Crowdfunded projects have come and gone and many that have lasted years never delivered. Given those factors, it’s almost a surprise that the Atari VCS hybrid PC console even launched at all. Yet here we are, almost four years after it first debuted as the AtariBox, the Atari VCS is finally launching in stores. Its commercial success, however, still hangs in the balance and in the hands of those who can figure out what the device is really for.
The Atari VCS was born from an age where every old console or arcade cabinet maker was coming out with revivals of their classic hardware, albeit in smaller forms. Atari, however, had a different vision for what would become the Atari 2600’s spiritual successor. Full-sized or perhaps even a little larger, the Atari VCS was made to be a general-purpose home entertainment and productivity system.
It may look like a classic Atari console but the Atari VCS is actually a PC at heart. Running on an AMD Ryzen chip with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage, the Atari VCS can even run Linux or Windows or even Steam OS. In fact, the custom OS that Atari uses even includes the Google Chrome web browser.
Of course, the main purpose of the Atari VCS is for gaming and it comes with support for all types of games. Each purchase comes with a copy of Atari VCS Vault which contains a hundred arcade and Atari 2600 games as well as Atari’s own Missile Command: Recharged. There’s also free access to Antstream Arcade, a game-streaming service dedicated to retro titles, and a library of indie games that include Boulder Dash Deluxe.
Atari clearly wants the Atari VCS to be a gaming console, a game development platform, an entertainment system, and a productivity machine in one but it remains to be seen if it will hit the mark on even one of those. The hybrid console goes on sale on June 15 from Best Buy, GameStop, Micro Center, and the official Atari VCS online store. The base unit costs $299.99 and the Wireless Classic Joystick and Wireless Modern Controller cost $59.99 each. While the console supports almost any PC controller, retailers also offer a bundle of those three pieces for #399.99.