It's been nine months since Analogue announced the Pocket, a $199 portable console that can play Game Boy, Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color and Atari Lynx games from original cartridges. The console was scheduled to launch in 2020, but Analogue now says, due to the “unfortunate global state of affairs and supply chain challenges," the retro portable will ship in May 2021.
The Pocket, like all of Analogue's consoles, is built around a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chip. While all-in-one retro consoles typically run games through software emulation, Analogue programs an FPGA core to mimic the original circuitry of a console. This FPGA can then play cartridges directly as if it were the official hardware.
There have been a few changes to the Pocket since its original launch. Externally, the start, select and home buttons have been moved from the edge of the console to the low-center. Internally, the main new feature is "Original Display Modes." This takes the Pocket's high-quality LCD display, and has it mimic "quirks and all," the screens of various handhelds. Analogue has announced three of these display profiles so far: Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance.
As a reminder, the Pocket's display is a 3.5-inch, 615-PPI LTPS panel with a variable refresh rate, and software rotation will be available to support "tate mode" (vertical) games -- tate mode games are rare, but this is a vital inclusion that will allow Lynx games like Klax and Raiden to run. It'll also mean Game Boy Advance titles that had tate mode as an option, such as Panel de Pon, finally make sense (holding the original Nintendo hardware vertically is truly bizarre).
Raiden running on the Atari Lynx II! Groundbreaking to see a TATE mode shmup running on 1991 portable hardware (and original Lynx was released in 1989) pic.twitter.com/YBaidEpIiB
— Racketboy / Nick (@racketboy) June 24, 2018
We also have confirmation of a few details left unclear after the original announcement: The Pocket has a 4,300 mAh battery, which is good for "6-10 hours" of play time. The screen is covered with Gorilla Glass at "three times the typical thickness" found in smartphones. Finally, the optional TV dock, which now has a $99 price tag, has a recessed USB-C port for greater stability, and supports up to four controllers over its integrated Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless hardware, or via USB.
Out of the box, the Pocket will support cartridges for the three Nintendo consoles (Game Boy, GB Color and GB Advance). Adapters will be sold for Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color and Atari Lynx, with pricing at $30 per adapter. While up to four Pockets can be linked for multiplayer, this will require additional cables; a basic Pocket-to-Pocket link cable costs $16. The console will come with a free copy of Nanoloop, though, which is an electronic music program popular among chiptune creators.
The last major update from Analogue is a partnership with GB Studio. GB Studio is a "drag-and-drop" game creation tool for Windows, Mac and Linux. The main outcome of the partnership is that you'll be able to export GB Studio creations as ".pocket" files, which will then run natively from a microSD card on the Pocket.
The Analogue Pocket and Dock will be available to pre-order on August 3rd at 8AM PT/11AM ET from Analogue's store, priced at $199 and $99, respectively.
Update 12PM ET: Added pricing for cartridge adapters and link cable.