The Atari 2600 Plus is a nostalgia dream for those who remember the original, but also fun for new generations. Equipped with HDMI, you can now play the games on a modern TV. Not everything is perfect, though. The game list is short and you’ll want to buy at least one more controller, which really bumps up the price.
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For the right generation of gamers, this console is resurrected right out of their most beloved core memories. The Atari 2600 Plus is everything the original was, but in a slightly smaller format and with modern ports. You’re getting the slightly bulky game cartridges, the great feel of all the controls and buttons, and the legendary CX40 joystick to play with. The games look simple compared to modern titles, but in many cases, they require both patience and timing. The console landed right in my living room and was tested by both young and old in the family.
This new edition with HDMI and USB-C ports lets you play both new and original 2600 and 7800 titles. If you own the original controllers, you can plug them in and use them. You can switch between color and black and white, change the difficulty level and select the game mode, and start games with the reset lever. You can also chose between widescreen and 4:3. Screw the first option though, it doesn’t feel right at all.
The Atari 2600 Plus may seem a bit like a 2600 met a 7800 and had a happy baby, but inside this modern version is a Rockchip 3128 Arm SoC that emulates the games. The Atari 2600 Plus has 256 megabytes of internal memory and an equal number of megabytes for storage. We don’t notice any lag or graphics artefacts. Everything runs smoothly.
If you splurge on an Atari 2600 Plus, you get the console, a joystick, and a game cartridge with 10 titles. You’ll also get all the cables you need (except a USB adapter for power). The included titles are Adventure, Combat, Dodge ‘Em, Haunted House, Maze Craze, Missile Command, Realsports Volleyball, Video Pinball, and Yars’ Revenge.
Of course, we would have liked even more games, but there’s something for everyone, including sports games, classic arcade titles, and a first-person shooter. We got to borrow a press kit which, in addition to the standard gadgets you get if you buy the Atari 2600 Plus, also included the classic paddle controllers and additional games.
We really liked the paddle controllers, as the wheels roll nice and smooth in games that require precision. Like the console, these controllers are faithfully recreated from the CX30 controllers of yesteryear.
We also got to play Mr. Run and Jump, a side-scrolling game designed for this console. It can otherwise be purchased for $24.99 on Steam. It’s challenging and requires both patience and careful timing. Thankfully, your successes are saved at the end of each level. The classic Berzerk is also available for $9.99 on Steam. Here they have added robot voices, diagonal images, and improved the graphics.
Old game cartridges work
If you have old game cartridges for the Atari 2600 or 7800, they can work in this modern version as well. Atari has a list of compatible games here. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get ahold of any original games while we had the console in for testing. The Atari 5200 had a different type of cartridge and those games are therefore not available on the Atari 2600 Plus. Can we keep our fingers crossed that a cartridge with the best games from the 5200 will be released? Maybe not, but that would be fun!
Short cables and inadequate manuals
I wasn’t around when the Atari 2600 was launched, but still when I started gaming in the 80s and 90s you sat on the floor near the small TV and played. The cords on this modern Atari console are short and feel suited to just such an arrangement, but it’s not nearly as much fun to sit on the floor in front of a 65-inch TV and play. Sure, you can get extensions, but in 2023, maybe we shouldn’t have to.
Another thing that drags down the joy meter is the lack of instructions. There are no manuals included, except for a short guide on how to start everything up. If you haven’t played the games before, it’s almost impossible to understand what to do (for example, you pull the somewhat confusingly named Game Reset lever to start the games). There are manuals online and, of course, guides on YouTube. So, be prepared to do some research if you don’t happen to remember exactly what to do because you spent hours with the originals.
This console will probably attract gamers who experienced the original themselves and already have game cartridges and old controllers at home. It’s simply a bit too expensive for younger generations to buy everything new.
Product: Atari 2600 Plus Manufacturer: Atari Tested: November 2022 In thepackage: Console, joystick, game cartridge, hdmi cable, usb cable Connections: 1 pc usb-c (for charging), hdmi and two ports for hand controllers Number of games: 10
Adventure Combat Dodge ‘Afternoon Haunted House Maze Craze Missile Command Realsports Volleyball Video Pinball Yars’ Revenge
This review was translated from Swedish to English and originally appeared on m3.se.