Those familiar with gaming history will probably remember the Atari Jaguar. First released in 1993, the Jaguar is accredited to be the sole reason Atari left the console market for good. It sold less than 250,000 units and is thought to have cost the now historic games company everything.
But its been over 25 years since and now it seems Atari is finally ready to re-enter the market. The newly announced VCS is a remaster of the original 2600. Similar to that of Nintendo’s SNES Mini and the SEGA Genesis Mini, the VCS is aiming to bring some of the most iconic retro games back.
Atari VCS details
As expected of a 2020 console release, the VCS features a plethora of useful tech innovations compared to its original counterpart. Amongst these include USB 3.0, native HDMI outputs, and support for Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth.
Regarding hardware the Atari VCS comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen CPU, Radeon GPU, and a respectable 8 GB of RAM. This may seem a little overkill for running 2600 games but there’s a good reason for the specs. The VCS functions both as a retro games console and a PC. By activating its desktop mode, you can load into an operating system of choice like Windows 10 or Ubuntu Linux.
In an attempt to maintain the original’s aesthetic, the Atari VCS comes with an authentic wooden panel and ribbing pattern. You’ll even have the option to use a modernized gamepad with analog sticks or a faithful remake of the 2600’s original joystick.
Atari has promised over 100 classic 2600 titles will be playable via the Atari Vault. And thanks to the VCS’ PC mode, it will also have full access to many popular streaming apps like YouTube, Twitch, and Netflix. The only downside is that to get your hands on an Atari VCS it’ll cost $389.99. Compared to its direct competitors, that is very expensive.
Atari released the first trailer for its upcoming fourth installment of RollerCoaster Tycoon for PC, which is being developed by Area 52 Games. Although the game was released for mobile last year, under the name RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, it brought Atari heavy criticism for its overuse of microtransactions. So Atari promised a PC version of the game, but also reassured players that the PC version would be “completely different” from the mobile version.
But the game’s first trailer almost seems to show that was a lie. The graphics shown look slightly worse than those of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, which was released way back in 2004. So why in the world does a game created more than ten years later look not only no better, but actually worse? Well, the theory is that RollerCoaster Tycoon World is actually completely the same as the mobile version – at least, the graphics are. From the trailer, the graphics look like those of a substandard mobile game, not of a 2015 PC game.
It’s particularly disappointing to see the RollerCoaster Tycoon series produce what looks to be another failure. It may not look like it now, but past RollerCoaster Tycoon games have received a lot of positive reviews. The first three games were well received, with the first and second both scoring more than 8/10 on IGN when they were released. Some attribute the series’ downfall to the departure of developer Chris Sawyer, who worked on the first two games and on the third as a consultant. But the series didn’t hit it lowest point until last year, with the release of the abysmal mobile version.
Although Area 52 Games are behind this latest RollerCoaster Tycoon, it may be unfair to rush to judge them. They may be under-staffed, under-equipped, or stuck with difficult time constraints. Atari have yet to comment on the lackluster graphics shown in the trailer, but they might want to think of an explanation soon. Right now, it just looks like a half-hearted, lazy attempt to milk whatever extra cash they can from a franchise they’ve run into the ground.
Ah, Asteroids. As retro gaming celebrities go, this guy is right up there. You’ll see him at swanky game-y cocktail parties, entertaining his groupies alongside Space Invaders and Pac-Man and other such A listers. These are the retro games, and they demand your attention.
Which is why I’m typing words at your face regarding Asteroidsright now. So buckle up, because here come some more.
This arcade classic was released way back in 1979 by Atari. It’s credited as one of the games which kick-started the Golden Age of Arcade Games (which is an actual thing, a fancy title complete with capital letters and everything), which is a huge deal for a humble and simplistic shooter. Let’s take a look.
The premise is easy enough to grasp. You are the pilot of a tiny triangular spacecraft, trapped in the middle of an asteroid belt. Not relishing the prospect of a miniature fiery death, your objective is to blast the rocks flying around your ears and survive for a long as possible. Unable to ‘escape,’ the whole thing’s just one survival mode.
You control your craft by means of that awkwardy turn-y go-y system we all know so well. It will have to be mastered, as only the deftest of pilots find their way onto the leaderboards. Asteroids is certainly punishing, as a simple slip or unexpected collision will spell your doom. Health bars? Shields? There was none of that newfangled business in 1979. You don’t pass go. You don’t collect $200. You just explode.
If you’ve ever utilised hyperspace mode and cried a little as it materialised you right in a asteroid’s darn face, you’ll know how cheeky the game can be. But more important than that is how successful and influential it was. Defender, Space Invaders and the like were all cut from the same cloth, and hold all of the virtues of early gaming: accessible, instant fun, which was as addictive as it was deceptively challenging.