Atari VCS Review: Nostalgia Isn’t Enough

The VCS delivers on its promise of nostalgia-inducing retro gaming with old-school Atari titles. But the rest of the experience is like peeling an onion when you were expecting an orange. The deeper you go, the more layers of bitter frustration you uncover.

Depending on your perspective, the Atari VCS console/computer/set-top box is either a couple of years, or several decades overdue. Modeling itself after the venerable Atari 2600 (originally called the Atari Video Computer System, hence VCS) which launched in September of 1977, the modern VCS made its debut via a YouTube teaser in 2017. The company followed that up with a successful crowdfunding campaign the following year, promising to deliver devices in mid-2019. Here we are a couple of years later, and the VCS finally made its way to retail, via Best Buy and Micro Center last month.

Available in either basic black (Onyx) or the more 2600-like Black Walnut, the device (let’s call it a console, though it also has a PC Mode, if you can get it to work) sells for $399. You get an AMD embedded APU, 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, as well as both a nostalgia-inducing joystick and a more modern Xbox-like controller.

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