2020 has been a wild ride for many. Today, I look back at Analogue’s first entry in this new decade.
Meeting Past Promises
Analogue opened the year optimistic, a brand-new decade was upon us, and the Seattle / Hong Kong company had some products on their slate yet to ship.
The first of which was Analogue DAC, first teased in January 2018.
DAC enabled the existing Super Nt & Mega Sg to provide analog A/V output, most commonly used on consumer CRT televisions and high-end professional video monitors.
This classic method of video output restored several vital functions to the Super Nt & Mega Sg, such as light-gun support and 32X compatibility.
Mega Sg saw another big boon in the long-delayed release of the Cartridge Adapter Set – bringing Game Gear, SG-1000, Mark III & MyCard support to the console.
This set marked the first in a series of controversies for Analogue.
Previously these adapters had been touted as $10 standalone products, so when the trio released in a $50 three-pack, some felt betrayed.
Analogue claimed this new release approach and price point is due to the original parts sourced failing to meet their standards. Instead of using off-the-shelf components as planned, Analogue reverse-engineered the individual cartridge slots to achieve their desired quality.
It is with no shadow of irony that the Game Gear adapter shipped defective.
Some users reported the v1.0 adapter was causing system-level complications. Analogue promptly instructed customers to destroy their existing GG Adapter v1.0 and await the revised GG Adapter v1.1.
March preluded an awful time for the planet, as the COVID-19 situation reached global pandemic status. The impact of coronavirus is a topic far too vast for this post, but it’s safe to say it hit Analogue hard. Several flagship products swiftly fell out of stock, and their production plans brutalised.
Ending 2019 with this tweet clearly shows a level of confidence in their annualised release timetable.
Indeed, Analogue’s Twitter was awash with “When’s Pocket?!” flooding the responses to every tweet. It was as reliable as the tide itself.
Their silence finally broke in July 2020 where Pocket got a major re-reveal, sporting an enhanced design, new functionality and – to the disappointment of many – a revised May 2021 release window.
In October 2020, Analogue confirmed TurboGrafx-16 support for the handheld.
Analogue Nt mini Noir
Of course, Nt mini Noir is the big story for 2020. According to a recent My Life in Gaming showcase, this system is Analogue’s best-selling console to date.
First teased in February 2020, the Noir was Analogue’s answer to fan-demand for a re-run of their prestigious NES-based Nt mini.
One final run.Analogue’s Nt mini Noir product description.
Nt mini v2 features a new and perfected NES cartridge slot, updated UI, branding, packaging, and includes a new 8BitDo 2.4g controller for NES in the box. Otherwise it’s the same Nt mini you know and love. Available one last time. Better than ever.
Pre-orders for Nt mini Noir opened for seven days, between February 28th and March 6th. Many owners of the existing Nt mini opted against the revised model, after all “it’s the same Nt mini you know and love”. Why spend the $499.99 asking price for a system they already own.
Nt mini Noir was due to ship in July 2020.
In a move that shocked many Analogue announced a raft of new features for the sold-out and discontinued product. In July.
Nt mini Noir is much more than we initially announced. In fact, it is a completely redesigned Nt mini from the inside out.Analogue, via Twitter
Rather than being “the same Nt mini you know and love”, the Noir is a new platform – top to bottom. A new FPGA chip, a re-written NES core and new functionality such as interpolation.
Those who opted to stick with their 2017 originals were miffed. Alongside this announcement came confirmation the Noir wouldn’t ship until November 2020.
Looking ahead to 2021
Undeterred by their numerous mistakes, Analogue still announced new hardware on October 16th, a tradition they’ve maintained for four years running.
Analogue Duo is the company’s answer to the TurboGrafx-16 legacy, offering support for the full gamut of PC Engine variants, even sporting built-in CD-ROM drive.
Duo is due to release in 2021 and joins Pocket on their unreleased slate.
Despite the May 2021 window, Pocket – like Mega Sg – will see some functionality ship later. The advertised Neo Geo Pocket Color, Atari Lynx & TurboGrafx-16 adapters are not listed as May 2021 releases.
Super Nt has been out of stock for nine months now, and Mega Sg is starting to follow suit.
In 2021 I hope to see Analogue bring their house to order. Super Nt, Mega Sg, Pocket & Duo need to be readily available. As for their inevitable October 16th announcement, I’d love to see Noir transformed into a $199.99 stablemate, rather than a $499.99 one-off.
Imagine if – this time next year – we could celebrate the availability of an Analogue FPGA-based NES, Super NES, Mega Drive, TurboDuo and multi-platform handheld.
Thanks for reading. You can find me over on r/AnalogueInc, a subreddit I opened in February 2020 which has now accrued 2,500 members.