I know what’s going on my Christmas list this holiday season. Atari is planning to bring some retro video game goodness back into our lives, presumably in time for the holiday season, with a pair of new products the iconic brand has just shown off. Yes, we know this is not the same Atari corporate entity as existed back in the 80s, but for a certain gamer — those of us who loved the 2600, and heck, I even remember and really liked Atari’s Lynx, don’t laugh — there’s still a lot of nostalgia and good feeling inherent in the company’s name. Speaking of which, here’s what’s coming.
Atari is going to be retailing a Retro Handheld that the website Bleeding Cool has aptly described as what you’d get if Atari made the Game Boy, basically. It will apparently cost around $45 and pack 50 titles into a kind of mini replica of the classic Atari 2600 console — with the attention to detail even encompassing a wooden-looking veneer like the original console had. About the price, we say “apparently” because preorders are live in the UK but no US release details are available yet.
Meanwhile, remember those Atari joysticks, which were little more than a stick with a big red button? Atari is also releasing the joystick in a new form, as its “Plug & Play Joystick” controller. It’s likewise got a library of classic Atari games built into it and comes in a version that connects to PCs as well as TVs. A report from Variety notes that ‘Players can enjoy titles like Asteroids, Pong, Centipede, Missile Command, Breakout, Millipede, and several other classics no matter if they opt for the home or portable version. The handheld model does include an A/V output for at-home play as well.”
About Atari’s continued nostalgic appeal, Atari CEO Frédéric Chesnais recently had this to say in an interview with Fortune:
“I think the trend is here to stay. And I think it’s here because people who grew up in the 80s are more comfortable with those games and going back to what they knew. Look at things like Star Wars, it’s still going strong after all these years. I think that the retro gaming thing is here to stay, and in that sense we are really at the center and forefront. I don’t want to say it’s nostalgia, because nostalgia means the past is better than the future, but we’re trying to build on the fans’ experiences they had before and bring that to the next level.”