Analogue Pocket OpenFPGA Guide

Last updated: 06NOV2022 (see Changelog for details)

The Analogue Pocket is finally able to run community-developed cores. Within the AP community, the term “jailbreak” is often used, but no jailbreaking is required; you simply need to be running the most recent version of the Analogue Pocket operating system, and then add the community cores.

New cores are getting added all the time, and I will update this guide accordingly. If you’d like to stay up-to-date with the latest cores available, this site has a good roundup of available options.

Table of Contents

Upgrade to Analogue OS v1.1 or higher
Auto install / update
Pokemon Mini core
Game Boy and Game Boy Color core
Game Boy Advance core
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) core
Super Nintendo (SNES) core
PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 core
Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System, and SG-1000 cores
Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) core
Watara Supervision
Arcade cores
Neo Geo core
Pocket files still work!

Changelog

Upgrade to Analogue OS v1.1 or higher

If you received an Analogue Pocket prior to July 29th, 2022, you are likely running an older version of the Analogue OS. You can check this by going into Settings > About > Analogue OS and verifying the version number.

To update, go to the Analogue Pocket Support Page and download the latest firmware file; it will be in .bin format. Next, take a blank SD card that is either FAT32 or exFAT partitioned and place the firmware .bin file in the root directory of the card. Insert the card into the Pocket and then boot it up; the firmware will automatically update, and will run you through the initial orientation again.

Once the firmware is updated, power down the device, remove the SD card, and then insert it into your PC. You will see that a bunch of folders have been populated. You can now delete the firmware update .bin file.

Upgrading to v1.1 or higher will unlock the openFPGA platform, which will allow us to load cores.

Auto install / update

There are two handy auto-updated applications that will streamline the installation and update process for you. In addition to downloading and updating your OpenFPGA cores, they will also download new Analogue Pocket firmware, required BIOS files, and even arcade assets.

Analogue Pocket Updater Utility — Windows, Mac, and Linux

This tool from mattpannella works for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s a very simple setup.

  • Download the latest executable that corresponds to your computer’s operating system. You can find them in the latest release page here.
  • Unzip the executable file and place the executable into the root directory of your Analogue Pocket microSD card.
  • Run the executable file. If using a Mac, it may give you a security warning, go into the Settings > Security > General section and select “Run Anyway”. When the executable file runs, it will show you a command prompt/Terminal window and explain all of the cores that are downloaded (or skipped if you already have the latest version on your card).
  • Since making the video above, the tool now has the ability to choose which cores you want to install on your SD card, saving you unnecessary clutter. See the image above for an example.
  • Note that after running this core chooser the first time, from now on, any time a core is added to the tool, it will automatically be added from here on out. To avoid this, open the pocket_updater_settings.json file with a text editor and set “skip” to “true” for all the cores you want to avoid installing.
  • This will also install BIOS files for your systems, and arcade files for those cores. Once you have this installed, follow the rest of the instructions below to add your ROM files.
  • That’s it! You can run the executable file periodically to update your cores.

If you want to remove a core from your SD card, so you will need to go into the Assets, Cores, and Platforms folders and delete the associated files manually.

Pocket Updater (GUI version) — Windows only

This tool from RetroDriven will also update your firmware, cores, and BIOS files, but does it in a lovely user interface. This tool is limited to Windows only.

  • Download the latest executable file from the latest release page here.
  • Unzip the executable file and place the executable wherever you would like. To make things simple, I prefer to put it in my SD card’s root directory.
  • Run the executable file. It will give you the option to add/remove cores (via the “Manage Cores” option), and run the updater. You can choose to update the files to a directory of your choice, or directly onto the card itself.
  • This will also install BIOS files for your systems. Once you have this installed, follow the rest of the instructions below to add your ROM files.
  • That’s it! You can run the executable file periodically to update your cores, and the app will also check for updates when you start it up.

There is also a third auto-updater app in development from developer Joey Gauthier, which you can check out here.

Pokemon Mini

This is a MiSTer core that was ported to the Analogue Pocket by developer agg23. No BIOS files are required.

To get started, use the Pocket Updater utilities featured above. For manual installation, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

In the /assets/poke_mini/common/ folder, place the .min ROM files. However you name the files is how they will appear in the device.

