Analogue Pocket Review – The NEW Game Boy!?
The game boy color. Now, nearly 25 years on its back sort of this is the analog pocket made by analog a company who specializes in remaking old consoles for the modern age. The analog pocket is built to replicate the golden era of the game. Boy natively playing cartridges from the original color and advanced versions, with no emulation; hmm, the nostalgia, absolutely screams out of this product, but with a few huge twists, the display is a very crisp 615 ppi, with a resolution of 1600 1600×1440 squeezed into a 3.5 inch panel. This thing is absolutely gorgeous and if youre worried about scratching it, it uses gorilla glass to cover the display. Lastly, a 4300 mah rechargeable battery powers. This beast for around six hours of play time using a control set that will be extremely familiar for both game boy and game boy, advanced users alike. So why am i so hyped about this? Well, a few years back, i started tinkering around with old game boys. I first started with this one playing some of the old games on it and i absolutely loved the whole nostalgic physical feel of playing cartridges on a handheld console and i even modded my own to sort of match my playstation controller, which is pretty cool. I loved having to find a cartridge plug it in blowing it and the games are just fantastic. I grew up playing games like pokemon red super mario land and the god forsaken zul a game so hard that, even after 25 years i still havent completed the first level uneasy now going back to these games and playing on the game boy color.
After all, these years gave me that massive kick of nostalgia and it reminded me of a time when games were simpler and less competitive. I dont have to worry about snorting g fuel or worry about using those flappy paddles on the back of my controllers, or even worry about upping the sensitivity to 600 percent of the default to try and get an advantage. But there are a few problems with this newfound nostalgia over the past 20 years, ive grown accustomed to some of the things we take for granted. Nearly two decades of using bright backlit displays beaming light directly into my eyes, must have had a negative impact on my eyesight because i dont remember the game boy collar ever being this. So damn hard to see, you literally cannot see a thing on it. How in gods name did i play this nearly in pitch black on night car journeys or under the sheets after my bedtime, i do not know, but the analog pockets display is nothing short of fantastic, in fact, its so fantastic that it has more pixels per wrench Than an iphone, in fact, its got more pixels per inch than anything ive ever come across, possibly a little bit excessive, considering ill mostly be playing 8 bit on it. But i cannot overstate how amazing this display is and analog have really utilized it in some truly magical ways. Firstly, you can view the games in original native resolution to their native system, obviously with it being backlit now, when playing original gameboy games, holding the analog button and pressing the left and right cycles, the available versions of the displays – and that means you can play with The standard, the pocket, the light and bizarrely a pinball neon, pixel matrix thing, which i dont ever remember being on a game boy, but okay, now, when playing the game boy advance, you get the standard and the sp model.
Now this is cool, but this display has one final option across all game systems and thats displaying in analog pocket optimized, which is utterly unbelievable. It creates a clean crisp picture that makes games. Look so good. You would have thought theyve been developed last week, but alone over two decades ago now, im not even going to pretend to understand exactly how theyve done this. In the past, upscaling low pixel games has been done through something called integer scaling, which is where it sort of removes blurring that upscaling often causes through grouping pixels together. However, the pocket is touted at using non integer scaling, so how on earth theyve made it look. So fantastic its such a witchcraft. If anyone more knowledgeable about resolution scaling can translate how analog have managed this into laymans terms, please feel free to chime in the comments id be very interested in finding out. But the fact this thing can play cartridge from a host of game systems is incredible. With that new resolution on new optimized display now natively. It supports all of the game: boy, game, boy, color and game boy advanced games, but there are adapters to make it work with other systems theres one for game gear, neo geo pocket, atari, lynx and turbo graphics, 16., but the technology that gives pocket this ability to Play all of these game systems is actually rather complicated and something i dont really fully understand as well. It uses something called an fpga core and there are two of them inside this now before this review id never even come across what an fpga core is.
So i didnt really understand it at first and actually i still dont fully understand it. The science behind the fpga cores goes way over my head. But to summarize what i think i understand an fpga core is basically a post manufacturer, consumable consumer configurable core as im doing mouthful wasnt it. But in a nutshell, it basically means that developers have full access to one of the cores which has been dedicated specifically for their use. What this actually means in real world use, i dont know perhaps custom firmware custom os anyway. One thing is for certain playing any game from any system on here has never looked so fantastic. Although a slight criticism hears that the aspect – ratio of some of the systems such as the game boy advance means that the screen wont fill out entirely because the aspect ratio is that of the original gameboy and gameboy color, but we cant have it all. Can we actually? There is one other thing specifically about playing game boy, advanced games that im not too keen on and thats the controls. For the most part, the feel and experience is so similar to that of the original game. Boy – and i guess the element of controls is fantastic, but of course the gamer advance had two shoulder buttons and the way analog have implemented. This in this form factor is a little bit uncomfortable, theyre, sort of squeezed in either side of the cartridge, its playable, but its certainly not ergonomic.
It is a bit reminiscent actually of the nintendo ds with that similar sort of squared off shoulder buttons, but also on the subject of buttons. The controls on the side of the device are a little bit annoying theres. The volume buttons also used to control the brightness and then theres the on off button and theyre, a bit fiddly to press as theyre quite small, and sit flush to the exact side of the console, maybe a very like less than a millimeter distance. Now fully enough the promo pictures that they have on their website. The 3d renders show these buttons sticking out a lot more now, ive checked other reviews and images of other peoples, pockets in hand, and it looks like theyre all like mine. So fortunately, this one isnt a defective unit, but unfortunately that means theyve decided to change this from the original design and in my eyes it makes it a bit more finicky. What would have been better, in my opinion, would have been to keep a similar design here to the game boy color, with a switch simply for the on off like this and then a scroll wheel for the volume i mean theyve done so much of the original Game boy design it wouldnt have been much more to keep that. Surely i dont know if perhaps theres a legal issue around this but theres even an original link, cable port which is fully functioning and believe it or not.
