Boutique hardware designer Analogue’s first portable console, the Analogue Pocket, will give collectors a new way to play Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance cartridges when it launches next year. The company previously released high-end consoles capable of playing NES, Super NES, and Sega Genesis games.
Analogue’s retro consoles play cartridges using what’s called an FPGA chip to essentially recreate the hardware of the original console, rather than emulating them through software. Recent retro consoles like the PlayStation Classic opt for software emulation rather than Analogue’s trickier hardware method. While much more common, software emulation can result in glitchy audio or video, and it’s illegal if it’s not done with the explicit permission of the game’s original creators. Nintendo in particular is known for going after emulators, last year suing two sites that hosted emulated Nintendo games for $12 million.
While the Analogue Pocket will play Game Boy games faithfully, Analogue is aiming to deliver a much more powerful console than the original. The handheld’s 3.5 inch, 1600x1440 resolution screen is its biggest standout, at 10 times the resolution of the original Game Boy. Analogue will also sell an optional dock to connect the Pocket to a television and play with controllers, somewhat like the Game Boy Advance link cable for the GameCube.
On its own, an accurate recreation of the Game Boy would probably be enough for some collectors, but the Analogue Pocket has a lot more to offer. In addition to promising support for every Game Boy game out of the box, a cartridge adapter sold separately will allow Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and Atari Lynx games to be played as well. The Analogue Pocket also has built-in support for developers to create their own games using its unique hardware, along with a synthesizer and sequencer called Nanoloop that allows live music performance and recording. With all those features, it’s no surprise that the Analogue Pocket won’t come cheap, launching in limited quantities at $199 some time in 2020.
While the Analogue Pocket’s price tag and enthusiast trappings might scare some people away, it looks like an excellent option for a certain dedicated set of Nintendo fans. Hardware support for decades-old games is also an incredible boon for game preservation, a field that often suffers from games of previous generations simply being unplayable in their original format. Given the quality of Analogue’s previous consoles, there’s no reason to believe that the Pocket won’t be well worth the investment, and if nothing else, it’ll be one of the best looking pieces of gaming hardware around.