Analogue Pocket announced; can play a variety of handheld systems' games through FPGA

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Analogue is a company that has been taking retro video game consoles, and adapting them to use in the modern day, by providing a system that can play oldschool 90's game cartridges in 1080p, without any emulation. Previously, they've created the Analogue Mega Sg and the Super NT, "perfected" variations of the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo, respectively. Now, Analogue is taking on a new front: handheld gaming, with the announcement of the Analogue Pocket. This new system will play nearly any handheld game you can throw at it, from Game Boy, to Color, to Advanced, or even Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and Neo Geo Pocket Color; over 2,780 different games are compatible through two FPGA chips.

The Pocket will feature a 3.5" screen in a case similar to that of a Game Boy Color. The LCD has a resolution of 1600x1440, and offfers a ppi of 615. It will also have a function for those who wish to create music using game's soundfonts through a built-in synthesizer called Nanoloop.

Addtionally, there will also be a dock sold seperately, which can allow you to place the Analogue Pocket onto it, and play your games on a TV through HDMI, much like the Nintendo Switch.

Analogue's Pocket will launch sometime next year, for $199.99.

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Rahkeesh

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Its a huge struggle to get the timing down on software emulators, especially on mobile CPUs. Its not just input lag but variable input lag that makes your timing sloppy, and these old games weren't built with the kind of timing tolerances that modern ones are. That's the huge edge of FPGA beyond insane accuracy, absolutely zero latency in the console itself.
 

the_randomizer

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Oh, I was talking about using good emulators. I'm not in the know of those devices.
But one that looks promising that popped up recently is the retro game 350. Is quite powerful for the price but don't know which specific emulators run and is still chinese though.

You are right about fpga. I just wanted to raise awareness about the fact that the whole "not emulation" is false.

I mean, I just... eh, those Chinese devices often have spotty firmware as well, and can really impact performance. With FPGA systems, there's no OS, no overhead and minimal lag.
 

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Considering the GBA support was included in most Nintendo DS systems and GBA games were included in the Ambassador program for the 3DS...

Yeah, looks like they want to get sued.

Because Nintendo no longer cares about Gameboy and GB Color games, but GBA? They made remakes of a few of those games.
 

Godofcheese

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Considering the GBA support was included in most Nintendo DS systems and GBA games were included in the Ambassador program for the 3DS...

Yeah, looks like they want to get sued.

Because Nintendo no longer cares about Gameboy and GB Color games, but GBA? They made remakes of a few of those games.

Are third party consoles illegal? ^^
Don't they fall into the same gray zone like emulators
if they don't use anything Nintendo owns, It's chill.
 

Sakitoshi

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I mean, I just... eh, those Chinese devices often have spotty firmware as well, and can really impact performance. With FPGA systems, there's no OS, no overhead and minimal lag.
well, that's kind of a moot point because for most of those devices there are community efforts to make them better ironing out all the issues and do improve the poor performance of the stock system.
my mayor concern is that up until now those portable retro consoles (including more costly and complicated solutions like building portable rpi's) have terrible battery life (3 hours maximum? even the old 3ds lasts longer while running more complex games) and spotty emulation in the sense that the more advanced systems (snes with chip fx and even gba in some devices) depend on frameskip to achieve full speed, frameskip makes everything unplayable.
I'm not a freak for accuracy as long as the games run as they should for a casual run, accuracy without speed is worthless.
the psp has been a solid choice for years because of the aforementioned shortcomings, right now having a new 3ds or vita can land you the same results of owning one of those chinese things with the added benefit of better battery life and being able to enjoy their own library of games. and it was really a no brainer since most people (here at least) would already have or want to own a 3ds or vita.

fpga does have the upper hand there like you mentioned, but we are paying premium for that, so is good to take that into consideration when comparing the 2 options.
so, we can say that you get what you pay for?

as for myself, right now I do have the means to play all the classic handhelds I care about (I have a gb light, a gba classic, an sp and 2 micros, along with my new 3ds, psp and vita), so I don't really care much about those portable retro consoles.
though I have to admit that the analogue pocket looks very sweet, but after asking myself if I need one the answer is a rotund no for what I already said.
as a sidenote I also think they screwed up by using the snes button layout instead of the gameboy layout like all the handhelds the thing will play.

