The The modern-retro Atari VCS Is Back…

The Atari VCS , a retro Atari VCS , was widely announced when it hit IndieGogo in May 2018. Preorders for the Atari VCS were received with great excitement by people. Although the Atari VCS is described as “blending the best consoles with PCs”, the reality is that it is just a simplified version of a console/PC. While it has some unique capabilities, the system doesn’t really do much well. It is definitely not worth the price.

There are two versions of Atari VCS. The Onyx and Black Walnut. Black Walnut’s front has a splashing of classic woodgrain, a nod to the 1980s aesthetic. Many early 1980s electronics had a wood veneer panel. This was a different time but it adds a retro touch. I tried an Onyx model, which is more similar to the “Darth Vader” Atari 2600 version. The photos show that it’s an all black device.

The Atari VCS case is similar to the original except that it has fewer clunky switches, and no cartridge port. It is also smaller that the machine it reflects. I like the Atari VCS’s design. It’s slim and unassuming but it reminds me a lot of the original Atari console.

Heating. When I turned on the Atari VCS by pressing the power button on its back, it made a strange fan noise. I didn’t expect any noise, and I actually got more than any other devices except for my gaming laptop. This was the first time I had ever started a start-up and the internal fans were pushing hard. Although I thought it would stop, the noise never stops. The fans keep running, sometimes very noticeable, much like what you would find in a laptop made 5 years ago. That was not something I was impressed with.

I don’t think the Atari VCS is worth its price or does enough to warrant my recommendation. Apart from being a great marketing tool, the 4K mode of the Atari VCS is very pointless. While the number of included games may seem impressive on paper, there are not enough games that you want to play or games that age well. In practice, PC mode doesn’t make much sense and is poorly implemented. It’s better to just download 2600 and MAME games onto a PC than to install Windows software on a glorified emulator machine. A $300 Xbox Series S machine can be used to emulate old games.