The Analogue Pocket is designed as the ultimate handheld device, letting you play games for Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Game Gear, Atari Lynx, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and more. It’s the perfect system for retro gamers who don’t want to fiddle with the original hardware.
Analogue’s previous pre-order (for the last run of the NT Mini) sold out in less than a week. But that feels like an eternity compared to the Analogue Pocket. When pre-orders went live on Monday morning, they sold out within minutes. Here’s everything you need to know about the Analogue Pocket and how to get it.
Analogue Pocket pre-order debacle
Fans have been waiting for a Pocket pre-order date since the product was announced in 2019. Recently, Analogue made it official: customers could pre-order the system on August 3 at 8 a.m. PST from the Analogue website.
Sure enough, the system went live at the appointed day and time. While some users (including myself) got lucky and got an order in, things quickly went to hell.
Many users reported the site lagging out when processing the shipping costs for the order. By the time that glitch resolved (which typically took about seven minutes), Analogue was sold out of Pockets and most of the accessories.
Via social media, Analogue announced they were sold out and told fans they could sign up on the website for notifications about future production. While it’s heartening that this won’t be the last opportunity to buy the system, many fans are understandably angry that they could sell out so quickly.
Adding insult to injury, COVID-19 delays mean the system won’t ship out until May 2021 at the earliest. This left many fans wondering how Analogue could sell out of a product they presumably had not yet manufactured.
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A fancy display
If you’re wondering why fans were so hyped, you may be asking a simple question: what makes this device so special?
Beyond the FPGA hardware inside, the Pocket sports a 3.5 inch LCD screen that has a 1600×1440 resolution. As Analogue puts it on their website, this offers “10x the resolution of an original Game Boy.”
It’s also made of Gorilla Glass, so the screen will be just as sturdy as it is pretty.
To cartridge or not to cartridge
It’s hard to imagine one system playing all those different types of cartridges. How, exactly, will the Pocket handle all of this?
Analogue is selling special adapters for different systems. So while the Pocket can immediately play Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance cartridges, you can buy an adapter to play even more.
Don’t want to fiddle with cartridges? Past Analogue products have been almost immediately “jailbroken,” allowing users to load ROMs from a micro SD card. While downloading ROMs remains a legal grey area, this gives users the chance to put entire game libraries onto a single card.
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Some of the best portable game experiences come from multiplayer experiences. For example, trading Pokémon with your buddy or playing a few matches in Mario Tennis: Power Tour.
With the right cables (sold separately by Analogue), you can connect up to four Pockets together for multiplayer gaming. And that makes this the perfect modern system to recreate decades-old multiplayer experiences in the modern age.
Dust off those old accessories
Over the years, there were many first- and third-party accessories for Nintendo’s Gameboy products. Some of these were practical, including various devices to light up the screen at night (most older handhelds were not backlit).
Other accessories were fairly insane. For example, there was a Gameboy camera that allowed you to take digital pictures and print them on a custom Gameboy printer. Hell, there was even a Gameboy sewing machine!
Thanks to the Pocket including the original Gameboy Link Port, you’ll be able to bring most of these crazy accessories back to life. If nothing else, printing out 8-bit digital photos of your friends serves as a nice party trick.
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Sleep and wake: gaming on the go
One of the downsides to retro gaming is that it’s not always friendly to our “on the go” lifestyles. Many games lacked any features to save your progress, and others relied on clunky password systems.
That’s why save states have become so popular among retro gamers. Analogue systems do not natively support save states because they wish to recreate the original games (or as they say on their site: “no emulation”).
Fortunately, Analogue has done the next best thing by including a “sleep and wake” feature that should be very familiar to Nintendo Switch fans. This lets you pick up and put down your games and play according to your own schedule.
Most of the features in the Analogue Pocket are straightforward. But one feature is downright crazy, and that’s the Nanoloop.
“Nanoloop” is the name of the digital audio workstation that is built directly into the system. This is a combined synthesizer and sequencer that will let capture, create, and perform your own music.
If you’ve ever dreamed of creating your own “chiptune” music, this may be the easiest way to do it.
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A future of possibilities
The final feature of the Pocket is the most unexpected. However, it may go down as the best feature of all.
Analogue has partnered with GB Studio so that players can create their own games. GB Studio is a “drag and drop” program that lets players create a game from scratch even if they have no programming knowledge at all.
Make your own game sequels or original content. And once you’re done, you can use the Pocket to show off your creation. It’s a dream come true for would-be game designers. At this point, though, getting your hands on a Pocket will be much more difficult than creating a game!