Exploring the Charms and Challenges of Analogue’s Limited Edition Pockets

Navigating the world of retro gaming is a rollercoaster of emotions, teetering between delight and frustration. It’s a journey filled with the thrill of waiting for someone to breathe new life into your cherished vintage console with a passion project game. But it can also plunge into the depths of annoyance when someone snatches that long-sought rare game on eBay right from under your nose. Few understand this emotional yo-yo better than Analogue, the creators of some of the most coveted modern retro consoles on the market.

Analogue has mastered the art of invoking both ends of this emotional spectrum. Their existence alone is a testament to their grasp of the fervor that retro gaming enthusiasts hold for gaming history. However, even after nearly two years since the release of the delightful Pocket handheld, we’re still wrestling with the frustration of key accessories and consoles being perpetually out of stock. Meanwhile, Analogue tantalizingly unveils limited editions that are nothing short of delightful, though acquiring one can be a source of considerable frustration. It’s safe to say that Analogue has become a maestro in the realm of retro gaming, and their fans have taken notice.

The announcement of the Pocket in October 2019 was a momentous occasion for the retro gaming community, sparking widespread delight. However, the estimated release date of “2020” proved elusive, with the global pandemic serving as a minor source of frustration for eager fans. Analogue reopened orders, with a slight price bump, and the potential for a two-year shipping window, depending on your timing.



As of this month, most of those orders have finally been fulfilled, but not without sprawling Reddit threads dedicated to tracking shipping statuses, order numbers, and total days since ordering. The recent release of the Glow in the Dark (GITD) limited edition added an extra layer of intrigue, with some fortunate souls receiving their orders immediately. This caused a mix of excitement and frustration among those who had already purchased the standard edition, as the GITD version wasn’t initially announced. Some even buy the limited editions simply because they want a Pocket, creating a delightfully frustrating situation for all involved.

The GITD Analogue Pocket is undoubtedly a visual delight (and the transparent editions promise to be equally appealing). It underscores Analogue’s unwavering commitment to retro purism. The Pocket, reminiscent of the Game Boy Pocket, which had a little-known, ultra-rare GITD limited edition distributed at a gaming competition, pays homage to this unique piece of gaming history. However, the original Game Boy Pocket lacked a backlight, making it challenging to enjoy the GITD effect during gameplay. In contrast, Analogue’s version can be fully enjoyed in the dark, embracing and encouraging the luminescent experience.

According to Christopher Taber, founder and CEO of Analogue, creating the GITD Pocket involved developing an entirely new material to achieve the unique starry, chalky texture that only becomes visible when it glows. The enthusiasm for this release was palpable, with all units selling out in under two minutes, although the exact number available was not specified.

Unsurprisingly, resellers quickly got their hands on many GITD editions, much to the frustration of genuine fans. Now that the shipping backlog for actual Pockets appears to be mostly resolved, Taber confirmed that there will be stock available for the holidays.



However, the saga of the cartridge adapters is a separate and evolving situation. The selling point of the Pocket was its native compatibility with original Game Boy cartridges, including Color and Advance titles, as well as Atari Lynx and Game Gear cartridges via an adapter. Later, TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine and NeoGeo Pocket adapters were confirmed to be in development. At launch, the Game Gear accessory was ready, but the others faced delays.

Initially, Analogue communicated that the adapters would be available in Q3 of this year. Taber clarified that they are still on track to ship by the end of the year, although some online sources had previously mentioned a Q3 release. Furthermore, the Pocket now supports games from a broader range of systems than at launch, including some for which adapters were planned.

The Pocket’s uniqueness lies in its approach to gaming. It doesn’t emulate games in the traditional software sense. Instead, it reprograms itself to become the system you want to play, using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) and “cores” that mimic each system. This sets the Pocket apart from most other retro handhelds that rely on software emulation.

Since launch, Analogue has made cores available for various consoles, including the NES, SNES, Genesis/Megadrive, Neo Geo, and TurboGrafx-16. Playing games from these systems doesn’t require an adapter, although it may involve dealing with ROMs. Whether this shift diminishes the demand for adapters remains to be seen, but for systems like the Atari Lynx and Neo Geo Pocket, for which adapters exist but don’t have community-created cores, the demand for official adapters persists.