The Ataribox: what is it?

So a couple months ago Atari teased that they would be releasing their first console in 24 years since the Jaguar in 1993. This tease has actually turned out to be true and the company is currently working on their new console, the interestingly dubbed ‘Ataribox’ and images of the console were released to give us a look at what the company are hoping to make.

The console has a dark wood/black and red/black finish and gives the impression of an 80’s styled hardware with a modern crisp touch to it, reminiscent of their older models like the 2600. So far no release dates, game confirmations, specs or pricing has been confirmed or mentioned but it is stated that the console will have the best of retro and ‘modern’ content from the brand. Whilst Atari own the brand it is expected that a lot of their classic titles will end up on this console. It does not appear to be a simple ‘plug and play’ machine which has been created by third parties (most notably the Flashback console).

Recently on Steam, Xbox One and PS4 two Atari game packages were released called the ‘Flashback Classics vol. 1/2‘ and this is just some of many in terms of Atari re-releases over the years which have previously been on Steam and older Playstation consoles. There are so many ways of obtaining their back catalogue which features titles such as Pac-Man, Asteroids, Joust, Yars Revenge, Adventure, Centipede, Breakout and Space Invaders that is it really necessary for this console to even exist? Such a thought has drifted around for years as it seemed like another Atari console would never happen and the same could be said for a lot of other companies (one with a blue hedgehog).

The Atari Jaguar released in 1993 was a major flop and saw Atari exit the console market…in the time of their last console to the Ataribox…I was born.

This console will favour nicely to retro fans and it will be interesting to see if the console is a disc drive system seeing as the NES & SNES Classic Mini have proven to be popular and are such simple systems with no add-on features. Another interesting fact will be their idea of ‘modern’ games being thrown into the mix…surely this won’t have the most amazing specs and will sit in between console specs over the last few years. Will it merely just license recent Atari titles to its console like Roller Coaster Tycoon? Well it is nice to have everything in one place and the console itself does look aesthetically pleasing to say the least. On the other hand the name will strike a fuse with gamers seeing as the addition on ‘box’ contrasts with ‘Xbox’ but, I feel its to exemplify how a lot of Atari content will be in this machine…maybe it’s a prototype name like ‘NX’.

The console will have HDMI, SD Card and USB  inputs which gives me the impression that it will support modern gaming and have updated (to a degree) specifications. The console will also be crowdfunded and I imagine to shovel enough out the company will set themselves a high target. Atari are not just jumping right back into the console game as they are listening to fans and taking a step by step approach to make sure everyone’s feelings on the project are heard.

Stay tuned for further updates on this interesting new retro project!

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The Nintendo Switch: First thoughts

Now I was going to post about what I was hoping from the Nintendo (NX at the time) Switch but, low and behold Nintendo decided to drop a really big bomb and blow us all away with the unveiling of the console.

There were plenty of rumours to what the Switch would be, what it would look like, the types of games it would play and the methods in which you played them. And you know what? A lot of leaks or rumours did in fact turn out to be true.

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Now the Switch may incorporate a lot of similarities to the Wii U and could deter a lot of people from purchasing a Nintendo console still, however, the accessibility looks pleasing. What will be interesting will be how we move on from the Wii U seeing as two of its games were featured to be played on the Nintendo Switch. As the Switch will be using tiny cartridges (a return to better days and aided by how we store memory these days) it is unlikely there will be backwards compatibility.

That being said, it would be pretty disappointing if we have to fork out again for Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, the latter could probably see a sequel in the works due to the positive reception it has received by selling over a million copies. With Mario Kart 8 however, it is probably the tightest in the series and only needs a couple more add-ons such as more customisation. It would be great to build karts and maps in the game but, with it being on a Nintendo platform, shit just ain’t that easy.

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Maybe we could see these games transferred through our Nintendo accounts? Maybe it’s just a preview of the multiplayer & e-sports aspect of the console? All I know is I don’t fancy paying out a tonne of money for the same game no matter the accessibility. In terms of money, as the Switch is of a black/grey colour-scheme, will Nintendo have more customisation for the look of its console? I mean respective Nintendo colours would be great, a themed Zelda or Mario model? Plenty would eat that up.

Microsoft have embraced customisation greatly, I mean just look at their elite controllers! Nintendo had plenty of variants for the N64 and a couple for the Wii and Gamecube… so please Nintendo give me a Breath of the Wild machine!

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Those who believe that somehow we’ll be able to play 3DS titles on the machine I believe would be incorrect. The 3DS sees its next Pokémon installment next month along with series’ such as Pikmin getting their first handheld title next year. There is still plenty of life in the 3DS and to be honest it’s nice to have variety in gameplay which Nintendo and third party developers have always done well. Even though they may be cartridges, Nintendo has too much to lose by removing the 3DS. That being said who knows how long the 3DS’ life cycle will be, hopefully a few more years!

That could then argue would the Switch dominate everything or is it planning to take handheld games? Is the price going to be set for the tablet or for the home machine as well? How much are we going to be spending next year?

I’d definitely say a minimum of £300 for console alone. Games will most likely sell at the same retail price as the rest have done.

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The most exciting revelation from the Switch is…THE REMOVABLE CONTROLLERS!

Nah, but this is a unique feature. It makes me think of the Wii a little or getting more immersed in the gameplay (even if it is a broken apart Wii U). The take-the-tablet-anywhere part is probably the key to this and I can see March next year having everyone with the Switch everywhere. It is rumoured to sell around two million copies upon launch so expect to have a lot of thefts in March. Will Nintendo help protect these tablets with some security? Who knows.

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I think the next big thing is the third party interest. Nintendo is showing a lot of support to third parties such as Sega, Square Enix, Warner Bros. and Activision. In the trailer however, there was gameplay of 2K NBA 17 and Skyrim which is seeing a remaster Friday. So maybe we will have some 2K and Bethesda titles coming to the console? Skyrim on a portable Nintendo console sounds like a pipe-dream but it might be do-able. This will be a while after the remaster though and maybe we’ll see a new Elder Scrolls announcement next year.

You know the Switch is going to make some serious dollar. For a company that’s been losing a lot, Nintendo could easily do with some. I could easily expect a bunch of peripherals for it from different controllers, VR? and a sweet carry case. I expect that the tablet could be touch-screen and it will be interesting to see how different the menu screen is from the Wii and Wii U as it is a pretty simplistic and easy menu. Will Miiverse continue and how will internet be used on the console? WHO KNOWS ANYTHING YET. I do hope we can use more than three wi-fi hotspots though and that we have a better use of online play.

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Finally, I couldn’t be more excited after seeing three seconds of a new 3D Mario game. It looks traditional with coins and platforming. What if it was open world? That would be amazing, it seems to have a western-Mexican look to me but with a more modern cartoon blocky feel to it. Everything is coming up Milhouse or Nintendo and the big N has me drawn in.

Also that trailer didn’t just appeal to children, it had a bit of everything for everyone! Nintendo continues to revolutionise (hopefully) and looks to be learning from their mistakes.

I cannot wait to blast that unreal 4 engine running piece of hardware in March. I feel a revival to what we loved about Nintendo, all I hope is that we can get some solid games and see some of our beloved series’ make a valiant return.

You’ve got to make a few a bad decisions to reach the right one I guess.