The Atari: Classic Gaming

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Contributor Jon Weirman


In the Beginning, there was Atari.  And for anyone who is seriously into retro culture, this word is the law.  The Atari 2600 was released in 1977, and was revolutionary as a household console.  Even though the adaptations weren’t perfect, this was the first time people played classic arcade games that they would normally have to jam quarters in such as “Frogger”, “Donkey Kong”, “Space Invaders”, and “Missile Command” at home.  When the NES system came around in 1986, it destroyed many gamers’ desire to play what then seemed like a clunker, but sometimes old memories are the best ones.  This year, the Atari Flashback 4 was released in a console that has 75 games programmed inside and wireless controllers, a big improvement.

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Some video game players are sheer purists, who need exact replications to have fun.  This system for the price comes so close to the original that you absolutely cannot complain.  Some reviewers have said that a drawback is the controllers really have to be pointed right at the main console to work, if you set the main console on the ground and pull it out, you’re fine.  The coolest thing about having this system in a basement is the nostalgia it evokes.  The controllers really look like the originals, and this is 80’s retro culture at its’ finest.  The joysticks take 2AAA batteries each but the life seems to be at least 12 hours or more.   While some users complain about the wireless controllers accuracy, the system is pure fun, you can be much farther away from the console without worrying about wires this time around.

If you have been playing first person shooters, incredibly modern games, and the hottest new consoles, when you first let this thing rip you may feel disappointment.  Do not be disappointed, this is why there are 75 games in this unit.  This was a primitive time in video gaming, like the caveman clubbing his prey.  Things weren’t perfect, but it is replicating something that was in the arcade for people to play at home.  Once you have the joystick in your palm for awhile, you’re gonna be happy.  “Jungle Hunt”, is one of the 15 titles that was added to this new version, and that’s a great addition, a favorite rope swinging, underwater swimming quest.  The biggest question that people ask is “Does the console have Activision games like ‘Pitfall’?” No, it does not.  Licensing and emulation issues are complex with these types of things.

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But, you get Asteroids, Missile Command, Centipede, Adventure, Baseball, Breakout, Warlords, Night Driver, Combat, Yar’s Revenge, Demons to Diamonds, Warlords, Tempest, Battlezone, and Space Invaders, for starters.  Those are the most popular games that come programmed on it.  Diehards may complain that the movement and controllers aren’t perfect, but this system is definitely cool. Why? Because in a stressed out environment like today’s world, maybe sometimes it’s best to be plinking away at a simpler game than a complex one, at least for awhile.  So, grab your time capsule and get ready to plink away.  The Atari Flashback four, for roughly 60 or 70 bucks, is way worth it.  Now the only thing left for you to do is see how many demons you can turn into diamonds.

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