Ataribox retro mini-console plays current and classic games

Atari follows in footsteps of Nintendo’s NES Mini and SNES Mini—but with a twist.

While technical details on the Ataribox are slim, Atari—or at least, the company that now goes by the Atari name after the original Atari went bankrupt in 2013—has revealed that the console will come in both red/black and wood editions, the latter paying homage to the 1977 original.

Atari, in a newsletter to fans, promised that the Ataribox will feature SD card support, an HDMI port, and four USB ports (the teaser image also shows an Ethernet port). In a deviation from the emulation-based retro games of the Mini NES and SNES, it added that the Ataribox will play “classic” and “current” games.

“As you can guess,” Atari said, “those ports suggest modern internal specs.” Whether that means the Ataribox will play modern PC games—in which case, it won’t be cheap—or modern mobile games is anyone’s guess.

Information on pricing, release dates, game content, or even full specs aren’t on the cards right now. “We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, pricing, timing,” the company said. “We’re not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we’ve opted to share things step by step as we bring this to life, and to listen closely to the Atari community feedback as we do so.”

Creating a console that plays both retro games and more modern titles, even if they only turn out to be Android-based, is certainly a ballsy move given the failure of most microconsoles. The Mini NES succeeded, in part, due to its simplicity and cheap price, both of which would be difficult in a more capable console.

Atari’s last official console—the ill-fated Atari Jaguar—was marketed as the first 64-bit console at a time when consoles had only just gone 32-bit. Unfortunately, the extra horsepower wasn’t enough to shift units—the company reportedly only sold a few hundred thousand.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has sold 2.3 million Mini NES consoles, with demand to spare before it was taken off the market earlier this year. Nintendo has promised to make more units of its follow up, the Mini SNES, although launch day pre-orders have long since sold out. Supply fears have led to a 150-percent markup on online auction sites like eBay.

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