Friday 12 January 2024

Retro Games announces Atari 400

2024 marks the 20th anniversary of this blog! Early on, I wrote about how Atari was a gateway into playing video games when I was gifted an older cousin's unwanted VCS on my 8th birthday in 1980.

After school, I avidly played Space Invaders, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Pitfall, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and many more with childhood friends.

Atari has a storied history with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Atari/Lucasfilm Games was founded in 1982, and the infamous E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game tie-in never reached the UK (I had to settle for the Parker Brothers board game for Christmas).

Nintendo popularised mini consoles with its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 2016. Others wanted in on the throwback action. PlayStation Classic, Sega Mega Drive Mini (Sega Genesis Mini if you're in the US), PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini (TurboGrafx-16 Mini if you're in the US) and more soon followed to scratch that nostalgic itch.

Fast forward. Retro Games, the company behind the mini Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64 and Amiga A500, has announced THE400 Mini in association with Atari. A miniaturised version of the chunky classic Atari 400, emulating the whole 8-bit Atari range, including the 400/800, XL and XE series home computers and the 5200 home console.

“We have a rich history in creating re-imagined, iconic home computers, and we very much hope that THE400 Mini will become an important part of that legacy. The original home computer was a gaming hero to many, and it’s important to us to re-create the machines that helped define the video games industry and are thus worthy of preservation. We believe that serious collectors and retro gaming fans will love what we’ve done, and should take the time to discover the odd Easter Egg or two as they embark upon a journey into 1970s and 1980s gaming”, said Paul Andrews, Managing Director at Retro Games Ltd.

Key features of THE400 Mini include:

• A half-sized version of the distinctively styled Atari 400, emulating the whole 8-bit Atari range from the 400 to the 800XL, and the Atari 5200 home console.
• Also included is a recreation of the classic Atari CX40 joystick, with an additional seven seamlessly integrated function buttons.
• The ability for players to side-load their own games via a USB stick, with support for cartridge, disk and cassette ROMs.
• Players can rewind time and save their games.
• HD TV output via HDMI, with 50/60Hz compatibility.
• 5 USB ports which allow for the addition of a modern keyboard, extra joysticks and more.
• Look and feel of 1979: THE400 Mini has been lovingly crafted using modern technology, from the hard-to-match colours of the original machine to the authentic textures of the plastic casing and membrane keyboard, no compromise was made relative to the iconic 1970s look and feel of the original Atari 400.

Stuart Chiplin, Head of Commercial Evaluations at PLAION said “We’re excited to be working with Retro Games Ltd. to bring back an iconic machine that meant so much to so many. Cherished memories from the past must be treated with respect, care and attention – THE400 Mini has been designed to retain the look and feel of the original home computer, while benefitting from robust design and manufacturing and an obsession with attention to detail.”

THE400 Mini comes with 25 titles preinstalled spanning Atari’s 8-bit era. Announced games include: Berzerk, Millipede, Miner 2049er, Lee (Bruce Lee was dropped for licensing reasons) and Star Raiders II (originally developed as a tie-in with The Last Starfighter movie). My favourites from the Atari 8-bit era are Dropzone, Rescue on Fractulas!, Ballblazer and Pitfall II.

Pre-order THE400 Mini (affiliate link) today. It's released on 28th March with a suggested retail price of £99.99. I hope to bring you a review in the future.

Will you be adding THE400 Mini to your retro collection? What are your favourite Atari 8-bit video games? Let me know in the comments below.

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