As we inch closer to the release of the retro-tastic Ataribox, more details regarding the console are being revealed. At this point, we know the device will be powered by a custom AMD-built SoC, it runs on Linux, we’ve seen its wood-clad aesthetic, and know that a plethora of Atari classics will be available on the console. Today, we can also give you a glimpse of the Ataribox’s controllers, or at least, one type of Ataribox controller (we think).
The Ataribox harkens back to the original Atari 2600, which helped pioneer in-home, living room gaming. For those of you that may not have been around to experience the original Atari 2600, its main controllers were simple, boxy joysticks, with a single action/fire button. They connected to the console with a 9-pin, D-Sub connector that essentially set the standard for decades. Atari 2600-compatible joysticks ending up being used on almost every ‘80s era personal computer, from the Commodore 64 to the Amiga and Atari ST.
In a recent post, the Ataribox team revealed the console’s upcoming controller design and it – like the console itself – pays homage the original 2600 joysticks. A post on the Ataribox Facebook page says, “We were going to wait for launch to show you the Ataribox Joystick, but we like it way too much to wait. What do you think?”
Well, we think the design is gorgeous and is a perfect, modernized tribute to the original. The boxy design has been spruced up with clean ridges all around. The single, orange fire button is complemented by a couple of small Back and Home buttons along the bottom edge. And the joystick rests in a glossy, black dish that reveals a thin, orange accent at the bottom of the stick. There also seems to be some red lighting surrounding the recessed joystick in one of the pictures, but it’s not clear whether that’s just a camera artifact or there are actual LEDs behind a translucent layer.
This type of joystick should be perfect for playing many of the classic Atari games coming to the console, but it most certainly will not please younger gamers that have grown up with consoles featuring D-Pads, Analog sticks, triggers, and a myriad of other buttons. The original Atari 2600 also required rotating paddles for a number of its most popular games, so we suspect the joystick revealed by the Ataribox team will be but one type of Ataribox controller. We’d bet modernized paddles are coming, as well as a modern controller, more typical of today’s consoles.
We’re speculating on the last point, but we doubt developers of modern games would be happy with a single action/fire button. It may be fine for simple shooters, side-scrollers, and basic mobile game ports, but not for more elaborate modern games. Time will tell what else the Ataribox team has in store.