A new effort from Atari has been announced. Gamers all over the globe could soon get access to unreleased and classic games from the video game revolution that started it all. Atari XP is basically an attempt by the classic game maker to give fans access to their classics from bygone eras. The new venture is quite an interesting one, and already the first games have been announced.
And they’re doing it physically, aiming the effort at collectors and long-time fans. The company will produce full cartridges, all of which will be fully compatible with the old-school Atari 2600. Prices for the new console come in two flavors. A basic version for $49, and a special limited edition for $149.
So far, a handful of games have been revealed. Initial runs include Yars’ Return, a sequel to Yars’ Revenge, as well as physical releases of Aquaventure and more. Pre-orders for those are open now on the Atari XP website. The company has said that more games are coming via Atari XP in the future.
The games to be included in future printings include three categories.
The first are “games that were completed but never received an official release, or were only released in very limited quantities,” aiming at titles that never saw the market, and might be cool to play. Second are “games for which physical media has become extremely rare, and therefore hard to find,” and third is “a wide variety of classic games that would benefit from small improvements to graphic rendering on modern devices and the smoothness and accuracy of controls.” Atari seems to be aiming at also helping out collectors by releasing games for which there may be high demand.
The effort to release hardware variants for classic systems is an old one. Retrokin is a common name when it comes to releasing console reproductions for collectors. Setting the precedent for classic games themselves is an interesting one. It will be very interesting to see how Atari and other companies handle this idea.
But for Atari and this new program, things are already looking rough. Those with sharp eyes and in-the-know might have something to say about one of the games being listed here. As pointed out on Twitter by noted game historian Frank Cifaldi, one of these games is actually an unlicensed ROM hack. That means it’s a fan-made mod of the original game, which is now being sold as an unreleased sequel. Very shady indeed.
The recent efforts on this front were pretty rocky, we can’t lie. The Atari VCS, an emulation console that was billed as a way to play classic Atari games, has been a major failure. The original launch was delayed, and fans were fuming. Then the console ran into production issues thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and missed its new launch as well. Atari VCS consoles are now on the shelves, so Atari is moving onto Atari XP.