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 $368.75—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 $99.99, the Pocket Hard Case for $29.99, and the Glass Screen Protector for a slightly off-putting $15.99.
Then there was the $22.79 for a value-added service called shipping, which will help ensure that someday the oft-rumored 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 turn into some date more distant yet.
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, aside from 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 $368.75 by itself, but have you heard about my personalized 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, recognizing 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 realization: “And there’ll be an honest-to-god Analogue Pocket there someday, too!”
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 $400 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.
So far the planets have not aligned thus. But that’s okay, 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-ass screen protector.
I turn the unit around in my mind—trying to ignore that one, maddening dust speck—visualizing 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 ponder if the questionable-looking placement of the L and R buttons, tucked deep into the unit’s back, might anger my lurking carpal tunnel. I go back and forth. Sometimes I feel a phantom ache in my wrist.
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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? The one in my head sure does.
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, authentically 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.)
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.
Speaking of which, 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 materialize on my doorstep. I guess the clock’s ticking!
Anyway, yeah, in my mind’s eye this yet-unborn device is a marvelous 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 $368.75 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.