Analogue, known for its premium FPGA hardware clones of home consoles like the Mini NT (NES), Mega SG (Genesis), and Super NT (SNES), has created a luxury clone of Nintendo's Game Boy line — a product which retro enthusiasts have long been coveting. Today, it's finally available for pre-order... even though it won't ship until May 2021.
The handheld unit is an FPGA which, for the uninitiated nerds, is a device capable of emulating electronics at the hardware level — down to the very logic gates — with perfect accuracy. Unlike software emulation, FPGAs do not have lag, making them ideal for applications like gaming. This unit will be able to perfectly emulate Nintendo's Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Sega's Game Gear, Atari's Lynx, and the Neo Geo Pocket — with possibly more system cores dropped through software updates.
If you have any respect for the handheld gaming scene pre-DS — and considering classic franchises like Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Sonic, Final Fantasy, and The King of Fighters have all had some of their best entries on those platforms, you should — this tiny device could supply customers with an almost infinite amount of entertainment.
Layout — The unit costs $199.99, in line with Analogue's other products (the metal Mini NT excluded) and features a 3.5” LTPS LCD at 1600×1440 resolution (615ppi) protected by Gorilla Glass, USB-C charging, a rechargeable Li-On battery, mappable controls, and an input for the original link cable. The onboard Bluetooth and 2.4 Ghz support means that in addition to allowing USB controllers, it will also natively work with 8bitdo's superb line of wireless retro game controllers. The unit also comes pre-loaded with a bonus feature from Nanoloop that acknowledges the Game Boy's place in the chiptune music scene: A custom digital audio workstation with an 8-bit synthesizer and sequencer.
Seeing is believing — The unit's screen promises quite a few features we've yet to see on such a device, boasting "Pro level color accuracy, dynamic range, and brightness" able to display the games exactly as originally intended by simulating the pixels of each title's original device. It even features 360º image rotation for games that take advantage of tate mode.
Up all night — The unit has a 4300 mAh battery promising 6-10 hours of gameplay and at least 10+ hours of standby time, thanks to a new sleep/wake mode that functions exactly as you'd imagine.
Developers, developers, developers — Analogue put out a call for FPGA devs to use their development kits to port over other FPGA cores, provided that the device can handle them (think more NES and less SNES). They've also partnered with GB Studio on a new version of their dead simple drag-and-drop Game Boy development tool with the hopes that the device can cause a resurgence of original games in the format.
Play your way — While the console's ability to use original media is a huge draw for many collectors, don't worry if you're not in possession of a massive trove of classic out-of-print game cartridges. If previous Analogue devices are any indication, not only will the unit accept flash carts such as the Everdrive or the EZ Flash Omega but the firmware will be so easy to hack that it should be as user-friendly as dragging-and-dropping an update to the device in order for players to run thousands and thousands of game ROMs off their SD cards. Now, where you'd procure such illicit material, one may never know. (Apropos of nothing, there's a website called Archive.org that is very fun and cool.)
Switch it up — The company has also created a Dock for players to display the handheld when it's charging or throw their games on to an HDTV in 1080p. Also on offer are a protective case, adapters for the non-Game Boy cartridges, and a series of cables allowing users to sync to a Mac, PC, MIDI gear, or other Pockets.
While it won't replace the Nintendo Switch in power or features, the Analogue Pocket promises to be a superb way to play some of the best titles from gaming history. With Nintendo seemingly unwilling to release a Game Boy Classic Edition as it has for the NES and SNES, it seems Analogue does what Nintenwon't.
Update: And within moments, they're sold out – even the accessories. That's Analogue for you. Hey, you can always hit up eBay if you're a billionaire.
Don't fear though, the company says more stock may yet come in.