Atari VCS, the retro-inspired, Linux-powered gaming console, is finally inching towards general release — in America, at least.
Engadget report that the system is on general “pre-order” from today from the Atari VCS web store as well as at retail partners GameStop and Walmart.
Pre-order today, get your console March 2020.
If you backed the Atari VCS crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo — and a lot of people did — you won’t have to wait quite as long as the console is expected to ship to backers in December.
Unlike similar retro consoles from Nintendo, Sega and Sony, the Atari VCS is a “living” console that’s not limited to the games it ships with. Yes, it lets you play classic Atari games, but it also lets you buy and play newer titles.
Online video streaming from sites like Netflix will also, apparently, be available on the machine. This adds some versatility, making the machine more of a media and entertainment hub that simply a retro-minded console.
Atari VCS Specs & Price Finalised
So what’s inside the “Ataribox” and how much will it cost?
Well, the base Atari VCS 400 features an AMD processor, embedded Vega graphics, 32GB eMMC, and 4GB of RAM. It costs a cool $249 with controllers sold separately.
Atari VCS 800 offers the same specs as the base model but with double the RAM at 8GB. It sells for $279. Again, controllers sold separately.
Finally, there’s an all-inclusive bundle featuring the Atari VCS 800 and both modern and retro VCS controllers. This costs $389.
Just to spice things up Engadget say there’ll exclusive models to hunt down: a gold version sold at Walmart; a wood-fronted model exclusive to the Atari web store; and a pure black model with red accents sold at GameStop.
No word on any international release as of writing.
Phew! It Lives! Etc!
The team behind the Atari VCS quietly dropped us from their press list after we raised a public eyebrow (or two) at the constant delays, not-exactly-demo-demos, and the general air of mystery about key things like, y’know, hardware.
That and I may have used the word “vapourware” a few times, too 😅.
But hey, it seems the Atari VCS team get the last laugh as, finally, their much-hyped console is nearing reality — or store shelves more specifically.
The Atari VCS website has even been given a major revamp. It now shows a neat promotional overview of what the console is, does, and costs (though conspicuously doesn’t talk titles).
Finally, if you’ve been wondering why I’ve spent so much time tapping out posts on a games console on a site about Ubuntu it’s because — tangential link incoming — the Atari VCS runs on a custom Linux OS referred to as “Atari World”.
See! Method to my madness.
That and the VCS also lets owners boot and/or install other Linux distros (like Ubuntu) and operating systems from a USB, which is handy if you get bored with what comes in the box and want to run Steam…