Analogue, maker of retro gaming products that "celebrate and explore the history of video games with the respect it deserves," has delayed its first handheld system. This means that the Analogue Pocket premium retro portable is delayed to May 2021. However, pre-orders open up next month and the firm has announced some new features of the handheld console to placate impatient customers.
Analogue has built a solid reputation with previous high-end retro console replicas that celebrated consoles like the Mega Drive and Super NES, before turning its attention to handhelds. VG247 says to think of Analogue devices like a high-end turntable that can experience the best that vinyl can provide - making the most of an old medium on modern equipment.
Not an emulator/ROMs based device
If you head on over to the Analogue website, it emphasises that its Pocket console doesn't use an off the shelf SoC running an emulator. "No emulation," it declares, explaining that the original game code will be "running on systems completely engineered in two FPGAs". The Analogue Pocket simply plays legacy game cartridges via the cartridge slot.
Out of the box the Analogue Pocket is "compatible with the 2,780+ Game Boy, Game Boy Color & Game Boy Advance game cartridge library," asserts the device designer and maker. However, it isn't limited to this Nintendo portable game library, Analogue will create and sell cartridge adaptors for Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Atari Lynx and more. Other accessories being readied include; the Analogue Dock which lets the Pocket to connect to an HDMI TV and connect up to 4x USB wired/Bluetooth controllers, Pocket to MIDI IN, Pocket to MIDI USB-A, Pocket to Analogue Sync, a hard case and screen protector.
Above I mentioned the FPGA-based system for running classic games. The other hardware making up this handheld is equally remarkable compared to the knock-off portable game devices we see. The screen, for example, utilises a 1600x1440 pixel panel (10x the resolution of the original Game Boy), and offers the charms of "pro level colour accuracy, dynamic range, and brightness". The screen can be configured to recreate old school LCD and pixel effects, quirks and all. Over the display panel Analogue has fitted a chunky sliver of Gorilla Glass.
- Compatible with Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance game cartridges.
- 3.5-inch LCD. 1600×1440 resolution. 615ppi.
- 360° display rotation (tate mode)
- Variable refresh display
- Altera Cyclone V FPGA with 49K logic elements & 3.4mbit BRAM
- Altera Cyclone 10 with 15k logic elements
- 2x Cellular RAM 16Mbyte for a total of 32mbyte low latency memory
- Rechargeable lithium ion 4300mAh battery
- 6-10 hour gameplay time & 10+ hour sleep time 9
- All buttons are mappable
- Stereo speakers
- micro SD card slot
- USB-C charging
- Original-style link port
- 3.5mm headphone output
Last but not least, Analogue is promoting the Pocket as a portable music maker with MIDI capabilities and its built-in Nanoloop digital audio workstation system. It also encourages new games and apps development via GBStudio. The makers claim that the second dedicated FPGA was implemented for developers to develop and port their own cores.
Availability and pricing
As per the headline, this device is delayed, being rescheduled for May 2021 availability. Interested would-be buyers can pre-order starting next week (from 3rd Aug). Pricing for the console in black or white livery is US$200. The Analogue Dock is $100, other console cartridge adaptors are $30, the hard case is $30, and the various other accessories and cables are $20 or below.