Normally I'm not one for sports games. Granted, tennis is the sport for which I'm most likely to make an exception (after ice hockey), but still, I rarely find myself getting much enjoyment out of sports games. I am, however, a huge fan of SNK, and I'm willing to give just about anything with their logo a try. I was not disappointed in the slightest. It doesn't quite reach the greatness of the god-tier Mario Power Tennis, but this is probably the best tennis game not featuring a mustachioed plumber that I've ever played.
Being on a handheld, the simply and aptly named Pocket Tennis Color is designed around short bursts of play. To that end, the first play option is Exhibition - just a random game of tennis that lets you choose between one, three, and five sets. It repeats until you get bored and quit, but it keeps score of how many sets each player won. If you want a mode of play a bit more engaged and with a bit more length to it, there's also a tournament mode that can give you a bit more long term an experience. That is, as the name implies, a tournament styled competition. There are 12 characters to choose from, each with their own strength and weaknesses distributed among three different stats - speed, power, and defense. The visual style of the characters is a very neat, well done style you'd expect from Japan - giant heads, small bodies, and an inexplicable ability to make it look perfectly natural.
The game features a total of twelve characters of whom eight are available from the beginning and of whom four can be unlocked. These four secret characters can be unlocked through the game's tournament mode. The controls are tight and responsive, and you have two different types of volleys from which to choose - one of the buttons performs a strong volley while the other performs a weak volley. Nothing revolutionary, but the controls are simple, they work, and they're easy to learn.
Truthfully, there isn't a lot to say about Pocket Tennis Color. It's a tennis game. It fits in your pocket. It's in color. It's not ground breaking in any way, but it just....works. The controls are tight and never seem to have a mind of their own. The graphics, while simple, are very well done, and the color is nice and fitting. Nothing blinding but not too understated either. If you've got a Neo Geo Pocket Color, this is a great game to kill some time, especially if you like tennis. I'm not sure I can call it a "must own" for NGPC owners, but it's definitely one that you should look into if you're collecting for the system.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.