SNK’s new trend of bringing classic NeoGeo Pocket games to Nintendo Switch continues, with King of Fighters R-2 and Samurai Shodown! 2 being the latest games to join the NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection range.
Both games released last Friday, priced at NZD $13.20 / AUD $12.00 each. They offer “perfectly emulated” versions of the respective games, with local two-player support on a single Switch—which may not sound that impressive today, but multiplayer on the NeoGeo Pocket Color itself required two systems and two copies of the game.
King of Fighters R-2 and Samurai Shodown! 2 both launched originally in 1999. They were based on The King of Fighters ’98 and Samurai Shodown 64: Warrior’s Rage respectively, though heavily modified to fit the technical limitations and two-button control scheme of the Pocket. They added unique new features, too, like card collection system in Samurai Shodown! 2‘s and character customisation in King of Fighters R-2.
Earlier this year, SNK released SNK Gals’ Fighters on Switch, and Samurai Shodown! 2 was available as a pre-order bonus for the Switch port of Samurai Shodown (2019). The NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection branding came later, with the promise of “Even more Amazing titles coming down the line!”
Despite the NeoGeo Pocket Color being something of a commercial failure in its time, there are some real gems among its library. The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny, Fatal Fury: First Contact, and the Pocket Color’s two Metal Slug games would be obvious candidates. If licensing doesn’t pose an issue, there’s also SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash and its sequel, as well as Legend of Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia, a spinoff of Square Enix’s long-neglected Ogre Battle strategy series. Maybe this could even be a chance to give a moment of the spotlight to Dive Alert, a submarine RPG with a Pokemon-esque collection system but for boats.
It’s great to see these games being preserved in a playable form. Games like King of Fighters R-2, Samurai Shodown! 2, and SNK Gals’ Fighters are great examples of how technical limitations can inspire creative approaches to game design, especially when adapting something from much more powerful hardware. The NeoGeo Pocket Color is an important part of videogame history, and these games are also just a lot of fun to play in their own primitive glory, so it’s nice to see them being resurrected on Switch.
(Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see Arc System Works give the same treatment to Guilty Gear Petit one day? One can only hope.)