The new PocketMan P1 handheld concept by Twig Studio shows us what a our metal shell vertical dream console could look like.
If you’ve been a reader of Retro Dodo for a while, then surely you know how passionate I am about vertical handhelds and metal shells.
And while we have had several metal shell vertical emulators come out since that time, none quite lived up to my dream.
I wouldn’t consider the PocketMan a perfect game console either. But the sophisticated design sense of Twig Studio has resulted in something extremely beautiful.
And it offers an opportunity for us to imagine the possibilities to see where the concept fails and succeeds.
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The PocketMan P1 is a practice in industrial design by a small design studio in Poland led by Grzegorz Rozwadowski. So don’t get your hopes up in seeing this handheld come to reality anytime soon, if ever.
But if we take a close look at the details, we can start to get a sense of how familiar they are with existing handhelds.
There are some obvious signs that point to experience with what exists on the market today. And other details deviate from what is familiar and popular, which could be from lack of extensive knowledge of handhelds.
PocketMan P1 Details
The most exciting feature for the PocketMan P1 is the solid aluminum metal alloy shell. This thing looks like an absolute tank.
Not only is the shell made of metal, but so are a lot of the buttons. And this detail is something I’d need to feel in my hands to know if I like it or not.
Of course, it does make the whole device look cohesive and as premium as possible. But I would be willing to bet that metal buttons would not feel as good as plastic ones for serious game play.
The design choice that would get the most negative response from handheld enthusiasts would be the shape of the D-pad. This D-pad is quite similar to the one used on the new AYANEO Kun.
I would vote strongly for a standard Game Boy Color style (+) D-pad if this were a real device going into production.
And I have made my opinions known that I believe a handheld intended for retro games should use either one or zero joysticks.
So again – If I had a vote in this hypothetical scenario, I’d tell them lose the sticks all together.
An A For Aesthetic
Looking at the finer details of the product design, this thing absolutely nails the premium and minimal aesthetic.
I love the use of hex bolts on the front of the handheld. And the bezel-free display design looks incredible.
That display appears to be a standard 4×3 3.5inch IPS display, like we’ve seen on a ton of the best handhelds in the past 2-3 years.
Both the screen and the use of dual analogue sticks suggest that this device would be best suited for 8-64 bit games.
Stuff like Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, SNES, NES, Sega Genesis, N64, Playstation 1. And those are all of my favorite consoles to play on a small vertical emulator.
Obviously, we are doing an evaluation on a device that does not and will not ever exist in real life. But it is fun to imagine the possibilities.
And it also allows us to assess where the handheld scene is currently, and where we would like to see it go in the near future.
I wrote the article ‘What Is The Future of Handhelds?‘ where I did a similar breakdown of the state of handheld emulation devices. And in that article, I concluded that the scene needs something very different to create some excitement.
The PocketMan P1 concept doesn’t offer anything entirely different. But it does represent one man’s idea of what could be a perfect 3×4 vertical retro emulation handheld.
It kind of goes without saying that if this were a real product released in 2023, I’d be all over it.
The Anbernic RG351V is still my number one favorite emulator, and the only way it could be better is if it were metal.
I do not need more power, I do not need more analogue sticks. Just give me the exact form and capabilities of the RG351V in a metal shell, and I will die happy.
With that being my personal handheld dream, I absolutely love the PocketMan P1’s aesthetic choices and it reinforces my hopes of a similar device coming to reality one day.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.