Most people today probably only know of the Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, but there was a time when the market was littered with countless gaming consoles, each with their own distinct designs. Many of them look almost outlandish by today’s standards, but it’s exactly because of these that these old machines have become today’s novelties again. The retro console craze has died down a bit, but it still exists and there are plenty of designs still left untouched. One of those is the rather distinctive Atari 400, which now finally comes in a mini recreation that brings yet another bunch of classic titles from one of gaming history’s biggest giants.
Designer: Retro Games x Atari
You might already be quite tired of hearing about all these classic games being made available to a newer, younger audience, but the console that this batch comes in is definitely worth noting. The Atari 400 and 800, after all, made many firsts in the industry, bringing what is practically a personal computer into homes with a focus on gaming. That objective was what informed the machine’s design, giving it a peculiar appearance even among its peers.
In essence, the Atari 400, or the 800 rather, looked more like a giant typewriter than a computer of any sort. Atari eschewed the typical joysticks and gamepads associated with gaming machines (and its own Atari 2600) and gave its first 8-bit family a keyboard for tasks beyond just playing. The Atari 400 itself was quite peculiar because it didn’t use real keys but a membrane keyboard, basically a seemingly flat, pressure-sensitive surface that could be considered the ancestor of touch-sensitive controls today. Suffice it to say, the typing experience was anything but enjoyable.
The Atari 400 Mini brings this one-of-a-kind design down to half the size of the 1979 original, which means you get all the looks but none of the quirks or the functionality. Yes, that miniaturized membrane keyboard is just for show, which is probably for the best. Imagine typing not only on a small space but also on a surface you have to press hard to even register a key. Fortunately, you can connect a USB keyboard if you really need to type something. With five USB ports, you can connect almost any controller, though thankfully the package ships one Atari CX-40 joystick for good measure.
The small machine comes with 25 titles from the original already pre-installed, though can also run other Atari classics provided you know how and where to get them. The Atari 400 Mini isn’t available yet, but you can already put down $119.99 to pre-order this recreation of a piece of gaming history before it hits the shelves on March 28th.