| paleface [sys=NGPC; cat=Action_Variety; loc=JPN]
|The hands-down winner for weirdest game on the system, and also the game that has given the Neo Geo Pocket a lasting (among the loyal fans, that is) mascot of its own: the hapless and unpredictable Neo Poke-kun whose peaceful little life in his one-room apartment in your Neo Geo Pocket you must disrupt in order to unlock a large variety of mini-games.
The mini-games are, more specifically, parodies of video games past, unlocked in order from the oldest (send-ups of Pong and the like) all the way up to amusing little representations of NGPC fighting games and even powerful arcade games like Virtual On ("Virtual Off").
Unlocking the games then is the trick. They unlock as Neo Poke stays at work (hammering dolefully on giant circuit boards). But the little rascal only goes to work when he feels like it--so you've got to influence his feelings. There's no map laid out for you in what exactly he's feeling, why his feelings change (the little fella puts manic depressives to shame), or what exactly changes them, so influencing him can be something of a crap shoot until you learn a few tricks.
In fact it doesn't even seem, at first, like you can do anything at all, other than perhaps piss him off by dropping something really nasty on him (circle the click-stick a few times) or blowing his door off its hinges by ringing the doorbell to frequently. Pushing left on the stick makes "L-O-V-E" light up in sequence in the back of his room. He never seems to care about that. Pushing up turns on and off the overhead light. He doesn't seem to care about that, nor the worms that run across his mats if you press down, nor the hand that comes through his mail slot if you press right.
So what the devil can you do? Well, the most obvious is to push the A button, which conjures a visitor at his doorway, anyone from space aliens to a weird half-naked guy who's into butt floss. Some of them just want to use his bathroom, some just peer at him for a moment and then sod off, but most play on the poor guy's feelings in some way, either making him happier or upset. Of course you have no way of controlling who comes to the door, except that it tends to vary overall by time of day (using the system clock), so ringing the doorbell amounts to a roll of the dice to stir Neo Poke up or down.
Well this is all complete nonsense, you're probably thinking. Well done! You're now quite advanced in Neo Poke understanding. It IS nonsense, so sit back and enjoy. The number and variety of visitors, and their freakish ingenuity, is rivalled only by the domestic activities of Neo Poke himself. In fact the visitors probably have him beat in that department except that he's much cuter, as he rolls around on the floor, curls over painfully when he has to use the loo, plays with blocks, plays his own little NGPC, and so forth.
And herein lies the trick. I don't want to give too much away, but correct input while Neo Poke is involved in certain pursuits will produce the effect you want of sending the lazy little goofball to work for you. Trial and error, of course, but amusing enough if you have a good deal of patience, a willingness to be confounded for a while, and an appreciation for cute little sprite animations.
So you unlock all the games (there's rumored to be a seventh page of minigames unlocked by some cabalistic ritual that I will never understand) over a matter of hours or days or weeks. Then you play them. They keep track of your success by a variety of little award markers (plums, flowers, crowns, etc), so you can tell which ones you've mastered.
I don't really like the mini-games much. A few are okay as far as twitch action goes but of course none of them last long at all (they're mostly restricted to a single screen/level/whatever), many have downright frustrating gameplay, and overall they're really meant to be enjoyed more for the humor of the parody rather than the actual gameplay--at least I hope that was the intent, because they aren't that great as games in their own right. Now that I've played 'em I find watching the antics and visitors of Neo Poke much more amusing than these little gamelets.
So that's about it. Not much of a game, perhaps, but it can be appreciated in a variety of ways. Chances are that, if nothing else, you'll become at least a little attached to the wayward Poke-kun, and will enjoy looking in on him for a few minutes from time to time (just don't do it in the dead of night, because he'll be asleep--seriously).