Review: Analogue Pocket delivers a delightfully modern Game Boy experience well worth the wait


No company does retro gaming quite like the folks at Analogue, and today we’re taking a hands-on look at its latest debut. Bringing all of the old school vibes from 1989 into the modern age, the Analogue Pocket takes on a Game Boy inspired form-factor with plenty of quality of life changes in tow. Alongside the ability to play official Nintendo cartridges, as well. But with orders delayed until next year, is the refreshed handheld actually worth the price?

Analogue Pocket hands-on look

Analogue has been in the retro gaming sphere for quite some time now. Working its way through a catalog of classic consoles, the company’s latest release has stepped up to tackle one of Nintendo’s most iconic releases to date.

First announced all the way back in 2019, the new Analogue Pocket finally went up for pre-order at the tail end of 2021. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to place an order right at the beginning, securing a shipping date that had the $220 handheld arrive just a few months ago. Since then, I’ve been playing through Pokémon Leaf Green for the first time in ages and really getting to try out what the modern reboot of a beloved console has to offer.

What is Analogue Pocket?

As a quick refresher, the Analogue Pocket arrives as something of an updated Game Boy, or, well, an all-around retro handheld. On top of being able to play completely genuine and authentic Game Boy/Advanced cartridges, the device can also play Game Gear titles thanks to an add-on adapter. Analogue has quite a few other dongles on the way, including one for the Neo Geo, TurboGrafx-16, and more; though in true Analogue fashion, you’ll only be able to play games off actual cartridges, so no ROM-filled SD cards welcome here.

Just giving gamers a new way to play titles in their collection isn’t the only plus of the Analogue Pocket, as the handheld also fittingly arrives with some 21st century improvements. The backlit screen is easily one of the biggest perks of the device, with adjustable brightness being packed into the 3.5-inch LCD 1600 x 1440 display.

USB-C charging is yet another improvement that pairs quite nicely with the rechargeable battery that will get you anywhere from 6 to 10 hours of action on a charge. From there, all of the usual controls that you’d expect to find on a Game Boy and similar counterparts are onboard in the familiar form-factor.

Fun features that improve the Game Boy experience

Hardware features aside, Analogue has also baked in quite a few other quality of life improvements to give the Game Boy design a refresh. Easily my favorite of these is the sleep/wake functionality that actually allows you to temporarily pause a game without having to save, turn off the console, and then back on later. It’s something that’s largely taken for granted amongst modern releases, but certainly goes a long way to improve the retro experience.

Another fun aspect is a more recent release to the software, with screenshot support being baked in thanks to a new Memories feature. This lets to capture gameplay and then share it over onto an SD card, and makes the experience a bit more social. Oh and speaking of, there’s the original Game Boy link cable port on the bottom, so you can actually take advantage of enjoying multiplayer titles or trading Pokémon with a friend.

Also to circle back on the display, on top of making older games look super crisp with the modern LCD panel, there are some software tweaks that can make the experience a bit more authentic. Available in the settings, you’ll be available to adjust the output to fit in with a title’s original graphics. Don’t get me wrong, I love how good the Analogue Pocket looks playing games, but being able to revert things back to the original graphics is certainly a fun little touch.

9to5Toys’ Take

The Analogue Pocket was something I was extremely excited about when it was first announced several years ago and that I am even more giddy to finally have in-hand today. It’s a delightful little piece of tech that near-perfectly blends retro and modern gaming into a single experience, and has more than lived up to the hype. Let alone the $220 price tag that you’ll currently pay.

The tricky thing about the Analogue Pocket is that securing one at this point isn’t as easy as shelling out the cash. Right now orders are backlogged into next year, with the company still accepting purchases for the Group C reservations that we covered back when the handheld first went up for pre-order; that ultimately means you won’t be receiving one of these until sometime in 2023, which is quite the ask for ponying up this kind of money.

So as for if it’s worth the wait, it’s really going to depend on what you’re after. Analogue is clearly targeting retro gaming enthusiasts with its new Pocket release, many of which likely already have a Game Boy sitting around. For those gamers, this is such an easy recommendation that I am surprised you’re still reading and haven’t just gone to lock-in your order.

But if you’re in the other camp like me, of seeing the Analogue Pocket’s release as a chance to get back in on all of the Game Boy nostalgia, you might just be better suited going out and grabbing a used Nintendo handheld instead. As much as I am loving the experience, I can see having to wait upwards of another year being a hard sell. But then again, we’ve all been waiting since 2019 for this one to debut in the first place. So if you don’t mind waiting just a little longer, the Analogue Pocket is easily worth a spot in your gaming arsenal.

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