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Review of the Atari 2600+: A Flawless Relic of 1970s Pop Culture


The Atari 2600 is a console that holds a special place in the hearts of a certain generation of gamers. Its design, from the wood veneer exterior to the iconic CX40 joystick and chunky game cartridges, brings back feelings of nostalgia for the early days of the gaming industry. Before the dominance of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, this console brought classic arcade games to over 30 million homes worldwide. Even for those who never had the chance to own one, the Atari 2600 was a familiar image seen in Grattan catalogues, comic book advertisements, and popular media like movies and TV shows such as ET, Electric Dreams, and Gremlins.

The 2600+ is now available in a mini version, with HDMI compatibility for modern TVs and a slot for playing both newly made and classic 2600 and 7800 game cartridges. It closely mimics the technical and visual aspects of the original console, more so than the mini versions from Sega, Sony, and Nintendo. Along with two joystick ports for using original controllers (if they still function), the console includes switches for selecting game difficulty, resetting, and choosing game modes. You can also switch between color and black and white graphics, just like the original 2600 models. The wooden front panel is even replicated for added nostalgia. Fans of the original will feel a wave of memories with every power switch flip and press of the fire button.

The machine, necessary cables (including a USB plug), a CX40 joystick, and a 10-in-one cart with games like Combat and Missile Command are all included for just under £100. Additional games can be purchased for £25 each, and a package with two paddle controllers and a four-game cart (featuring Breakout, Night Driver, Canyon Bomber, and Video Olympics) is available for £30.

This is an expensive way to relive the nostalgia of old blocky graphics and bleeping sound effects. However, the latest console from the officially licensed Atari Flashback series offers over 100 games for only £80. This console has also included rare and prototype games and comes with two controllers. Although the build quality may not be as good, it is still a good value for those who want to play classic shoot-’em-ups. Additionally, there are numerous unofficial mini-consoles and handheld devices that offer emulations of all the classic Atari games, or you can also play many of these games online for free.

There are not many well-known classic games available to play on the 2600+. Popular titles like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pitfall!, Frogger, and River Raid are not included. It is possible that these games were produced by third-party companies or will be released individually at a later time. The remaining games may not be as enjoyable or engaging as they once were. However, if you have old cartridges and are simply looking for a way to play them, the 2600+ is a better option than purchasing an original 2600 on eBay. For fans of vintage Atari technology, this could be a necessary purchase.

If you have a strong desire to remember the past, when Atari was dominant and this unique console fit perfectly next to the large wooden TVs of the late 1970s, the Atari 2600+ is a visually appealing and well-made device. Placing it in your living room will instantly bring back nostalgic feelings, and the games themselves will remind both old and new players of the experience of owning a console 40 years ago: simple, abstract graphics, no title screens, often no high scores or game over sequences – just basic interactions between player and screen.

Like many items from the 1970s that are part of popular culture, the appeal and uniqueness may fade quickly, and the oddness and restrictions become more apparent. However, what will endure is a flawless, scaled-down version of a magnificent and significant device that will bring joy every time it catches your eye. For some, that will be sufficient.

Source: theguardian.com