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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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slaapliedje 12 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: emphy
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
Ha, this reminds me of the conversation I was having with my brother yesterday about the video game generations.
Basically, if you look back through all of the PS versions, you can REALLY see the differsnce in the jump from PS1 era consoles (like the Saturn) and the jump to the PS2 / Dreamcast.
Then it gets fuzzy going from PS2 to PS3 as mostly you have higher resolutions, but more detailed textures, and better frame rate. And going from PS3 to PS4, there really doesn't seem to be that big of a difference at all until you get to the game that have come out in the last couple of years that really start to push the system.
Then nkw with the PS5, what do you get over the ps4? Higher resolution, better framerate and ray tracing... so probably for the next while you'll end up with the equivalent of the HDR ads you see on bluray movies and wonder why if they can show that nicer picture on your non-hdr picture, then why don't they all look that anyhow...
For me, the only cool thing about the PS5 would be load times and the potential with the new controller. Problem Sony and everyone else has always had, in the entire history of video games, is if you have a controller with special features, it will go unused outside of first party titles, or a very few random ones. Like hiw many games for the PS4 use the gyroscope? Or even the touchpad?
Sorry, went on a rant there... but really what it comes down to is specs don't mean a whole lot in the end as long as the games are fun! If the VCS doesn't float ykur boat? Don't buy one. Sony and Microsoft can sell their hardware at a loss, and make up for it easily with software sales / subscription fees. Atari SA cannot, but also tgey are bundling games with it, since when has that happened? It has been years since a console came with any game, without buying special bundles.
gustavoyaraujo 12 Dec, 2020
Well, looks like this console will be a big failure. In a scenario with Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft ruling, We can not expect anything different.
slaapliedje 12 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: gustavoyaraujoWell, looks like this console will be a big failure. In a scenario with Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft ruling, We can not expect anything different.
(Following of course is just all my opinion).
I think the they missed the people this would sell to by making it a digital only console. Problem is that the Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo consoles out there are very much moving quicker toward digital media only. I'm betting for the next PS6, Microsoft Xbox Season Series Something Extra Letter b+q, and whatever crafty thing Nintendo names their next one, they'll just eliminate the option for physical media. Killing off the possibility to resell your games.

I mean take a look at how even the last few generations have been. You very rarely even get a single insert in the physical game. You never get manuals anymore, or maps or anything extra unless you get Collector Editions that are extra money. They still charge the same price for a digital game as they do for physical media these days because it costs hardly anything to print and ship a case with a color case and a disk. Hell most disk games, you install it then the damn system still re-downloads the entire game anyhow, sometimes because things have been patched.

PC games aren't any better. When I bought Postal III (yeah before everyone knew it was crap) the install asked for both DVDs... and then re-installed the whole thing over Steam anyhow.. took forever to install.

The Atari VCS should have included a cartridge port, to tickle that nostalgia even more, and to allow releases as physical games. Also given it some sort of unique edge. As it is, maybe people can use it to play on Stadia, or the other streaming service that's included with it (Antstream?) My intentions though are basically to install GamerOS on it :)
emphy 12 Dec, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: emphy
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
Ha, this reminds me of the conversation I was having with my brother yesterday about the video game generations.
Basically, if you look back through all of the PS versions, you can REALLY see the differsnce in the jump from PS1 era consoles (like the Saturn) and the jump to the PS2 / Dreamcast.
Then it gets fuzzy going from PS2 to PS3 as mostly you have higher resolutions, but more detailed textures, and better frame rate. And going from PS3 to PS4, there really doesn't seem to be that big of a difference at all until you get to the game that have come out in the last couple of years that really start to push the system.
Then nkw with the PS5, what do you get over the ps4? Higher resolution, better framerate and ray tracing... so probably for the next while you'll end up with the equivalent of the HDR ads you see on bluray movies and wonder why if they can show that nicer picture on your non-hdr picture, then why don't they all look that anyhow...
For me, the only cool thing about the PS5 would be load times and the potential with the new controller. Problem Sony and everyone else has always had, in the entire history of video games, is if you have a controller with special features, it will go unused outside of first party titles, or a very few random ones. Like hiw many games for the PS4 use the gyroscope? Or even the touchpad?
Sorry, went on a rant there... but really what it comes down to is specs don't mean a whole lot in the end as long as the games are fun! If the VCS doesn't float ykur boat? Don't buy one. Sony and Microsoft can sell their hardware at a loss, and make up for it easily with software sales / subscription fees. Atari SA cannot, but also tgey are bundling games with it, since when has that happened? It has been years since a console came with any game, without buying special bundles.

It was your exotic claim of PS4 level performance (hence justifying the high price) that pushed the conversation in the direction of the specs in the first place.


Last edited by emphy on 12 December 2020 at 11:25 pm UTC
slaapliedje 26 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: tmtvl
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.

Dude, this thing is so very pretty... Atari Consoles
tmtvl 26 Dec, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: tmtvlWell... 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.

Dude, this thing is so very pretty... Atari Consoles

十人十色 I guess. I don't like the "oddly shaped black box" aesthetic.
slaapliedje 27 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: tmtvl
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: tmtvlWell... 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.

Dude, this thing is so very pretty... Atari Consoles

十人十色 I guess. I don't like the "oddly shaped black box" aesthetic.
Ha, as opposed to some of the other consoles that have come out over the years? I will say that probably my favorite overall anesthetic is the Sega Genesis. It is what a game console should look like. The moment that they all started to require some sort of active cooling, I think companies screwed up. Consoles should be 100% silent. The Atari VCS is close, but does have a fan that randomly likes to turn on. Hopefully fixed in software before a more general release.
mirv 27 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: slaapliedjeI will say that probably my favorite overall anesthetic is the Sega Genesis.

Unless you've trouble sleeping, I'm assuming you meant aesthetic. I thank you for the typo though, needed the chuckle today.

So while I'm at it, because quite frankly it's an awesome typo, I think a few puns are in order:

A console anaesthetic (alt. spelling anesthetic), to dull the pain of playing a terrible game.
A console anaesthetic, for when you just need to space out for a while.
A console anaesthetic, for major surgery required when that drive gets stuck and you need to remove a cd/dvd.

Please add some more.
slaapliedje 27 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: mirv
Quoting: slaapliedjeI will say that probably my favorite overall anesthetic is the Sega Genesis.

Unless you've trouble sleeping, I'm assuming you meant aesthetic. I thank you for the typo though, needed the chuckle today.

So while I'm at it, because quite frankly it's an awesome typo, I think a few puns are in order:

A console anaesthetic (alt. spelling anesthetic), to dull the pain of playing a terrible game.
A console anaesthetic, for when you just need to space out for a while.
A console anaesthetic, for major surgery required when that drive gets stuck and you need to remove a cd/dvd.

Please add some more.
Ha, writing on my phone, after a lovely night of drinking.

Cheers!
tmtvl 27 Dec, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: tmtvl十人十色 I guess. I don't like the "oddly shaped black box" aesthetic.
Ha, as opposed to some of the other consoles that have come out over the years? I will say that probably my favorite overall anesthetic is the Sega Genesis. It is what a game console should look like. The moment that they all started to require some sort of active cooling, I think companies screwed up. Consoles should be 100% silent. The Atari VCS is close, but does have a fan that randomly likes to turn on. Hopefully fixed in software before a more general release.

I prefer the Dreamcast look: big ol' goofy open and power buttons, some gentle curves to increase the toy-like appearance, and of course a Debian logo on top.


Last edited by tmtvl on 27 December 2020 at 3:20 pm UTC
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