Analogue Pocket $200 handheld console plays retro cartridges and more

Ruben Fields
October 17, 2019

The Analogue Pocket includes a 3.5-inch backlit LCD screen with a resolution of 1600x1440 pixels, so titles from systems with wider screens, like the GBA, will require letterboxing. "Completely engineered in two FPGAs". And since the FPGA is so versatile, the Analogue Pocket will also be able to use adapters to run games from other handheld systems, including the Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, and Atari Lynx. And it also has "pro level color accuracy, dynamic range, and brightness", which means games will look infinitely better than you remember.

It's that second FPGA that unlocks a lot of potential, because Analogue says developers can use it to run their own cores. Not only were there countless classic titles released exclusively for the GBA, from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire to The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap to Advance Wars to Metroid Fusion, but it was also home to some incredible re-releases, including all the best 2D Mario games. All that should be worth the price of entry, but Analogue has added one other excellent Nintendo-inspired feature.

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However, if you happen to live in India, here is some bad news for you as these devices will not make their way to these shores. If that sounds familiar, it might be because it's exactly what B&H and Best Buy are also offering at the time of this writing.

Alongside cartridge playback, the Pocket will also include a synthesizer/sequencer called Nanoloop, used for music creation and live performance. Beyond that, you've got a secondary FPGA chip for developers to crack out a few games on, an SD card slot and an optional dock that you can put the handheld in so that you can jam some games on your TV. Once it's hooked up, the Pocket can be controlled via Bluetooth controllers - Analogue recommends those from popular third-party company 8bitdo. And it plays host to games for all the classic portables you can shake a pixelated stick at.

So if you're willing to splurge, you probably won't be disappointed. But while the classic mini consoles from the likes of Sega and Nintendo with their built-in libraries of emulated games will scratch the nostalgia itch for many, the likes of Analogue have sought greater depth and authenticity by offering up modern hardware that plays original game cartridges. Aren't you glad the Playdate hasn't opened its pre-orders yet?

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