It’s 2021 and I don’t play on Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. Instead, I play Atari.

This is not an old Atari 2600 that used to collect dust in the closet, or an emulator I found online. This is a new home video game console: Atari VCS.

After spending some time playing Atari VCS, it’s easy to be trapped by the nostalgic popping feelings of my Asteroids or Rocket Command cartridges. However, VCS offers many modern features such as wireless, battery-powered controllers and Wi-Fi support for downloadable games.

The Atari VCS is available for pre-order for $ 399.99 and includes a console, a modern wireless controller and a wireless classic joystick.

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The VCS’s design draws inspiration from earlier Atari consoles, including the 2600 and Atari 7800. The analog switches for resetting or starting games or for choosing whether to play color or black-and-white have disappeared. Instead, you have two USB ports on the front for charging controllers, an HDMI port for your TV, more USB and Ethernet ports, and a power button.

The classic controller is also taking a turn from the 21st century. There is now a second button that sits on the back of the controllers, right next to the standard red button that Atari fans remember. The wand itself spins, nodding to the old-school paddle controllers with a dial. It also has LED lights and rumble technology so the controller vibrates as you play.

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If you prefer to use something more modern, VCS also includes the standard controller you would find on other modern video game consoles. It feels lighter and mostly comfortable like a PlayStation or Xbox. Maximum tap: You must manually turn off the VCS power to turn it off. There is currently no option to do this via a controller the way you can on a PlayStation or Xbox.

When it comes to gaming, the Atari VCS is clearly aiming for an arcade-style atmosphere with its collection. The device itself comes preloaded with various classic Atari titles, such as Asteroids, Centipede, Rocket Command, Miliped and Pong. But there are some other interesting downloadable games, including a space-themed arcade shooting game called GunTech.

Here’s where the Atari VCS gets interesting: You can download other apps like Netflix, Disney + or YouTube. And the console is available in computer mode, so owners can install their own operating system and use the device as a “mini-computer”.

The big concern that pops up is whether this console might feel too niche. His library is strongly inclined to older arcade games. Of course, there is a game of nostalgia here. Is it enough to spend the same money on a VCS you would spend on a PlayStation or Xbox? This is the big question Atari will face when VCS launches this spring.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @ brettmolina23.

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