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2021 may be a harvest year for “alternative” consoles

Analog pocket

At first glance, “Analog Pocket” looks like a new version of Nintendo’s iconic game Boy Pocket since the mid-90s. Indeed it is. Pocket PC accepts original Game Boy ink cartridges, or ink cartridges issued by Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance.This means you can Pokémon Red, The Legend of Zelda: Four Seasons Oracle with Advance war On the same bus. Analogue also plans to use a $30 adapter to let you play Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Atari Lynx, TurboGrafx-1

6/PC Engine and SuperGrafx games.

Analog pocket


However, the “simulation pocket” is not just a “play all” machine. The handheld computer has been improved on the basis of the original Game Boy design, with two additional front buttons, shoulder buttons on both sides of the cartridge slot, and three small system buttons. There are also stereo speakers, a headphone jack and a 4,300 mAh battery that can be charged via USB-C. The 3.5-inch display also has a resolution of 1600 x 1,440, which should provide excellent brightness and color reproduction. Eventually, the company will sell a base for $99 that allows you to play cartridge-based games on the TV.

Pocket PCs will also support Nanoloop, an application used by musicians to make chip music. This feature can help prove the high price tag of Pocket. Its price is $199.99, which is more expensive than Nintendo’s Switch Lite handheld device. Considering the screen and internal hardware required to run so many cartridge types, some people would think this is theft. The first batch of products is expected to be shipped in May 2021. However, buying a product can be a challenge: Analogue opened for pre-order in August last year and sold out within a few minutes, which frustrated many prospective customers.

Analog duo

Pocket is not the only Analogue machine that supports TurboGrafx-16 cartridges. Analogue is also developing a home console called Duo. As the name suggests, it has two slots for physical media. The one on the left is for HuCard cartridges (the format shipped with TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine), while the one on the right accepts discs designed for TurboGrafx-CD accessories. In addition, Duo will also support games developed for PC Engine SuperGrafx (the successor to TurboGrafx-16 released only in France and Japan).

Analog duo


Like Pocket, Analogue also uses field programmable gate array (FPGA) chips to read the original TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine and SuperGrafx games. This means that Duo behaves like the original hardware and does not rely on any software emulation or ROM files to work. The only drawback is: Analogue has not yet developed a chip that can simulate PC-FX. If you want to play the game from that particular system, you need to look elsewhere. Despite this, it is still a beautiful console, facing a small but passionate part of the community. (How many people collect TurboGrafx-16 games?) Analogue says Duo will be available for $199 sometime next year.

Air date

Panic’s Playdate is a weird little thing. It has a monochrome screen (unlike Analogue Pocket) and a folding crank on the right side. Fortunately, the latter does not power the device. This is a real control method, just like D-pad and double-sided buttons. Teen Engineering, the company that designed the OP-1 synthesizer and Capcom-themed pocket synthesizer, helped Panic dream of undeniably cute hardware. Its size is 74×76×9mm, which is smaller than the Game Boy Pocket, so it is much lighter than Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite.

Panic play date


Panic is known for Mac and iOS software for developers (such as Nova and Transmit).The company also released occasional video games, including Fire alarm with Untitled Goose Game. As Panic’s Greg Maletic told Engadget last year, Playdate is the spiritual successor to Nintendo’s iconic Game & Watch series. Since then, it has become something between these devices and more complex handheld devices. For example, each Playdate is a devkit, and the owner can install third-party games directly on the system. “[Developers] Panic confirmed in a blog post last October.

Playdate is priced at US$149 and is expected to be available early next year. At this price, you will get “Season” free games unlocked for free every week. The initial release time should be at 12 o’clock, but the long-term development of the console has allowed Panic to “consign more Season 1 games from more developers,” according to the blog post.A series of developers including the developer Keita Takahashi Catamari Damasi with Vatan, Confirmed that they are working on the Playdate title. Panic also shared many community prototypes, including doom port.

Atari VCS

Atari is no longer the behemoth of video games as before.The company uses Atari 2600 and Near, The most influential in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, this iconic brand has been sold several times and is struggling with bankruptcy. However, Atari’s remaining products did not give up. The company is preparing a new system called Atari VCS. The design must be like Atari, with long marks on the top, and for at least one model called the VCS 800, the front is an artificial walnut veneer. The company also produced a retro joystick to match the modern controller.Fans who have used Atari for a long time will also like Vault, which is a series of classic works, including Asteroid, break out with centipede.

Atari VCS


However, Atari VCS is more than just a retro console. According to Michael Arzt, chief operating officer of Atari, this is a “full-featured micro PC” powered by an AMD Ryzen R1606G processor and integrated Vega graphics. By default, the console will run Atari OS, which is a Linux version designed for the living room. However, you will 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 that this model sets the console apart from cheap alternatives based on Android. VCS 800 can be a simple game console in the living room, but it can also be a half-body PC for browsing the web and accessing basic applications.

The Atari VCS 800 All-in Bundle can be pre-ordered, which includes a console, joystick and standard controller, for a price of $389.99. That’s expensive: for an extra $10, you can buy the PlayStation 5 digital version. The console first appeared in the form of Ataribox at E3 2017. It was renamed in March 2018 and then crowdfunded on Indiegogo a few months later. Atari hopes to ship supporter units and a small number of pre-orders before the end of this year. However, full retail will not be realized until January 2021. VCS has been in the market for a long time, and some people have doubts about Atari’s delivery capabilities, which is understandable. After all, the company is small and works on projects that attract attention, such as cryptocurrencies and Atari-themed hotels.

Intellivision friends

Atari is not the only retro brand trying to make a comeback. A team led by industry veteran Tommy Tallarico is studying more than 300 games, and they are developing a new Intellivision system. Amico aims to be a simpler system that anyone can play regardless of age or video game experience. It comes with two controllers with CDs instead of D-pads, four shoulder buttons, a small touch screen, and everything needed for basic movement controls. The console will be equipped with six games and a bunch of downloadable accessories, priced between $2.99 ​​and $9.99, including an exclusive sequel to the most popular Earthworm Jim platform game.

The Intellivision team believes that the current leisure market is underserved. According to Tallarico, modern games are too complicated and people are not encouraged to play games in the same room. Amico will use a game library that does not contain any violence, bad language or pornography to solve this problem. There will also not be any loot boxes or microtransactions, so parents can have confidence in their children’s play. Anyway, this is the idea.

Intellivision friends

Smart vision

Like VCS, Amico is expensive. The tray-shaped system was priced at approximately US$249 at launch, only US$50 shorter than the Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series S. (You could also say that Switch meets similar needs for home entertainment games.) People who grew up in the 1980s and miss the Intellivision name. For those people, a selection of libraries and simple controllers may be enough to justify the asking price. Tallarico’s team was originally scheduled to launch in October 2020, but has since been postponed until May next year. If the time schedule is reasonable, we can restart the Atari and Intellivision game.

Switch to professional edition

We can’t help but end this list without having to precede the long-rumored Switch Pro. To be clear, Nintendo has never confirmed the existence of the console. Bloomberg However, in the August report, the company is planning to launch an upgraded version of the Switch next year. According to an unnamed source, the company has considered a more powerful model that can support 4K visual effects. It can replace the standard Switch (which has undergone minor modifications to slightly extend the battery life), or you can sit next to it. However, there is no guarantee that Switch Pro will happen. Nintendo performed well during the pandemic, selling an astonishing number of consoles in the past three quarters. Nevertheless, the sequel to Switch can help maintain this incredible momentum next year.

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