss battles in one epic fighting game that sees players taking on big foes as opposed to regular opponents.
That’s right; go up against robot bosses from the Mega Man series, playing as either Mega Man, Bass, Proto Man, or Duo.
Defeating a boss gives players access to a special weapon, presumably to help tackle the next behemoth in your path!
In terms of gameplay style, this game borrows heavily from Mega Man: The Power Battle, and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. So much so that pretty much all of those words are in the game tittle!
This game only ever came out in Japan, but as the Neo Geo Pocket Color is region free, it shouldn’t be a problem to pick up a copy if you have a wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket.
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.