Some of us are old enough to remember the Atari 2600 in its earliest years. That heartbreaking sound of the joystick’s innards cracking during a particularly heated gaming session never leaves you.
It’s been a long time coming, but fans can now pre-order the restyled version of the classic console, which in some bundles comes with a near-identical joystick that we sincerely hope has been reinforced to prevent easy breakages. A modern controller is also available.
Early-bird backers can order the new Atari VCS console via Indiegogo. There are actually two styles available — a “collector’s edition” with a wood-front finish for $299 (joystick included), and the all-black Onyx edition for $199 (no joystick or controller included). There are a range of bundles available — Digital Trends has details on the various offers.
The New York-based company says it’s currently aiming to ship the product in the spring of 2019, so there’s still a bit of a wait ahead before you can try your hand at the more than 100 classic Atari games pre-loaded onto the machine, among them Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Star Raiders, Yar’s Revenge, and, of course, Pong. You’ll also find reimagined versions of its classic offerings, plus new games from Atari as well as independent developers.
The team behind the new Atari VCS console says it’s working on incorporating game-casting features for platforms like Twitch, as well as online chat capabilities so gamers can converse with friends while they play. Online multiplayer functionality will be available for some games from the start.
Players will be able to perform some of the console’s functions via voice control, and the machine’s Linux operating system will apparently allow you to customize the platform in various ways.
Of course, as with any crowdfunding campaign, the usual caveats apply. But with Atari’s recognized name, and the company receiving nearly 20 times more in funding than it originally asked for (almost $2 million so far with a month to go), we’d like to think this is a product that’s actually going to land.
One word of caution, however. Atari says the spring 2019 shipping date is “subject to change,” though it promises to keep everyone up to date on its progress.
Originally launched as the Atari Video Computer System in 1977 before rebranding as the Atari 2600 five years later, the cartridge-based console was a huge hit around the world with the first generation of video gamers. The company is hoping that nostalgia will be enough to drive sales of its restyled consoles, with its extra features for customization and online compatibility enough to generate interest among younger gaming fans.