It’s been coming for a while with varying levels of information but at long last Atari has revealed all the details on its new mini-console, the Atari VCS. Today marked the launch of the Indiegogo pre-order campaign, which is a bit different from the usual funding campaign, and while its initial goal was a tiny little $100,000 it’s easily blown past that with a take of $1,793,868 at the time of this writing, averaging about $262 per each of its 6833 backers. That’s honestly a very nice start for a console that’s seen its share of abuse, but there’s decent tech under its classic-styled hood and an open platform is always attractive.
The Atari VCS is basically a small PC running Linux, and you can hook your own peripherals to it and not be constrained to a walled-garden marketplace. Atari is going to be supporting it with games, of course, and it comes with over 100 titles built in, but you can do whatever you’ve got the technical know-how to accomplish. Whether that’s worth the money is up to the individual user, but that’s true of any console out there. The built-in classic library has been emulated many times before, and the promise of games like Tempest 4000 (which doesn’t have a Linux version so is most likely the PC version running under some variant of Wine) doesn’t speak to much in the way of exclusive games, but it can still be a fairly handy little device complete with glowing Atari icon on the front.
The campaign is running with several options for interested buyers- The base model is $200.00 with no peripherals included, but there are USB plugs on the back so you can use your own devices, including keyboard and mouse. The Collector’s Edition comes in at $300.00 and it’s got real wood paneling on the front and included the Atari Classic joystick. Additional peripherals include the Atari Modern Controller, which has a standard two-stick, four face button, two triggers and shoulder bumpers setup, plus the previously mentions Atari Classic joystick. The joystick is a slightly modernized version of the one that came with the original Atari 2600, with a single big red fire-button but also an additional Back and Home button at the base, plus a ring of LEDs around the crater holding the stick that light up as you play for no other reason than they look cool.
The real question behind the Atari VCS, though, is one that doesn’t have a real answer- Is this basically Ouya 2? The reason this doesn’t have an answer is because the only response is a question, and that’s “What does “Ouya 2″ mean to you?” While the micro-console never caught on in the numbers needed to succeed, it had a fan-base that was happy to work with the hardware and several developers got a start thanks to its open nature. Atari doesn’t have to compete with Sony and Nintendo to succeed with the VCS, but rather settle into a niche and keep it healthy.
The Atari VCS is currently running on Indiegogo. Head on over and take a look, or scan the stats below if you’re more interested in a handy list of components and other stats.
|Unit Dimensions||14.5″ x 5.3″ x 1.6″|
|Unit Weight||3 lbs.|
|Materials||Plastic, Metal, Wood|
|Operating System||Linux OS based on Ubuntu (Linux Kernel 4.10)|
|Power||Low TDP architecture – Less Heat & Noise|
|Connections||HDMI 2.0, 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 4xUSB 3.0|
|External Inputs||Classic Joystick, Modern Controller, Microphone|
|Storage||32GB eMMC, external HD, SD card|
|RAM||4GB DDR4 RAM|
|CPU||Bristol Ridge A1|
|HDCP Integration||HDCP 2.2|
|Second Screen (Screencasting)||Yes|
|Cloud Storage||Yes. Additional Service Offering|
|Required Internet Connection||Not for classic gaming but required to access all features|
|Cross Game Chat||Skype, Discord, etc.|
|Voice Commands||4-front facing mic array|
|Subscription Needed?||No. Includes cloud and other services.|
|Live Streaming||Yes with Twitch.tv|
|Mouse & Keyboard Support||Yes|