While the world waits with bated breath to see if Nintendo will actually announce the Switch Pro today, it's worth remembering that if the worse happens and we don't get a reveal during the E3 Nintendo Direct, we can console ourselves (no pun intended) with another new piece of hardware: the Atari VCS.
Atari is a company with a long and tumultuous history – one which stretches back to the dawn of the games industry itself. While the Atari of 2021 is a very different beast to the one which conquered living rooms in the '70s and '80s with the original VCS (also known as the 2600), there's no denying the firm's importance in the realm of video gaming – heck, it almost released the NES in North America.
This new VCS has endured a pretty painful road to market, initially coming under fire for being a crowdfunded project. In 2018, Atari executive Michael Arzt set alarm bells ringing due to the fact that he seemed to know very little about the system he was overseeing, then a year later, Atari's system architect Rob Wyatt walked away from the whole project after payments were missed.
Still, the original crowdfunding campaign for the Atari VCS raised almost $3,000,000 (its target was a modest $100,000), so there's clearly a market for this type of product. Atari has even stated that it looked to Nintendo for inspiration when it came to creating its new hardware.
After what feels like a long wait, the VCS is finally available to consumers in the United States today, with Best Buy, GameStop, Micro Center, and the official Atari VCS website all carrying stock online.
Here's some PR on the release:
The Atari VCS is a completely modern gaming and video computer system inspired by the iconic Atari 2600 Video Computer System. Blending the best of consoles and PCs to delight a whole new generation of gamers and creators, the Atari VCS offers a fully-featured multimedia experience that’s “Inspired by the past. Built for the future.”
Owners can enjoy a growing library of games from popular independent developers, over 100 free arcade and Atari 2600 classics, plus game streaming services such as Antstream Arcade. Atari VCS owners can even load up their favorite movies and TV shows — directly from the Atari VCS dashboard — or with help from the Atari VCS Companion app, available in the App Store and Google Play — using their favorite streaming media services, including 4K HDR content, as well as listen to music, shop, access their social media, and more.
For advanced users and PC hobbyists who enjoy the ultimate in configurability and customization, an optional PC Mode allows for the installation of Windows or Linux as an alternative operating system, transforming the Atari VCS into a flexible, fully featured and powerful mini-PC.
The base Atari VCS system starts at $299.99, while the Atari VCS Black Walnut and Onyx All-In system bundles cost $399.99, due to the fact that they include the Atari VCS Classic Joystick (available separately for $59.99) and Atari VCS Modern Controller (again, available for $59.99).
According to Atari, all prices represent "special launch day pricing" and "may be subject to change in the future." So, er, get in quick, we guess?
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