Want to play some old-school games on a modern device? There’s no shortage of emulators that will let you fire up classic games on a phone. Or you can buy any number of modern handhelds designed to play old games (or maybe build your own).

But the Analogue Pocket is something different.

The upcoming handheld game system has two FPGAs that can be programmed to work like the actual hardware of original game systems — which means that games run without any software emulation. In fact, you can insert a Game Boy, Game Boy Color, or Game Boy Advance game cartridge in order to play classic games on the Pocket. Analogue says more than 2,780 games are supported out of the box.

Update 7/27/2020: Originally scheduled for release in 2020, the developers of the Analogue Pocket have pushed back the release date to May 2021 or later due to global supply chain issues. The handheld game system goes up for pre-order starting August 3, 2020 for $200. The physical design has also been updated with the start, select, and home buttons moved from the side to the bottom.

Analogue Pocket (new design)
Analogue Pocket (new design)

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since the system supports adapters, you should be able to buy an add-on that will let you play games designed for other handheld systems like the Neo Geo Pocket Color, Atari Lynx, or Sega Game Gear.

Since there’s no software emulation required, games should run as if you were playing on original hardware — without any of the glitches you may experience if you’re running ROMs in an emulator.

But the Analogue Pocket does have some modern touches — it sports a 3.5 inch, 1600 x 1440 pixel LCD display with 615 pixels per inch. Since that’s 10 times the resolution of an original Game Boy, it’s possible to scale graphics up to the higher-resolution display with sharper imagery and better color, dynamic range, and brightness.

The Nanoloop audio synthesizer and sequencer is also built in, allowing you to make music on the Pocket.

The system is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery, features a USB-C port for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s a microSD card slot for storage, and all of the Pocket’s buttons are mappable, if you want to change way you interact with the system.

Analogue also plans to sell a docking station that lets you connect the Pocket to a TV. It has HDMI output, 2 USB inputs for wired controllers, and Bluetooth support for wireless controllers.

The company isn’t ready to announce a price for the dock yet, but the Analogue Pocket handheld retro console will sell for $200 when it goes on sale sometime next year in 2021.

That makes it more expensive than many other handheld retro consoles. But the Analogue Pocket’s price is in the ballpark of the company’s other products… even though it’s far more versatile (and portable) than those systems (which only run games designed for a single console type).

This article was originally published October 16, 2019 and last updated July 27, 2020.

via Engadget and The Verge

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  1. There are a ton of retro portables that use this gameboy OG layout for nostalgia, but are even smaller/thinner and less comfortable to use. Nintendo really improved ergonomics with the GBA (following Sega’s lead), move the controls to either side of the screen, and really improved durability with the clamshell DS and up, making it very easy to bring along anywhere without worry or special cases. I wish more of retro hardware followed those later iterations.

    1. Yep… as much as I like playing the old games, my favorite emulation machine is my DSi with a flash cartridge. Its form factor and battery life are great for longer retro sessions.

  2. I think I’d prefer this if it were in the GBA SP layout. It would be nice if it could fold up to protect the screen. Landscape layout would be fine, too.

    1. Isn’t that unnecessarily large though?
      What about the layout of the GBA?

      edit: I was thinking of the Nintendo DS Lite instead. The GB Micro would be too small. I think the GBA and the SP are probably the best when it comes to a trade-off between comfort and portability.

      edit2: Why not make it in the form-factor of the PSP Go, except with dual joysticks, and a touchscreen on the display? Maybe I’m wishing for too much. Though most people would be served well with a GDP Win2 or a Controller for their Android Phone.

    1. It’s a display originally developed for VR. It’s great to see another useful application for it though.

  3. I like the idea of a system like this, but can’t justify spending so much when I can just run an emulator on my phone.

    It would be cool to get an OG style button addon though.