Three years after its original announcement, you can finally buy the Atari VCS. It's available starting today through the Atari website, Best Buy and Micro Center. Over on Atari's website, there are two versions of the console available. You can buy the $300 Oynx base system or the $400 Black Walnut all-in bundle. The latter comes with a joystick and Xbox-like gamepad. In addition to coming bundled with the Atari Vault, a collection of 100 free retro games, the console can double as a PC.
Despite the pandemic, it's been a pretty great year for video game hardware. Microsoft launched the Xbox Series X, a powerful obelisk packing a 12-teraflop GPU, and the smaller Series S, which can run games natively at 1440p resolution. Sony, meanwhile, released the PlayStation 5 and a cheaper Digital Edition that doesn't come with a disc drive. Both companies are struggling with stock shortages at the moment and a number of user-reported hardware issues. Still, it's a minor miracle that neither Sony nor Microsoft was forced to delay their next-gen launch.
Pre-orders for the Atari VCS – formerly known as the Atari Box – opened up a few hours ago and it appears that there is a fair bit of public interest in the device. To quickly reiterate, the Atari VCS is a next-generation, retro-inspired console, that's scheduled to arrive in July of 2019. Atari is positioning the device as a modern entertainment hardware platform that will give users access to an assortment of retro and new games, with multi-media and streaming capabilities. The AMD-powered Atari VCS will offer support for 4K resolutions, HDR and 60FPS content, it will have on-board and expandable storage options, dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, as well as USB 3.0 support. The device runs a custom Linux-based OS and will also include a copy of Atari Vault with more than 100 classic games, including favorites like Asteroids, Centipede, Breakout, Missile Command, Gravitar and Yars' Revenge.
Atari announced in June that it was getting back into the hardware business, with plans for an upcoming "Ataribox" console. Of course, it didn't release any actual details at the time--only a slick-looking render of a retro-styled box, complete with real wood paneling. Oh, plus a promise to crowdfund the upcoming console. If alarm bells just started ringing in your head, visions of another Ouya-style disaster, well I can't say those fears are unfounded. This week Atari further detailed the Ataribox to GamesBeat, and the plan seems even weirder than before.
When Atari announced it was jumping back into the game-console arena, those old enough to remember the 8-bit glory days of the Atari 2600 -- like myself -- perked up, briefly lighting up whatever part of the brain responsible for feelings of nostalgia. SEE ALSO: Original'Resident Evil' Returns for Next-Gen and PC, 20 Years Later If last month's announcement clicked on a standard 60-watt retro bulb, today's reveal of the first images of the Ataribox console just lit up the nostalgic equivalent of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in the minds of '80s kids everywhere. Atari sent the photos to those who signed up for updates on the Ataribox site. Clearly inspired by the Atari 2600, the design is a beautiful modern reboot of that console. It retains the woodgrain front (although there will be an alternate all-black version), the non-boxy design that slopes upward in back, and the horizontal lines that... help for cooling?