While the Atari of old has been shown some love recently with the release of the excellent “Atari 50: The Anniversary Collection”, as a brand it simply hasn’t been able to stick the landing when it comes to hardware efforts. Whether it’s the million different Flashback consoles or its modern take on the VCS, the Atari as we know it today is firmly entrenched in this low-quality rut. Case in point: the Atari 2600+ is yet another software emulation box with an interesting feature or two but not much else:
- Styled after the four switch version of the 2600.
- Compatible with physical cartridges from both the 2600 and 7800 library.
- Includes a real 10-in-1 game cartridge, with physical DIP switches to select a title.
- Compatible with original controllers.
- HDMI video output… with a “widescreen mode” toggle?
Beyond the 7800 cartridge support, the 2600+ isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. There isn’t any original hardware DNA or an FPGA core present, and based on the spotty testing in their compatibility documentation I have no hope that modern hombrew or flashcarts will be compatible. As of this article I also haven’t even heard what resolution is being output over HDMI, although I wouldn’t hold your breath for anything over 720p. It is worth noting that Atari is re-releasing both the CX40 joystick and CX30 paddle controllers with DB9 connectors though, which are reported to be compatible with original hardware.
For fans of the 2600 and 7800, I would recommend looking beyond the 2600+. Original 2600 and 7800 hardware is plentiful and reasonably priced, and video mods and flash carts have never been more vibrant than they are now—including the 7800 Game Drive that Bob covered earlier this year. If that’s too steep a price for a console that you only pull out a few times a year, and you don’t own an FPGA platform or feel like running the Stella 2600 emulator on your computer, I will also give a caveat-laden recommendation for the Hyperkin Retron77. It is a fairly robust way to enjoy Atari’s back catalog once you update it with the latest Retron77 build of the Stella 2600 emulator, and when you combine it with a 2600daptor over an OTG USB cable and some modern controllers it can be an even more enjoyable experience.