back to article Insert coin: Atari retro console is coming back

Atari confirmed on Friday that the reborn biz will indeed produce its own games console, understood to be built out of PC tech. Earlier this month, a vague video emerged on Youtube showing what looks like the top of an old Atari console complete with wood paneling. That now appears to have been part of the company's ongoing …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Let's hope they don't bundle Kodi with it to make it a media box !!!

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Kodi

      Be better than the garbage Android TV that Sony inflicts on TV owners now instead of their own better SW. I could fill a page with what is wrong with Android TV, short version, apart from privacy the fonts assume desktop use or bigger than 72", it also assumes you don't care about organising 2500 satellite channels (Diseq 4 way) and that Android apps are more important than TV. I bought it to have a TV! I have a phone, tablet, laptop etc.

      Why shouldn't it do media too? More sense on a games console than a TV set.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Kodi

        You should have opted for a dumb (Lee's Snoopy TV, and got the Android Media Player a.k.a, the nVIDIA Shield TV instead. I love this Device dear, though it is a bit pricey.

  2. Mage Silver badge

    cut-price Apple-style effort

    It doesn't look like a pippin to me (which curiously ran Mac OS, note version 9 and earlier are almost unrelated to Mac OS X*, later OS X then Mac OS. It made the Newton look really successful. The Newton could have be a success if they hadn't hyped the handwriting recognition so much. Maybe needed a bit of a tweek, but it and Archimedes did help launch the ARM CPU.

    [Curiously Apple then stuck on 10, presumably liking the X, which came out the same year as Windows XP, really NT 5.1 Windows 2000 was NT 5.0, Server 2003 was NT 5.2 and Vista / Win7 are NT 6.x family. Perhaps that's what MS means when they claim Windows 10 will be the last Windows]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: cut-price Apple-style effort

      "[the Apple Newton] and [Acorn] Archimedes did help launch the ARM CPU"

      Historical note: the ARM CPU (Acorn RISC Machine in original guise) was designed by Acorn to power the firm's Archimedes PC, which came out in 1987 - the first ARM silicon was delivered by VLSI Technology to Acorn in 1985. Apple got interested and involved, Advanced RISC Machines Ltd was created in 1990 to carry on the CPU project, that firm transmuted into ARM Ltd (owned by ARM Holdings plc), and Apple used an ARM CPU in the Newton which apparently first shipped in 1993.

      Arguably, DEC had as much influence as Apple in introducing the ARM CPU architecture to the world by licensing the architecture and developing the StrongARM range of CPUs - sold to Intel in 1997, and used to replace Intel's rather elderly home-grown CPU architecture. This led to Intel's XScale architecture, which I suspect has had somewhat more influence than Apple's Newton PDA.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: cut-price Apple-style effort

        Intel then sold the StrongARM line to Marvell. Some Marvell SATA chips have ARM cores.

        DEC also developed the MS NT Cluster inspired by VAX cluster.

        First 64bit NT was for the 64 bit Alpha.

        Shame that DEC are gone.

  3. Irongut

    I still have my 2600, which is in fully working order, and some games. I bring it out of the cupboard every couple of years for a fun gaming session. If they bundle a bunch of games I don't have with it I could be interested in some kind of retro Atari console.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But why?

      Put your mobile phone into a wood-panelled box that survived the Cold War, put on some disco music, and go!

  4. Absent

    It would be more in keeping with Atari business decisions if they inexplicably relaunched the Atari Video Music.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can not think of a single Atari game worth revisiting - especially from my 2600 days. They were all utter bollocks compared to even the shifting games on your phone.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge
      Coat

      Er, hello! ET?

    2. Amorous Cowherder
      Unhappy

      Sadly you're right

      I found that a lot of my memories of early 80's gaming on 2600, Dragon32 and Amstrad CPC were so heavily rose-tinted, I tried out a few old games on emulators and it was nice to go back and remember them but they were like visiting an old relative you used to have so much fun with. Only now there they are staring out of the window of the nursing home. Your memories are still strong but seeing them so old, frail and aged so ungracefully, you just pay your respects and leave quietly as they're simply not the same fun person you remember them to be. Leave them in the past, along with your happy memories and move on.

      1. regadpellagru

        Re: Sadly you're right

        "Leave them in the past, along with your happy memories and move on."

        I'm on the same page. Even though some games genres disappeared entirely (not entirely true as kickstarter revived some), the look and music feels very old now.

        And there are such current immensely good games that it's pointless to loose on those for so old games ...

