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Atari VCS has some game announcements, actually shipping soon

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The story of the Atari VCS is definitely an eventful one but it appears it might finally be coming to an end, with units actually about to ship and a couple of game announcements.

Powered by their own Linux-based Atari World operating system, along with the PC Mode ability to load up any other Linux distribution of your choice, it looks like a nice bit of tech for fans of compact systems. Quite underpowered compared with all the latest traditional consoles and normal PCs of course though.

After many delays and a lawsuit involving Rob Wyatt (the architect behind the original Xbox), who the Atari team pulled in to help do some design work, the Atari VCS has limped along. On December 5, they noted that "starting next week" they would begin the sorting, packing and shipping and that they would update their pages to note it was shipping - which has not yet actually happened it seems. Also, units will only come with a US plug, so you will need an adapter outside the US and they said it will need an internet connection to activate.

What about actual games then? While we know it will have the Atari Vault, Plex, Missile Command: Recharged and some other streaming services - it has been severly lacking in announcements for other actual games. Considering it's supposed to be a gaming unit, it was somewhat hilarious. Recently though, they had a really small splash of developers announcing they're porting to it.

So what's coming? Here's all that has been announced so far.

The Spirit of the Samurai - "an epic adventure 2D game with metroidvania-style game-play". The thing is though, this particular title is crowdfunding on Kickstarter, and with 5 days left it seems it's not going to be funded. Doesn't seem like a great choice considering it's seen such little interest from elsewhere.

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Neko Ghost, Jump! is the next one that's "a puzzle-platformer where you not only switch between 2D & 3D camera perspectives but also between your physical & ghost forms to solve puzzles, combat enemies, and clear levels faster". You can actually try a demo of that for Linux on Steam right now and it actually seems quite good, nice blending of perspectives and gameplay.

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SuperMash sounds quite nice too "In SuperMash, you're an independent video game store clerk who's found a special magical game console. It spews out retro games with crazy randomized titles, mashed-up gameplay and objectives, and even authentic bugs - all of which you'll get to play!"

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Danger Scavenger - "a fast-paced action, cyberpunk-themed, roguelite skyline crawler".

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Unsung Warriors — Prologue - "a 2D action-adventure game set in Iron Age inspired Europe. Fight your way past enemies and traps, while exploring the secrets of an ancient crypt.". This one is also available for Linux right now on Steam and itch.io. While it's quite sweet, it's not much more than a short demo.

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Rift World - "a first person bullet hell set in a magical and chaotic realm". Not one I had heard of before, and it actually has a demo for Linux available on itch.io. One to take a look back on soon!

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The last and latest announcement is ThrustLander, a modern take on retro cave-flying games. It's going to be exclusive to the Atari VCS until sometime later in 2021.

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Nice to finally see titles coming to the Atari VCS for anyone who purchased one. However, with one about to be a big Kickstarter failure, one being pretty much a demo and only five others so far - it's not exactly going to turn any heads.

For our readers: did you buy one? Will you be buying one? I am still genuinely tempted, just because it looks quite nice and will play some modern games too. Naturally, I would be using the PC Mode option to stick on something like Ubuntu Linux.

Personally though, I find it pretty interesting that any developer would port to the Atari VCS but not the Linux desktop. While it's true that you will only have to target the one unit since it's like a console, i really can't imagine the VCS having a bigger user base (that will actually buy games) than Linux for Steam (without even counting additional people from GOG, itch and more).

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21 comments
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tmtvl 11 Dec, 2020
QuoteWill you be buying one?

Well... on one hand it's ugly as sin, on the other hand it seems to have damn good specs for the price it commands... if it ships and people are happy with it I may consider it.
mirv 11 Dec, 2020
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Needs an adapter plug, and needs activation. It's almost like they want to give people reasons not to buy it. I'm sure they'll bombard with subscription sign up messages too.

Wonder if they've remembered CE certification.

Taking a pass on this thing.
M@GOid 11 Dec, 2020
They cornered themselves badly with those prices. $390 bucks is PS5 money, and a XB Series S is $300.

They need a $150 price tag fast or this thing will be a collectors thing in a couple months.


Last edited by M@GOid on 11 December 2020 at 1:49 pm UTC
slaapliedje 11 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: M@GOidThey cornered themselves badly with those prices. $390 bucks is PS5 money, and a XB Series S is $300.

They need a $150 price tag fast or this thing will be a collectors thing in a couple months.
From my understanding, the Atari VCS is somewhere spec wise between the PS4 and PS4 Pro. There is no way they could sell it for 150. PS4s are still selling for 300-400. (Okay, just checked Amazon, some of the bundles are 640!)

So the price is probably about right actually. It is abkut as available to order as the PS5 is too... :p
emphy 11 Dec, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: M@GOidThey cornered themselves badly with those prices. $390 bucks is PS5 money, and a XB Series S is $300.

They need a $150 price tag fast or this thing will be a collectors thing in a couple months.
From my understanding, the Atari VCS is somewhere spec wise between the PS4 and PS4 Pro. There is no way they could sell it for 150. PS4s are still selling for 300-400. (Okay, just checked Amazon, some of the bundles are 640!)

CPU is a fair improvement (per core) on the ps4(pro)'s, but the integrated gpu is not even close and even then likely to be strangled by memory bandwith and temperature restrictions. A $150 price point would have been reachable for any credible console manufacturer.


