Atari built some hype last month by revealing it was releasing a new console dubbed the Ataribox. At the time, all we got was a cryptic website and teaser video. Now Atari has shared the first photos of the console in an email to fans, as well as a few more details about what’s to come.
It actually looks quite good! The wood paneling and ribbed top is immediately reminiscent of the old Atari aesthetic, but the shape and minimal branding is more modern. That said, there’s also a black and red option that looks decidedly less attractive. Meanwhile, connectivity looks pretty fairly robust, with an SD card slot, HDMI, four USB ports and even an Ethernet jack.
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As for what the console will actually do, Atari has this to say:
Our objective is to create a new product that stays true to our heritage, while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari…. As you can guess, those ports suggest modern internal specs. It also means that while we will be delivering classic gaming content, we will also be delivering current gaming content.
The design is preliminary so Atari says it’s still looking for feedback on social media.
On one hand, I worry Atari is looking to cash in on the success of the NES Classic. Though Atari says it’s looking to deliver current gaming content, that could mean just about anything. I mean, another Rollercoaster Tycoon entry isn’t much to get excited about. And if the company’s focus were mainly new games, it should’ve just said so from the start.
On the other hand, the company has already licensed retro consoles in the past. The Ataribox is supposedly being made by Atari proper, and the port selection – pretty much the same as an Xbox One or PS4 – suggests something of a more modern caliber. I mean, I have no idea what a retro console would need ethernet for.
Judging by the size of the ports relative to the body, it looks a bit smaller than a Wii U, although it doesn’t have to waste internal space with a disc drive. If the focus were on retro games, it probably would’ve been smaller. Assuming it uses newer components, I imagine it would at the very least provide performance on par with the Switch. My guess is that Atari is going to try to become a platform for indie titles – the company is courting developers right on the Ataribox homepage.
But of course, this is all conjecture based on a non-finalized design. As exciting as it would be to have a new entry into the console race, it’s an incredibly difficult market to break into. I wouldn’t get my hopes up the Ataribox will be particularly successful, but I’d love to be proven wrong.