It allows you to connect devices like this, which is just as useless now as it was back then. The other new additions, however, are a usb c connection on the bottom. Next to the link port new stereo speakers on the top sides, because the original game boy only had a mono speaker and a micro sd card slot, which is super super important. Now i want to get this out in the open. Officially, the analog pocket does not play roms its been designed to play cartridges without any emulation involved. So you cant just drop a rom on an sd card and expect to play it not something i publicly condone or recommend, of course, simply because of the legal issues surrounding this. But for the sake of knowledge, it would appear that there are ways around this. One of those is by using devices such as flash cartridges from everdrive theres, also whiffs, on the wind of being able to pour existing roms into a readable format on the pocket again, none of which i publicly condone. But a simple google should give you information that you need on that. So now you understand what the sd card slot is not for what it is for is infinitely cooler, but some of it has yet to be realized. Now the two functions of this that get me excited first, is to offer a way to load and create your own game boy games for a piece of software called gb studio, which is literally a drag and drop creator that makes creating game boy games.
Super super simple, being able to test your games in a way thats physically identical to the intended platform is awesome, but the second reason the sd card slot gets me excited is because of the planned future of analog pockets. Now, coming soon is something theyre calling analog os, which will bring a massive host of new features that could be groundbreaking for the swarm factor. One of the features im most excited for with the new os is the ability to create save states on that sd card slot without having to rely on save states on the cartridges themselves. Now this functionality is super important in the preservation of game boy games. Ultimately, with the nature of how cartridges work theres a battery on the inside of them, thats soldered directly onto the board itself. Now this is what keeps the memory stored on that cartridge and, as we know, batteries dont last forever. Those with the know how can replace the batteries – and i have done with pokemon silver but having safe states externally means you dont have to go through that rigmarole and your data is far more secure and if the cartridge battery runs out, youd still be able to Pick up from where you left off in its current state, it can actually do something extremely cool when youre playing a game. If you press the button to turn it off just once, it puts it to sleep and then, when you press it again to wake it up, it resumes exactly where you left off, and that is in its current form.
Without the analog os safe states, which is awesome now, this sounds like incredible functionality and i cannot wait to test it, but unfortunately analog os hasnt been available at launch and theres, currently, no news on a release date, so i guess ill. Take a look at this. In a catch up review later on down the line, theres, also a few other things locked behind having to buy extra hardware, the dock, for first is a good example. This gives you the ability to connect it to a television and also allows you to pair up either to bluetooth or 2.4g gamepads. Now, unfortunately, without native bluetooth on this device, it does mean that you cant pair up bluetooth, headphones, which is a bit of a shame. But then i guess, with the 3.5 mil audio output, it does make it a bit more reminiscent of the whole experience. But the last bit of hardware, which i havent tested, is a bunch of midi connectors to use this thing, connect it up to a mac, pc or other audio hardware, to use the inbuilt audio workstation called nanoloop, which supposedly lets you shape. Stretch and morph sounds, however, im about as musically talented as a whaling cat, so its unlikely that part will ever be used on my device. So what does all this cost? Well, when i pre ordered this back in 2020, it cost me 199, which equates to about 150 quid. Now. However, if you were to order, one youd be looking at 219 due to the increase in component prices as a result of the global supply chain being ruined by the pandemic, but even still, i dont think this is unreasonable.
In fact, i think its actually a bargain. If you bought an original piece of hardware like this, the game, boy color, this would cost you around 70 pounds for a good condition, one anyway and then after modifications like an ips backlit display for another 40 quid youre coming in at a minimum of 110 pounds. Plus the tools and time for modding, so for an extra 50 quid, you can have a hell of a lot more safe states on an sd card, stereo audio, multiple display options, usb charging internal battery and all this goes on, but for a piece of iconic tech That mirrors enhances an era that many of us many of us are fond of. I think 219 is brilliant, but theres one big glaring problem, its all very well me talking about cost, but that relies on youre actually getting hold of one. Now it took me over a year to get mine from initial release, pre order, which sold out in just eight minutes, and even that was, after several delays now on their website. Its currently saying that, if you choose to order one now, you wont be getting hold of one until 2023, but all i can say is do it. If you have any form of need to feel nostalgic and dust off those old game boy cartridges, you will absolutely not be disappointed. I can promise you this, but one thing is very, very clear, and that is that i think im only just scratching the surface of what this thing can do.
I predominantly bought this thing to play game boy games on it, but theres so much more that this thing can do and stuff thats way more advanced than my simple desire of trolloping around in some long grass trying to catch a pikachu. To the point i dont understand quite what the full capabilities of this machine is. I feel like im only just using such a small amount of its potential would he include in music since software, the upcoming analog os the ability to develop your own games and access to a dedicated section of its brain through the fpga cores. It makes this device far more than just a game boy. It makes it bloody, incredible and worth every single penny sure its not without as little issues like the weird flat buttons on the side, and it could have a few bits that were a bit better. So perhaps like a an oled display or internal bluetooth and the ability to play on a tv without having to fork out another hundred dollars on the dock. But in this rare instance, the absolute positives of this device far outshine the little criticism like that and when using it all of those thoughts immediately get washed away with the nostalgia combined with the utter ore and magic. The analog have worked with the analog pocket and you know what that concludes. My thoughts on this device utterly incredible. If you enjoyed todays episode, dont forget to hit that thumbs up that subscribe button and notification bell for more episodes.
I will be doing a catch up episode on the analog pocket when i do get my hands on analog os and perhaps after several more months of usage, so youll want to be around for when that lands, but other than that guys.