Analogue aspires to create the definitive operating system for retro gaming – TechCrunch
Analog’s highly anticipated retro Pocket gaming machine will have more than a sleek design and the ability to play tons of classic games. The device will be the first with AnalogueOS on it, an effort to make what founder Chris Taber calls the âAlexandria Video Game Libraryâ.
In fact, he called it the “great fucking Library of Alexandria â, which gives you an idea of ââhis enthusiasm on the subject. You see, retro gaming is a weird place – there’s tons of information out there, but few sources are exhaustive, and many are decidedly retro themselves.
Depending on what information you want, you can find it in a dedicated game or system wiki, a bulletin board frequented by former 8-bit game developers, a hex file used to modify a ROM, or even an out of print book. The story and versions of a game, as well as ephemeral documents such as manuals, reviews, and tech docs can be scattered around a dozen places.
The goal of AnalogueOS is to keep and present as much information as possible, as close as possible to the games themselves.
âAt its heart, AnalogueOS is uniquely designed to explore and celebrate the entire history of video games. Designed to be the scholarly and definitive operating system for playing and experiencing all of the support. Our vision is total, absolute, âsaid Taber. âAnd yes, AnalogueOS will be present on all future analog systems. “
For starters, the operating system will be a flexible and extensible way to play and track your games. If you have dozens of games for GameBoy, Game Gear, Lynx, etc., you can definitely add one and play. But the Pocket is meant to be a showcase, not just the best way to play these games (although it almost certainly will be).
Therefore, each game will come with artwork, screenshots, editors, and other metadata, all in an organized fashion so that you can someday say, “What Sunsoft games do I have?” And simply browse through these. Or if you are curious about a specific one, say Blaster Master: Enemy Below, you can browse the data related to this title, its revisions and modifications, its sequels and prequels, its guides and its screenshots.
Not all of the data will be available right off the bat, as the database is still under construction, but Taber has confirmed that the intention – and Analogue is the type of obsessive business to follow – is to incorporate as much of this as users want it. Since most of this data is text, it can easily be integrated directly into the operating system with minimal storage cost. âYou insert a game cartridge and it will be able to read exactly what game it is,â he said.
For collectors looking for a specific region or game review – rare cartridges used in competitions, illegal distributions, promotions, etc. – this information can be confirmed in seconds now. Find something interesting during a real estate sale? Put it in your pocket and find out exactly which version of the game it is – garden variety or unique find?
The art of the box, being larger, can be downloaded by users from sets the developers are already working on. People who operate in retro gaming circles are already familiar with the kind of light work involved in digitizing your library and bringing only the required images. (There are copyright considerations here, so the company should be careful with what they provide.)
The pocket will allow save states to be used on cartridge games, a huge boon for gamers who prefer to get as close to the original hardware and software as possible. Analogue is outspoken in its preference for FPGA-based cores that mimic stock chips rather than software emulation, and being able to load game and hardware state in this architecture is surely a tricky process.
The operating system will track your game by hour and day, and you can even create your own “playlists” to share with others (assuming they have the games that come with them). And there are quality of life changes like command remapping, bluetooth controller support, and more.
Ultimately, as you can see, Analogue wants to make their hardware not just the best way to play retro games on modern hardware (like HDTVs, which older consoles weren’t designed for) , but also a comprehensive resource for history and collection data on the games themselves. This is ambitious, and while some may point out that such resources already exist, they are dispersed and fragmented. If Analogue manages to unify all this information in one place and make it available where the players are – in front of the game – it could help the company move from the luxury option to the must-have in the world of gaming. retro game.