Hello retro folks,
Last year I made my first foray into Atari’s mini consoles, and it was far from being memorable.
So, today, In this Atari Flashback X review, we will find out if AtGames listened to critics and addressed their concerns.
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As you know, retro mini consoles are in the middle of a renaissance. There’s no denying that. And with such strong entries like NeoGeo’s mini console and fighting-game-oriented controller console – not to mention those from Sega and Nintendo – you cannot really slack if you are going to come out with something new.
AtGames has always struggled to find the sweet spot when it comes to faithful emulation and overall quality of experience. But maybe it took X number of times for the company to finally get it right because their latest version of an Atari 2600 mini console, the Flashback X, is not only its best effort ever but possibly comparable to some of the big-name releases I just mentioned.
Surprisingly good – this time is the right one!
For modern consumers, an Atari 2600-themed mini console is probably a difficult sale in and of itself. Yet that should not be the case. The 2600 is not only a huge piece of gaming history but also it is where many of the gaming conventions that we take for granted had their genesis.
Looking beyond the stellar library of titles the Flashback X has on offer, this collection is essential to the video games archivist and retro connoisseur. When it comes to quality and execution, AtGames has met all of the high benchmarks set by others in the mini console market and it makes for one compelling retro machine.
If you have ever wondered why a system from 43 years ago is still so relevant for such a large segment of the gaming population, the Atari Flashback X will help you answer that question in a substantive way.
Before I delve into the games, let’s talk a bit about the build quality and design of the console. It is nice and sports an awesome fit and finish. It is an Atari 2600 with wood paneling and all. What really counts, however, is the inclusion of 2 controllers, a power adaptor, and 110 games. AtGames did not skimp on the packaging and you can tell the company is aiming high here. Some mini consoles do not even include a power adaptor.
And do not worry about it taking up a lot of space, either. This console has an extremely small footprint. Nonetheless, it is a pretty little device and instantly evokes waves of nostalgia and good feelings upon first sight. Overall, there is a sense that you are getting a solid product here and AtGames is not known for leaving people with that feeling.
All as it should be – throwback vibes all around
When you boot up the console, you will encounter a clean and unassuming interface. As is almost industry standard at this point, the games feature box art and applicable information. You have got system settings and the like with basic options like turning the music on or off or choosing from a selection of background graphics.
One thing you will find yourself spending more time doing than you thought you would is exploring the game box art and text. That is one of the most fun things especially if you are a retro video game fan like me. There are so many games on offer here that it is like a who’s-who of Atari 2600 games.
Emulation is impressive and the options that AtGames gives you to make everything more player-friendly, while standard in other mini consoles, really helps with some of the more difficult Atari 2600 games. You have save states and instant rewinds to make things more palatable for gamers not raised on the punishing retro systems of yesterday. Best of all is that this is accessible via a menu button – how much simpler can that be?
There is one minor gripe that could possibly be solved by after-market accessories or controller makers. The action button is not as responsive on the Atari Flashback X as I would like for it to be. For some reason, maybe because of emulation or who knows, the controllers appear to have some kind of lag between input and on-screen response.
It is not game-breaking by any stretch, but it does concern me about long-term, heavy use of the system’s controllers. Again, the overall package here is well beyond what I would expect from AtGames and this is a relatively minor gripe given how much value is here.
A mouth-watering selection of games – but less would have been more
As for the games themselves, there is pretty much everything you could ever want on the Atari 2600 here in one place. There are classics and even some more obscure titles for the mainstream like Enduro and Solaris.
You have got both Adventure titles, arcade classic Burgertime, Frogger, Gyruss, Activision’s classic platformer PitFall!, Space Invaders, and even the legendary SwordQuest series of games (Earthworld, Fireworld, and Waterworld). For those of you that do not know about SwordQuest, it was basically the most hyped video game pan-media creation ever before things like Mario hit the scene in a big way.
The Atari Flashback X probably offers one of the most comprehensive overviews of a console’s library I have seen since the Sega Genesis Mini and it is sure to hit every sweet spot for 2600 fans. That said, some of the games seem too obscure or lame for inclusion but, without offending fans, I am going to let each of you decide which games I am referring to with that statement.
There is always filler material on every mini console… it just happens to be more common on this one than I would like.
Final thoughts – a no-brainer purchase
Looking at the system as a whole, I have to say I am really impressed with what AtGames has done here. It is a great mini console and it presents a value proposition on so many levels I cannot help but recommend it.
One of the best features is the price. At $59.99 (as of press), the Atari Flashback X gives you everything you could ever want from a mini console. It is also great to look at and really faithful to what you would think a mini Atari 2600 should be.
Should you get it if you have other Atari 2600 retro consoles? Yes, it is that good. Cheers to AtGames for pulling up its game and bringing this great product to the market.
Till next mini-console review!