RetroVision – Why Ataribox Won’t be the Same as NES Mini

Only a matter of weeks ago, Atari proclaimed that the famous brand was re-entering the console market. What’s more, it did so by teasing this new project through a short video, and by asking fans to sign up for a newsletter that would reveal more information in good time. Thankfully, it turns out that time is now, as today Atari revealed the first look at the Ataribox, one that may just give away more than was intended.

So what exactly have Atari revealed in this first email then? Well given that they have put this email out to simply reveal nothing more than the console’s design alongside a few brief bits of information, they’ve actually revealed quite a lot. First up let’s take a look at the design.

AtariBox Wood Veneer
There’s also a black/red edition too. But we all know we want that wood veneer.

As you can see from the image above, Atari is very much trying to invoke the spirit of the 2600 with the Ataribox. I mean just look at that wood veneer effect. What’s more, for many it seems as though that’s not the only thing they’re trying to invoke though. In fact, there’s more a few similarities being seen between the Ataribox and the super popular NES and SNES Mini consoles from Nintendo.

Nevertheless, despite many in the video game industry making this very easy comparison, things may not quite be as they seem when it comes to the Ataribox. Now of course, this console is small, just take a look at the comparison below as mocked up by Rings & Coins friend Spanner Spencer and you’ll see what I mean. There’s also the promise of “delivering classic gaming content” too. All of which definitely do put it squarely into the newly constructed micro-console market that is being geared to retro gamers.

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However, take a deeper look at the ports on the console and you’ll see a different type of console starting to emerge, one that seems to indicate a merging of classic and modern retro experiences. I mean first up as Atari points out in their email, not only is there HDMI, and 4xUSB ports, there’s also SD card support too. One other very interesting addition that Atari fail to address in their press release, is the obvious existence of an ethernet port, a sign that that the likelihood of built in Wi-Fi is also high.

This latter point is very important as it points to the existence of a digital download store where players can constantly expand their library of retro games by utilising the integrated SD card support. This for one is marked difference to Nintendo’s recent micro consoles (and the less said about AT Games’ atrocious attempts of re-creating the Mega Drive the better). Another interesting note is the fact that all four USB ports are on the back of the consoles, yet there are four controller lights on the front. This again could indicate to something more at play, in this case the potential for Bluetooth controller support.

AtariBox Reveal Banner

We then have Atari messaging within the press release. Not only does this messaging clearly point to a merging of both retro and modern content through the Ataribox, but it even explicitly states that the Ataribox will receive “current gaming content” whilst remaining true to Atari’s retro routes. Although just what this modern content may be, and whether these are modern yet retro experiences, is all still very much unknown.

Nevertheless, take one look at the Ataribox, and it’s as though Atari have grabbed the NES Classic Mini owners wish list and have completely ran with it. Of course the NES Classic Mini is great, and the SNES Mini looks great, but tell me you wouldn’t love to add more of your favourite classics to the console? Or maybe even utilise bluetooth controllers?

AtariBox Red/Black
The alternate Red/Black designed Ataribox

Then of course there is the final point. Obviously by blending both retro and modern, it seems as though Atari don’t just want the Ataribox to be a one off nostalgic trip down memory lane, but more of a permanent and growing fixture in the lives of gamers. Much like the latest consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

Ultimately, this is nothing more than the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to information about the Ataribox. Nevertheless, the idea of both old and new retro experiences in one connected console that keeps to the heritage of the golden age of gaming is an exciting prospect indeed for retro gamers. Of course, there is also this promise of modern experiences, something which will be especially tantalising if they fit in with a retro vibe that harks back to simpler times.

Of course, as soon as Atari reveal more we will be here to give you the low down. However, until then, what with the stellar SNES Mini and the intriguing Ataribox already on the horizon, and even both the way the Nintendo Switch is embracing retro combined and SEGA Forever, there’s a phenomenal amount for retro gaming fans to be excited for. And it seems as through Ataribox is set to add another dimension to this new found retro resurgence.

Simon Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that I've written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DudeXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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