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Sadly you're right

          I honestly can't think of any "immensely good games" in recent gaming history, and frankly even a nursing home sounds like a hot spring spa resort compared to "modern gems" like Call of Duty MDCLXXIV...

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: Sadly you're right

            @DropBear

            Allow me to help you. The last thee years have given us Watch Dogs 2 and Saints row 4 if you're into stupid but fun. On the lines of more serious games we have The last of us and Spec ops: the line. The indy scene is going from strength to strength with amazing stuff like The Sexy Brutale and Undertale. Even Doom made a resurgence into the PC shooter we've been waiting for since the turn of the century.

            Gaming is doing just fine, thanks.

            1. regadpellagru

              Re: Sadly you're right

              "Allow me to help you. The last thee years have given us Watch Dogs 2 and Saints row 4 if you're into stupid but fun. On the lines of more serious games we have The last of us and Spec ops: the line. The indy scene is going from strength to strength with amazing stuff like The Sexy Brutale and Undertale. Even Doom made a resurgence into the PC shooter we've been waiting for since the turn of the century.

              Gaming is doing just fine, thanks."

              Yep, and depending on taste, there are many others like, Stellaris, Hitman (burnt so many hours in it, and I'm not even done), Tales from the Borderlands, Prey etc ...

              I think this is the golden age of video gaming ...

              1. DropBear Silver badge

                Re: Sadly you're right

                I appreciate the suggestions, but I suppose this is highly subjective. I have the entire Saints Row series on backlog, so there might be something I didn't know about - otherwise, FPS games are not really my thing, multiplayer ones even less so (so thanks but no WoW / EVE / Minecraft / Overwatch for me); I saw Undertale back when it was still a demo and it really, really didn't work for me so I left it at that; and while "Borderlands" is also in my backlog I did play "The Wolf Among Us" and had to conclude that "story-on-rails laced with quick-time events" is a seriously shitty format compared to a proper point-and-click (please, do not mention the Bearded Guy of LucasArts fame or I'll still be cursing this time tomorrow). So I kinda stand by my original opinion...

                PS. Okay, I yield - you might have a point with Thimbleweed Park... it's just.. uh... also on backlog so I forgot about it *hangs head in shame*

      2. TheWeenie

        Re: Sadly you're right

        I found that a lot of my memories of early 80's gaming on 2600, Dragon32 and Amstrad CPC were so heavily rose-tinted, I tried out a few old games on emulators and it was nice to go back and remember them but they were like visiting an old relative you used to have so much fun with. Only now there they are staring out of the window of the nursing home. Your memories are still strong but seeing them so old, frail and aged so ungracefully, you just pay your respects and leave quietly as they're simply not the same fun person you remember them to be. Leave them in the past, along with your happy memories and move on.

        Beautifully put.

    3. Tachikoma
      Unhappy

      I dug out my Sega Saturn the other week as I fancied some old school Sega Rally, I had to turn it off after half an hour, the warping textures and inconsistent framerate made me feel nauseous. I even fired up the original Tomb Raider and had the same problem, 2D games were fine (Baku Baku Animal is still amazing) but the early 3D console games are just an unpleasant experience now.

  6. AMBxx Silver badge

    Cue kickstarter?

    Surely it's the only way they'll get any money?

    1. stephanh Silver badge

      Re: Cue kickstarter?

      Yeah, it sounds like the perfect pitch for yet another Indienogo scam.

  7. m0rt Silver badge

    I want to believe...

    Actually, I want a neo-geo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I want to believe...

      UFOs are so seventies.

  8. King Jack
    Facepalm

    Buck the trend

    Why not just build something new? Why does every company believe everyone wants retreads. Hollywood with the sequel game, now dead computer makers bringing out 'new' garbage. I have money burning a hole in my pocket waiting for something from this century to blow me away.

    1. Trilkhai

      Re: Buck the trend

      Well, here's one major reason on the business level: there's very little in terms of creations competing for the attention (money) of the many people that enjoy vintage/retro-style games, and an ongoing avalanche of brand-new titles competing for the funds of people that enjoy modern-dry gaming.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Buck the trend

      "Why not just build something new?"

      Well, they could try and build a brand-new console, but that would take years and enormous amounts of money to compete with Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft.

      Instead, they could aim for something less powerful, but there's not much point in building a new console that's as powerful as (for example) an original Playstation, because the PS1 already exists, and has a massive software catalogue already.

