With a nod to its aging and nostalgic fans, Atari this week revealed that its Ataribox video game console will deliver classic games, like the NES Classic. Plus some new games. For some reason.
Atari’s revelations about this new console have been painfully sporadic, and the firm—OK, really just some company that controls the brand—still isn’t being all that forthcoming. But in the wake of an E3-timed teaser, Atari has finally shown off some images of the coming console. And provided a bit of information.
“Our objective is to create a new product that stays true to our heritage while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari,” a Atari email newsletter (obtained via Kotaku) reads. “Inspired by classic Atari design elements (such as the iconic use of wood, ribbed lines, and raised back); we are creating a smooth design, with ribs that flow seamlessly all around the body of the product, a front panel that can be either wood or glass, a front facing logo, indicator lights that glow through the material, and an array of new ports (HDMI, 4xUSB, SD). We intend to release two editions: a wood edition, and a black/red edition.”
“As you can guess, those ports suggest modern internal specs,” the newsletter continues. “It also means that while we will be delivering classic gaming content, we will also be delivering current gaming content.”
“We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, features, pricing, timing etc. We’re not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we’ve opted to share things step by step as we bring Ataribox to life, and to listen closely to Atari community feedback as we do so. There are a lot of milestones, challenges and decision points in front of us in the months ahead. We’ll be giving you lots more information and status updates as we progress, and we are thrilled to have you along for the ride!”
I have a theory about nostalgia and how it could help many older businesses. For example, I think McDonalds could see great success by remodeling its restaurants to look as they did in the 1960’s, and could see even greater success by switching the menu back to its 1980’s heyday, and just sell the classics. After decades of updates, it’s a busy place with too many choices. It’s no longer true to its identity.
And on that note, Atari, like Nintendo before it, will likely see some measure of success with this retro console. Though I doubt there’s room in the market for a “new” console from another company, as Sega, NEC, and, yes, Atari have discovered over the years. But we’ll see what happens. I’m curious because of some tech-goon gene, I guess.
<blockquote><a href="#146829"><em>In reply to LocalPCGuy:</em></a></blockquote><p>You would basically have a In-and-Out but with lower quality product. Still I think they should do it.</p>
<p>It will run some form of Linux/Android and emulation. They will probably upscale those games to 1080p since there is an HDMI port on the back but they may look horrible up-scaled without some graphics enhancements but if you do the enhancements then you are not retro. </p><p><br></p><p>Maybe that is where the "new game" stuff comes in. Play the old stuff in low res 4:3 retro and the new stuff, Android games, at high res. Old stuff burned in ROM, new stuff downloaded over the Ethernet port you see.</p><p><br></p>
<p>"Full Retro" would require that the device allows you to plug in 2600 game cartridges. Talking more about the box than the capabilities isn't a good sign. Kind of funny to think about how much more hardware and software it's going to take to emulate the original hardware from the 1970s. Just a reminder – there was no software in the original 2600 at all.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#146884"><em>In reply to Pbike908:</em></a></blockquote><p>I don't know about Nintendo, but Atari games can be emulated on Windows (and Linux) as long as someone has "sucked up" the code from the cartridges and placed it in the proper form. Most games are available. stella-emu.github.io/downloads.html</p>
<blockquote><a href="#149712"><em>In reply to JG1170:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes, a lot of ways to say it although technically it's more of an upload since we downloaded the bytes to the ROM when we originally programmed it. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#146927"><em>In reply to brduffy:</em></a></blockquote><p>While you could produce new improved versions of these legacy games, it would be nearly impossible to do so without starting from scratch. 2600 games were written in 6507 assembly (6502) and were very much tied to the low level characteristics of standard TVs of the 1970s. Your game was responsible for vertical blanking, for example. In addition, many games relied on a fixed relationship between the timing of the "beam" and the timing of the software. See </p><p>www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/2600/atari_case_history.html</p><p><br></p><p>For the beautiful/ugly details. I only wish my archaic knowledge and experience of programming this system had some value to the marketplace :) </p>
<blockquote><a href="#147408"><em>In reply to brduffy:</em></a></blockquote><p>Thanks, I'll check it out.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#147411"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>The links are just mailto's. It's not clear if clicking on them has an effect.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#147300"><em>In reply to alissa914g:</em></a></blockquote><p>In some cases you'd have to bring those original guys back from the dead. One benefit of the sale to Time Warner was the departure of the original Atari 2600 software team to form Activision. Among other things, Activison pioneered the concept of giving credit to game designers, something that was nearly unheard of in the early days of video games. It eventually forced other companies to do the same and eventually it became an industry standard practice.</p>