Analogue Pocket review: Vintage fun with a new age feel – Engadget
Earlier this week we gave a preview of the Analogue Pocket handheld retro gaming system. The modern take on ‘90s portable gaming ($220) offers so much more than just the ability to play most vintage portable games. It has built-in music making software, TV/video out via an accessory and, well many other things we wanted to do a proper dive on. We’ve had so much fun with this thing it’s very easy to recommend right up top. If you simply wanted to know if it’s a good gaming device, I can safely say that it is and thanks for stopping by. If you want to know more (and you should) then get comfortable as we’re going for a ride.
First, a little history. Analogue is often described as a “boutique” console manufacturer. It specializes in a very specific type of retro remake. Instead of building a small PC that can run emulators, Analogue’s FPGA “cores” allow it to mimic vintage consoles at the hardware level. The idea being, all games play as nature intended with none of the emulator quirks to contend with. The company’s early creations were more in the “how to spend it” category. This walnut Neo Geo, for example, or how about this slightly too-fancy NES (and the all-metal reboot).
- Near-perfect emulation
- Compatible with a vast library at launch
- Expandable via adapters
- Music and indie game support
- Two-player support requires another device/only Nintendo handhelds
- Not all software features available at launch
More recently, Analogue’s Mega SG (Genesis) and Super NT (SNES) took a slightly more accessible approach, cementing the company’s place as the retro console maker de jour. The Pocket aims to build on this legacy with a focus on, somewhat obviously, gaming on the go. It’s also the first Analogue console to play carts from different retro brands.
At launch, it natively plays cartridges from any of the Game Boy variants. It’ll also play Game Gear cartridges with an adapter. Neo Geo Pocket Color, TurboExpress and Atari Lynx adapters are on the way.
Another key difference to most retro machines is that Analogue products are designed to play physical media, not ROMs (although you can sometimes find ways around that as the internet is ever industrious). This really is about doing the old school thing in a modern way with minimal adulteration. That said, the Pocket is compatible with flash carts (that can play ROMs from an SD card), but that’s a quirk of its fidelity – if it works on a Game Boy, it likely works here etc..
By extension, you can also use any of the original Game Boy accessories such as the GB Camera, printer and any titles that had extras such as rumble packs or gyro sensors. You can even connect the Pocket to an authentic Game Boy for multiplayer player fun. In short, all of Analogue’s consoles are functionally 1:1 reproductions of the hardware they honor, just …….
Leave a Comment