      All Atari have that might help them make money, is the rights to a big stack of games. So perhaps they're going to create a modern-ish console, that can play all the different eras of Atari games, whilst still having modern features like HDMI output etc. A completely new console would be a complete waste of money for them (if they even have enough dosh to develop one).

  9. Horridbloke

    Dead brand

    The Atari brand has to be one of the most pimped out and abused ones ever - wasn't it bought up by a french games company in the early noughties (presumably in order to appear less french)?

    Nobody's cared for a quarter-century or thereabouts.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Dead brand

      "The Atari brand has to be one of the most pimped out and abused ones ever"

      At least on a par with Commodore.

      1. m0rt Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Dead brand

        How dare YOU! Atari was sooo much more abused than Commodore....

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Dead brand

        Commodore was mainly responsible for it's own demise, although it's mummified corporate skin has indeed been worn by a number of different zombie companies over the years.

        I suppose at the end of the day though, Commodore just made better hardware than Atari ;)

        (I'll never be too old to stop fighting the Amiga vs ST holy war!)

  10. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    Very few people care about Atari games, even if this is a great product I don't seem them selling vary many. Look at the Sega throwback system sales, and the Genesis is a much more marketable property than the 2600 (or any other Atari console).

    The NES Classic was an unexpected, runaway hit for 3 reasons. 1.It's a cute little NES that a lot of people want to have even if they don't want to play it. 2. It's Nintendo, they're the Apple of the console world. 3. NES nostalgia is really hot right now, spurred on by popular YouTube shows about collecting NES games.

  11. Long John Brass Silver badge

    Why 2600

    Why not bring the Atari Coin-OP games too; Tempest, Centipede, Asteroids etc...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkSycE6_pKI

    Mr Do approves of this idea.

    To be fair I actually like Atari, it's what got me into electronics when I had to replace the power supply parts as a kid.

  13. mark l 2 Silver badge

    If it's a retro console they are planning on building then there are already plug into a TV joysticks that come with loads of Atari games on them (not sure of the legality of them though) so why it would be years in the making I can't understand.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      At Mark L 2, re: the Atari joystick thing.

      I was going to post about that very device but you beat me to it. Kudos, you damned ninja. =-)p

      I believe the joystick thing was an officially licensed product, but I could be wrong. Given all the work someone would have to go through to revamp a manufacturing facility to produce an Atari joystick clone, make the mainboard with the ability to run MAME, fill it with old Atari ROMs, package the thing & then ship it in bulk to retailers like Target (where I saw the first one), I figure it would have been cheaper to license it from Atari; then Atari would provide the CAD files used to make the joystick body, the PCB details to do the chip stuff right, & official ROMs with which to load on to it.

      If Atari wants to make a retro console filled with old games, they would have to do something impressive to justify all the internal (wasted) space. If you can make it all fit in a device the size/shape of an old Atari joystick, making an entire *console* would mean you would end up buying a fekton of empty air. =-\

      But I like the idea of including the old Atari arcade games that we enjoyed in the glittering, noisy dives of our youth. Getting to play Tempest again would be rather fun if I don't have to futz with MAME settings out the wazoo to make it play (right/at all).

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: At Mark L 2, re: the Atari joystick thing.

        "Getting to play Tempest again would be rather fun if I don't have to futz with MAME settings out the wazoo to make it play (right/at all)."

        Yep, nothing can replace that spinner control.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At Mark L 2, re: the Atari joystick thing.

        CAD files used to make the joystick body

        More like scans of the blueprints, amirite?

    2. Mark Dempster

      >If it's a retro console they are planning on building then there are already plug into a TV joysticks that come with loads of Atari games on them (not sure of the legality of them though) so why it would be years in the making I can't understand.<

      It's always possible that they're just going to repackage the same tech under the official Atari brand name.

    3. StheD
      Pint

      I've got one of them, and I bought it in a real store, so I'm pretty sure it is legal. I have it out, ready to play when I get a chance, but the old Adventure game (Atari version, not text game version) works fine - including the first Easter Egg.

      The one thing missing is the ability to load new games.

      I bet it will appeal to geezers like me who don't want to spend hours and hours on complex games.

  14. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Linux

    RPi, Linux, xmame, LICENSED ROMS!

    Here's a thought:

    Get an RPi, running Linux, with xmame, and provide a nice menu with LICENSED ROMS that work correctly with the attached hardware (joysticks, buttons, trackballs, whatever). Plug this into your HDMI-capable TV, and you've got a working 80's style game console with all of the classic Atari games!

    Easily priced under $200.

