American tech company Analogue made Pocket as “a tribute to portable gaming”. It plans to release the device next year.
It is designed to play the more than 2,780 titles Nintendo released for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance — a family of handheld consoles produced from 1989 onwards.
With an adapter, it can also play games from other portable devices synonymous with the 1990s: Sega’s Game Gear, SNK’s Neo Geo Pocket Color and the Atari Lynx.
The hardware of the time has been given a due upgrade. Analogue promises 10 times the screen resolution of an original Game Boy, at 1600 by 1440 pixels on a 3.5-inch LCD screen and “pro-level colour accuracy”.
And the device doubles as a tool for music creation. It comes with Nanoloop software pre-installed, allowing musicians to use Pocket as a sequencer and synthesiser.
Pocket is the first handheld device from Analogue, which makes consoles that revive retro games from Nintendo and Sega, with the goal of “celebrating and exploring” the history of the medium.
Analogue founder and CEO Christopher Taber told Dezeen that the company’s approach to design separates it from other players in the video game sector.
“Compared to other industries, the video game industry is quite immature in terms of diversity in concept exploration when it comes to design,” he said.
“We’re interested in pushing that boundary in every way we can — or it’s just not interesting to us.”
His team looked to fashion, film, music, architecture and “classic” industrial design to inform their work.
“Our inspiration when it comes to design, and really as a company as a whole, comes from other mediums and industries, which makes Analogue stand out distinctly from any other company in the video game industry,” he said.
Pocket blends Analogue’s design sensibilities with the form of Nintendo’s original Game Boy.
The device has the same portrait orientation, which Taber describes as an “iconic” style that hasn’t really been seen in the medium in the last 20 years.
Minimalism is a key influence. The Pocket’s dock, which enables streaming to a TV, is a simple cylinder resting on a slimline box.
And all the buttons on the console are “blind”, meaning they are not labelled with letters, arrows or other markings.
Instead, their concave or convex shape helps users distinguish them. Taber said that this approach gives Pocket the flexibility to suit multiple systems.
“And of course it is beautiful,” he added. “I think with all Analogue products we’re approaching the design with a ‘perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away’ philosophy.”
1980s and ’90s video games have been a constant source of inspiration for designers.
Louis Vuitton recently released a retro-style game called Endless Runner to tie in with Virgil Abloh’s Autumn Winter 2019 show for the brand, while Love Hultén previously turned his own Analogue console into a shrine to the Nintendo Entertainment System, topped with a glass dome.