Analogue Pocket Pre-orders: The Kotaku Review

Analogue Pocket Pre-orders: The Kotaku Review
Gif: Analogue / Kotaku / STILLFX, Shutterstock

The other day a Redditor pointed out that a full god-dang year has passed since Analogue Inc. offered the world a fleeting, three-minute window to pump its coffers full of cash in exchange for a promise that we’d one day receive a physical device called the Analogue Pocket, billed to be the greatest portable games-playing system ever created by human beings.

I was one of the lucky dozen or so who succeeded in loaning Analogue 199.99 interest-free U.S. dollars before the curtains fell and the company’s nerd-battered e-commerce website burst into depressingly predictable flames.

Except the total amount loaned was actually $US368.75 ($498) — which works out to one dollar for every day that’s passed so far — because I also opted to pre-order something called the Analogue Dock for $US99.99 ($135), the Pocket Hard Case for $US29.99 ($40), and the Glass Screen Protector for a slightly off-putting $US15.99 ($22).

Then there was the $US22.79 ($31) for a value-added service called shipping, which will help ensure that someday the oft-rumoured physical manifestations of these four objects, which currently only exist as abstract concepts in the collective imagination, will be ferried through the world’s postal systems and arrive upon my doorstep.

The Pocket was supposed to ship in May of this year, but you know how the world is these days. May understandably turned into October, and, goddess forbid, October could yet turn into some date more distant yet.

Read More: Don’t Worry: There Are Enough Analogue Pockets For Everyone

But even if the Pocket misses its would-be October birthday I will not despair. Truth is, over the past 368 days, I’ve enjoyed my pre-order immensely. So enough with all this glass-half-empty woe-is-me talk about “actual video game systems” I can’t currently touch with my “actual human hands.” Let’s talk about what I do have. Besides, obviously, disposable income and weird ideas for articles.

One thing I have is an order confirmation email. It is dated August 3, 2020, and has a timestamp of 8:03 a.m. I remember, just over a year ago today, how excited I was to see this email arrive in my inbox. I felt like I had won a lottery. What a thrill! The thrill probably wasn’t worth $US368.75 ($498) by itself, but have you heard about my personalised order status page?

See, there’s a button at the bottom of the order confirmation email that says “See Status.” Clicking it whisks me to a special page that Analogue graciously prepared just for me. “Thank you Alexandra!” it begins — I smile, recognising my first name — and then it displays a small Google Maps embed centered right on my apartment. “That’s where I live!” I remember with a start. Then, a dawning realisation: “And there’ll be an honest-to-god Analogue Pocket there someday, too!”

Four objects of power. Relics of a future era. (Screenshot: Analogue / Kotaku)Four objects of power. Relics of a future era. (Screenshot: Analogue / Kotaku)

Marching down the right side of this personal shrine are small icons representing the four artifacts I have hired Analogue, Inc. to actualize and, someday, deliver unto my person. For now they are just tiny images that I loaned Analogue nearly $US400 ($540) to gaze upon, sort of like NFTs but without the baggage of ecological devastation. Each little picture is a promise of something that might plausibly exist in physical form should the universe’s entropy subside enough to allow a precise series of manufacturing-related circumstances to come about.

Thus far the planets have not aligned thus. But that’s ok, as I’ve been getting plenty of mileage out of imagining what my pre-ordered Analogue Pocket might…no, must be like. Now that we’re a full year in, I gotta say, it’s proven a wonderful device so far, even though I screwed up bigtime, like I always do, while imagining myself applying that expensive-arse screen protector.

I turn the unit around in my mind — trying to ignore that one, maddening dust speck — imagining how psychic facsimiles of my typical-size hands might wrap around the virtual Pocket’s uncomfortably sharp-looking corners before resuming my latest fictional playthrough of Metroid: Zero Mission. (Currently somewhere in Norfair.) I try to imagine if the questionable-looking placement of the L and R buttons, tucked deep into the back of the unit, might anger my lurking carpal tunnel. I go back and forth on it. Sometimes I feel a phantom ache in my wrist.

Read More: The Game Boy’s Most Valuable Games

But heavens above, that screen! Analogue sourced a razor-sharp 3.5” LCD with a unique 1600 x 1440 resolution that allows integer-perfect pixel scaling for original Game Boy titles. And doesn’t the Pocket also support retro LCD screen filters to make the old games look even more authentic? It sure does in my head!

When I pretend to boot up Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and pass the Pocket around to my imaginary headmates they can’t believe how darn sharp those make-believe pixels theoretically look. Or how remarkably dingy-green they probably appear.

(If I really wanted to blow their minds — which I guess would technically be my own mind, just like, running virtual machines or something, but whatever — I could’ve popped in something rare, like a U.S. copy of Kid Dracula. But I’m pretending both that I had a copy, and that I lost it, so please let me know if you happen to imagine where I misplaced it.)

Analogue Pocket (Imaginary)

BACK OF THE BOX QUOTE

I haven't imagined the box

TYPE OF GAME

Fictional, portable

LIKED

Fun to think about, good way to hide a few hundred bucks from the IRS

DISLIKED

Kid on the bus told me it doesn't actually exist

DEVELOPER

Analogue, Inc.

PLATFORM

Game Boy / Colour, Game Boy Advance, Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket / Colour, Atari Lynx, TurboGrafx-16

RELEASE DATE

Uhhhh

PLAYED

Hmm

If I might raise a single concern, it’s that my make-believe Analogue Pocket is not compatible with my actual physical game cartridges, which seems like a flaw in a system that’s billed as playing just about everything. Problematic.

Moreover, I’m worried that I might actually want to take advantage of this crazy seller’s market and eBay my entire collection of classic cartridges before some mythical, actually tangible version of the Pocket manages to materialise on my doorstep. I guess the clock’s ticking!

Anyway, yeah, in my mind’s eye this yet-unborn device is a marvellous piece of gaming kit that’s been a joy to pretend to enjoy. I’ve had so much fun not having it that I feel kind of bad for all the unfortunate souls who haven’t been able to imagine one for themselves. It’s been a great first year of having $US368.75 ($498) tied up in a best-in-class portable console that I can’t see, touch, or hear. Truth be told, I’m already looking forward to the next!

But maaaybe not the one after that. At that point, it’d be like, enough of your shenanigans. Please, just solve the global semiconductor crisis already and send me the fancy fuckin’ Game Boy.

Confidential to Analogue: Keep the loan, it’s yours! Happy to invest! Just please don’t cancel my god damn pre-order.

Comments

  • This was hilarious – great idea and writing!

    I’m sad that I am not one of the people who has been able to preorder and imagine myself. I’m on the notification list, but I doubt I’ll get in for the next 3 minute window.

    Well, one can dream, I guess.

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