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The Atari 2600 Plus Is Coming, And We Have Questions

The Atari 2600 Plus Is Coming, And We Have Questions

Kris Randazzo
10 minute read

Atari is re-releasing their legendary 2600 console in the form of the new Atari 2600 Plus (or Atari 2600+). It certainly looks interesting, but it has raised a number of questions. So, what is this thing? Let’s go over the basics, and what we still need to know. 

What is it? 

The Atari 2600+ is a brand new “mini” console that plays original cartridges. We say “mini” in quotes because it doesn’t seem to be nearly as small as other “mini” consoles. Its actual size according to Atari’s official website is 10.63” x 7.09” x 2.76” and it weighs in at 1lb, 9oz. Compare that to Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, which measured 2.95” x 8.86” x 6.5” and you can see it’s got it beat by a decent amount in all directions. Weight is about the same though, so that’s something to take into consideration, especially with the controller ports in the back of the unit. The NES Classic had a hard time staying still when controllers were plugged into it, which can be annoying. 

Perhaps the more apt comparison in the size department though would be the Atari 2600 Jr. That system measures about 10.5" x 6.5" x 1.5", so if you’re looking for a reasonable size comparison, that’s a pretty close approximation. 

Atari 2600 Plus Console

It’s physical design after the original Atari Video Computer System, retaining the classic look, with four switches on the top, cartridge slot in the middle, woodgrain finish, and various other switches on the back near the two built-in controller ports. 

What’s new?

The big selling points here are the games it plays and its video output. According to Atari’s website, the Atari 2600Plus runs existing Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 cartridges right out of the box. This includes a brand new 10-in-1 cart that contains the games Adventure, Combat, Dodge ‘Em, Haunted House, Maze Craze, Missile Command, RealSports Volleyball, Surround, Video Pinball, and Yars’ Revenge. It’s a pretty nice lineup of included games, though it’s not without its issues. The cart itself is pretty basic-looking, and it includes multiplayer-only games like Combat, yet the system only includes one controller.  

As for output, this thing has a built-in HDMI port, which is rather exciting. Being able to play any number of classic Atari 2600 titles that have never been ported to any previous consoles with a simple plug and play unit like this is a rather enticing proposition. There’s also built-in widescreen support, though exactly what that means remains to be seen.  

The box will contain the unit itself, the 10-in-one cartridge, and one Joystick which they’re calling the CX40+. It’s unclear what exactly makes this controller “+” over the original as it appears nearly identical to the original CX40 in existing images. 

All this comes to just $129.99, which given the price of some of Atari’s more recent products comes as a pleasant surprise. With those Atari XP cartridges weighing in at a hefty $99.99 alone, this is quite affordable by comparison. 

So many questions!

We have a ton of questions about this console. Some basic ones are answered right on the site, but this tiny Q&A secretion leaves a lot to be desired. Here are some of our most burning questions. 

What is the real game compatibility? 

On Atari’s site, you can view a list of compatible games, which is honestly rather impressive on the surface. It breaks down a fairly exhaustive list of Atari 2600 and 7800 cartridges into three categories: Pass, Untested, and Fail. Of everything listed, only three games are listed as “Fail,” and none of them are terrible losses. However, the number of Untested games, and which games remain untested, is rather concerning. While I don’t imagine too many will be heartbroken to learn that Basic Math won’t work, games like Pitfall II, Burgertime, Commando, Activision Decathlon, Miner 2049er, and Frogger II: Threedeep! come off as odd choices to not have tested before making the console’s announcement. 

Of course the larger concern here is, what exactly does “pass” mean? Since this system will be running via emulation, how accurate will this emulation be? Have all of these games that passed been tested for accuracy? Will they have graphical glitches? Will they sound authentic? If they merely tested to see if the game boots up and runs but not how well it runs, that could be a huge problem for nostalgic fans looking for a good way to get new life out of their old cartridges. 

RetroN 77 - Hyperkin

RetroN 77 - Hyperkin


Leave your platform shoes at the door and spend the night in with the RetroN 77, the grooviest retro console from Hyperkin. It plays your...… read more

Will old controllers work on it? 

The CX40+ isn’t the only new controller being made for the new 2600Plus. They're also making CX30+ paddles which will be available as a separate bundle deal. They come with their own 4-game multicart which includes Breakout, Canyon Bomber, Night Driver, and Video Olympics. However, that + leaves a lot of questions in the air. The site does say that the new CX40+ and CX30+ controllers can be used on original 2600 and 7800 consoles, but it doesn’t say anything about existing controllers being compatible with the new system. It stands to reason that they would be, but without anything officially confirming that, it does make one wonder why they’d specifically say the new controllers work with the old machines, but not clarify if old controllers work on the new. 

It’s worth mentioning that this issue was addressed in the official Atari Discord, and an Atari rep said “They should work just fine.  Any original controller should not be an issue on the 2600 Plus.  It was designed that way.” That does alleviate some stress, but that word “should” could be doing some serious heavy lifting. 

How exactly will we be able to play Atari 7800 games with the CX40+?

The thing about Atari 7800 controllers is, they had more than one face button. So with no existing Atari 7800+ controller, how would one go about playing their existing 7800 cartridges without an original controller to go with it? The obvious answer is that those original controllers should work just fine, but again, the lack of official information regarding this on the site today is somewhat troubling. 

Will it work with Sega Genesis controllers? 

This is another big question, and one that would solve the 7800 issue straight way. Original Atari consoles could use Sega Genesis controllers which was great. And if this new unit could be compatible with the RetroBit wireless Genesis controllers, or any other Sega Genesis bluetooth adapters, well this could be a fantastic way to play these old games wirelessly. Especially with the controller ports in the back. That reminds me, I wonder if the official Atari wireless joystick will work too… 

8-Button Wireless 2.4 GHz Controller for Sega Genesis - Officially Licensed

8-Button Wireless 2.4 GHz Controller for Sega Genesis - Officially Licensed


No longer be tethered to your console. The officially-licensed SEGA Genesis® controller gets reengineered as a 2.4Ghz wireless controller and carries along its original layout and...… read more

Will homebrew games work on it? 

This here is another make or break point for a lot of players out there. The Atari 2600 has a rich catalog of incredible homebrew out there. Not being able to play the likes of Halo 2600, Pac-Man 4K, Space Rocks, or Princess Rescue would be a real bummer. 

There is some hope for this though. The compatibility list mentions Circus Convoy, a homebrew from Audacity Games. It’s listed as Untested, but the fact that it’s listed at all means that at the very least Atari is aware of the desire to have homebrew compatibility. 

Will the Atari 7800 GameDrive be compatible? 

RetroHQ recently released their Atari 7800 GameDrive flash cart. It’s been extensively tested to run on original Atari 7800 hardware. With the Atari 2600 Plus running on emulation, it seems unlikely that the 7800 GameDrive will be compatible, but then again, we won’t know for sure until the unit is in our hands. 

7800 GameDrive

7800 GameDrive


LABEL NOTE: The chromatic color on the product image is simulated. This product's label is be printed on a holographic/chromatic material and those areas will...… read more

Is Widescreen something that can be toggled on and off? 

This was a big question for me personally because I hate stretched/forced Widescreen, but it turns out the answer here is yes. An Atari representative on their official Discord confirmed that all games will be able to run in their original aspect ratio.  

Will Hyperkin controllers work with it? 

Similar to original controllers and accessories, Hypekin’s recent Atari offerings would be excellent to use with the new Atari 2600 Plus. Specifically the Hyperkin Ranger controller, which doubles as both a standard controller and paddle in one. With many original paddle controllers no longer in any sort of functioning condition, this could provide a nice alternative to even Atari’s own new paddles. 

Ranger Gamepad for Atari 2600 - Hyperkin

Ranger Gamepad for Atari 2600 - Hyperkin


Control your favorite Atari games in a way you've never done before. The Ranger for Atari 2600™ and RetroN 77 is a gamepad-style controller meant...… read more

How good are these new Paddle controllers?

Speaking of Paddles, the quality of the new build is something worth calling into question. The Classic controller for the Atari VCS is a fantastic design, but the paddle functionality in the joystick leaves a lot to be desired. It stands to reason that these new paddles will just be new versions of the old ones, but the fact that they added + to the name makes us wonder if perhaps they’ve been redesigned at all to maybe last longer. 

Can it be updated for compatibility issues? 

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of mention of any kind of SD card or USB port on the system, which begs the question, can it be updated? With cartridge compatibility not at 100%, it seems like a pretty good idea to at least leave the option open for future firmware updates. But again, until we get our hands on the system, we won’t know for sure. 

Will it come to other parts of the world? 

Looks like that’s a yes! The Atari VCS has been maligned by many for only being available in North America, but according to the official Discord, the Atari 2600 Plus will be shipping out to other parts of the world. The initial pre-orders were for the US only, but apparently that was in error, and should be resolved soon for international orders. 

Is this a better deal than the upcoming Polymega cartridge adapter for VCS? 

One final thing to take into consideration is that if you already own an Atari VCS, will this new Atari 2600 Plus be a better deal than the recently announced cartridge port add-on from Polymega? There’s an Atari cartridge slot coming to the Polymega itself, as well as one designed to connect to the Atari VCS to in theory accomplish the same ends as the Atari 2600 Plus. But without a price point for that add-on, it’s hard to say. We also don’t know how compatible that will be, or if it will be using similar emulation. 

Those are the biggest questions currently surrounding the Atari 2600 Plus. It certainly seems like an interesting product that a lot of die-hard fans have been wanting for ages. With Atari 2600 cartridges still inexpensive and incredibly easy to find, this could wind up being a moderate success for Atari. Plus, if we’re lucky, it could inspire other console manufacturers to release similar products in the future. Wouldn’t it be great to have a fresh Super NES console that can handle cartridges? 

Well, what do you think? Will you be purchasing the new Atari 2600 Plus this November? Let us know! 

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