First Video Game Ever Available On Handheld

The oldest game in the world, Spacewar!, from 1962 has now been released on the Analogue Pocket. Here are all the details.

Spacewar Analogue Pocket
Just play Spacewar! on the go. | © Analogue / Wikipedia

The world's oldest video game is now available on a new handheld gaming device – and no, we don't mean the Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch. The developers have released the iconic 1962 game Spacewar! on the Analogue Pocket. This device is sort of a Game Boy that preserves the games of yesteryear, but it has one thing in common with the Steam Deck: you have to wait a very long time to get your hands on it... And it's pretty expensive for such a little thing....

What Is The Analogue Pocket?

The big feature of the Analogue Pocket is that the gaming handheld accepts game modules instead of relying on digital copies of games like many competitors. With the help of a specially developed FPGA chip, games are supposed to run exactly like on the respective original consoles. However, with an illuminated 3.5-inch LCD with a resolution of 1,600 x 1,440 pixels and a variable frame rate, retro games are supposed to look better than ever. The battery lasts between six and ten hours, depending on the game.

The big problem with the new handheld: You can only pre-order it, and you probably won't get your hands on it until 2023 at the earliest.

How Much Is The Analogue Pocket?

Unfortunately, the console is not exactly a bargain. You can pre-order the Analogue Pocket for $219.99. A docking station is offered for $99.99, adapters for Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, Atari Lynx and TurboGrafx 16 games are sold for $29.99 each. But the retro fans among you will surely want to grab it to relive their childhood memories. Feel free to check out Analogue's online store.

Spacewar!, The First Video Game Ever Released On Analogue Pocket

Speaking of nostalgia: Ever heard of the world's first video game?

In 1962, computer scientists at MIT, including Martin Graetz and Steve Russell, developed Spacewar! on their brand new DEC PDP-1 minicomputer. The game consisted of two spaceships orbiting a star. Each ship has a limited supply of torpedoes and fuel. The goal is to destroy the enemy or simply wait for them to make a mistake and crash into the star.

This computer cost $120,000, which is a lot of money for such a small pixel game. A little extra info for the tech geeks among you: The computer consisted of 2,700 transistors and 3,000 diodes and used a 1024 x 1024 CRT vector display. Only 53 copies were made, and on one of them the first program we know today as a video game was developed.

And now, decades later, we can play this game on the Analogue Pocket. Theoretically, at least. A third-party developer called Spacemen3 recreated Spacewar! for the Analogue Pocket, which was possible thanks to the OpenFPGA architecture. The game had a unique way of generating images on the PDP-1 vector display, which was a challenge to recreate on modern hardware, but the original source code for the game and the PDP-1 are publicly available.

If you're one of the lucky (or rather crazy) owners of an Analogue Pocket, you can grab the PDP-1 and Spacewar! openFGPA files from Github. After loading them onto the device's SD card, you should be able to relive the early days of video games from 1962 in the palm of your hand.

If you are into newer games, maybe check out Skull & Bones: