The Atari 2600 is a one of the most influential systems of all time. While it may not be the first cartridge based system out there, it was the first to popularize the concept. Atari was at the top of their game in the late 70’s and into the early 80’s. The games were simple and mostly focused on getting a high score. Despite the simplicity, the games have a charm to them and are a blast to play. The 2600 has since sold over ten million units and is one of the most successful consoles in history. Despite this, Atari eventually went out of business and has gone overlooked by younger generations.
Fortunately, the Atari legacy still lives and fans continue to create games for the system to this day. These games range from Atari versions of Halo and Duke Nukem to independent games as well. But not only that, there have been emulators and emulator consoles. The Atari Flashback 4 is one of them. The console is small, and comes with buttons (instead of switches) and wireless controllers. The Atari paddle controllers are also available for order, or in the deluxe box of the system as well. Built into the system are 76 games that vary in terms of quality. There are some winners and some losers but, in general, there is a pretty good selection of them.
I hope to do a review of some of the games in the future but I can already say that the standouts are Adventure, Asteroids, Haunted House, Jungle Hunt, Missile Command, Star Ship and Yar’s Revenge. These particular games control extremely well and are highly addictive. Despite this,games such as breakout and pong don’t play well with the regular controller, so the paddle becomes a necessity. On the flip side, the paddles are reasonable to purchase and you can use an actual Atari controller, paddle or even a Sega genesis controller with the console as well. Which brings me to my next minor complaint, the wireless controllers need to line up pretty well with the receiver which can be frustrating while playing with friends in a small space. On the other hand however, you don’t have to deal with annoying wires and player 1 gets the reset and start buttons on his/her controller, which is a genius addition.
Speaking of great ideas, the makers of the Flashback 4 replaced the strange coaxial connector of the original Atari with a RCA cable meaning that you can connect it to modern televisions without the use of an RF adapter. They also have a very small AC adapter that looks similar to that of a cell phone charger which means that storage is quite simple.
Overall, the Atari Flashback 4 is a pretty neat little console. For 50 bucks you get 76 games, 2 wireless controllers and plenty of Atari fun. While I do plan to get an actual 2600, the Flashback 4 is a great little introduction to the Atari 2600 and is a reminder that even though a console can be primitive, there is still a ton of fun to be had. I do have one final complaint to make though, and this is something you need to know going in, there are no game manuals included. While this isn’t an issue for the majority of the games, it can be a bit annoying for games such as Earthworld, Fireworld and a couple of others, they need the manuals.
While it may seem like I did a lot of complaining about the system in my review, I believe that the Flashback 4 is a fantastic entry into the Atari world for any would be investor. For a fairly low cost, you get access to 76 games, a poster and two wireless controllers. I have spent hours messing around with the games, trying new modes and challenging myself with some of the more difficult games. This console is a blast!