SAN FRANCISCO – The Ataribox is now officially known as the Atari VCS: a Linux-based console designed to play classic Atari games, new Atari games and, well, were still not totally sure about the rest. Much of Atari’s quasi-retro console still remains a mystery, but we learned some key new details when we saw it up close at GDC 2018.

While the Atari VCS wasn’t available to play just yet, I did manage to get my hands on the hardware for the first time. The console itself is a plastic black rectangle with a wooden front panel — a design clearly meant to evoke the iconic Atari 2600, but with a more modern touch.

The console features four lights up front, presumably to denote how many controllers are connected to it. In the back, I spotted three USB ports, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI port, an audio jack and what looked like a microSD card slot.

The VCS was shown off with two controllers: an old-school joystick that looked and felt largely identical to the ones that shipped with classic Atari consoles, as well as a more modern, Xbox-style gamepad. The latter controller was decently ergonomic, but since it was a non-functioning mockup, I couldn’t quite gauge how well the buttons felt.

According to Atari COO of Connected Devices Michael Arzt, the VCS will support a range of USB and Bluetooth controllers, and the Atari gamepad will be sold separately for use on other devices.


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