As game industry publishers struggle to implement faster load times, ray tracing-based rendering, and blockchain technology, retro hardware maker Analogue continues to celebrate the history of video games. With their latest release, the Analogue Pocket, the boutique manufacturer is focusing on a fundamental pillar of retro gaming – handhelds.
A marvel of design, the Analogue Pocket sets a new standard for premium video game handhelds, retro or otherwise. The best part is that it is completely legal as it is based on authentic cartridges.
The device has an impressive 3.5-inch LCD screen with configurable scaling and display modes, an HDMI dock, a popular music creation suite called Nanoloop, and GB Studio Game Engine compatibility. Most importantly, it plays original Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance game cartridges without emulation. The handheld also plays Sega Game Gear cartridges via a proprietary adapter sold separately.
Aside from the game library, the screen is the most important part of any handheldde. The PThe 3.5 inch LCD from ocket with a resolution of 1600 x 1440 is the sharpest that I have seen in a handheld of this type. Colors radiate vibrancy and rich contrasts and compete with – if not even surpassed – those Nice IPS displays which have become the standard in the Game Boy modding scene. TheThe device also features damage-resistant gorilla glass and a variable refresh rate display that helps prevent screen cracks in games.
With its many picture modes, the Pocket convincingly recreates the visual artifacts that Nintendo’s handhelds were known for, including backlit LCD effects and sub-pixel patterns. For example, while playing first-generation cartridges, you can scroll through DMG, Pocket, and Game Boy Light picture profiles, all of which faithfully recreate the iconic greens and pixel grid layouts of the original hardware. If you prefer a clean picture, you can use Analogue’s custom profile which uses a beautiful black and white picture by default when color-activated titles are not playing. You can also use Analogue to tweak color palettes, frame blending, sharpness, desaturation, and size / position, but I’ve mostly stayed with the default settings.
It really is a visual pleasure to play games on the Analogue Pocket. I often swap tapes to see how the premium screen enhances each title.
The handheld experience
The Analogue Pocket looks familiar and is similar to the classic form factor of the Gameboy, albeit with a few updates. Four face buttons now accompany the D-pad, and a pair of shoulder buttons are on opposite sides of the rear game cartridge slot. Between Start and Select is the new analog button that calls up the operating system menu and the navigation options. You can map all of these buttons to your preferred function, a great accessibility feature.
The pastel green power button doubles as a sleep and wake option with a single touch of a button, so you can pick up games where you left off – it effectively serves as a floating memory state – and vastly improves the handheld gaming experience over previous games. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery with 4300 mAh provides six to ten hours of gaming time. You can charge the battery by connecting it to the optional analog dock or USB-C port on the Pocket, the I connect to mine MacBook Pro as a practical power source for on the go.
While the Analogue Pocket offers a great experience, it is not without its flaws. After swapping games, a recurring error showed a white error screen even though a clean and properly installed cartridge was used. Simply turning it off and on will alleviate the problem, but I hope Analogue fixes it in a future firmware update.
Given the name, it’s strange that the Analogue Pocket doesn’t fit securely in a standard-sized pocket. Instead, I recommend buying the Pocket Hard Case for $ 29.99 to keep the handheld securely stowed in a backpack or work bag. It’s a rather simple accessory – the case is just two interlocking pieces made of hard plastic – but at least it prevents the bag from wearing out during transportsit. Unfortunately the handheld does not fit in the case with the Game Gear adapter attached, so I can carry the accessories loosely in my bag.
Dock it like it’s hot
The Switch’s success proves that handheld games are better when gamers have options, and Analogue is following suit. The optional analog dock ($ 99.99) allows users to put their bag on it and view the device’s image on an HDMI-compatible display such as a television or desktop gaming monitor. If you’re a streamer or content creator with even the slightest interest in putting retro games in the spotlight, the dock is a must-have as it works flawlessly with capture cards and broadcast software like OBS.
However, if you play mostly handheld games, well, in your hands and on the go, then I’d say it’s okay to skip this purchase for now.
While it’s new to playing Game Boy games on the big screen, I was disappointed with the lack of functionality on the device. For example, toggling the display mode is only available in handheld mode, and the analog dock also cannot be paired with many controllers. the official website only lists five compatible gamepads (see below). Unfortunately, I tried connecting my Xbox Series X controller using the Xbox Wireless Adapter, but it didn’t work. While I was lucky enough to have a Switch Pro controller in my desk drawer, I would like to see a more extensive list of controllers supported in the future.
GB Studio – So many options
One of the most exciting features of the Analogue Pocket is the ability to play software created in GB Studio, a drag-and-drop retro game engine that unlocks a whole new library of games played by indie development be ablehe. Developers already support the Pocket on Itch.io, what can be found here. Highlights like Deadeus and Possum land don’t work on the Analogue Pocket yet as their developers have to release a new file type (.pocket) in order for the games to work on the device.
There is also a possible workaround to create your own .pocket file if the game download includes the GB Studio project (.gbsproj) file, such as Gurb’s adventure and Pushingo which I have detailed below along with instructions for general GB Studio usage. Please note that you are likely to run into bugs with this workaround, but it’s fun to explore what the handheld can do while we wait for official developer support.
Oh! I nearly forgot that. Since the Analogue Pocket GB Studio recognizes titles as proper Game Boy versions, you can switch between display modes to see what these modern indies might have looked like on original hardware in the ’90s. I love this thing so much.
Make music with Nanoloop
Nanoloop is a popular gaming handheld music creation suite that has been widely used for creating chiptune tracks since the early 2000s, and the Analogue Pocket is built in with it. At first glance, the software may seem intimidating; however, its minimalist layout is easy to learn if you are experienced with digital audio workstations or midi-based sequencers. Although the learning curve can be steep, I quickly started making beats by hitting the digital manual and had a lot of fun. The sequencer only has four channels (a limitation that encourages creativity), and I enjoy determining which sounds should have priority on my tracks. The synths, drums, and noise tracks that Nanoloop produces are pleasant to manipulate while sounds are being created. Let’s say you are interested in the process of making music, even at a beginner level. In this case, Nanoloop is a great place to start, and the fact that the Analogue Pocket includes it is incredible.
The verdict: A.
The Analogue Pocket is a collectors dream. Whether your collection is budding or already established, the handheld introduces a new level of vibrancy into a popular era of portable gaming. Despite a few quirks, it offers unmatched convenience for fans exploring the extensive library of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Game Gear cartridges.
Analog Bag – $ 219.99
Analog Dock – $ 99.99
This article was previously published on Source link