Atari Goes Full Retro with New Console

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 41 Comments

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.

 

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Comments (42)

42 responses to “Atari Goes Full Retro with New Console”

  1. jasonbuck75

    My guess is it's another Android game console, with classic game emulation thrown in. I'm not a gamer, but I definitely want to know more.

  2. bbold

    Omg! I love it! I'm a retro game fan.. I still have my original Atari 7800 and about 150 games, as well as an Atari 2600 and clones. Can't wait to buy this! And yes, I'll be buying BOTH editions :D Thanks for the heads up, Paul!

  3. Lauren Glenn

    Atari only really had one good console, the 2600, and they really know it. I'm just glad it's not another high end console because the market seems to have too many as it is. If Nintendo didn't make Switch a portable, I bet it probably wouldn't be as successful as it is since the graphics are a bit underpowered compared to PS4 and XBOX One..... So they have a niche market of their own.


    But I have to admit I'm a bit disappointed in this reveal. It would be nice to have Atari back but Atari really hasn't been much of anything since they sold Atari off to Time Warner anyway. Bring those original guys back and have a new machine then maybe you'll get some interest from many of us.

    • skane2600

      In reply to alissa914g:

      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.

  4. Wolf

    Does it come with a walker and a cane?

  5. Minok

    What will make or break this (if its not 1400XLD style vaporware), is the controllers.


    To play Atari games you need to have the right controllers, nay, joysticks. Those games cannot be played well with modern full range sticks or dpad controllers. A binary stick is key. One that hurts the hell out of your palm and thumb can be a nostalgia bonus.

    • tbtalbot

      In reply to Minok:

      I so wanted a 1450XLD. Got an 800XL then a 130XE instead.

      • Minok

        In reply to tbtalbot:

        Yeah, I too wanted that 1450XLD sooo bad. Had an 800 and the 410 tape drive.. and was just ooo-ahhhh over the brochures and lit for the 1450XLD... had to eventually settle and just buy a 1050 drive.


        Funnily enough I'm in the middle of a closet remodel in my hobby room - converting a closet into a retro-tech closet where a tv or two will allow the fully set up Atari / Commodore computer systems and the Atari Pong and 2600 / Mattel Intellivision gaming systems to see usage again. Tough there won't be a phone handset to put on the Atari 830 acoustic modem... though I might find one just to place there for the fun of it.. with rotary dial of course.

  6. Uncommontater

    If they can time the release of this retro console to coincide with the release of Spielberg's adaptation of "Ready Player One", then this will be a huge success. I anticipate that that movie is going to pique a lot of people's interest in 1980's Atari games.

  7. GotCobol

    I hope it emulates Atari 8-bit computer so I can play M.U.L.E without an emulator or rewrite on a pc as it was intended

  8. zybch

    "We're not teasing you intentionally"

    Ah hahaha

  9. ErichK

    Just on looks alone I'm almost sold on this ... thing is, I don't know how many video game consoles I really need. I've got my gaming PC, an Xbone, an OUYA, and a Razer Forge. Plus I just bought The Atari Vault on Steam that comes with dozens of old classic titles. But I guess that's the point ... too much is not enough!

  10. ssg1492

    I can't wait till this unit comes out Atari has the best games

  11. brduffy

    Atari 2600 was my second video game console. Before that I had one that just played derivations of pong. My hope for this console would be to have updated versions of the old games. I want the same play experience with updated graphics for hd widescreen. I never got on board with the high end gaming systems. The game play is just so complex with way too many buttons and actions to be concerned with. Give me a game like Rip-Off or Defender or Missile Command with improved graphics.

    • skane2600

      In reply to brduffy:

      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

      www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/2600/atari_case_history.html


      For the beautiful/ugly details. I only wish my archaic knowledge and experience of programming this system had some value to the marketplace :) 

  12. LocalPCGuy

    I certainly agree about McDonalds. They should go back to their original basic menu and eliminate all super sized portions. If only they'd still charge 15 cents for a burger.

    • Stooks

      In reply to LocalPCGuy:

      You would basically have a In-and-Out but with lower quality product. Still I think they should do it.

    • Waethorn

      In reply to LocalPCGuy:

      The original Canadian Angus burger was the bomb. It's what started McDonald's down the road to refreshing their look. It started at the Whitby store. They made it a more contemporary restaurant with a fireplace and stone interior. They've since changed a bit to a more modern IKEA-ish look and feel to the interior, but I certainly don't want to go back to the old red and yellow plastic bench seats.


      This is the original Angus burger as it debuted in Canada:



      Nice toasted ciabatta bun, REAL (not processed/"American") cheddar, and big beef patty.


      It's since changed quite a bit, no thanks to the US division influencing the Canadian division and turning into another "third-pounder" heart attack monstrosity, and going back to processed junk. They're still better than any of the original burger options, because all of the original burgers are crap by comparison. McDonald's Canada uses all Canadian beef (mostly from Alberta), eggs and chicken products, and produce comes from local farms. They don't outsource very many products from the US. I wish the Canadian division had more autonomy though. Too often, they lump the US and Canadian divisions together and market for the American audience. We Canucks have different tastes. We're not easily suckered into the "gutbuster greaseburger" marketing that you often employ.

  13. wright_is

    McDonald's (and other chains) could also increase the size of their burgers back up to the original sizes as well.


    BK seem to be the worst offender, here in Germany. In the past, a Double Whopper needed two hands to hold it and was a real meal, today it fits in the palm of one hand and can be eaten in 2 bites...

  14. creugea7

    By the looks of it with the ports on back, I would guess this is some form of the Nvidia Shield platform. Just a guess though.

  15. Patrick3D

    I will be shocked if this is anything more than a souped up Android box. Given the size of the machine which can be estimated based on the size of the Ethernet port, as well as the lack of ventilation, there is no way this has high-end PC internals. Expect nvidia Shield performance. Which won't be a bad thing for people that like the Android platform, let's just hope Atari doesn't over price this thing.

  16. Chaoticwhizz

    I'm kind of curious about this as my first console was an Atari 7800 Prosystem. It sounds like this system won't come out until next year sometime. Maybe Christmas? Even then they will have a lot to compete with.

  17. Stooks

    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.


    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.


  18. Waethorn

    They're going full....something, releasing a console at this point in time.

  19. Narg

    Why don't they up the power of this little guy just a bit. Powerful chips these days are cheap. As well as older games, make some new ones too. Nothing too fancy. Also allow apps and such. Keep it sub $200 and I bet it would sell out at Amazon and Walmart this Christmas.

  20. skane2600

    "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.

  21. Pbike908

    Yeah, I agree with Paul that I can't see another high end game platform being successful at this time. A game platform running classic Atari and Nintendo games could have some moderate success due to nostalgia. But I believe it's already possible to run classic Atari and Nintendo games on a Windows PC, but I haven't researched it or tried it nor am I inclined to do so.

  22. Jorge Garcia

    This thing has a very high probability of being a complete failure, but it does bring to light something that I think MS should be making YESTERDAY and that is a line of "dual-OS" (Both Windows, actually) PC's that are "X-Box certified" and can act as either one at the flick of a switch. This is long overdue IMO. I refuse to buy an X-Box because it is too much like a PC now, and there seems to be almost no benefit to switching over. Further, consoles are no longer pick-up-and-play so why even bother? Buuuuut, if I could pay extra and get a PC that could in fact boot straight into "X-Box mode", now THAT would have my attention. Currently, I will not let my nephew anywhere near my PC to play my games, but if he could use a password and a physical switch to pay in "X-Box" mode, I'd feel comfortable letting him play my PC games.


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