Last edited by emphy on 11 December 2020 at 11:53 pm UTC
sarmad 12 Dec, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: M@GOidThey cornered themselves badly with those prices. $390 bucks is PS5 money, and a XB Series S is $300.

They need a $150 price tag fast or this thing will be a collectors thing in a couple months.
From my understanding, the Atari VCS is somewhere spec wise between the PS4 and PS4 Pro. There is no way they could sell it for 150. PS4s are still selling for 300-400. (Okay, just checked Amazon, some of the bundles are 640!)

So the price is probably about right actually. It is abkut as available to order as the PS5 is too... :p

Not accurate. The GPU is far from being on par with PS4, let alone PS4 Pro. If I remember correctly, the GPU is around half the performance of PS4, if not even less than that.
This is a machine designed for indie games so don't expect any graphics beyond what a Wii U can achieve, though that's not necessarily a bad thing, there is still a big market for indie games and they can compete against traditional consoles with price and availability of those indie games.
ElectricPrism 12 Dec, 2020
QuoteThey said it will need an internet connection to activate.

I can think of no good reason why a internet connection should be _required_. It honestly pisses me off how dependent and lazy game developers, console makers and others have used the internet in order to push broken things out.

Also, what if you don't live in a area with a good internet connection? It does happen. Not everyone lives in a mega-city.

Big turn-off.
slaapliedje 12 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: ElectricPrism
QuoteThey said it will need an internet connection to activate.

I can think of no good reason why a internet connection should be _required_. It honestly pisses me off how dependent and lazy game developers, console makers and others have used the internet in order to push broken things out.

Also, what if you don't live in a area with a good internet connection? It does happen. Not everyone lives in a mega-city.

Big turn-off.
With other systems, I 100% agree with you. With the VCS, they basically said from the beginning that it will be all about the streaming service. It isn't like the thing has an optical drive or cartridge port.

Unless they start selling USB sticks with software on it, there is no physical games.

I think this is a shame and a lost opportunity. I mean they could have essentially put a cart port on there and had a cheap USB to edge connector to faje a cart, and sold game carts for the really nostalgic feels.
slaapliedje 12 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: sarmad
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: M@GOidThey cornered themselves badly with those prices. $390 bucks is PS5 money, and a XB Series S is $300.

They need a $150 price tag fast or this thing will be a collectors thing in a couple months.
From my understanding, the Atari VCS is somewhere spec wise between the PS4 and PS4 Pro. There is no way they could sell it for 150. PS4s are still selling for 300-400. (Okay, just checked Amazon, some of the bundles are 640!)

So the price is probably about right actually. It is abkut as available to order as the PS5 is too... :p

Not accurate. The GPU is far from being on par with PS4, let alone PS4 Pro. If I remember correctly, the GPU is around half the performance of PS4, if not even less than that.
This is a machine designed for indie games so don't expect any graphics beyond what a Wii U can achieve, though that's not necessarily a bad thing, there is still a big market for indie games and they can compete against traditional consoles with price and availability of those indie games.
Did you miss that it got a huge upgrade from their original development board? Pretty sure the specs are out there for a newer one that was a decent amount better and not the weaker board you are thinking of.
https://variety.com/2019/gaming/news/atari-vcs-upgrade-launch-1203166492/#!
emphy 12 Dec, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: sarmad
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: M@GOidThey cornered themselves badly with those prices. $390 bucks is PS5 money, and a XB Series S is $300.

They need a $150 price tag fast or this thing will be a collectors thing in a couple months.
From my understanding, the Atari VCS is somewhere spec wise between the PS4 and PS4 Pro. There is no way they could sell it for 150. PS4s are still selling for 300-400. (Okay, just checked Amazon, some of the bundles are 640!)

So the price is probably about right actually. It is abkut as available to order as the PS5 is too... :p

Not accurate. The GPU is far from being on par with PS4, let alone PS4 Pro. If I remember correctly, the GPU is around half the performance of PS4, if not even less than that.
This is a machine designed for indie games so don't expect any graphics beyond what a Wii U can achieve, though that's not necessarily a bad thing, there is still a big market for indie games and they can compete against traditional consoles with price and availability of those indie games.
Did you miss that it got a huge upgrade from their original development board? Pretty sure the specs are out there for a newer one that was a decent amount better and not the weaker board you are thinking of.
https://variety.com/2019/gaming/news/atari-vcs-upgrade-launch-1203166492/#!

Official specs say it's an Embedded R1606G from amd. That's roughly an athlon 3000g with inferior cpu and slightly faster clocked igpu (1200mhz vs 1100Mhz). That igpu is not going to come even close to that of the ps4.

The Lowspecgamer youtube channel has a few videos on the 3000g if you are curious about what sort of performance you can expect. It's quite a nice low budget part with surprising performance for the price, and I'd choose the 3000g's cpu part over the one in the ps4 any day - but graphics performance is definitely not at the ps4's level.

Sources:
https://shop.atarivcs.com/hardware-specs
https://www.amd.com/en/products/specifications/embedded/11411
https://www.amd.com/en/products/apu/amd-athlon-3000g


Last edited by emphy on 12 December 2020 at 11:28 am UTC
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