If you’ve been on the fence about the Analogue Pocket, the modernized FPGA-powered Game Boy clone that will play all of your old cartridges, maybe the company’s newest limited-edition release will push you over the edge. Analogue is releasing a glow-in-the-dark version of the Pocket, with all the same features as the original but a new green luminescent casing that recalls every cheap plastic glow-in-the-dark toy I ever had.
This “Pocket Glow” costs $249.99, $30 more than the regular white and black Pocket consoles, and will be available in “highly limited quantities.” It will go on sale on September 1 at 8 am Pacific, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. The console will ship on September 5, so at least glow-in-the-dark Pocket preorderers won’t need to wait as long as the first few waves of people who ordered the console. Analogue says the Pocket Glow can glow for up to eight hours when the casing has been fully charged by a bulb, the Sun, or some other external source.
The Pocket Glow is being released under an “Analogue Editions” umbrella, implying that other limited-edition console releases will follow at some point in the future. As the Pocket itself emulates Nintendo’s handhelds, this emulates Nintendo’s hardware release strategy, where special limited-edition consoles are released periodically to re-sell hardware to superfans who already have the standard editions (as the owner of a Poké ball-themed Nintendo 2DS XL, I will admit that I am not immune).
Analogue also gave minor updates on the availability of other Pocket models and accessories. The company has finally shipped nearly all of its preorders, clearing a months-long waiting list (several Ars staffers placed their orders in late 2021 and received their consoles a year or more later due to a combination of supply-chain issues and the Pocket’s popularity). As of this morning, Pocket accessories, including docks and cartridge adapters, are “in stock and shipping today,” and the basic white and black editions of the Pocket are currently sold out but will be restocked soon. The company is also offering shipping insurance on all orders, which will cover lost packages and theft.
Pocket didn’t announce anything about new firmware updates for the Pocket following the final release of the version 1.1 update in May 2023. Among many other tweaks and additions, the Pocket 1.1 update included OpenFPGA support, allowing other developers to develop additional cores that emulate other non-Game Boy retro hardware. As of this writing, cores for multiple retro consoles, retro handhelds, computers, and arcade cabinets are available, and they’ll all run software from the system’s microSD card slot. A long-outdated road map from mid-2022 promised features like button remapping that still haven’t surfaced yet, and FPGA cores running on the system still can’t access alternate retro-inspired display modes like the built-in cores can.
As we covered in our review, the Pocket will natively play cartridges made for Nintendo’s Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance consoles without any adapters or additional software and nearly 100 percent compatibility. It includes several screen filters that emulate the look of those older LCD panels, and the Pocket’s bright, sharp high-resolution display makes these filters look a whole lot better and more faithful than the fake CRT TV filters that are often included with retro game re-releases. Analogue also sells cartridge adapters for Sega Game Gear, TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine, and SuperGrafx cartridges, which allows it to play those games with the same features.
Aside from a better screen, the Pocket also comes with a battery you charge via USB-C—unthinkably convenient for anyone who spent hours waiting on handfuls of AA batteries to recharge—plus a port for link cables that allows the handheld to connect to and communicate with genuine original hardware.