Thursday, March 30, 2023

2021 could be a great year for ‘alternative’ consoles

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Analog pocket

At first glance, the Analog pocket looks like a new take on Nintendo’s iconic mid-90s Game Boy Pocket. And it sort of is. The handheld accepts original Game Boy cartridges, as well as those released for the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance. This means you can bounce between Pokémon Red, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Advance Wars on the same bus journey. Analogue is also planning $ 30 adapters that will let you play Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Atari Lynx, TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine, and SuperGrafx games.


The Analogue Pocket is more than a game machine, however. The handheld enhances the original Game Boy design with two additional face buttons, two shoulder buttons on either side of the cartridge slot, and three small system buttons. There are also stereo speakers, a headphone jack, and a 4300mAh battery that charges via USB-C. The 3.5-inch display also has a resolution of 1600 x 1440, which should offer superior brightness and color reproduction. Finally, the company will sell a docking station for $ 99 that will allow you to play cartridge games on a TV.

The Pocket will also support Nanoloop, an application that musicians use to create chiptune music. The feature could help justify the hefty price tag of the Pocket sticker. At $ 199.99, it’s more expensive than Nintendo’s Switch Lite handheld. Some would argue it’s a steal, however, given the screen and internal hardware required to run so many types of cartridges. The first units are expected to ship in May 2021. However, buying one could be a challenge: Analog opened pre-orders last August. and exhausted in a few minutes, upsetting many hopeful customers.

Analog duo

The Pocket isn’t the only analog machine to support TurboGrafx-16 cartridges. Analogue is also working on a living room console called the duo. As the name suggests, it has two slots for physical media. The one on the left is for HuCard cartridges – the format with which TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine were released – while the right accepts discs that were designed for the TurboGrafx-CD add-on. In addition, the Duo will support titles developed for the PC Engine SuperGrafx, a successor to the TurboGrafx-16 which was only released in France and Japan.

Analog duo


Like the Pocket, Analogue uses FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips to play the original TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine and SuperGrafx games. This means that the Duo acts like the original hardware and does not rely on any software emulation or ROM files to function. There is only one drawback: Analogue has not yet developed a chip to emulate the PC-FX. If you want to play games from this particular system, you will have to look elsewhere. Still, it’s a beautiful console intended for a small, passionate part of the community. (How many people collect TurboGrafx-16 games?) Analogue says the Duo will be released next year for $ 199.


Panic playdate is a weird little thing. It has a monochrome screen, unlike the Analogue Pocket, and a folding crank on the right side. The latter is not there to power the device, fortunately. It’s a real method of control, just like the D-pad and double-sided buttons. Teenage Engineering, the company that designed the OP-1 synthesizer and Capcom-themed pocket synths, helped Panic imagine the undeniably cute material. It measures 74 × 76 × 9mm, which is smaller than the Game Boy Pocket and, therefore, much more portable than the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite.

Panic playdate


Panic is best known for its developer-focused Mac and iOS software, such as Nova and Transmit. The company has also occasionally released video games, including Fire watch and Untitled Goose Game. As Greg Maletic of Panic said Engadget last year, the Playdate is said to be a spiritual successor to Nintendo’s iconic Game & Watch series. It has since evolved into something that sits between those devices and a more sophisticated handheld. Each Playdate is a devkit, for example, and owners will be able to install third-party games directly to the system. “[Developers] will not need to go through us, ”confirmed Panic in a blog post last October.

The Playdate costs $ 149 and should ship early next year. For that price, you get a “season” of free games that are unlocked every week. It was originally slated to be 12, but extended console development allowed Panic “to order even more Season 1 games from more developers,” according to a blog post. A range of developers including Keita Takahashi, the creator of Katamari Damacy and Wattam, have confirmed that they are working on Playdate titles. Panic also shared a bunch of community prototypes including a Condemn Harbor.

Atari VCS

Atari isn’t the video game monster he was. The company, best known for the Atari 2600 and classic titles such as Pong, was most influential in the 70s and 80s. Since then, the iconic brand has been sold several times and had to go bankrupt. What remains of Atari has not given up, however. The company is preparing a whole new system called Atari VCS. The design is certainly Atari-style, with long idents along the top and, for at least one model called VCS 800, a faux walnut finish up front. The company also made a retro joystick to accompany its interpretation of a modern controller. Longtime Atari fans will also appreciate the Vault, a collection of classics that includes Asteroids, To burst and Centipede.

Atari VCS


The Atari VCS is more than a retro console, however. It’s a “fully functional mini PCAccording to Michael Arzt, COO of Atari, powered by an AMD Ryzen R1606G processor with integrated Vega graphics. By default, the console will run Atari OS, a version of Linux designed for the living room. You will, however, be able to use “PC Mode” to install and start other operating systems such as Windows, Chrome OS, and Valve’s Steam OS. Atari believes this model sets the console apart from cheaper Android-based alternatives. The VCS 800 can be a simple living room game console, but it can also be a semi-decent PC for browsing the web and accessing basic applications.

An Atari VCS 800 All-in bundle, which includes a console, joystick, and standard controller, can be pre-ordered for $ 389.99. It’s expensive: for $ 10 more you can buy a PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. The console was first revealed like Ataribox at E3 2017. It was renamed in March 2018 so what crowdfunded on Indiegogo some months later. Atari hopes to ship support units and a small number of pre-orders before the end of the year. However, full retail production will not take place until January 2021. The VCS has been a long time coming and some people are understandably skeptical about Atari’s ability to deliver. The company is tiny, after all, and works on projects that raise eyebrows. like cryptocurrency and Atari themed hotels.

Friend Intellivision

Atari isn’t the only retro brand trying to make a comeback. A team led by Tommy Tallarico, an industry veteran who has worked on over 300 games, is make a new Intellivision system. The Amico is supposed to be a simpler system that anyone can play, regardless of their age or video game experience. It comes with two controllers that have discs instead of D-pads, four shoulder buttons, a small touchscreen, and everything needed for basic motion controls. The console will come with six games and a bunch of downloadable extras that cost between $ 2.99 and $ 9.99, including an exclusive suite at the beloved Earthworm Jim platforms.

The Intellivision team believes that the occasional market is unfortunately underserved at the moment. Modern games are too complicated, according to Tallarico, and don’t encourage people to play in the same room. The Amico will solve that with a library of games that doesn’t include any violence, bad language or sexual content. There will also be no loot boxes or microtransactions, so parents can have complete confidence in what their kids are playing. That’s the idea, anyway.

Friend Intellivision


Like the VCS, the Amico is expensive. The tray-shaped system will cost around $ 249 at launch, which is only $ 50 less than the Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series S. (You can also argue that the Switch fulfills a similar need for games across the board. family.) Yet there is a group. of people who grew up in the 1980s and remember the name Intellivision fondly. For such people, the organized library and simplistic checkers might be enough to justify the asking price. Tallarico’s team were originally targeting a launch in October 2020, but that date has since been postponed to next May. If the timing lines up, we could have a rematch between Atari and Intellivision.

Switch Pro

We can’t end this list without mentioning the long-rumored Switch Pro. To be clear, Nintendo has never confirmed the existence of the console. Bloomberg reported in August that the company was planning to release an upgraded Switch next year, however. According to anonymous sources, the company considered a more powerful model that could support 4K visuals. It could replace the standard switch – which has already received a minor revision, slightly increasing battery life or sit next to it, however, there is no guarantee that a Switch Pro will perform. Nintendo has performed incredibly well during the pandemic and sold an impressive number of consoles during the last three quarters. Still, a Switch sequel could help keep that incredible momentum going next year.


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