Atari TV-Game 10 Classics
By Bones (Ed T. Toton III)
March 26, 2003
(Review unit not supplied; purchased for use)
Many people have fond memories of the old Atari 2600 and the
games of that era. The late 70's and early 80's brought about
the beginning of the home game-system, the earliest pioneers of
the console gaming genre. Previously, video games were played only
in video arcades, or with a simple "Pong" machine on your TV at
home. There were other game systems available, but the Atari 2600
(originally called the Atari VCS, released in October 1977) was
the one that is remembered as launching the console-gaming craze
that persists to this day.
Games have changed a lot since then, of course. In today's gaming
market, available titles have grown in complexity, realism, graphics,
and sound. Instead of individual programmer authors, games are created
by large teams of developers. Game development itself has grown into
a large industry with software available in many genres and on several
platforms at any given time. One could argue that it's easy to reach
video-game overload, wiht so many games to choose from with ever
increasing complexity and realism.
It's no surprise then that there is a current, more subtle trend
in the gaming community to regain some of the older, simpler fun.
Retro-gaming is becoming very popular in some circles, and some of
the vintage games are making a resurgance in the gaming community.
Some of the Atari, Namco, Activision, and Coleco classics are becoming
available again on the computer and some console and handheld platforms
as classic re-releases.
Along this vein, Jakks Pacific has released the Atari TV 10 Classics
joystick game. It has the look and feel of an actual Atari 2600 vintage
joystick, but in this case the entire game system is built into the
joystick itself. It's a one-piece unit, containing ten classic Atari
games, running on batteries, and connecting with only an A/V cable
to your television set.
Costing only about $20 to $25, and kept simple for ease of use and
portability, this device is marketed to nostalgic adults who either
wish to play these games again themselves, or expose their children
to the same games they remember so fondly.
At first glance, this game system is exactly what it claims to be: A
vintage Atari 2600 joystick, with ten classic games. Hooking it up for
use is easy, with only two AV plugs that many TV's now have front-accessible
sockets for these days. After plugging it into the TV, and installing
batteries, just turn the switch to "ON" and you're ready to play.
The games appear to be faithfully translated to the new hardware, and
completely true to the originals, presumably using the original ROM
software. The ten games included are: Adventure, Asteroids, Breakout,
Centipede, Circus Atari, Gravitar, Missile Command, Pong, Real Sports
Volleyball, and Yar's Revenge.
Functionally, the game system appears to be prefectly implemented, but
the selection of games is open to criticism. I've read comments on one
or two online sites, and have spoken to friends and peers, and the
general conensus is that the game selection could be improved. The
inclusion of Adventure, Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, and Yar's
Revenge alone make this game device well worth the money alone, but
we feel the exclusion of Pac Man and especially Space Invaders was
a major oversight. Breakout, though popular in it's day, was originally
intended for the paddle-control, and not a joystick. While playable
with a joystick, its more awkward and difficult to play without the
intended controller. Circus Atari and Pong also suffer from this, and
also have the added issue of not being as popular in their day. Pong
was certainly a popular game, and was the one that sparked the entire
home-gaming industry, but I don't think it's one of the more well
remembered cartridges from the Atari 2600 line. Real Sports Volleyball,
though reasonably well implemented, also was not one of the more popular
titles in it's day. We feel that it's unfortunate that some of the
better and more memorable games were not included, in favor of less
Some other features that the game system could have benefitted from
include a cartridge slot for additional modules (which today could be
made very small, and pack a large quantity of games on each one), and
a port for connecting two joysticks together for multiplayer action,
which would facilitate including the game Combat. We acknowledge however
that such features would increase the complexity of the design, and
necessitate a higher price tag.
Overall, we're very pleased with the results, and feel that this
classic game system may reach a wide audience with sufficient advertising.
Personally, I discovered it quite by accident, and couldn't resist the
opportunity to play with it and review it here. We feel that many of you
will agree, and will have a great deal of fun playing some of your old
favorites from over twenty years ago.
- Runs on 4 AA batteries
- Connects to TV using yellow/white AV cables
- Contains 10 classic Atari 2600 games
- Simple and easy to connect
- Battery power allows for portability
- Has some very memorable games
- Is true to the original Atari joystick design
- No cartridge system, non-upgradable.
- Some games included were designed for paddle control
- Lacks some of the other well-remembered classics in favour of less-memorable games
- Relies on batteries alone, does not support AC adapter.