Atari will soon reenter the console business with a system that is much more than meets the eye.
The Atari VCS, previously known as the “Ataribox,” was revealed at the 2018 Game Developer Conference, and pre-order details will be made available in April. At the conference, Atari showed off the final design, meant to evoke memories of the classic Atari 2600, as well as its two controllers — one is a pretty stnadard gamepad complete with an Xbox-style layout, while the other looks almost identical to the 2600’s controller.
Despite Atari CEO Fred Chesnais saying that the company wouldn’t create another console, a teaser trailer surfaced in June during the E3 2017 gaming expo revealing the system At first, it looked to be a revamp of 1980’s classic Atari 2600 console akin to Nintendo’s miniature Classic Edition consoles. But Chesnais said Atari was back in the hardware business, and that the system would be based on PC technology. Naturally, that opened the doors to lots of speculation.
Weeks later, Atari sent an email blast to gamers who signed up for notifications via the Atari website. Despite speculation suggesting it was fake, given that the included images bore little resemblance to the previous trailer, it was immediately verified by the Ataribox page on Facebook, which posted the same images found in the email.
What will it look like?
The Atari VCS sports a fairly slim form factor, with wood paneling on the front similar to the classic 2600 system, as well as a series of deep grooves running along the plastic. A glowing Atari logo is visible on the front, as well, and at first glance, the system doesn’t really look like a game console.
Previously, images showed two external designs: one with a solid black shell save for a red illuminated panel on the back, and another resembling the classic Atari 2600 with a black chassis and a wood grain front — the wood is real, as well. Note that the black/red design sports a front-facing red illuminated Atari logo.
The front panel can actually be wood or glass, the company says, with four indicator lights glowing through the material.
What kind of hardware are we talking about?
According to the email blast, the Atari VCS will sport four USB ports, one HDMI port, and an SD card slot on the back. Given the Atari VCS is a crowd-funded project, that lineup could change before the product goes retail, especially the four USB ports located on the back. Consoles typically have ports for controllers on the front for better reach, and for added protection against reactive console spinning due to cord pulling.
In an email shared by Atari, the company shared that the system will use a custom AMD processor with Radeon Graphics, and it will sport a customizable user interface built on Linux. It will be a “full PC experience” capable of running streaming services, music, and social networks, as well.
What games will it play?
Atari hasn’t shared details on the specific games it plans to include in the Atari VCS, but said in the email that it will feature both classic Atari games as well as “current titles from a range of studios,” with information coming on partners in the near-future.
When will it be available?
Atari has not announced a release date for the VCS, but more information will likely come to light when the company begins taking pre-orders in April, 2018. The console will cost somewhere between $250 and $300, with multiple memory configurations available for those looking to load the device with additional games.
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