Game Boy and Game Boy Color core

These two cores are made by developer spiritualized1997 that will run GB and GBC games from the SD card. You will need to provide your own BIOS file, in a dmg_bios.bin and gbc_bios.bin format, respectively. Note that there are some limitations with this core as of making this guide:

  • Analogue settings options, like display modes, are not supported at this time. This means you won’t be able to add a DMG effect to Game Boy, or and LCD grid overlay.
  • Save states are supported. To save a sate, press the Analogue (MENU) button + UP while the game is running. You can access the save state by launching the game, then going into the Memories section. You will not be able to load a save state for a different game while it is running.
  • Since making the video above, they have separated the GB and GBC cores and now they will use their own BIOS files and boot logos.
  • Rumble is supported if you add a DS rumble pak.

To get started, use the Pocket Updater utilities featured above. For manual installation, download the latest core releases from this page and unzip the files. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

In the /assets/gb/common/ folder, place the dmg_bios.bin file
In the /assets/gb/common/ folder, place your .gb ROM files
In the /assets/gbc/common/ folder, place the gbc_bios.bin file
In the /assets/gbc/common/ folder, place your .gbc ROM files
However you name the ROM files is how they will appear in the device.

To launch the games, go to openFPGA > Game Boy (or Game Boy Color) > Run > (name of game)

Game Boy Advance core

This is a core made by developer spiritualized1997 that will run GBA games from the SD card. This has a big advantage over using cartridges or flash carts in that you can leave the cartridge slot empty, giving the device better ergonomics when using the shoulder buttons. You will need to provide your own BIOS file, in a gba_bios.bin format. Note that there are some limitations with this core as of making this guide:

  • Analogue settings options, like display modes, are not supported. This means you won’t be able to add an LCD grid overlay or reduce color saturation.
  • Save states are supported. To save a sate, press the ANALOGUE (MENU) button + UP while the game is running. You can access the save state by launching the game, then going into the Memories section. You will not be able to load a save state for a different game while it is running.
  • Rumble is supported if you add a DS rumble pak.

To get started, use the Pocket Updater utilities featured above. For manual installation, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

In the /assets/gba/common/ folder, place the gba_bios.bin file
In the /assets/gba/common/ folder, place the .gba ROM files. However you name the files is how they will appear in the device.

To launch the games, go to openFPGA > Game Boy Advance > Run > (name of game)

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) core

There are two cores available that run NES, one from Spiritualized1997 and a MiSTer core that was ported to the Analogue Pocket by agg23.

Spiritualized1997’s OpenFPGA core: To get started, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files. If you wish to play Famicom Disk System games, you must add the FDS BIOS (usually named disksys.rom) and rename it to fds.bios, then place it in the Assets/nes/common/ folder.

Agg23’s MiSter core: To get started, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

You can add both cores to your SD card and then choose between the two while in the Pocket’s menu. The “Platforms” folder from each core is the same, so you can just use one of them. The rest should be able to be installed without conflicting with the other.

In the Assets/nes/common/ folder, place your .nes ROM files. Both cores can access the same files. If you are going to play Famicom Disk System games, I recommend adding them to your Assets/nes/common/ folder in a subfolder named “Famicom Disk System”. However you name the files is how they will appear in the device.

To launch the games, go to openFPGA > NES > Run > (name of game). If you have both cores installed, it will give you the choice of core.

The MiSTer core has 5 palette options built in, changeable with a slider in Core Settings. The palettes are known as:

  1. Kitrinx 34 by Kitrinx
  2. Smooth by FirebrandX (Default)
  3. Wavebeam by NakedArthur
  4. Sony CXA by FirebrandX
  5. PC-10 Better by Kitrinx

Here are my preferred settings for the MiSTer core:
Hide Overscan = ON
Mask Both = ON
Extra Sprites = ON
Palette = 3

The Sony CXA palette provides a nice saturated display, and the “Mask Both” option will remove that flickering on the right side of the image (but will give small black borders on each side). The “Extra Sprites” will reduce flickering in games like Blaster Master, too.

Super Nintendo (SNES) core

This is a MiSTer core that was ported to the Analogue Pocket by developer agg23, that will run SNES games from the SD card. No BIOS files are required.

