Retro Games Ltd, the minds behind play and play systems like the C64 Mini, just announced a brand new Atari revival project. This time, the company is making a dinky version of the Atari 400, a computer that most of you probably haven’t heard of or even remember. However, I’m here to tell you that’s not remotely a bad thing, as it means you’ll be able to enjoy one of my favorite microcomputers without any of the usual antiquated retro gaming faff.
Just in case you’re not in the know, microcomputers were what roamed the land before the dawn of the best gaming PC options. Machines like the Atari 400 and Commodore 64 served as the first home computers that could run programs using BASIC, including a ton of games that came on cassettes, floppy disks, and cartridges. Just like classic consoles, each system used a slightly different hardware approach when it came to visuals and sound, but for me personally, the early Atari stuff hits home completely differently.
Announced via a lengthy Facebook post, Retro Games Ltd says the upcoming ‘THE400 Mini’ will boast 25 built-in games, including Berserk, Boulder Dash, Missile Command, and Miner 2049er. In addition, the plug and play features 720p output via HDMI, a handy rewind mode for more gruelling games, and wide controller support via its five USB ports. Of course, it’ll also come bundled with its own THECXSTICK, which promises to replicate the look and feel of the Atari CX40 joystick.
Naturally, I’d need to get my hands on it to see whether it succeeds in that endeavour, but it does look exactly like the original controller. That actually might be down to the fact that this project is in collaboration with PLAION, the team behind the Atari 2600+, but I’ll do a side by side comparison when I can.
Unlike the Atari 2600+, this new system is designed to run games using ROMs, which is a bit of a bummer given that I have more than a few Atari 400 carts lying around. Still, the idea of revisiting this classic library in HD is extremely appealing, and it could help introduce new players to what I’d describe as a relatively obscure library.
Now, there’s a few reasons I’m pretty hyped about the THE400, and it’s partially down to the fact I don’t own this specific, original model. The version I do have is the Atari 600XL, a successor that runs the same games but gives less retro space age vibes and more of an executive office getup. The other reason I’m excited is that this new system can also sneakily run Atari 5200 games. Why does that matter? Well, I live in the UK, and the company’s second console was only released in the US.
As for a release date, THE400 will grace store shelves on 28 March 2024, and it’ll come in at $119.99 / £99.99. That’s perhaps a steep price to pay if you’re not particularly invested in retro games or curious about forgotten libraries, but the console’s iconic design and modern features are set to be a winning combo.
Looking for something you can take on the go? Check out the best gaming handheld for portable retro options.