Enjoying the Atari 2600+ experience

I received my Atari 2600+ last week. I am awash in memory, enjoy the gameplay, and my hands are again made sore by the chunky joystick.

The Atari 2600+ is an 80% scale Atari 2600 with HDMI as its video output instead of RF. This console has switches that feel very much like the Atari my parents bought back in the late 1970s, the same fake wood veneer, and ridges on the top. The only thing "new" about the four-switch design, aside from the slight diet the console went on, is an LED light-up Atari logo on the front and a 4:3 vs 16:9 switch. The unit is also powered by USB-C.

The included controller is a CX-40+ joystick. It is the Atari joystick of old as far as my hands can tell. It's a little stiffer, perhaps, but I chalk that up to it being NEW. The 2600+ uses the classic DB-9 connector, and reputedly old joysticks will work. This is a real Atari joystick. Immediately, the edges were chomping into my hands, and I had to sit it on the table. I am waiting for a set of CX-30+ paddles to arrive as my OG "Driving" and "Tennis" paddles do not seem to register or are just dead.

The Atari 2600+ requires you to have the cartridge to play a game. There is no way to load games onto it, and you have to carefully but firmly seat a cart to get it to load. Sometimes, the loading process fails, and I get to do the whole removal, look at the connectors, and reset the cartridge thing. I didn't have a PILE of old Atari cars around, but a big part of the fun for me around this console is going to game shops and finding them. Game stores have a LOT of old Atari cartridges. The included 10:1 cartridge has some good stuff, and Missle Command is a blast.

The machine runs emulators for both 2600 and 7800 games. 7800 games, of course, look much better. I have been playing a lot of 7800 Ms. PacMan. Updates to firmware will be made over the USB-C port, says Atari. While hundreds of cartridges are currently working, the few games with extra chips or homebrew stuff are reportedly coming soon, as well as additional controller support. I am looking forward to the Star Raiders control pad working as the game loads, but the pad does not currently work.

So, the unit is a pleasure to see and to hold. The games are exactly what they were. If hunting for games is something you'd enjoy, or you have a library of vintage Atari stuff around — this is the way. If you want to play the games, there are many ROM-based options out there for you that'll work great without hunting for physical media.

Atari 2600+ via Amazon