Are third party consoles illegal? ^^
Don't they fall into the same gray zone like emulators
if they don't use anything Nintendo owns, It's chill.
they are not as long as the project don't use a single chip of the original hardware.
 
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raxadian

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Are third party consoles illegal? ^^
Don't they fall into the same gray zone like emulators
if they don't use anything Nintendo owns, It's chill.

Considering the only reason you can legally make hardware clones of the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo is because the rights expired?

Nintendo could sue them if they still have he rights for the GBA.

And considering is only a few years since Nintendo lost the patent of the Super Nintendo hardware, because it expired, they probably do.

And let's not talk about the patent for software since the GBA did have an operating system...

Is not even a case of if Nintendo can win or not, just the fact they have more money and lawyers that the company making the Analogue Pocket.
 

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Considering the only reason you can legally make hardware clones of the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo is because the rights expired?

Nintendo could sue them if they still have he rights for the GBA.

And considering is only a few years since Nintendo lost the patent of the Super Nintendo hardware, because it expired, they probably do.

And let's not talk about the patent for software since the GBA did have an operating system...

Is not even a case of if Nintendo can win or not, just the fact they have more money and lawyers that the company making the Analogue Pocket.

Third party units exist for those systems because of the lack of copy protection I think

If modern consoles weren't super secure there would be third party units for them too, I'm sure of it
(it's illegal to circumvent drm tho)
 
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cearp

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Well they are opening it, so it has a second fpga for homebrew n stuff, you could probably run additional cores on that.
yeah but what I mean is, their last 2, maybe 3 consoles, have received hacks that let you play roms from the micro sd card.
and when I say received hacks, the community thinks it's from the guy/team who actually makes the device - not by an actual 'hacker' etc.
it's a separate jailbreak fw that doesn't come shipped, possibly for legal reasons.

so, it's not really about the 2nd fpga.
but still that is crazy we have a 2nd one... hopefully it's good enough/compatible with other cores for fpgas that the mista team have created:
https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Main_MiSTer/wiki
 
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J-Machine

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Considering the only reason you can legally make hardware clones of the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo is because the rights expired?

Nintendo could sue them if they still have he rights for the GBA.

And considering is only a few years since Nintendo lost the patent of the Super Nintendo hardware, because it expired, they probably do.

And let's not talk about the patent for software since the GBA did have an operating system...

Is not even a case of if Nintendo can win or not, just the fact they have more money and lawyers that the company making the Analogue Pocket.
in america, where this company is located, reverse engineering was protected via court decision. That's what this is. reverse engineering using an fpga chip. So long as they don't include the original bios files they are golden.

as an aside... Are people forgetting this is a competant music device. the price alone just for that application it has is justified.
 
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Chopsuey

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finally a Gameboy styled Device with the Shoulderbutons where there belong to be !

i whish it would have enough power to emulate a few better Systems, but anyway, it lookls like a pretty cool device.
 

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The machine looks nice, but honestly I don't know why they keep making these devices.
Fact is nothing like this has ever been made before. If you're comparing this to the likes of those Chinese emulation handhelds (even the halfway decent ones), you're way off-base on what this product is.
The fact that you're comparing Switch being able to play the games via software emulation assures me that you're making that kind of comparison. Software emulation is incapable of the things FPGA can manage. Watch some videos where Kevtris explains what an FPGA can do and maybe you'll understand why these things are the future of retro gaming, and why they're going to allow you to continue to enjoy your classic games long past the time when the original hardware can no longer do it. Here's some stuff I dug up to start with.


 
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LoggerMan

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i rememebr thinking that the DSi XL was the ideal Gameboy emulator, because it's massive pixels were about the same size a GB pixels anyway.
 

FAST6191

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It's interesting that there's a company making such a high-quality retro device. That thing looks slick (and solid), and making a custom chip to run all of those games without emulation certainly shows dedication to creating a high-quality option. The upscaling is probably way overkill for most of those games, though I say that on conjecture, being too young to have played any.

One thing that makes games great is when they are made to look great on the technology of the time.

