Long thought to be extinct in the wake of Nintendo, Gameboy, Playstation One & Two as well as Xbox and the plethora of CD-ROM games now available, a name from the past of home video gaming systems has remerged. Do you remember Atari ? There are probably not to many video game aficionados walking around today who do not. The once king of the home video game market is staging a tremendous comeback and has it been long anticipated.

Once the undisputed ruler of the North American video game empire, Atari along with the various game consoles it produced disappeared from public view around the mid 1980?s. The video game market as a whole was dormant for quite some time until Nintendo began to offer video game system in the early 1990?s that was very similar to the Atari 2600 system, however, the games benefited from ten years of advancement in videogame and microchip design.

Nintendo would give way to Sony?s Playstation, the first home video game system to take advantage of CD-ROM. This ultimately led to a more advanced system, Playstation 2. Playstation 2 now has competition from other gaming systems namely Microsoft?s X- Box (which has almost the same computing power as a PC) and Nintendo?s Gamecube. along with the thousands of games available for these standalone systems, there are literally thousands more written for home PC?s.

This is the ?perfect storm? , so to speak, that faces Atari in the year 2004. These various game systems offer advanced features, high levels of play complexity, tremendous selection of games many with movie tie-ins, and the latest in graphics. So what chance does Atari have in offering the games in this ultra competitive market from the older game systems ?

For one thing, the older Atari games come at a bargain compared to the modern day gaming systems. Atari offers several PC CD-ROM collections of their arcade classics and famous 2600 VCS games at a fraction of the cost of their cartridge originals. The Atari classics CD-ROM runs for about $19.95 from most retailers and features 80 of the original Atari 2600 games which is almost every cartridge made for the 2600 console.

Atari games offer greater simplicity than many of today?s more complex video games. Who wouldn?t want to sit down to a quick games of Space Invaders or Breakout ? Many will even forego fancy and advanced graphics for the nostalgia of playing some of those famous Activision classics like Boxing.

One aspect of the Atari 2600 phenomenon that many video gamers fail to realize is that they owned and/or played only a fraction of the games which were available for the 2600 VCS console. Many 1980?s gamers bought the most popular games like Asteroid, and then by the mid-1980?s had put the Atari console away and graduated to the more advanced games for personal computers. Many websites are now highlighting hundreds of rare games many which were never released in the U.S. and some which never saw final completion.

The new Atari age of 2004 may give some old systems that ?might have been? a second chance. The successors to the 2600 VCS, namely the Atari 5200 and 7800, had a relatively short shelf life. Few, if any, video gamers of today may have even played the games for those systems.

Atari does not seem to be wasting any time in getting back into the video game market. Already shipping for Christmas 2004, a number of systems will be available most notably the Atari Flashback console. According to Atari, the Flashback console was based on the original design of the Atari console which was to have had no external slide switches and several games built in. Because Atari wanted to 2600 to be expandable and encourage other companies to write games, Atari developed the ROM cartridge.

The new Flashback console will include 20 original Atari 2600 classics, plus several 7800 games. In addition, Atari has released a joystick with several games right in the joystick. Both the joystick systems and the Flashback console use convenient A/V plugs as opposed to those bulky RF converter boxes on the original 2600.

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