Analogue, the company renowned for its retro hardware emulation, is shifting gears towards a new venture after successfully managing the shipments of its Pocket handheld console. The company’s latest project, the Analogue 3D, is set to be the ultimate Nintendo 64 (N64) experience, enabling the play of original cartridges on modern 4K displays. While the company has only released a teaser image and a few key specifications, the anticipation is palpable. The Analogue 3D is the newest addition to the company’s line of consoles that recreate retro gaming experiences.
These machines utilize field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) that are coded to imitate the original hardware. Unlike most software emulators that play ROM files, Analogue’s consoles play original media, in this case, N64 cartridges. This approach avoids the common pitfalls of software emulation, such as increased input lag or visual imperfections. Analogue’s journey started with boutique recreations of Neo Geo and NES hardware, gradually moving towards a more casual audience with systems that replicated the SNES and Genesis.
The company’s most notable release to date is the Pocket, which emulates a range of handhelds. The TurboGrafx-like Analogue Duo, announced in 2020, is expected to ship this year after a few delays. While the company’s portfolio may seem diverse, there’s a common thread: all the consoles are relatively primitive.
The N64, as the first true “64-bit” console on the market, is the most complex system Analogue has attempted to recreate. Its 64-bit 93.75MHz CPU was groundbreaking for a $200 console, and its Silicon Graphics “reality coprocessor” was the stuff of tech enthusiasts’ dreams. The Analogue 3D is being touted as a “reimagining” of Nintendo’s console, promising 100 percent compatibility with cartridges from all regions. It will output at 4K resolution with Original Display Modes that aim for “reference quality recreations” of specific CRTs and PVMs. In simpler terms, Analogue is developing filters to make modern OLED or LCD displays feel more akin to a mid-’90s Sony Trinitron TV.
Despite the N64’s small library of games and its less-than-perfect controller, there are some undeniable classics. First-party games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask have stood the test of time, and Mario 64 remains as enjoyable to play in 2023 as it was in 1996. Other notable titles include Paper Mario, Mario Kart 64, F-Zero X, Star Fox 64, Super Smash Bros., and many more. Rare also contributed significantly to the N64’s library with games like GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. While quality third-party titles were less common, games like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Mischief Makers, Harvest Moon 64, and the Turok games are worth revisiting.
The Analogue 3D will feature four controller ports, just like the original N64, but with the added convenience of Bluetooth and 2.4G wireless connectivity. 8BitDo is set to release a companion controller for the console, which appears to be similar to the company’s Ultimate controller, but with a few modifications. The price of the Analogue 3D is yet to be announced. Previous Analogue machines were quite pricey, but recent offerings have been more affordable.
The Analogue Duo, which includes a CD drive, was priced at $250 when pre-orders began, suggesting the Analogue 3D might fall within a similar range. However, prospective buyers should also budget for controllers, as these are not included with the console. The Analogue 3D is expected to ship in 2024, and if the company’s track record is anything to go by, pre-orders will likely open in the coming months and sell out almost instantly. This new venture by Analogue is a testament to the enduring appeal of retro gaming, offering a fresh take on a classic console for a new generation of gamers.