Pete Rose, Pelé, and Don Knotts pitching the Atari game system (1978)

Here are soccer legend Pelé, comedy actor Don Knotts, and since-disgraced baseball hit king Pete Rose pitching the Atari Video Computer System in 1978. "Don't just watch television tonight - play it!" Read the rest

You can install linux on the new Atari VCS, which will have more powerful specs than originally planned

The forthcoming Atari VCS got a mixed reception from players, who are wary of a nostalgic cash-grab but hopeful for something more versatile and capable than Nintendo's one-shot classics consoles. A great sign: not only has it received spec bumps to 8GB of RAM and a decent GPU, but owners can install Linux. You probably won't want to, but it's proof of the system's general-purpose performance and open-ness.

In the spirit of being open, Atari wants the VCS platform to give developers all the freedom they need to be creative. Your solution to a problem doesn’t have to make sense to me, it just has to make sense to you. We’ll support you as much as we can to make sure your solution works. One thing you’ll never hear from us is “Why do you want to do that?”

...

The VCS hardware will be powered by an AMD Bristol Ridge family APU with Radeon R7 graphics and is now going to get 8 gigabytes of unified memory. This is a huge upgrade from what was originally specified and unlike other consoles it’s all available, we won’t reserve 25% of hardware resources for system use.

It's looking more and more like an entry-level game PC in a really nice box. And they say I'm hard to shop for.

If you do just want a one-shot classics console and can't wait, though, Atari Flashback Gold [Amazon] comes in under $70 and has 120 games, two controllers and the Look. Read the rest

Atari "VCS" delayed to 2019

Atari's retro game console, annoyingly given the same name as the 1977 original, won't be showing up until 2019, reports Andrew Tarantola. But you'll be able to pre-order it soon anyway.

We're also finally getting a hint at the system's capabilities. Atari announced on Monday that it has partnered with AMD for the console's processor. The VCS will support 4K resolutions, HDR and 60fps gameplay. It will offer both internal and external storage, built-in WiFi, USB 3 and Bluetooth 5 capabilities.

The company is still tight-lipped as to what you'll actually be able to do with the VCS, however.

Charming as it is, the high price demands 21st century performance. Another benefit of a good video chip will be mining Ataricoin. Read the rest

Forthcoming Ataribox renamed "Atari VCS"

The Ataribox, announced after Nintendo scored surprise hits with its popular NES and SNES classic consoles, is going to be called "Atari VCS" instead -- the same name as Atari's original, way back in 1977.

The company is showing off the Atari VCS, Classic Joystick, and Modern Controller prototypes to the press this week at GDC. And it is working with game developers, content creators, and other partners to finalize details. In April, Atari will announce a preorder date for the Atari VCS. Earlier, Atari canceled a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo because its development hit a snag.

If you suspected this was an empty nostalgia-marketing ploy, this might not allay your fears: someone's already made it so the Wikipedia page for "Atari VCS" is an ad for the new machine. But the concept is essentially Pi-like hackable hardware in a pretty box with well-made controllers, so what could go wrong?

Update: as noted by nungesser, the potential wrong is the price: $300. Better be a great GPU in there for all that cabbage. Read the rest

Atari joins blockchain mania

Atari is launching its own cryptocurrency, because of course it is.

The company’s Paris-listed stock rose as much as 111% between February 4 and February 15. The company says it is investing in a “crypto platform” that will use its own digital currency, the “Atari Token.” It can be used to – you guessed it – play video games.

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Video game legend thrown out the record books after times found to be impossible

Game over: Todd Rogers, longtime holder of countless videogame speed-run records, is being removed from the record tables after "the body of evidence" weighed strongly against the credibility of his claimed times.

Player Todd Rogers has been stripped of his world record for finishing the simple Atari 2600 racing game Dragster, after months of debate over his completion time. ...Yet Rogers never provided recorded or other proof of his 5.51 time in Dragster, a sticking point in the years that followed. His personal website offered a simple explanation of how he achieved his unbeatable time, while maintaining that Activision’s certification of his time — highlighted in one of the company’s newsletters — was enough to cement his place on the gaming leaderboards.

Yet when Twin Galaxies introduced a new process for disputing scores in July 2017, Rogers’ time in Dragster was one of the first to be challenged. In August 2017, several community members submitted Rogers’ 5.51-second Dragster finish for review. A thread on the Twin Galaxies’ forum about how Rodgers’ Dragster time was technically impossible ran for nearly 300 pages and included almost 3,000 posts

The Dragster record imbroglio not only puts all of Rogers' times out of play, but implied that folks at Activision and Twin Galaxies responsible for verifying times were negligent or complicit. Rogers was also banned from the Twin Galaxies site.

Previously: Video game record-setter accused of cheating Read the rest

Pretty much everything named ATARI fails

The Ataribox looks great but $300?????

Looks like this proposed box that could have been a complete Atari 2600 library with paddles and blocky joysticks is instead an Atari inspired set-top streaming box!!?

Via Gizmodo:

According to Mac, the Ataribox will cost somewhere between $250 and $300. It’ll run Linux and have an AMD processor with Radeon graphics, facilitating a more open, PC-like experience than standard set-top boxes. But if that sounds intriguing to you, you’ll have to wait a little while because Atari needs to crowdfund it through IndieGoGo first. Mac said that a campaign to raise cash will launch in the Fall of 2018.

“People are used to the flexibility of a PC, but most connected TV devices have closed systems and content stores,” Mac told VentureBeat. “We wanted to create a killer TV product where people can game, stream, and browse with as much freedom as possible, including accessing pre-owned games from other content providers.”

That all sounds fine. Powerful and customizable tech has its audience. But the big idea of releasing a retro-console is offering a bunch of classic content. Putting out a sleek, wood-paneled box with the name Atari slapped on it creates an expectation that you’ll get all the Atari gaming money can buy. Unfortunately the company is still being cagey about what will come with the Ataribox when you fire it up.

I just want to play Star Raiders.

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The story of the world's worst videogame

For better or worse, video game designer/programmer Howard Scott Warshaw is perhaps best known for the Atari 2600 game "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). That game is considered by many to be the worst video game in history and blamed for driving the video game industry crash of 1983. (To be fair, it wasn't entirely Warshaw's fault. He was also the talented developer behind the classic Yars' Revenge and other fine titles.) Above is the Big Story of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Warshaw, now a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley.

And in case you missed it, the film Atari: Game Over is a wonderful documentary about E.T. and the mass burial of unsold copies of the game.

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Atari 2600 emulated inside Minecraft

Seth Bling built a functioning Atari 2600 emulator in Minecraft. Not just the processor, or the box, but the whole thing, complete with cartridges and a television. The white flashing line you see in it is the television's scanning electron beam being emulated. You can watch dirt blocks turn to stone and back: that's the ones and zeroes in the Atari's memory. You can edit the memory, bit by bit, by punching it!

It takes Minecraft about three minutes to draw each frame, but Bling recorded a timelapse of it in action. Click through to the YouTube for a download of the Minecraft world housing the emulator. Here's a technical explanatory video:

Previously: Extremely Mundane Places In Minecraft Read the rest

Take a nostalgic trip through the "Art of Atari"

The Art of Atari is a new hardcover celebrating the wonderful illustrations of the iconic game company's packaging, catalogs, and other artwork that, according to the book's introduction written by Ernest "Ready Player One" Cline, was "specially commissioned to enhance the Atari experience to further entice children and adults to embrace the new era of electronic entertainment." Speaking from personal experience, it totally worked.

The Art of Atari (Amazon)

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Interview with Ed Fries, creator of Halo 2600

In 2010, Ed Fries, a former Microsoft VP of game publishing, programmed an Atari 2600 version of Halo. The game, titled Halo 2600, has now been added to the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian magazine interviewed Fries:

I don’t want to get too caught up in "Art" with a capital A in a sense, because then it becomes this whole kind of pointless argument about what is art to begin with. I think what matters is, can we tell human stories in a way that affect people—maybe change how they feel about themselves, or the world or exposes them to something that they haven’t been exposed to before? And in the game business, that simple thing is actually pretty hard. I mean, it’s taken us many years and a lot of technological advance to be able to make realistic characters on a screen that look like people, that don’t look like robots, that move like real people, that when they talk, the way their mouths move or eyes sparkle. You know, that doesn’t make you feel like you’re looking at a puppet—that makes you feel like you’re looking at a real human being. Once you get past that, then you open up the door to tell real stories about real people but in a way that’s different than a movie because the player’s in control. And that’s the promise for video games.

"Demaking Halo, Remaking Art: 'Halo 2600' Developer Discusses the Promise of Video Games" (Smithsonian) Read the rest

Legendary Atari cartridge dump to be excavated

After producing too many copies of its infamously terrible E.T. game, Atari dumped the unsold inventory in a remote New Mexico landfill. Thirty years on, the local authorities have greenlighted an excavation to see exactly what's down there. [John Bear at The Alamogordo Daily News] Read the rest

Atari Flashback 4 console

AT Games has released the new Atari Flashback 4 console, this time with wireless joysticks. It's loaded with Asteroids, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Centipede and 70 more classics, but not E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Here's the menu:

3D Tic-Tac-Toe, Adventure, Adventure II, Air·Sea Battle, Aquaventure, Asteroids, Backgammon, Basketball, Battlezone, Black Jack, Bowling, Breakout, Canyon Bomber, Centipede, Championship Soccer, Circus Atari, Combat Two, Combat, Crystal Castles, Demons to Diamonds, Desert Falcon, Dodge 'Em, Double Dunk, Fatal Run, Flag Capture, Football, Frog Pond, Front Line, Fun with Numbers, Golf, Grand Prix, Gravitar, Hangman, Haunted House, Home Run, Human Cannonball, Jungle Hunt, Maze Craze, Miniature Golf, Missile Command, Night Driver, Off The Wall, Outlaw, Polaris, Realsports Baseball, Realsports Basketball, Realsports Soccer, Realsports Volleyball, Return to Haunted House, Saboteur, Save Mary, Sky Diver, Slot Machine, Slot Racers, Solaris, Space Invaders Space War, Sprintmaster, Star Ship, Steeplechase, Stellar Track, Street Racer, Submarine Commander, Super Baseball, Super Breakout, Super Football, Surround, Tempest, Video Checkers, Video Chess, Video Olympics, Video Pinball, Warlords, Wizard, Yars' Revenge

Atari Flashback 4 (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest