If you pay attention to the retro gaming scene, chances are you’ve heard of Analogue. The company builds gorgeous, FPGA-powered retro gaming systems that exploit the unique capabilities of FPGA hardware to deliver virtually perfect emulation. We say “virtually,” because with any emulated system there’s the possibility that a game might not play properly, but using an FPGA allows Analogue to build perfect replicas of the early CPUs that these systems used. This, in turn, drastically reduces the chance of an error or bug.
Now, Analogue has announced a new product — one that might fill the gap left in the hearts of retro gaming lovers who have been wishing someone would release a handheld classic edition of an iconic gaming system. The $199 Analogue Pocket is an FPGA-handheld that supports games from the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance. Compatibility with other portable systems, including the Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear, and Neo Geo Pocket Color is also planned, via cartridge adapters.
The Pocket will feature a 3.5-inch screen with a 1600×1440 LTPS LCD (615 PPI, so those of you with 20/8 vision can enjoy Retina-class displays just like everybody else). That should be plenty for emulating a Game Boy, considering the Game Boy Advance had a 240×160 screen. The diminutive display doesn’t mean less horsepower, however — the Analogue Pocket will feature the same Altera Cyclone V FPGA that Analogue uses for its living room retro consoles like the Super Nt and Mega Sg. There will also be a Cyclone 10 FPGA to allow developers to do their own core development if they wish.
The system will be available in two colors, black or white, and it has a microSD slot to allow for third-party extension. There’s also a nifty feature that nods to the Switch — an optional HDMI-equipped dock, for outputting games on a big-screen TV. Wired USB and Bluetooth controllers will both be supported (price not yet announced). The system also has stereo speakers and a 3.5mm output jack for undocked play or headphones. It has a lithium-ion battery (no word on battery life but it’s reportedly quite good) and an original-style link plug) if you want to play Tetris with a friend. The Pocket also comes with Nanoloop, a Game Boy chiptune electronic music program.
It’ll be interesting to see if this new handheld convinces Nintendo or any of the other manufacturers that it might be worth investing in a Game Boy Classic. Nintendo seems to be virtually the only company that might take this on in a serious way, most of the other manufacturers who dabbled in the handheld market were driven out of it by Nintendo’s unstoppable Game Boy juggernaut in the 1990s and early 2000s. Sony could potentially field a combined PSP / Vita classic system, but after the low-quality PlayStation Classic and the general failure of Vita, the Japanese firm may have little interest in either idea.