What’s All the Fuss About the Analogue Pocket

It’s just the best Game Boy ever made, is all

Key Takeaways

  • The Analogue Pocket is a modern handheld that plays original Nintendo Game Boy games.
  • Ars Technica calls it "the best game boy ever made."
  • Orders are open, but you won't get one until 2023.
Analogue Pocket all angles

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The Analogue Pocket is a modern handheld games console that plays original Nintendo Game Boy cartridges. And the nerds are going nuts for it. 

If you're a games fan of a certain age, it's hard not to pull out your credit card as soon as you see a picture of the Analogue Pocket. It's like a sleeker, more serious version of the original, in either black or white, for an entirely-reasonable $220. The good news is that it's every bit as good as you'd hope and does way more than play Game Boy games. The bad news is that if you pre-order today, you won't get one until 2023. 

"Nostalgia is very alive in the video gaming world, and that's exactly what's fueling the excitement behind the Analogue Pocket. It is the 2nd-coming of the Nintendo Game Boy—which was one of the most popular gaming platforms of all time—and it's appealing to many consumers right now who grew up on the Game Boy Color and Original Game Boy," Christy Garmin, of popular gaming website I Love Cheats told Lifewire via email. 

Old Gold

Black and white versions of Analogue Pocket

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The Analogue Pocket has plenty of modern updates. It has four face buttons, not two, and a pair of shoulder buttons on the back. Power comes from a rechargeable li-ion battery, not a set of AAs, and as we shall see in a moment, there will be adapters that let you play games from other consoles.

But the real draw is the beautiful screen. It can show games in the original yellow/green, or you can opt for B&W. Not only is it sharper and more contrast-y than the 1989 original, it offers 10 times the resolution, making game graphics look amazing. "It's hard to overstate just how good these games look rendered at such a high resolution, with such a bright and sharp display," writes The Verge's Andrew Webster in a review

"The Analogue Pocket adds modern polish to the Game Boy formula, but lets nostalgia, and great game design, do the rest."

2D black and white games might seem like the dullest thing ever in late 2021, but back when these games were made, the lack of graphical flourish meant that game designers had to wow us in other ways. There were plenty of terrible games back then, too, but the good ones are still solid gold today. The Game Boy version of Tetris has never been improved upon because 30 years of technological advances have brought nothing that could improve it. The game mechanic was already perfect. The same goes for other old titles. Super Mario World on the SNES still looks fresh and is still one of the most fun games around.

The Analogue Pocket adds modern polish to the Game Boy formula but lets nostalgia, and great game design, do the rest. It also plays Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, as long as you have the original cartridges.

"Let's remember, the Original Game Boy became popular in 1990/91 and the Game Boy Color a few years later in 1998," says Garmin. "The people who were kids and young teens around that time are now in their early 30s and have grown up obsessed with video games, and a trip down memory lane as you get a little older is always nice. A handheld video game platform that can transport you back to your early teens? Yes, please!"

Future Proof

A field of Analogue Pocket devices on their charging docks

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The Analogue Pocket doesn't just play those original Game Boy cartridges. It also works with quirky accessories like the Game Boy Camera, a digital camera atop a game cartridge. 

But it doesn't stop there. Already available to order is a Game Gear adapter, which will let you play games from Sega's handheld console in color. And coming in the future are the Neo Geo Pocket Color adapter, Atari Lynx, and TurboGrafx-16 (PC Engine). That's a who's who of 90s-era portable gaming right there, and these adapters are only $30 apiece. 

So now you see what all the fuss is about. There seems to be pretty much nothing to complain about, aside from the fact that you can't get one. And the possible effect on the used game cartridge market when people start buying them all up. 

And after all, 2023 isn't that far away, right?

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