The definitive underdog against Nintendo's unstoppable Game Boy Color, SNK's Neo Geo Pocket Color has been slowly carving out a niche for itself with a few exclusive titles. Faselei! (yes, the exclamation mark is part of the title) is one such NGPC-exclusive title; developed by Sacnoth of Koudelka fame, it offers owners of the handheld system a strategy RPG with more than few resemblances to Square's Front Mission saga.
 City battle
Programming a T.S.

   Like the Front Mission series, Faselei! takes place on a futuristic Earth where warfare is conducted through piloted mecha (known as "TS", short for "Toy Soldiers", in this particular game). The king of the fictitious nation of Istall is assassinated in 2097, but his death is covered up by the government. However, the king's oldest son learns of the plot and forcefully takes back the throne. His younger brother assembles the obligatory multinational revolutionary army, known as "Faselei" (hence the game's title), to overthrow the corrupt new king and bring peace back to the country.

   When it comes to gameplay, however, Faselei! is completely different. At the start of each round of combat, you select from a variety of "Program Chips" to program each TS's movement for that round. Each Program Chip represents a single action, such as moving forward, turning, or firing a weapon. Once you've filled up each character's queue, the round begins, and all the mechs -- both yours and the enemy's -- move at once. Needless to say, you won't get far without proper strategic planning.

Arming a T.S.
Toy Soldiers: More than meets the eye!

   Later in the game, you'll acquire more advanced Program Chips that allow for more advanced actions, such as strafing and examining enemy TS' stats. And since no self-respecting mech game would go without letting you fine-tune your vehicle, you'll also be able to select from a variety of new parts and weapons, such as jamming devices, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and even claws. In order to earn these upgrades, however, you'll need to perform well throughout the game's 13 main missions. Completing a stage with a minimal amount of time and casualties earns you a higher grade; earning enough high grades boosts your hero's rank and opens up new items in the shops.

   While it may be a low-profile release for a low-profile system, Faselei! actually has quite a bit going for it. The gameplay features an original twist, and a two-player link cable battle mode will keep the game alive beyond the rather limited selection of missions. SNK is already localizing the game for North American release; look for it in stores sometime this spring.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Developer Sacnoth
Publisher SNK
Genre Strategy RPG
Medium Cartridge (16 mb)
Platform Neo-Geo Pocket Color
Release Date  12.22.99
12 screenshots
Miscellaneous artwork