Emulating games is fun, but it’s never perfect. There’s so much weird interaction between a game and its hardware that sometimes you just can’t simulate it; you need the real thing. Analogue has made a name for itself with consoles like the Super Nt and the Mega Sg. These systems married premium build quality and authentic hardware and won accolades among retro enthusiasts. Now, Analogue is looking to do the same for handheld games with the $200 Analogue Pocket.
The Analogue Pocket’s Game Boy shape gives away its function. Out of the box, the Pocket plays Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Pocket games. Add-on adapters released later will also let you plug in Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and Atari Lynx games.
The smart button layout should be a hit with gamers; on the front, you’ll find a d-pad and four face buttons, while the back shaves off a bit space on the back for a pair of shoulder buttons. There are three system buttons on the front that worry me a little, as they look easy to hit, but the rest of the layout is killer.
The display definitely isn’t analogue
One thing that sets the Analogue Pocket apart is its display. According to Engadget, the Pocket has a 3.5-inch, 615-ppi LTPS LCD with a 1,600 x 1,440 resolution. Because this system plays so many games, not all of them will fill the display perfectly, but Analogue’s system will scale them correctly to fill up the screen without breaking aspect ratio. Analogue says the screen has “pro-level color accuracy,” and says its the most advanced ever in a handheld game system.
If you feel like “switching” things up, Analogue will also offer a dock that will use the company’s scaling tech to put games on your TV, Super Game Boy-style. It’ll have HDMI connectivity, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity and “no loss in quality.” All those 8bitdo controllers we’ve been collecting will work well with that dock.
What sets Analogue’s systems apart from other retro consoles is the use of Field-Programmable Gate Arrays. FPGA cores are integrated circuits that Analogue reconfigures to mimic other chips. In essence, it’s hardware emulating hardware. Depending on what system your game of choice comes from, Analogue says that the FPGA is “literally being reconfigured as that system on a transistor level.”
It makes music, too
The system will also feature some pack-in software in the form of Nanoloop, an electronic music program that runs only on Game Boy hardware (and not on emulation software). Analogue isn’t denying the possibility that it might run on some of the other hardware that those adapters will introduce.
Analogue is prepping the Pocket for a 2020 release. Again, this system will be selling for $200. Analogue will sell the adapters and dock separately; none of that add-on hardware is priced just yet. Even with that potential extra cost in mind, it’s important to remember that the company’s first system was an NES console that sold for well over $400.