When it comes to home consoles, Atari has never quite managed to hit the mark since their iconic Atari 2600. The 5200 (AKA the SuperSystem) fell short with sub-par hardware and minimal improvements over the 2600. Not to mention that fact that it was hilariously large. At which point Nintendo and Sega had begun dominating the home-console market and the poor 7800 (AKA ProSystem) seemed to be shunned to the side lines, doomed from the start. After picking themselves up and dusting themselves down, Atari took stab at the home console market with the worlds first 64-bit console – the Jaguar. Yeah, they weren’t screwing around any more. There was just one little problem… The Jaguar sucked. This was mainly down to it’s unnecessarily complicated build, making it hard for programmers to make games for, let alone actually make use of the full power of the (supposedly) 64-bit console. But now, 20 years and a few ownership changes later, Atari are back with a new console. Enter, the Ataribox.
What is the Ataribox I hear you ask? Well, truth be told the specific details on this console are quite sparse. According to a newsletter by Atari (via Kotaku AU) “Our objective is to create a new product that stays true to our heritage while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari.” Which has led people to speculate on whether or not the Ataribox will have current-gen capabilities or be more like a New Mini… or a Atari Mini if you will. It can clearly be seen from the styling of the console that Atari is tapping in to the previously dead-and-buried “wooden” age of gaming. Strangely enough, I actually really like it! However, for those of you who think that wooden consoles should remain in the 70’s, Atari are giving gamers the option of a black and red more modern model instead.
From the images of the console, we can also see that the available ports of the console will be 4 x USB slots, SD card slot, HDMI along with an Ethernet port presumably for online connectivity. The publisher of the newsletter writes: “As you can guess, those ports suggest modern internal specs. It also means that while we will be delivering classic gaming content, we will also be delivering current gaming content.” This further confuses the argument over if this will be aimed at taking on the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One or a standalone re-mastering of the classic Atari catalogue. Back in June, when the Ataribox was first teased, CEO of Atari Fred Chensais told GamesBeat that the decision to develop a new consoles was influenced by the success of the NES Mini, so does this mean it will be a classic standalone console?! My head hurts…
For those of you who are just as excitafused (adj. to feel simultaneously excited and confused) as me, you can read the full newsletter below:
“Our objective is to create a new product that stays true to our heritage while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari.
Inspired by classic Atari design elements (such as the iconic use of wood, ribbed lines, and raised back); we are creating a smooth design, with ribs that flow seamlessly all around the body of the product, a front panel that can be either wood or glass, a front facing logo, indicator lights that glow through the material, and an array of new ports (HDMI, 4xUSB, SD). We intend to release two editions: a wood edition, and a black/red edition.
As you can guess, those ports suggest modern internal specs. It also means that while we will be delivering classic gaming content, we will also be delivering current gaming content.
We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, features, pricing, timing etc. We’re not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we’ve opted to share things step by step as we bring Ataribox to life, and to listen closely to Atari community feedback as we do so. There are a lot of milestones, challenges and decision points in front of us in the months ahead. We’ll be giving you lots more information and status updates as we progress, and we are thrilled to have you along for the ride!
Hope you like where we are taking this, we’ll be in touch soon.
The Ataribox Project team.”
You can also check in to https://www.ataribox.com/ for the latest news and updates straight from the development team themselves.
So what do you make of the Ataribox? Will this be the console to return Atari’s status as a household gaming brand? Or are we looking at another 5200 or Jaguar, doomed to flop? Get involved and drop us a comment below!