Thoughts on the Ataribox

The Atari we know today is certainly not the Atari some of us remember back in the days of Pong, Combat and Star Raiders but it looks like they are trying to evoke memories from that era with a new bit of hardware they have been recently drip feeding information for.

Meet the Ataribox.

Using the not so original name of Ataribox, the two designs revealed look like modern spins on the early Atari VCS/2600 “Woody” and “Vader” designs but way more compact, judging from the ports on the rear of the machines. With four USB ports (maybe controllers – there’s four lights on the front that could be indicators), HDMI, Ethernet, SD card, maybe an IR Blaster too. The Atari Flashback machines were meant to remind people of the old days in their designs but they also looked more like toys than real consoles – these do look more like items you’d be happy to keep sitting next to your television.

Hardware-wise it could be anything from a Raspberry Pi upwards inside them as nothing more has been revealed at this stage. No mention of software either – especially in relation to Atari’s back catalogue. It is hinted in the announcement posted on Kotaku’s site that both classic and new content will be provided. The look of the machines beg for 2600 games to be on it so it’s got to be accepted as happening.

Checking out the front and rear of the “Vader” variant of the Ataribox.

I’d be keen to see them try to reintroduce games from the 5200, 7800 and computer platforms too. I suppose with decent spec hardware bundled with even better emulators, you could finally see decent Lynx and Jaguar emulation too and have a machine that runs the full gamut of Atari’s hardware history. The Atari 8bit computer version of Star Raiders was a great version of the game and if you could plug a USB keyboard into this thing you’d be ready to go. Throw in mouse support and we could see ST games like Dungeon Master make a comeback.

Admittedly I have some those games already and can also play them on the real hardware but it’d still be neat to have them all playable from the one system. Especially for those platforms that were much harder to find here. There’s a lot of enthusiast made products already out there that show it is entirely possible to make this work (see RetroPie for starters) and if Nintendo aren’t willing to commit to their legacy platforms in this fashion it certainly opens up an big opportunity for Atari to do so.

With the SNES Classic likely to sell big before the end of the year then disappear much like its predecessor, it could be a good time for Atari to bring their own premium retro console into the mix. If they are willing to support it for the long term like the Flashbacks it could be a good alternative for retro gamers looking for something versatile with potentially a large library of games.

The site can be viewed here but doesn’t have much apart from the above video. I suppose we will see more in the coming weeks and months including a proper hardware spec.

Categories: Gaming, Opinion, Technology

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