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Ever since Analogue released its Nt Mini console that re-creates Nintendo Entertainment System hardware, I wondered when it would do the same for Game Boy. Well, here comes the Analogue Pocket. This is a sleek device that looks like a modern reinvention of a Game Boy Pocket. The difference is that it has four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and a hyper high-resolution screen. Oh, and it can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and Atari Lynx games.
The Analogue Pocket is coming in 2020 for $200. And while that might seem expensive, Analogue is piling on features to ensure you get your money’s worth. This is likely the best way to experience the early generations of handheld gaming.
“I’ve wanted to make Pocket for 10 years,” Analogue boss Christopher Taber told GamesBeat. “Nearly all of Analogue’s history leads up to this product. Pocket is Analogue’s Illmatic. It’s legendary.”
All your cartridges will work — although you will need an adapter for anything that isn’t in the Game Boy family. Those games will also output to a higher resolution, which enables them to take advantage of the Pocket’s 3.5-inch 1,600-by-1,400 display. That screen has 615 dot-per-inch, which is higher than an iPhone 11 Pro Max.
“Pocket’s display is 10 times the resolution of an original Game Boy,” said Taber. “It has 615 ppi. It outclasses any screen in a portable game system by a long shot. Something like the Switch screen doesn’t even come close. At 3.5 inches and in it’s aspect ratio, it’s about the same size as a 3DS XL screen. It’s big.”
And as with previous Analogue consoles, the Pocket uses field-programmable gate-array chips. This enables Taber’s engineers, particularly the brilliant Kevin “Kevtris” Horton, to build cores that exactly mimic the behavior of the original hardware. This should guarantee that the Pocket is among the most accurate ways to play these games — especially in a handheld.
Analogue Pocket is the retro-gaming device everyone was waiting for
The Analogue Pocket is not just about plugging in your old games. Analogue is including a synthesizer and sequencer program called Nanoloop for creating music. That could turn it into a popular tool for electronic music artists.
“Nanoloop is a legendary piece of music making software designed for the GBA,” said Taber. “It costs €50 for the cartridge to use it on an original GBA, so we are thrilled to have it included on Pocket — it’s a powerful tool and a huge value add.”
The biggest feature, however, is the inclusion of a second FPGA chip that Analogue is opening up to developers. This will empower the classic-gaming community to build and port their own cores to run other games on the Pocket similar to how the MiSTER FPGA device works. That is huge, and it’s awesome that it is coming in what looks like an awesome handheld form factor with an incredible screen.
You can even purchase a separate dock to output the Pocket to a television via HDMI. The dock doesn’t have a price yet.
“Pocket is the conclusion to all of retro portable gaming history,” said Taber. “It completes an entire era of portable gaming all in one product. Able to be played portably, on your HD with Dock, and even on CRTs and PVMs with Pocket + Dock + DAC.”
Analogue Pocket is a leap forward for portable retro gaming
I haven’t tried the Analogue Pocket yet, but let’s assume it works as well as the company’s excellent Super Nt and Mega Sg devices. In that case, the Pocket should flip the entire retro portable gaming scene on its head.
Right now, you can go on Amazon and get a handheld that emulates old games for like $40. And these devices are fine. They have decent chips based on Raspbery Pi and basic LCD screens. But those products always use software emulation, and that means a lot of games are inaccurate. For example, I hate playing Rhythm Heaven on them because the audio is always off, which ruins that game.
But the Pocket is the complete opposite. It emulating the hardware, and Analogue dedicates itself to accuracy. And the specs make it sound like it will have the best screen on any handheld ever. That will be a huge change from the cheap displays you find in a lot of portable emulator consoles.
Finally, the potential to support cores for other devices makes this a must-have device for retro-gaming enthusiasts. The MiSTER is a great way to do that now, but that costs in the neighborhood of $175, and that just gets you naked kit of electronics. It’s not a polished product like the Analogue Pocket.
So yeah, count me in.
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