The Analogue Pocket now runs some third-party games, including one from 1962

The Analogue Pocket has always presented itself as a way to preserve the history of portable games. When it launched last fall, it was described as a way to “celebrate and explore gaming history with the respect it deserves”. The console offers a retro gaming experience on a sleek device at around $200, without using emulation and on an LCD screen. Out of the box, the console is compatible with Game Boy, Game Gear and Atari Lynx games, and can play others using adapters. However, something users have been asking for since launch is a “jailbreak” for the system – in this case, the ability for users to access and modify the operating system, as well as the ability to play ROM files. and games from currently unsupported systems. .

This weekend, some of those wishes were granted. On Saturday, Analogue released operating system v1.1, which allows developers to modify the FGPA cores that make up the system, and thus simulate other consoles that Pocket does not yet support. The update also adds “Library” and “Memory” features that work like digital game records and save states.

To show off this new update, Analogue released an FGPA core simulating Space war!one of the first video games, created in 1962. Space war! is a battle between two spaceships that was developed at MIT to test the PDP-1 minicomputer. The game is multiplayer in order to preserve computer processing power, and although it was never commercially sold, it became popular in the programming community and later inspired Atari games. space war and Asteroids . The core of the pocket is the first time Space war! ran on a system other than the PDP-1 and is commercially available.

Later on Saturday, a GitHub user allegedly uploaded two repositories allowing Pocket users to play Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games on Pocket. Taking advantage of the v1.1 update, these repositories (which are not officially supported by Analogue) allow users to load games from ROM files stored on an SD card, which means they solve two console issues: limited support for older consoles, and inability to use ROM files.

While the greater freedom of the official release and FGPA repositories has been celebrated by some users, it’s worth remembering that using Pocket still requires physical game cartridges over 20 years old. Between that and the accessories that make them usable, the device can easily become much more expensive. Balancing luxury and preservation, even after these updates, seems more complicated than it first seemed.

Joseph K. Bennett