back to article The Atari retro games box is real… sort of

Atari has continued its teaser-trailer approach to what is purported to be a retro version of its classic games console. The company, which currently exists as an intellectual property firm with just 10 or so employees, has released some pictures of the new Ataribox – but refused to provide any other details, including a …

  1. bombastic bob Silver badge
    WTF?

    PC technology?

    when they say PC technology, do they mean:

    a) it uses an x86 architecture and emulates the original (like xmame, for example)

    b) it's based on some version of windows (not Win-10-nic, not Win-10-nic, please NOT WIN-10-NIC!)

    c) it's got a custom ARM core that also natively runs the 2600 code (and maybe runs Linux or an RTOS like an RPi ???)

    etc.

    [and if I saw a 2D FLATSO interface like Win-10-nic, even if it's just to select a ROM image from a list, I'd be nauseated]

    1. Justin Pasher

      Re: PC technology?

      That's what I see in my mind. A redesign of the original housing with a RPi inside. Done.

      You've got HDMI, four USB, and it runs an emulator. The original Atari 2600 hardware is so old, computers from 20 years ago could emulate the games at full speed with no problem.

      1. OliP

        Re: PC technology?

        yep - this is the only option that makes any sense.

        what build goes on the thing though, do they have sufficient tech expertise to put something together that works and doesn't completely suck.

        3 months? good luck.

        surely it should already be in manufacture?

        1. Sampler

          Re: PC technology?

          A raspberry Pi has an hdmi and four usb ports (for the B versions since the plus) so could easily be a Pi in a shiny box - which would also allow them to hit the deadline, as all the work is done in the design end.

          I'd be keen on a steam machine that looked like that (the pc technology bit got me hopeful) but it's doubtful they'd go that route.

    2. Chemical Bob

      Re: PC technology?

      Clearly they mean Politically Correct technology. Why they want to appeal to SJWs is beyond me...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are they not a bit late to the party?

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Atari-Flashback-Console-UK-Plug/dp/B01KV6E6Z2/ref=pd_cp_63_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=QWVWEBP0T482A2J42JN0

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That console is made by AtGames, under licence from Atari since around 2011. I am sure the new Atari is getting this money, since they own the brand, but you can never know for sure...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Atari Flashback 2 can even be modded to have a cartridge slot, allowing you to play original 2600 games on it. And the joysticks are 100% compatible with the originals, so you can break out your old kit and start playing, or use the new joysticks on old equipment (like what I'm doing with my VIC-20).

      Highly unlikely that there will be that level of customization in this, though.

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Sweet memories ... but as Thomas Wolfe said: You Can't Go Home Again.

    1. Lotaresco Silver badge

      "as Thomas Wolfe said: You Can't Go Home Again."

      Presses Home button.

      Goes Home.

      Invokes App.

      Presses Home button.

      Goes Home.

      Thomas Wolfe was wrong.

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Hopefully it'll include a more ergonomic joystick - theirs killed your hand after a few hours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Atari joystick is part of the original experience, or so I assume it would be claimed. I get the impression it's not a great joystick by later standards (even those that used it seem to complain about the construction) but it's certainly iconic.

      Personally, I wasn't impressed the very few times I used one. Then again, I wasn't used to it- my Atari 800XL didn't come with a joystick when I bought it, so the first (and main) joystick I had was a Quickshot II Turbo. To me, that's the joystick *I'd* want.

      OTOH, someone else wrote to Atari User complaining that it felt like a shovel after they'd got used to the Atari stick (IIRC). I'm not sure any new stick would be an exact replica internally, though, possibly just one that resembles it cosmetically for nostalgia purposes.

  5. I Like Heckling

    Can't quite see the actualy size of the thing from the pics, but I had a thought... It could be about the size of the nVidia Shield TV box and if they could put something like that inside with a sensible amount of ram and room to add storage.. Would their games run emulated on an android based platform. If they used something like the K1 rather than the X1 or upcoming P1 it would keep costs down.

    Bundle it with a load of the old classics from the 80's and 90's and setup a portal to buy other games for around £1 each.

    Could be a money spinner... it all depends on the initial cost of the device itself... £60-100 could be good window to slot it into. Anything more and it will put people off completely, as much as I have a fondness for my old original 2600... I had no hesitation in selling it to put the money towards getting a Commodore 64 as my xmas prezzie when they came out.

    and let's be honest... some of the games were so basic that nostalgia will soon resort to boredom... So get it to emulate ST games too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem is that all the 2600 games were shite. I love my retro gaming and have spent plenty of times playing old games on various consoles. I'll admit I never had a 2600 so the nostalgia is limited to playing them in toy shops and wanting one. The likes of the c64 and speccy had some great games and there are some classics amongst the crap on mame, but the 2600 and its successors were bollocks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "So get it to emulate ST games too."

