It took A LONG TIME, but Atari’s retro console/PC is finally available via retail.
It has been a bumpy road for the Atari VCS, but we are finally here. The unique system that serves as both part-desktop PC, part-retro console and takes its cues from the classic Atari 2600 can now be purchased via Atari’s website, Best Buy, and Micro Center, promising a Spring 2021 shipping date. If you check GameStop’s website, you can’t purchase the console, but it does say the Atari VCS will ship on July 2.
We first spoke about the console back in 2017. Then, it was called the AtariBox before getting a rebrand in 2018 and renamed the Atari VCS along with an IndieGoGo campaign that allowed people to back the console’s development in June 2018. Atari at the time said the VCS was slated to ship in mid-2019, but due to some developmental issues, which also led to the project’s lead architect throwing his arms up and quitting, the console got its wig pushed back. But, eventually, those who eagerly signed up have received their units, but now marks the first time that the public can purchase the machine.
Reviews for the Atari VCS have been mixed at best, with most of them claiming it does do as promised in emulating its built-in selection of 100 Atari games perfectly. Still, according to VGC, many of those games are “so incredibly basic that they really don’t hold up to the mildest scrutiny in 2021.” Many reviews also point out that the Atari VCS’s “modern games” store misses the mark completely and doesn’t have much to offer.
The Atari VCS also serves as a streaming box for those gamers who have cut the cord regarding their television viewing. The VCS does offer owners the ability to stream content from services like Disney+ and Netflix. Still, there is a huge caveat that instead of having native apps, these are just “glorified Chrome bookmarks,” according to reviews.
Another promise the Atari VCS delivers on is its ability to function as a PC through its desktop mode, allowing you to install operating systems like Windows, Linux, and ChromeOS. The only setback is that you can’t use the controller provided to surf the web, and you need to use either a USB-powered mouse and keyboard to take full advantage of desktop mode.
The Atari VCS sounded promising when it was first announced. Based on the reviews, we’re not sure gamers should be hyped to drop $299 ($399 for the Walnut version that comes with both the wireless joystick and controller) for the Atari VCS. This definitely sounds like one of those situations where you should sit back and wait to see exactly how the Atari VCS holds up a year later after its release.
If you’re still intrigued by the Atari VCS, you should check out the review below to help you aid you in your decision if you should drop the coins on the console.
Photo: Atari VCS / Atari