Remember how Atari was making a new console? Well, despite the coronavirus and a less than convincing PR campaign, that’s still going ahead. The Atari VCS is finally launching in late November.
The cost? Only a cheeky $US389.99.
Apparently still confident of making some sales in the same window that the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are launching, and the backdrop of the worst global recession since the Global Depression, the Atari VCS is launching in late November or mid-December, depending on whether you’re buying from Walmart, GameStop or Atari direct.
On the off chance that you could get the Atari VCS shipped direct to Australia, you’d still be paying a minimum of $557 plus whatever the shipping costs would be.
Having raised a few million through Indiegogo, and delayed by a year after swapping to a Ryzen-based dual-core APU, the box runs off a custom Linux kernel powered by an AMD Raven Ridge 2 APU. There’s 32GB of eMMC fixed storage, an internal M.2 SSD slot, 8GB RAM that can be upgraded, Ryzen Vega graphics, four USB 3.1 ports (two on the front and back), and USB and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard support.
The box supports Twitch streaming, Skype and Discord, in case you wanted those on your Atari console.
As for games, there’s “100 free Atari classic console and arcade games”, as well as the recently released Missile Command: Recharged. The Atari dashboard has access to Anstream Arcade, a subscription service that enables access to 2000 more classic retro games. More usefully, the PC Sandbox mode of the Atari VCS allows you to run games from your PC libraries, or even just to boot the console as a low-end desktop PC.
At that stage, I’d still argue a NUC might be better value than the Atari VCS. But those who grew up with the Atari and idolised its legendary game library might appreciate the versatility here. It certainly makes it a little bit clearer who the Atari VCS is actually for, which was one of the problems that plagued the console since its original release.
There’s no Australian stockists for the Atari VCS just yet, and there still isn’t a full list of the third-party games available on the console. Atari announced that developers like Nvizzio (the recent Rollercoaster Tycoon remakes), Petroglyph (Grey Goo, Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection) and Eden Games (Gear.Club Unlimited, Test Drive Unlimited 2, F1 Mobile Racing) were supporting the console, but that’s not exactly a tantalising offering. There’s also the potential for game streaming, but given my experiences streaming games in optimal local network conditions through TVs, Steam Link and the Nvidia Shield, I wouldn’t be buying a console based off that.
You can find more on the Atari VCS on the official website.