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.
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? House the speakers? Something. You almost want to start hunting for Difficulty A/B switches somewhere in the back.
You won’t find ’em, though: The back is the only part of the Ataribox that gives away what decade it was designed in. There are USB ports for controllers and other gear, an SD card slot, an HDMI output for connecting to a TV, an Ethernet jack, and of course a power socket. No need for separate TV/Game adapters anymore — that is, assuming you’re not connecting to your Reagan-era tube TV for the full retro effect.
Probably the coolest upgrade from the Atari 2600 of yore is the illuminated Atari logo in front. On the wood version it’s colored white, but on the black it’s red — which would be a cool effect for when you’re playing some kind of modern Haunted House sequel.
Speaking of games, Atari promises the console will have “modern” specs, and that the Ataribox will serve up both classic content as well as more current games. Atari didn’t give any more details and said more info on specs, games, features, price, and release date would come later.
It’s obviously too early to say whether or not the Ataribox will be a success, but on the design alone, the company is surely winning over many GenX converts, including me — and I haven’t owned a game console in 30 years. I have just one question, though: Where do the cartridges go?