Retronauts Episode 37 Keeps the Memory of Also-rans Alive

Retronauts Episode 37 Keeps the Memory of Also-rans Alive

Neo Geo Pocket and WonderSwan don't command the same place in history as their competitor Game Boy, but we love them anyway.

I didn't always love portable games. When I was a kid, I could only really afford one system at a time, so I went with consoles. I did play through maybe half a dozen games on a Super Game Boy back in the day, but it was hard to love Game Boy software when I had the likes of Super Metroid and Illusion of Gaia competing for my attention. In fact, I didn't even own a portable game system until the Game Boy Color launched, nearly a full decade after the original Game Boy's debut.

But from that point on, my interest in handheld gaming grew rapidly... and not really because of Game Boy. No, the secret of my fascination came from the Neo Geo Pocket Color, which had kicked off around the same time and offered a vastly more impressive experience than Nintendo's system. The games on NGPC felt closer to 16-bit than the GBC's decidedly 8-bit style, with bigger sprites, more fluid animation, and of course phenomenal controls thanks to that fantastic clicky-stick. I picked up most NGPC games to hit the U.S., and when the WonderSwan launched in Japan the following year, I imported a unit as soon as I could.

Of course, neither NGPC or WonderSwan put a dent in Game Boy Color's fortunes... but it wasn't for lack of effort. In their short lives, both systems enjoyed a wealth of great games. And who knows how much longer they'd have lasted if NGPC maker SNK hadn't been bought by a pachinko company, or if WonderSwan's creator Bandai had been able to lock down a U.S. distribution deal? In this episode, Bob and I team up with Gamasutra's Christian Nutt and SCEA's Shane Bettenhausen to look back on both of these systems — their strengths, their weaknesses... and why they deserved better, dammit.

Download Links

Libsyn (1:26:47 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)

Episode Description

Old-timers Shane Bettenhausen and Christian Nutt join Jeremy and Bob to hash out the history and relative failures of the last great Game Boy challengers of the '90s: Neo Geo Pocket and WonderSwan.

Relevant Links

Music in this episode is culled from multiple Metal Slug games. I couldn't actually find much in the way of relevant music from the systems in question, so I just went with an SNK series that appeared in some form on NGPC. Close enough!?

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

Apple Arcade is Way Cooler Than You Think. Here are 10 Games to Check Out

Apple Arcade has dozens of neat games, so we highlighted 10 from its launch lineup that are a bit under the radar.

Apex Legends Season 3 Starts in a Couple Weeks, Here's What's Changing With It

On top of confirming Crypto, Respawn wants to make its battle royale more competitive than ever.

Batman's Lego and Arkham Trilogies Are Free for One Week—No Will Arnett or Origins Though

Gotham's grittiest and goofiest are free for a limited time on Epic Games Store.

How Queen Latifah Became a Last-Minute Addition to Sayonara Wild Hearts

Developer Simogo tells us how one off-handed suggestion landed them a major celeb.

Warframe Developer Responds to Recent Wave of Negative Reviews on Steam

Several issues with the Chinese Warframe community brought on a torrent of negativity.

Shenmue 3 Was a Much Simpler Game Before Deep Silver Agreed to Publish It

In the Beginning, there was only story and quick time events.

We Dare You to Eat This Pile of Ancient Pokemon Food

Expiration dates are just suggestions.

More

Starting Screen | NeoGAF's Fall is a Sign of the Times in More Ways Than One

STARTING SCREEN | On the sudden end of a long-standing gaming community.

Starting Screen | Starting Screen: Fire Emblem Heroes and the Stages of Regret

The inevitable regret that comes with spending on a free-to-play game, plus the rest of this week's game releases and news.

Starting Screen | Starting Screen: How the Switch Can Keep its Momentum at This Week's Event

Our new Monday column highlights this week's Switch event. Plus: Thoughts on Scalebound's reported cancellation, the NES Classic hack, and more.