The Neo Geo Pocket might not be spoken of with the same kind of revered tones as the Game Boy or even the Game Gear, but it should be. Small, stylish and with a dizzying array of fighting games to play, the Neo Geo hit streets before the turn of the millennium, but failed to capture consumer interest due to its high price. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we can now play the best the Neo Geo Pocket had to offer on the Nintendo Switch.
Fatal Fury First Contact is one of many entries in the Fatal Fury series, although it changes things up with a chibi art style, making many of the classic characters like Terry Bogard, Mai Shiranui and Jo Higashi look quite cute while they all violently beat each other up.
First Contact doesn’t really extend much further than a pure fighting game, with a single player mode and two player mode to get stuck into. The single player takes you through a number of fights that escalate in difficulty with each win, while two player mode allows two of you to grab a Joy-Con each and go head to head.
Outside of the game itself, there’s some quality of life additions that have become fairly standard throughout modern emulation, including a range of options for controller remapping, the ability to rewind the game should you make a mistake and letting you zoom into the faux Neo Geo Pocket that takes up most of the screen. They are small touches that make Fatal Fury First Contact a little more playable by today’s standards, although the port certainly could have done more.
One of the biggest faux-pas has to be a lack of a move list. With over a dozen fighters to choose from, the ability to have a detailed move and combo list for each fighter available on the console menu would have made this port so much easier to pick up and learn. It would not only allow you to better learn each individual fighter, but also master their movesets should you decide to go head to head with another person.
I also noticed slowdown on a number of occasions, which is a real shame considering the power of the Nintendo Switch compared to the Neo Geo Pocket. I know emulation is a bit tricky and it isn’t always a simple process to improve these things, but the popularity and playability of fighting games hinges on how well they run, so seeing consistent frame drops is a real shame.
I didn’t have particularly high expectations going into First Contact, but I was surprised by how fun it is. It’s by no means the most complex fighting game I’ve ever played, but there’s something entertaining in its simplicity. I just wish there was a little more to it, and at £7.19, it feels a bit pricey for what is essentially a very basic fighting game.