To get started, use the Pocket Updater utilities featured above. For manual installation, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

In the /assets/snes/common/ folder, place the .sfc or .smc ROM files. However you name the files is how they will appear in the device.

Note from the developer: ROM files must not contain a SMC header. If a ROM isn’t loading and you think it should, check if it has a header with a tool like Advanced SNES ROM Utility and remove it if so.

To launch the games, go to openFPGA > SNES > Run > (name of game)

  • Save states and sleep do not work at this time. In-game saves work fine, though.
  • The currently supported expansion chips are SA-1 (Super Mario RPG), Super FX (GSU-1/2; Star Fox), DSP (Super Mario Kart), and CX4 (Mega Man X 2). Additional chip support will come in the future once several new firmware features are released.
  • The S-DD1 chip was dropped in release 0.2.0 due to sizing and popularity issues. Support will resume in a future release. In the meantime, you can use this hack to remove the S-DD1 requirement.
  • Mods like the Ted Woosely Uncensored Edition of Final Fantasy VI work great!
  • By default, games will play in 8:7 aspect ratio. To adjust the aspect ratio, you can go into the Core Settings and turn on 4:3 instead.

Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System, and SG-1000 cores

Spiritualized1997 has recently released cores for Sega Game Gear, Master System, and SG-1000 systems. These cores do not require BIOS files. To install, simply download the latest core release (linked below), add the contents to your SD card, and then add your ROM files to the assets > (name of core) > common folder.

Sega Game Gear
Sega Master System
SG-1000

Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) core

This is a MiSTer core that was ported to the Analogue Pocket by developer ericlewis, that will run Sega Genesis games from the SD card. No BIOS files are required.

To get started, use the Pocket Updater utilities featured above. For manual installation, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

In the /assets/genesis/common/ folder, place the .md or .bin ROM files. According to the developer, they have had good success with .bin files. However you name the files is how they will appear in the device.

To launch the games, go to openFPGA > Genesis > Run > (name of game)

Notes from the developer:

  • No PAL.
  • No save states work.
  • If you get a strange graphical error, try to reload the ROM

PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 core

This is a MiSTer core that was ported to the Analogue Pocket by developer agg23, that will run TG-16/PCE games from the SD card. No BIOS files are required. Note that SuperGrafx and CD games are not supported yet, but are planned for a future release. For a detailed list of features and options, check out the developer’s GitHub page.

The easiest method to install this core (and the method recommended by the developer) is to use one of the auto-install tools mentioned above. If you’d like to install it manually, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

ROMs (in .pce format) should be placed in the /Assets/pce/common folder.

To launch the games, go to openFPGA > PC Engine > Run > (name of game)

Watara Supervision

This Supervision MiSTer core was first developed by Pierco and ported to the Analogue Pocket by OpenGateware/boogerman.

The easiest method to install this core (and the method recommended by the developer) is to use one of the auto-install tools mentioned above. If you’d like to install it manually, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

ROMs (in .sv format) should be placed in the /Assets/supervision/common folder.

To launch the games, go to openFPGA > Supervision > Run > (name of game)

Arcade cores

There are too many arcade cores to count at this point, but this website is doing an excellent job keeping up with them. The best way to install these cores is to use the auto-install tools mentioned above, which will not only install the cores, but the necessary files to run the games in the first place.

Neo Geo core

There is a working port of the Neo Geo core made by Furrtek. The port was made by developer Murray Aickin. Note that there are some limitations when using this core:

  • Only ONE SPECIFIC romset is supported, and it is called the “Darksoft” romset. You are on your own to find the appropriate archive of this pack. The ROM files will be in a folder format instead of in a traditional .zip file, and will be structured as follows:
    • 68K Asset: prom
    • Z80 Asset: m1rom
    • CROM Asset: crom0
    • SFIX Asset: srom
    • Voice Asset: vroma0
  • The core also requires three BIOS files in order to run. These files can be commonly found in neogeo.zip BIOS files; just unzip one of those files and extract them. Alternatively, using the auto-install tools above will install the core and BIOS files for you.
    • uni-bios_1_0.rom
    • 000-lo.lo
    • sfix.sfix
  • Save states (“Memories”) are not supported at this time.