    (sadly, some d0rk will assume "Win-10-nic" and ruin it from that point forward)

  15. OliP

    Kodi isnt far away from supporting game emulators and roms - so interesting to see who makes it to market first. i'd put my money on the kodi integration being a runaway success being that everyone already has it installed and won't need to go spend the $60 or whatever atari want to charge.

    seems they are going for the hollywood model of just live off the great ideas of the past.

    sad times, i doubt it'll end well.

  16. Captain DaFt

    "Atari confirmed on Friday that the reborn biz will indeed produce its own games console, understood to be built out of PC tech."

    It might work if...

    They slap a decently spec'd PC game computer in a nostalgia based case, include mame software and games and retro controllers.

    Plays the latest games for PC, plus all (eh, most) the old Atari stuff. Could be a hit, if they're lucky.

    Sure, you could do it yourself, but to a lot of gamers out there, this would tick a lot of boxes if done right.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      What you describe is not dissimilar to a Steam Box, and the idea of a Steam Box hasn't been a wild success even with Steam being a huge presence in PC gaming.

      If I go to my local ironmongers, I can buy wood-effect adhesive plastic by the metre and stick it on any PC case I want. For a few quid more, I could buy some real wood veneer and some contact adhesive!

  17. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Combat.

    Video Olympics.

    Haunted House.

    Pac Man.

    Dragster.

    Berzerk.

    only a few of the titles I've played. Great times too.

  18. GeezaGaz

    speculation

    "That means it is almost certainly working on a retro console that can play original Atari games".

    That is pure speculation you don't *know* what they are working on so why assume?

    And this line:

    "You know, the ones that triggered the 1980s video games crash."

    don't you mean the original games that triggered the 1970s video game boom?

    Read up on the history of Atari, its all there.

  19. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Hopefully they'll actually include most of the decent games

    Probably won't though, it'll be a limited selection of 2600 games. What they should really do is emulate not only that, but the 5200 and 7200 too.

    I see they tried this in 2004 and there was a cancelled improved prototype thereafter (Flashback console). I wonder if they're smart enough to reboot that..

  20. steamrunner

    Atari? Iconic, but meh...

    Atari? Iconic, but meh...

    Being a true Brit child of the 70s/80s, I'm waiting for the ZX Spectrum Next... :-)

    S.

  21. yossarianuk

    F*ck Atari

    Signed, an ex Amiga user.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: F*ck Atari

      The Atari ST usually had good ports of Amiga games (from Sensible Software, Bitmap Brothers, Codemasters, Psygnosis amongst others), though the usually Amiga got them first. However, the Atari had MIDI ports built in, so lots of fun with keyboards, guitars and GM modules. As such it was usually found in the homes of your schoolmates whose dads left a strange herbal smell about the place.

  22. JCDenton

    How can it be a good idea?

    No way to tell yet, but if it is a new console, then it is doomed. Very difficult to compete with Sony/MS/Nintendo, and technically Valve.

    If it is a retro console with pre-loaded games, that is a much better idea. It won't last since, as somebody mentioned, you can already buy a Joystick Console with Atari games on it. Also the Mini NES was sold largely as a novelty. I never met somebody who was hardcore into actually playing it.

    A retro Atari console with the best of the 2600/7200 library could sell around Christmas time, but it will still just be a novelty.

  23. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    so yet another

    incompatible, "platform exclusive" system to do what the other Big 3 are already doing.

    But I still find a few games on one system that I'd love to play, but isn't available on others.

    Had to decide on which had the most titles available when I decided to go "console" for more casual gaming, since I wasn't ready to upgrade the PC for another year and it was having a hard time playing the AAA titles I enjoy-plus the PC is upstairs where lack of central AC means "too hot to play in the summer" so wanted to be downstairs on The Big TV. Went with Sony because it had some newer versions of old favorites.

    Can't aim with a gamepad worth sh*t. Will be attempting to use some sort of keyboard/mouse emulator soon. And no, I don't do multiplayer so "cheating" isn't a concern.

    But as a videogame junkie, I still don't see the business case, nor consumer/gamer value, of yet *another* console offering. And I'm one of those guys who bought a nVidia Shield.

  24. Lamont Cranston

    Steam Machine with a wood panelled case

    (plus a deal with Valve to release a bundle of classic games), or something Android based (in a wooden case, with a clutch of classic games)? Complemented, in either scenario, by an awful joystick that's no good for playing anything that isn't in the "Atari Classics" bundle.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. adam 40
    Linux

    Inzert Goin

    Surely it's spelt "Inzert Goin"? That's what Gorf used to say...

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