Analogue Pocket Review – a divine gift for Game Boy fans | Games


For for the past 10 years, Seattle-based tech company Analogue has been making high-end retro video game hardware, with an emphasis on accurate and authentic reproduction rather than emulation. Its Mega Sg and Super Nt consoles were much-loved modernizations of the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, allowing users to play all of their old 16-bit game carts on modern machines with a variety of display options. and audio. Now, the company has finally launched its Analogue Pocket, a handheld console that will play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridges on a gorgeous 3.5-inch LCD display with a crisp 1600 × 1440 resolution.

As with other consoles in its lineup, there is no software emulation of older systems going on here. The company uses a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) circuit to reproduce the original technical specifications, which means it can run just about any Game Boy game out of the thousands available, with few problems, instabilities or compatibility often associated with software. based emulators.

The first game we try is the charming, original platformer Tiny Toon Adventures: Babs’ Big Break, and the game’s intricate cartoon-style visuals are sparkling with clarity and precision on the new screen. The comprehensive settings menu lets you choose from a range of classic or enhanced display and audio options, so if you want to play, for example, Super Mario Land in the original Game Boy’s green shade, you can – or it can be rezzed to a larger, clearer analog pocket screen. Switching to a GBA game, in this case Mario Kart: Super Circuit, the performance is just as good, with the tiny colored sprites perfectly reproduced and no screen blurring.

The visuals are brilliantly clear and precise… Analogue Pocket. Photography: analog

The form factor resembles the old Game Boy, with its vertical design – screen on top, D-pad, and row of buttons below. The GBA shoulder buttons are placed on either side of the cartridge port on the back, and they are smaller and closer together than the originals, so if you have big hands you may need to scratch yourself a bit, which could lead to wrist pain. after a few hours of play. It’s reasonably heavy at 275g, but still extremely portable, and the carts slide out the back very easily, with a pleasantly firm feel. There’s also an optional headphone jack and docking station (sold separately) if you want to output to a TV. You can also purchase adapters to let you play Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and Atari Lynx games, giving you access to even more of your retro collection.

When it comes to saving your progress (a modern luxury we have become extremely dependent on), the console currently allows you to save a single game, and I found the feature to be slightly unreliable. However, the console comes with its own operating system – Analogue OS – which will allow the company to deliver a range of updates, including full backup functionality. Along with this, Analogue has also included two widely available apps: GB Studio, a simple drag-and-drop game creation package, and Nanoboop, a digital synthesizer. We could end up seeing a whole community of homebrew developers springing up around this machine.

The in-game equivalent of buying a fancy new turntable to play your old records

Away from the neat extras, the Analog Pocket is for people who have decent cart collections or are planning to splurge on eBay or their local CEX. It’s not an emulation console like the RG350, and it won’t give you access to hundreds of free game ROMs (at least not yet – there’s always the possibility of an update made by them. fans later). Instead, it’s the equivalent of buying a fancy new turntable to play your old records: you get an authentic experience but with all the benefits of new digital technology.

I still own quite a few GBA and Game Boy games, as well as a few Game Gear titles, and rediscovering them on this system is a pleasure, especially given the six to 10 hour battery life. Buying a system designed to get the most out of the original carts also encourages you to rate, explore, and enjoy each game in its entirety, rather than swapping between them like songs on a Spotify playlist. There is so much fun and challenges to be found in games such as Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, and The Sword of Hope. They are always worth your time and attention – and Analogue Pocket is the place to be.

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