      ...until you realise there's a reason that the once raved about Xenon 2 fell from grace in later years; namely, that now the graphics and sound are no longer state-of-the-art, the design flaws of the original game itself are more obvious.

      Anyway, the ST was a product of the value-focused Tramiel era, and a very different "Atari" from the one that designed the VCS. The former was more of a success in Europe, the latter enjoyed its greatest success in the US, so I'm not sure how much nostalgia overlap there is.

  6. Rerednaw

    Interesting...but in 3 weeks?

    Unless Atari has already have everything set in terms of components, os, supply chain, manufacturing, 3 weeks is an extremely unlikely time frame to product anything other than a mock-up.

    On the other hand, I still have my vintage 2600 (and it still works on my old telly) so I'd be first in line for the holidays if this was produced. :)

  7. Herby

    So xmame for RPi

    Put inside the box and call it a day. Might even work on a Pi zero.

    HDMI output and Joysticks and buttons in.

    Most of the work has been done to some extent.

  8. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    Is there really a big demand for this? I don't think Atari has a lot of nostalgia left to support this.

    As for timeline, it doesn't take too long to fabricate a case for a stock circuit board, load it up with ROMs, Linux and a 2600 emulator. I could knock out a "working prototype" of this product myself in a day. A Raspberry Pi could do it easily and they're cheap as chips.

    My cyncism for defunct brands revived by marketers apparently knows no bounds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I don't think Atari has a lot of nostalgia left to support this."

      I've said something very similar elsewhere. Atari's late 70s / early 80s "golden age" IP has been relentlessly exploited, rehashed and resold for nostalgia-oriented purposes since Hasbro bought the brand 20 years ago. We've had endless rereleases of those same games in numerous formats, and there must be a limit to how often people want to have the same part of their childhood sold back to them.

      From my point of view, this is just starting to induce deja vu, an apathetic "oh no, yet another attempt to exploit the IP/nostalgia with 'Flashback Mk II/III/IV/V/whatever by Infogrames masquerading as the same "Atari" that produced the originals".

      It's also been observed that most of those people have probably indulged that nostalgia to death and are moving on as they grow older anyway. The new nostalgia wave appears to be more late 80s and 90s related.

      (And yes, three quarters of the 1990s are now over 20 years ago now. There are people calling the film "Independence Day" a classic and getting nostalgic about it, FFS. Then you realise most of these people are now twentysomethings who saw it in their childhood 20 years ago and still remember it through those eyes- not as the f****** bloated, cornball, stupid, effects-reliant America ra-ra-ra jingoistic toss that it quite obviously always was if you first saw it as an adult).

  9. Michael Strorm

    Just 10 employees....?

    "The company, which currently exists as an intellectual property firm with just 10 or so employees"

    Hasn't the "Atari" name essentially been used for the whole of (what was once) Infogrames since they first bought it around fifteen years ago? Or are you talking solely about the nostalgia IP exploiting division?

    Also, I note that at least Nintendo have come clean about the fact that the NES Classic was primarily "an opportunity to draw consumers' attention to our latest game system, Nintendo Switch", confirming my suspicion that the lack of availability was due to it being a cynical headline-grabbing, nostalgia-building exercise aimed at people Nintendo would rather forked out for their latest gimmick-laden console than were able to buy the carrot that had been dangled in front of them.

    I mean, I didn't give a toss about the original NES personally- and by extension, the NES Classic- but I know a lot of people did, and complained about the fact it wasn't available, then it was discontinued. As a result, there was already some scepticism about the announced SNES Classic, and I hope people will tell Nintendo where to shove their second attempt to exploit people's nostalgia.

  10. Stese

    The search for meaning...

    WIN-10-NIC - what does this mean?

  11. andy gibson

    Atari 2600: the original and still the best?

    Except your pic doesn't show the original.

    This is the original, with difficulty switches on the front:

    https://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/egamia/images/7/7c/Atari2600sixSwitch.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20081220220526

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: Atari 2600: the original and still the best?

      I came here to make that point about "original", but you beat me. Thanks for the image.

      Anyway, on the "attraction of nostalgia" front, when burglars took my television, back about 1982, they took the time to unhook the (heavy sixer) VCS and leave it behind.

      They also left me the VT-100, so maybe just no taste for nerd-gear.

  12. Swarthy

    Nintendo Comments in the Article

    If I read TFA correctly, they should have named the Nintendo Classic Mini the "Bait" so then they would have had the Bait and Switch.

  13. John Styles

    Tastes may vary but I thought this book on the Atari 2600 'Racing the beam' was very good https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/racing-beam

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mini nintendo

    Made in limited numbers and purchase by scumbags who are trying to make an extra 70 quid out of you on amazon. I wonder if the same thing will happen with this retro console

  15. itzman

    Nice bit of solid modelling...

    Bet they didn't do that on an Atari...

    They certainly didn't do in in real life materials....

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