Analogue has come forward and shared all the latest details surrounding their hotly anticipated console — Pocket. After a tease last week, Analogue has announced that pre-orders for the Pocket will begin next Monday, August 3, 2020 at 8:00 AM PST. Most of Pocket’s accessories will also go up for pre-order at the same time. There is a limit of two Pocket consoles per order, presumably to help mitigate demand.
The hardware itself has gotten some tweaks and clarifications as well. The “start,” “select,” and “home” buttons have been moved from the lower right corner to the bottom middle. The super high-resolution display retains its incredible specs and is now confirmed to be made out of Gorilla Glass. Another super snazzy feature is what Analogue dubs “Original Display Modes.” These allow users to mimic Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance screen properties—think scan lines for Game Boy systems. I wonder how far this kind of feature can and will go. The Pocket will support Game Boy and Game Gear (I think, but more on that in a bit) right away. Could features like mimicking Atari Lynx or Sega Game Gear screens become a reality? What about just the diverse screen types within the Game Boy line itself? Could I chose between a regular GBA, a frontlit GBA SP, a backlit GBA SP, and a Game Boy Micro? What about the DS screen? There is plenty of potential for this kind of feature and I wonder how far Analogue will take it.
There is also a sleep/wake feature built into the hardware; simply pressing the power button will put the Pocket to sleep and suspend gameplay. The Pocket has a 4300 mAh battery that can support 10+ hours of sleep time and 6-10 hours of game time. Recharging happens over USB-C and folks may use an 18W fast charger if they’d like.
I found the biggest surprise from today’s announcements to be the plethora of accessories for the Pocket. The Dock got its time in the spotlight with its own improvements. Now there is a small recession to provide better stability for the Pocket itself. The Dock comes in at $99 and goes up for order the same day and time as the Pocket. It has two USB-A ports for wired controllers and supports both Bluetooth and 2.4g wireless controllers for up to four controllers at once. As someone who just bought a 2.4g 8BitDo controller, I am super stoked for its inclusion.
Besides all of the Game Boy games, Pocket will support Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, and Atari Lynx. These adapters take their design language from Analogue’s Mega SG adapters and the DAC. The slick transparent design is right up my alley. Based off the images, the adapters appear to sit flush with the bottom half of the console. These adapters are $29.99 a pop and only the Game Gear adapter will be up for pre-order next week. I assume this is because Analogue already has the core for it thanks to the Mega SG. Since says that the Game Gear adapter will also ship in May 2021, I assume that the Pocket will also have Game Gear support out of the box, if you have the adapter. The other adapters only have a date of 2021.
There are cables out the wazoo for the Pocket. Besides a traditional style link cable, there are cables for connecting the Pocket to various music devices thanks to the inclusion of Nanoloop music software. There is a MIDI-IN cable, analog sync, and USB-A. All of these connect to the Pocket through the link cable port, just like one would use Nanoloop on a real Game Boy. I wonder if it would be possible to route it through the USB-C port though. I doubt it is a question of hardware, but rather software. It’d be nice to see this as an option down the line, instead of through a older port. All of the cables are $19.99, except for the traditional link cable and a USB-C to USB-C cable, both of which run for $15.99.
The Pocket has a few other odds and ends as far as accessories go. There is a clear plastic hard-shell case ($29.99) that also doubles are a vertical stand for the console. You can buy a tempered glass screen protector for $15.99 and a fast charging USB-C Power Supply for $19.99.
Analogue came out of with more than just hardware announcements today. They also announced two developer initiatives. First, Analogue has partnered with GB Studio to let people make Game Boy games and run them on the Pocket. GB Studio pitches itself as an “easy to use drag and drop retro game creator.” Analogue has also opened up a developer form for folks to apply for an Analogue Pocket FPGA dev kit so that developers can create their own cores before the system’s release next summer.
The Pocket feels like the end-all be-all for Analogue. It is more than just an FPGA console for the Game Boy, but this amalgamation of games, music, and development. I can’t wait to actually get my hands on one just to see how it feels and plays. I want to push its limits and explore the legacy that Pocket actually provides access to.
If you want to read more about the Pocket, I wrote a whole preview back in April based on everything Analogue publicly talked about. I compared the price to the competition, whipped up charts comparing resolutions, and broke down the software design.