When I first heard about the nostalgia-fuelled Atari 2600+, I pre-ordered it on day one with my own hard-earned money. I was super excited and simply could not wait till November 17th, 2023, the day I could finally get my hands on one!
I think the majority of people alive today wish they could travel back in time for many reasons. The fact that you could go back in time and relive a cherished memory, would simply be mind-boggling, to say the least. Well, sorry to inform everyone that already didn’t know, time travel does not exist.. yet. However, the amazing people at Atari and Plaion have conjured up something special from the past. They have brought back a console, but not just any console, the Atari 2600!
Yes, you read correctly, the Atari 2600 is back in the form of the Atari 2600+. Boasting an almost identical resemblance to the original 1977 console, the Atari 2600+ is actually 80% of the size. It also includes some modernized features in a light up Atari logo, HDMI connection as well as being powered by a USB-C to USB-A cable. The Atari 2600+ includes 10 games straight out of the box. Now, I can already hear people mumbling to themselves, “WHAT? ONLY 10 GAMES!!!” Well, stop it and let me continue. While there are only 10 games included, the Atari 2600+ does something no other mini console does.
Remember when Nintendo and Sega released their mini versions of their popular retro gaming consoles a few years ago? Everyone was excited about this, including myself, but there was one issue with them. While sporting the same look as their original consoles but in a mini version, the cartridge slot on these consoles didn’t do anything whatsoever, apart from looking the part. This is where the Atari 2600+ takes things to a whole new level with this mini retro system, it has a fully working cartridge slot! The 10 games included become a whole backlog of gaming history from many moons ago. Not only does this console play newly released cartridges for the Atari 2600+, it also plays the original cartridges you may have lying around the house. But wait, there’s more, remember the 1986 / 1987 release of the Atari 7800? Yep, you guessed it, the Atari 2600+ can also play these cartridges too. Another plus is that the new Atari 2600+ includes a larger cartridge socket to reduce sticking.
The games included with the console are Adventure, Combat, Dodge ‘Em, Haunted House, Maze Craze, Missile Command, RealSports Volleyball, Surround, Video Pinball, and Yars’ Revenge. Separately available from the console are Berzerk Enhanced Edition, Mr. Run and Jump and 4 games in 1 cartridge, which also includes 2 paddle controllers. Mr. Run and Jump is the company’s first official 2600 game released since 1990. I have also been informed by Atari that there are more games to be released in the near future. I can hear the owners of the original Atari 2600 console asking the question since the old cartridges work on the new consoles, what about the new cartridges working on the original? The answer to that question is, yes. The new cartridges will work on the original 2600 consoles.
A bit worried about how these old-school games are going to look on a modern TV? Well, as mentioned above, the HDMI connection is a great start, not only does this help clear a lot of things up for today’s TVs, but the Atari 2600+ also offers a widescreen mode, which gives you the option to play in 16:9 as opposed to 4:3. I personally never play in widescreen mode as I like to stay true to the game itself and widescreen mode (16:9) gives it that stretched out look. There is also one of the most iconic controllers included in the box, the CX40 Joystick. The CX40 is bang on the money with the original and also has a rubberised stick, and remains a wired controller.
Being a mini version of one of the most famous gaming consoles ever, there is also the famous wood look along with retro-looking switches for power, TV type, game selector, and game reset. Thinking they are just for looks and non functionally like the original? Wrong. All these switches have a purpose, for example – Game Selector, if you want to select a game, you will need access to this switch. There is also the switch called TV type, which allows you to either play the game with a black-and-white filter or in colour mode. For those of you who are too young to know this, there once was a time when TVs were only available in black and white. Yes, these switches are a gimmick, and they could have made all this modernised in an on-screen menu, but, I think that this is bloody fantastic. Rounding it out, there are two difficulty switches on the rear of the console reading A or B. If you are playing a two-player game and one player is more experienced than the other, switching that player to B mode will give this player a harder time, making it more of a fairer game, kinda like a handicap mode.
The Atari 2600+ may look almost identical to the original, however, what lies inside the Atari 2600+ is certainly not the original hardware. This is where the two consoles differ, the Atari 2600+ features a Rockchip 3128 SOC microprocessor with 256MB DDR3 RAM and 256MB eMMC fixed internal storage. In other words, the Atari 2600+ only emulates games. It uses software emulation to play the games from the cartridge. At first, this may be quite frustrating to those who are looking for the real deal, but please be assured, the emulation quality is outstanding. To be honest, I didn’t own any original 2600 games, so I went out to a local retro gaming store and purchased a game called Tom Boy so I could test it. Surprisingly for its age, the cartridge was in decent condition and upon putting it into my Atari 2600+, the cartridge inserted, and played perfectly. Atari has a games compatibility list here, and currently, there are only three games from the 2600 library that don’t work at all. This allows a large selection of gaming gems to play, not to mention the 7800 games.
Not everything in life is perfect, and the Atari 2600+ has a couple of things I would have loved to see. First up, the controller cable length, this has been a problem with other mini systems, too, and I was hoping Atari would have learnt from their mistakes and made the cable longer, but unfortunately, they didn’t. The other thing I would have absolutely loved to see included are game manuals. Remember back in the good old days, buying a game that came with a manual? I personally never read these, but that wasn’t the point. Having the manuals was just cool. Yes, there is always going online and looking them up to find out how to play the game, but it’s just not the same as having it physically in your hot little hands. I would have thought that since Atari put so much effort into making the 2600+ look and play like the original vintage console, they would have included manuals to put the icing on the cake.
Closing this one out, the Atari 2600+ is awesome. The simple yet very effective option of allowing you to play new and old cartridges has made this mini console the best one yet. It almost exactly looks like the original, and the extra ability to play 7800 cartridges won me over big time. If you’re revisiting these games or playing them for the very first time, the Atari 2600+ will not disappoint you.
This is not a novelty console, it’s the real deal and may be the best way to play these games nowadays.
ATARI 2600+ REVIEW
The Atari 2600+ is a faithful and innovative product in the re-released retro console market. The ability to play OG cartridges in addition to new cartridges is a feature that sets the 2600+ apart from the rest. If you’re revisiting this console or experiencing it for the first time, the Atari 2600+ will not disappoint you.
- No Cartridge Left behind, The ability to play old and new cartridges.
- Plays Atari 7800 Cartridges
- The light-up Atari Logo is a nice touch
- Almost identical to the original
- More games on the way
Short cables on controllers
- No manuals