To get started, use the Pocket Updater utilities featured above. For manual installation, download the latest core release from this page and unzip the file. Take the SD card from your Analogue Pocket and place it in your PC. If using Windows, place the unzipped files in the root directory of your SD card, and the files and subfolders will populate appropriately. If using a Mac on the latest MacOS, select the “merge” option so that you don’t overwrite files.

In the /assets/ng/common/ folder, place the uni-bios_1_0.rom, 000-lo.lo, and sfix.sfix BIOS files
In the /assets/ng/common/ folder, place the ROM files within a subfolder of their own. I recommend using the subfolders found within the Darksoft romset pack.

Note that as of Alpha 0.6.0, the Xeno Crisis Neo Geo ROM (Darksoft version) will work with the core, and has a pre-loaded json file as well. The subfolder within your common folder should be named “XenoCrisis”.

Note that some Neo Geo games will have audio or video glitching, or won’t play at all. You can press the Left Trigger to reset the core, which can sometimes fix glitching or crashing game launches.

Pocket files still work!

As demonstrated in my initial review video above, the Analogue Pocket can run .pocket files for the GB/GBC, which behave just like cartridge files. The advantage of these .pocket files is that they support display modes, so you can tweak the image to your preference. Other features, like sleep mode and save states (“Memories”) also work on the device.

To get started, check out the video above. Here are the links mentioned in the video:

RetroPatcher (for creating .pocket files)

To check the MD5 Checksum of a file, head over to this website and drop your ROM file inside. You can then compare it to the MD5 in the RetroPatcher website to see if your ROM file is compatible with the tool.

The Pocket Patches website also has a list of patched GB/GBC games and a list of working hacks.

Pokemon Prism patch file (in pinned post)
Official Pokemon Prism website (with patcher tool)

In order to create a Pokemon Prism ROM file you will need to download the patch file, and then add an original Pokemon Crystal (Rev 1) ROM + the patch file into the official patcher tool. It will output a ROM file that you can then use within RetroPatcher to run on the Analogue Pocket.

Finally, the Everdrive still works for GBA games, and will also allow you to use save states (“Memories”), but not sleep mode.

Everdrive GBA mini via Krikzz (out of stock as of video release)
Everdrive GBA mini via eBay (higher price but available)


Changelog

06NOV2022
– added Pokemon Mini core and updated some of the wording in the installation steps for most cores

19OCT2022
– added Arcade, Supervision, and PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 cores

10OCT2022
– added Spirtualized1997’s NES core

07OCT2022
– added note about Analogue Pocket Updater Utility now allowing you to choose cores

03OCT2022
– removed 4:3 adjustment instructions for SNES core since it’s now found within the Core Settings
– updated the auto-update section

28SEP2022
– separated GB and GBC core instructions

26SEP2022
– added NES core
– updated other sections
– added additional auto updater tool
– added Table of Contents

23SEP2022
– added Genesis core

16SEP2022
– added SNES core

17AUG2022
– updated Neo Geo section to reflect 0.6.0 process
– added link to PocketCore Auto Update tool

08AUG2022
– added Game Gear, Master System, SG-1000 cores

07AUG2022
– published guide

11 thoughts on “Analogue Pocket OpenFPGA Guide

  1. I wrote a script that checks for core updates, new cores, new firmware versions, etc. It will even download and extract any core updates that are available. Admittedly, I made this for myself and so it requires Node.js v16+ installed and a minimal amount of developer knowledge to use. https://gitlab.com/jgdigitaljedi/pocket-update-notifier

    That said, I have already started work on creating an Electron app so there can be a cross-platform desktop that will run on Linux, Mac, in Windows to make this idea more accessible to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello all! I am facing an issue with the auto updater. I have put it in the root folder, but when I launch it, I only get a few lines of text in Terminal and nothing is updated. I am using an old iMac on 10.11 El Cap and my Pocket is connected via USB-A to USB-C. I also turned off the security settings. I have these two files – besides the default Fw files – on the SD: Analogue_Pocket.json and pocket_updater. I have tried to install this updater in VM Windows 8.1, but it said it cannot be run on this OS. What am I doing wrong? Any help would be appreciated! Thank you all!

    Like

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