Analogue Pocket Review – A Retro Handheld Marvel

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As games manufacture publishers contention to instrumentality shorter loading times, ray-tracing-based rendering, and blockchain technology, retro-hardware-maker Analogue continues to observe video crippled history. With their latest release, the Analogue Pocket, the boutique shaper focuses connected a cardinal pillar of retro gaming — handhelds. 

The Analogue Pocket is simply a marvel of design, setting a caller modular for premium video crippled handhelds, retro oregon otherwise. Best of all, it’s wholly ineligible since it relies connected authentic cartridges.

The instrumentality features a stunning 3.5” LCD surface with configurable scaling and show modes, an HDMI dock, a fashionable euphony instauration suite called Nanoloop, and GB Studio crippled motor compatibility. Most importantly, it plays archetypal Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance crippled cartridges with zero emulation. The handheld besides plays Sega Game Gear cartridges via a proprietary adapter sold separately, with Neo Geo Pocket, Atari Lynx, and TurboGrafx-16 adapters planned to merchandise successful 2022 for $29.99 each.

The Screen

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The Pocket Screen | Image Credit: Alex Van Aken

The Screen

Besides its room of games, the astir important portion of immoderate handheld is the screen. The Pocket’s 3.5” LCD, which features a 1600x1440 resolution, is the sharpest I’ve seen successful a handheld of its kind. Colors exude vibrancy and affluent contrast, competing with — if not outperforming — the beautiful IPS displays that person go the modular successful the Game Boy modding scene. The instrumentality besides sports damage-resistant Gorilla Glass and a adaptable refresh complaint display, which helps forestall surface tearing successful games.

With its galore representation modes, the Pocket convincingly recreates the ocular artifacts that Nintendo’s handhelds were known for, including ​​backlight LCD effects and subpixel patterns. For example, you tin rhythm done DMG, Pocket, and Game Boy Light representation profiles portion playing first-generation cartridges, each faithfully replicating the archetypal hardware’s iconic greenish hues and pixel grid layouts. If you similar a cleanable image, you tin usage Analogue’s customized profile, defaulting to a gorgeous achromatic and achromatic representation erstwhile not playing color-enabled titles. Additionally, Analogue lets you tweak colour palettes, framework blending, sharpness, desaturation, and size/position, but I mostly stuck with the default settings.

It’s genuinely a ocular delight to play games connected the Analogue Pocket. I find myself swapping cartridges often to spot however the premium surface improves each title.

The Handheld Experience

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Analogue Pocket | Image Credit: Analogue, Inc.

The Handheld Experience

The Analogue Pocket looks familiar, resembling the Gameboy’s classical signifier factor, albeit with a fewer updates. Four look buttons present travel the D-pad, and a brace of enarthrosis buttons beryllium connected other sides of the rear crippled cartridge slot. In betwixt Start and Select is the caller Analogue fastener that calls the OS paper and navigation options. You tin remap each of these buttons to your preferred function, a large accessibility feature. 

The pastel greenish powerfulness fastener doubles arsenic a Sleep and Wake enactment with a azygous property truthful that you tin prime up games wherever you near disconnected – efficaciously serving arsenic a floating prevention authorities – vastly improving the handheld gaming acquisition implicit ones of the past. A rechargeable lithium-ion 4300mAh artillery ensures six to 10 hours of play-time. You tin complaint the artillery by docking it connected the optional Analogue Dock oregon by the Pocket’s USB-C port, which I usage to link to my MacBook Pro for a convenient powerfulness root connected the go. 

While the Analogue Pocket provides an fantabulous experience, it’s not without flaws. After swapping games, a recurring bug presented a achromatic mistake surface contempt utilizing a cleanable and adequately seated cartridge. A elemental powerfulness rhythm alleviates the issue, but I anticipation Analogue addresses it successful a aboriginal firmware update.

Considering its name, it’s unusual the Analogue Pocket doesn’t safely acceptable wrong a standard-sized pants pocket. Instead, I urge purchasing the Pocket Hard Case, which retails for $29.99, to store the handheld safely successful a backpack oregon workbag. It’s a alternatively bare-bones accessory — the lawsuit is conscionable 2 interlocking pieces of hard integrative — but it astatine slightest keeps the Pocket from being scuffed portion successful transit. Unfortunately, the handheld doesn’t acceptable wrong the lawsuit if the Game Gear adapter is attached, leaving maine to transportation the accessory loosely successful my bag.

