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We take a look at the RetroHQ NeoPocket GameDrive flash cart for the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color handheld. The NeoPocket GameDrive has 15MB of internal flash memory and you install the games from SD Card to this. This means you get exactly the same experience as you would with an original game cartridge.
RetroHQ NeoPocket GameDrive Review Video
You can find the official list of stockists on the RetroHQ homepage at https://retrohq.co.uk. This video is not sponsored, and the NeoPocket GameDrive was purchased with my own money.
RetroHQ NeoPocket GameDrive Review (Text)
Welcome to our review of RetroHQ’s NeoPocket GameDrive cartridge, which is a flash cartridge for the NeoGeo Pocket.
The user guides gets you up and running with how to use the Game Drive and shows how to navigate the user interface, flash the games and update the firmware.
The Game Drive cartridge is similar to a standard NeoGeo Pocket cartridge. The sticker on the front may be different as there are a few stores that add their own designs. But all the internals are the same. On the back is the RetroHQ logo which has a kind of velvety texture which is quite cool.
Unlike many other flash carts where you run the games directly from a SD card, the NeoPocket GameDrive cartridge has 15MB of onboard Flash memory. You flash the games from the SD card and run them from the flash memory. 15MB does not sound much, but considering the majority of games are 1 and 2 MB, with the largest being 4MB. You can expect to fit around 10 games quite easily.
It is compatible with the NeoGeo Pocket Black and White, The Pocket Color and Color Slim and supports Link Play if you have another Pocket and cable.
There is a Micro SD Card slot at the top of the cartridge. You can fit the entire Mono, Colour and Public Domain ROM collection on a 512MB card so any more would be a waste. It supports FAT 16 and FAT 32 formats.
According to the manufacturer, all retail and public domain games are supported.
Show how to update the firmware. You can download from https://www.retrohq.co.uk/products/neo-geo-pocket-neopocket-gamedrive-flash-cartridge
The first thing you may want to do is update the firmware. You can download this from the RetroHQ website.
Simply copy the UPDATE.DAT file to the root of the Micro SD card. Turn on the Pocket and press the OPTION button when the RetroHQ splash screen appears. Then press the A button to update the cartridge. Once complete, press the A button to reboot and you are up to date.
How To Use
There are two tabs, one for the 15MB Flash Memory and the other for the Micro SD card. You can switch between them with a press off the option button.
The Flash tab shows the remaining Flash Memory available from the 15MB. Below that is a list of any flashed games. On the left of each game is the amount of space it is taking up, it will show half a meg, 1mb, 2mb or 4mb.
You can browse files and folders on the Micro SD card with the joystick and the A button to select. To perform any other actions you will need to hold the B button to bring up a small menu and press one of the respective buttons shown, for example to go a Page Down on the file list, press Down on the joystick.
Similar to the Flash tab, you can see the size of each game on the left beside the game.
To flash a game to the Flash Memory, simply highlight a game and press the A button to begin the process. Depending on the size of the game file, this can take some time.
Once the game has been flashed to the flash memory you will see it listed on the Flash Memory tab.
To load a flashed game, highlight it and press the A button to start. It takes a couple of seconds to initialise and then the game will load.
Once the game has started you should not notice any difference compared to an original cartridge. There will be no difference in loading times for example. It should behave and play exactly like the original cartridge.
Flashing game speeds
Depending on the size of the games, flashing can take a bit of time. Of course you will only need to do this once and then you can load the games far faster from the flash tab. Here are the results for flashing the various ROM sizes. The times can vary a little depending on Micro SD Card, I tried a very old 128MB card and the times were 15 or so seconds slower when flashing a 2MB file.
Overall I found the NeoPocket GameDrive to be very impressive. The menu is fairly straightforward to navigate and operate, it is functional and does the job on a small screen with limited buttons.
The game flashing speeds is a bit of an annoyance but far from being a negative factor, taking into consideration you only need to flash the game once to play it many times. You can see similar ways of doing this in the NeoGeo MVS and AES flash cartridges for example.
Having 15MB of flash storage means you can fit a decent number of games for fast access. And once the games are flashed, you can run them without the SD card inserted if you wish to. So weighing up the positives and negatives, it is overall a good way of doing it.
I did not have any issues at all with the variety of games I tried, which included US, Japanese and European versions, as well as PD games. If you have a NeoGeo Pocket and want access to all the games and do not have a very large wallet to buy them all, then the NeoPocket Game Drive is a must have.
You can find a list of official stockists of the NeoPocket Game Drive on the RetroHQ website at https://www.retrohq.co.uk.