Following the surprise release of Neo Geo Pocket Color classic Gals’ Fighters on the Nintendo Switch eShop last April, SNK Playmore will revive two more pocket-based fighting games of yore as eShop titles sometime this summer. King of Fighters R-2 and Samurai Shodown! 2 are the next entries in what SNK is calling the Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection for Nintendo Switch™, and while neither game has a firm release date, both seem to have been given the same loving (if somewhat rudimentary) port treatment as Gals’ Fighters.
Originally released for the Neo Geo Pocket Color back in 1999, King of Fighters R-2 (above) was the chibi little brother of The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999, an updated port of King of Fighters ’98 for the Sega Dreamcast. Through the used of the “Neo Geo Pocket/Dreamcast Setsuzoku Cable,” which connected the NGPC to the Dreamcast a full two years before Nintendo would do the same with the Game Boy Advance and Gamecube, players could transfer progress from R-2 to Dream Match 1999 in order to unlock special character artwork and other tchotchkes. That functionality is of course meaningless on the Nintendo Switch, but heck what a cool idea in 1999!
Since R-2 is based on Dream Match 1999, which was based on KOF ’98, the R-2 experience is remarkably similar to KOF ’98, albeit with only two attack buttons. There are 23 characters in total, including series favorites Mai Shiranui and Athena Asamiya, with about half of that roster being unlockable secret characters, such as the deadly and menacing “Orochi Chris.” Players can also customize their own version of a character in Making Mode, a semi-RPG mode where progress translates into goodies via the aforementioned Dreamcast connectivity.
Meanwhile, Samurai Shodown! 2 (below) was also released on the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999, and in keeping with tradition, is a super-deformed (SD) version of a non-portable game from SNK’s arcade catalogue, specifically Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage. Yes, rather than adapt the existing game also called Samurai Shodown 2 for Samurai Shodown! 2, SNK instead adapted the mechanics from its latest (and most 3D) Sam-Sho game to the two dimensions of the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and it mostly worked out fine. Each character retains their two distinct “Burst” and “Slash” fighting styles, as well as the majority of the story content from the arcade version.
There was also a mode for collecting cards of each of the characters, which would power up specific moves or abilities. Players could connect their Neo Geo Pocket Colors together via link cable and trade cards, which is also a dope idea in 1999, but it’s unclear whether this functionality has been preserved for the Switch version.
As was the case with Gals’ Fighters back in the cretaceous period, R-2 and Samurai Shodown! 2 will run you $8 each when they launch on the eShop at some point this summer, assuming we make it that long. But you may already own Samurai Shodown! 2 and not even realize it — the game was included as a pre-order bonus with the Switch release of Samurai Shodown, the modern reboot, which came out last February. So if you already own that thing, you might already own this thing! Neat!
Both R-2 and Shodown! 2 have local co-op (either on the same Switch or with two Switches linked wirelessly), but no online play. I know there’s no way in hell that it’s as easy as I’m about to make it sound, but if you’ve already figured out how to send the data between two Switch units over a local connection, couldn’t you take the extra step and send that data over the internet too? For me? I never ask for anything SNK, and I know I’ve been a little down on some of your recent hardware releases, but this Neo Geo stuff you’ve been doing lately is legitimately cool and I’d love to play this stuff for more than, like, an hour when I buy it and then never again.
Of course, it’s hard to ask for more for just $8. Here’s hoping that SNK is just getting started with its Neo Geo Pocket Revival.