Dock It Like It’s Hot

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Analogue Dock | Image Credit: Analogue, Inc.

Dock It Like It’s Hot

The Switch’s occurrence proves that handheld gaming is amended erstwhile players person options, and Analogue is smartly pursuing suit. The optional Analogue Dock ($99.99) allows users to beryllium their Pocket connected apical to show the device’s representation onto an HDMI-compatible show similar a tv oregon desktop gaming monitor. If you’re a streamer oregon contented creator who is adjacent mildly funny successful spotlighting retro games, the Dock is simply a must-buy, arsenic it works with seizure cards and broadcast bundle similar OBS with ease.

However, if you predominantly play handheld games, well, successful your hands and connected the go, past I’d accidental it’s good to skip this acquisition for now.

While it is novel to play Game Boy games connected the large screen, I was disappointed by the device’s deficiency of features. For example, show mode switching is lone disposable successful handheld mode, and the Analogue Dock doesn’t brace with galore controllers, either. The official website lone lists 5 compatible gamepads (see below). Unfortunately, I tried to link my Xbox Series X controller via the Xbox Wireless Adapter, but it didn’t work. While I lucked retired and had a Switch Pro controller successful my table drawer, I'd similar to spot enactment for a much expansive database of controllers successful the future.

GB Studio – So Many Possibilities

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Gurb's Adventure Running connected Analogue OS | Image Credit: Alex Van Aken

GB Studio – So Many Possibilities

One of the astir breathtaking features of the Analogue Pocket is its quality to play bundle created successful the GB Studio, a drag-and-drop retro crippled engine, unlocking a full caller room of games to play from indie developers. Devs are already supporting the Pocket connected, which you tin find here. However, highlights like Deadeus and Opossum Country don’t yet enactment connected the Analogue Pocket due to the fact that their creators person to people a caller record benignant (.pocket) for the games to enactment connected the device.

There’s besides a imaginable workaround to make your ain .pocket record if the crippled download includes the GB Studio task record (.gbsproj), similar Gurb’s Adventure and Pushingo provide, which I’ve elaborate beneath alongside instructions for wide GB Studio use. Please cognize you’ll apt brushwood bugs by utilizing this workaround, but it’s amusive to research the handheld’s possibilities portion we hold for authoritative developer support.

Oh! I astir forgot. Since the Analogue Pocket recognizes GB Studio titles as due Game Boy releases, you tin swap betwixt its display modes to spot however these modern indies might’ve looked backmost successful the 90s connected archetypal hardware. I emotion this happening truthful much.

 Make Music With Nanoloop

Make Music With Nanoloop

Nanoloop is simply a fashionable euphony instauration suite for gaming handhelds wide utilized since the aboriginal 2000s to marque chiptune tracks, and the Analogue Pocket ships with it built-in. At archetypal glance, the bundle whitethorn look intimidating; however, its minimalistic layout is casual to larn if you person acquisition utilizing integer audio workstations oregon midi-based sequencers. While the learning curve tin beryllium steep, I rapidly started making beats by referencing the digital manual and had a blast doing so. The sequencer lone has 4 channels (a regulation that breeds creativity), and I bask the process of determining which sounds should instrumentality precedence successful my tracks. The synths, drums, and sound tracks Nanoloop produces are pleasing to manipulate portion creating sounds. Suppose you’re funny successful the process of making music, adjacent astatine a beginner level. In that case, Nanoloop is simply a large spot to start, and the information that the Analogue Pocket includes it is incredible.

The Verdict

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Photography By Alex Van Aken

Analogue Pocket | Image Credit: Alex Van Aken

The Verdict: A

The Analogue Pocket is simply a collector’s dream. Whether your postulation is burgeoning oregon well-established, the handheld introduces caller levels of vibrancy to a beloved epoch of portable gaming. Despite a fewer quirks, it provides unmatched convenience for fans exploring the immense room of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Game Gear cartridges.


December 13


Analogue Pocket – $219.99

Analogue Dock – $99.99

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