There is no way to overstate Atari’s importance in the video game world. They created arcade cabinets that popularized video games in general, and developed the Atari Video Computer System (the 2600), which is widely considered to be the first video game console as we know them today. However, the last home console they made — the Jaguar — was discontinued more than 20 years ago. Thankfully, they’re finally back with the completely new Atari VCS.
Despite the VCS (video computer system) name, this is not just a re-release of the 2600, like what Nintendo has done with the NES and SNES. It’s a completely new system that’s a hybrid of a home video game console and a voice-controlled media center PC. It runs a custom Linux operating system, and can get online to stream videos just like any other computer. But, Atari definitely hasn’t lost focus of what we all care about: the games.
The Atari VCS will, of course, be able to play all of the classic Atari games you remember, and there is even a brand new 2600-esque Classic Joystick so you can play them right. The VCS isn’t just for classic games, and Atari is pushing the development of new games too. Using the Modern Controller — a twin-stick design that resembles the XBOX and PlayStation controllers we’re used to these days — you can play many modern AAA and indie games, along with entirely exclusive games that Atari is partnering with developers to create.
I don’t need to tell you how exciting this is — the Atari VCS has already reached more than 2,000% of its Indiegogo funding goal for good reason. If you’re ready to back the campaign, the reward you want is the $299 Collector’s Edition, which has the beautiful retro wood panel on the front and includes a Classic Joystick. The campaign is running until June 30th, and rewards should ship in July 2019.