Atari and Sega nipping at Nintendo’s heels with classic releases

After Nintendo showed the retro gaming market is a lucrative one, Atari and Sega are back with some oldies but classics in an attempt to cash in on the new trend.

“We’re back in the hardware business,”

— Fred Chesnais, CEO Atari, E3 interview with Gamesbeat

Retro gamers rejoice as old guards Sega and Atari enter the fray after Nintendo revitalizes the retro gaming market with the NES Classic Edition. Atari recently announced that it was building another console igniting interest from the retro gaming community and probably from 40 year-olds who want to relive their childhoods. Sega meanwhile is entering the retro scene with its Sega Forever program releasing free Sega games on mobile.

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I fondly remember my old Atari days when I got my Coleco Vision console. That console came packaged with both Coleco and Atari games as it could also play games from Atari. The Atari games included Combat and Atomic Rat though there were some other games that I had completely forgotten about. I also got an Atari 2600 with several games built in after my Famicom broke down. Though the graphics are very much dated back then, I still remember the good times and marveled at how simpler and interesting they were compared to the more advanced Famicom games. Atari fans rejoice as the company announced a device called the Atari box. See the teaser video below.

From the teaser, the console shows the familiar lines and wood grain of an old Atari 2600 ending with a LED Atari logo. It’s been a while since we’ve seen any appliance with a wooden finish and Atari might be onto something here. But the question is, will Atari follow Nintendo’s example and come up with a miniature Atari console with several built-in games? But how fun can dated graphics be on today’s 4K TVs? Honestly, I had some fun playing Combat with my kid using a RetroPie on my old Raspberry Pi. Through that, I also got to re-live the enjoyment of playing Atomic Rat plus the same head scratching I used to do since the graphics for cat and rats seem reversed. I miss the numbered pads from my Coleco Vision though. It’s tough to figure out for a six-year-old, but I still pulled it off.

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Chesnais, however, mentioned that it was following Sony and Microsoft’s examples of creating a console based on PC technology. If so, we’d probably be getting an Intel NUC housed in a case with wooden veneer. Again, would they stuff it with the original blocky games, updated versions or completely new games? Would they combine the 2600, 5200, 7800, Lynx and Jaguar? What controller will they include? A one-button controller or something similar to the Jaguar? Guess we’ll have to wait a few more months.

As for Sega, I really suck on Altered Beast, the Sega game I chose to download from the Sega Forever Classics Games Collection. The game is free to play but not before it tries to make you see an ad. Pay up for the ad-free version, but the game very much plays the same except for the controls on my iPhone. If the game was hard then, it’s a bit harder now. As I said, it plays the same and has no continues and as far as I know, no bonus lives. If you have a Bluetooth controller, use it and enjoy. Not sure what the in-app purchases will get me (I haven’t tried).

altered beast on sega games vs nintendo

Other games included in the program are Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog, Comix Zone, Phantasy Star II and Kid Chameleon. Sadly, no Golden Axe—yet, as the Sega Forever Classics Games Collection will release new games every two weeks. The games won’t be limited to Genesis games though. Games from the Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, and Dreamcast will be included. To be able to play Golden Axe would be great.

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“We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the analytics from the soft launch in the Philippines to understand how we can get this model to be the best for the game experience itself whilst balancing the commercial needs we have,”

— Mike Evans, Chief Marketing Officer, Sega Network

The Sega Forever Classics Games Collection is available on both iOS and Android.