To be a pedant I have to note that this is not a custom chip but a FPGA which is a programmable chip (or class of such things). The distinction becomes more important as mere mortals (or at least electrical engineers without a corporation backing them) can have their own custom chips with considerable transistor counts burned in silicon these days in fairly small batch numbers (I don't know if we are quite in the hundreds yet but a thousand or so would work). I am expecting to see more of that in the years to come, somewhat amusingly the easiest in to such a field is to take your FPGA design* and turn it directly into a chip. Will also mean both the replacement part and the quality of fakes/repros will shoot through the roof, and that is before we get into improvements, but enough of that for now.

*FPGA stands for field programmable gate array, and if all chips are is an arrangement of transistors (the gate of a transistor being an important concept within it) then yeah. Not the most efficient way to make a chip (either as an FGPA or straight converting) but if it takes all the right inputs and spits out all the right outputs in the right amount of time and uses an amount of power that people can live with then so many people will argue the toss.

Considering the only reason you can legally make hardware clones of the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo is because the rights expired?

Nintendo could sue them if they still have he rights for the GBA.

And considering is only a few years since Nintendo lost the patent of the Super Nintendo hardware, because it expired, they probably do.

And let's not talk about the patent for software since the GBA did have an operating system...

Is not even a case of if Nintendo can win or not, just the fact they have more money and lawyers that the company making the Analogue Pocket.

Three main classes of rights here
1) Trademarks. These are essentially infinite but are more concerned with the name and logos. Some companies tried to include their trademarked logo in the code and thus get around things that way but were smacked down, others will press the logo into plastic or try to include the logo in the function (there is a reason fashion houses have their logo as a clasp on their bags and it is not because it looks cool).
2) Copyright. Length is probably north of 100 years at this point (or if you prefer we just started getting works from the 1920s become copyright free -- https://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2019/ ). Hard to copyright an arrangement of off the shelf chips. The BIOS files might be copyrighted but there are ways around those, and also the GBA did not have an operating system of any real note -- the BIOS is as about as close as it comes there and you don't have to interact with it, it does not run all the time or really do anything like a hand off to run the games, and when you do speak to it then it functions basically as a built in programming library ( http://problemkaputt.de/gbatek.htm#biosfunctions ).
3) Patents. Length varies a bit depending upon field and follow on patents (you tend to be given a few years to file additional patents that might use another which don't then conflict with yourself, part of the reason we had some troubles figuring out when the NES dpad patent ended) but the term (aka length) of the patent is around 20 years for most places and what you might have heard. Also tends to be a novel and unique invention, which is not an arrangement of chips. Some places do patents for software as well (most notably for this discussion the US and Japan) but other places (basically everywhere else) consider the very notion of software patents as completely opposed to the idea of patents (software is maths and you can't patent maths) and thus an abomination.

Assuming they don't use the name gameboy or suggest they are endorsed by Nintendo (repeat for other companies on the list) then no worries there. For copyright then other than the BIOS you can't copyright an arrangement of chips (the ARM7TDMI of the GBA is... well an ARM chip you could probably get a million dropped off to your door in a few days if you wanted, the z80 is also popular for decades now...) or arrangement of memory and this is also one of the reasons we can have emulators (the courts have considered other things). You do occasionally hear of individual game trademarks expiring but I doubt any of the companies concerned here (or their successors) will allow the main console ones to lapse any time soon.

There are a few other types of protections that could apply at some level (called different things in different places but design rights and registered designs act as lesser versions of some of those) but nothing likely to bother it here as they are usually reserved for shapes and colour schemes.

Nintendo probably could do the we have enough money to tie you up in court thing (assuming Analogue care to be based somewhere that will listen -- there is a reason various flavours of China, Russia and Eastern Europe are often bases for a lot of these) but them having clear cut legal basis for this is a different matter entirely. Assuming there is not some quirk of the DMCA (which I doubt as there are a dozen devices that would otherwise qualify) then best I could see happen there is they have some kind of weird physical patent for an aspect of it -- one of the flash cart makers for the DS said something once about Nintendo having a patent on the plastic spacers between the cart pins for the DS which is why they did not have them on their DS flash cart, however I don't know if that is true (never looked) and thin plastic spacers are hard to make in plastic (or at least it is far easier to have a blank spot) so that could just as easily be the reason.
 

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How would this one be better than a 3DS playing GBA injects? Or the GB/GBC injects from VC?

Edit: or where could it be better and by how much?
 
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