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Atari VCS: everything you need to know about Atari’s comeback console

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The Atari name still carries a lot of cachet with video game fans, given the company’s role in creating the home console market – but its last piece of new hardware, 1993’s Jaguar, was a massive flop.

Since then, the Atari brand has changed hands multiple times, emerged from bankruptcy, and been used to market social games and online gambling.

It’s been a rough couple of decades for Atari, that’s to be sure.

Atari will soon release a brand new console – its first for many years.

Formerly called Ataribox during a funding stage, it is now called the Atari VCS – a throwback to the original name of the Atari 2600 in the 70s.

Atari has also confirmed that it will come with a Classic controller, that looks and feels like the original rubber joystick, plus a more modern gamepad.

The Atari VCS has a design inspired by iconic Atari products, a bit like the Atari 2600/VCS from the 70s and early 80s that is now shares a name with. It is slimmer and more set-top-box in stature, however.

We’re still awaiting full specifications, but it is understood that the console will bring a “full PC experience” to your TV – hence the adoption of the “Video Computer System” part of its name. It’ll offer apps and access to streaming, social, web browsing, music listening and more, including services such as Netflix and Spotify. A game streaming service is thought to be part of the system too, to give access to full, modern PC titles.

What we do know so far is that it will be powered by an AMD customised processor with Radeon Graphics. It will run Linux OS with a custom interface and, The media was told by Atari directly, it will come with voice control. We don’t yet know whether that will be custom too or through a virtual assistant, such as Amazon’s Alexa.

Atari VCS will launch with a back catalogue of Atari classic games and “current titles from a range of studios”. We’re not sure exactly how the latter will work yet but, because the operating system has an open nature, Atari said players will be able to access and play games from other platforms.

“With Atari VCS, we wanted to create an open system, a killer product where people can game, stream and browse with as much freedom as possible. Atari games and content will be available as well as games and content from other providers,” said Fred Chesnais, Atari’s chief executive officer before the name was officially changed.

Atari VCS was originally planned for launch through the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform at the end of 2017. However, Atari decided to delay its funding plans in order to fix a problem it faced in development. That issue has now been solved but we’re yet to hear revised launch plans.

Rumors are suggesting a 2018 holiday season launch.

It will cost between $249 to $299, depending on the edition and memory configurations. There will be a standard Atari VCS and special editions.

 

 

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