A few weeks back we reviewed the Atari Flashback4, now this time around we are reviewing the better 'deluxe' edition that is really aimed at collector's for the 40th anniversary!
To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Atari the company teamed up once again with AtGames to announce the Atari Flashback 4 plug and play tv unit. but wait, we already reviewed the flashback 4 didn't we? Well, prepare yourself for the latest incarnation, the Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe model which has some more tidbits to make this a very special gaming experience and an even more interesting collectible for Atari collectors alike.
As with the standard Atari Flashback4 console The Deluxe model includes the Flashback4 console, two controllers, power adapter, instruction manual. In addition to all of the things included with the standard model, the new Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe comes with wired paddles, 5 limited edition Atari posters and copies of the original Atari patents are included.
The build quality and looks are exactly what you would expect from other incarnations of the Atari Flashback. The unit is lite yet sturdy and the design keeps a strong nod to the original Atari form factor.
All of the other notable physical traits of the Flashback4 are here. Gone are classic wired controllers from the first 3 flashback models. This time around the Flashback4 comes with wireless joysticks. This unit still has ports on the back to allow for standard atari and other compatible joysticks to be attached. The back of the console also has composite Audio and Video RCA style wire and connectors attached directly to the console.
As with the previous flashback, The controllers are a bit looser than the original, allowing for faster movements with less force needed as compared to the original, stiffer Atari controllers. This is a big plus for casual gamers that may not be too aware of how stiff the original controllers were might have been turned off by how difficult it was to make basic movements.
These new wireless controllers use IR to emit their signal so they do require a direct line of sight with the Flashback. At first i found this to be a bit troublesome but this is not that big of a deal if you setup your Flashback and sit back far enough from the console. The controller responsiveness really boils down to how and where you place your system.
One of the two included standard joysticks comes with added controls to pause, reset and return to the menu. Of ourse, if you plan on using your own wired Atari joysticks, the same controls are also directly on the console.
The Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe also includes paddles, used for a number of games including pong (video olympics). These paddles are identical to the original and are a huge breath of fresh air for Atari fans that for years have dealt with faulty paddles.
Firing up the console you are with the classic Atari gradient color logo then followed by the main menu. The menu is very easy to understand and navigate. The games list is located on the right hand side of the screen while box art and screen-shots are on the left.Navigating trough all of the pages is easy enough. Up and down scrolls you through the games selection on one page. Left and right on the joystick scrolls you through the pages and pages worth of games. Trust me here, there are tons of games.
Like it's predecessor models, the Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe doesn't deviate from the massive amount of games provided. It's packed with 75 different games. With such a large amount of games, it's difficult for this not to appeal to not only casual gamers but also avid atari fans. 75 games is a staggering amount of games for any compilation and is sure to give you more than your fair share of gaming options for a very long time. There's lots to be said about the sheer amount of gameplay you can get from the Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe.
The emulation part of the Flashback4 Deluxe much like the standard model is very good. Even after my second go at the unit, I have yet to find any major bugs, flaws or show stopping issues with the gameplay experience at all. All of the classic Atari generated sounds are accurate enough. During this review it really dawned on me that AtGames and Atari really went a step above in regards to the accuracy of the original Atari 2600 gameplay experience.
The paddle gameply experience is exactly how i remember it sans the grinding potentiometers of the original Atari paddles. These paddles were smooth and added tons of value to the gameplay experience of the games that use them.
This is a big plus to the Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe package. Especially when you factor in that the original Atari paddles had a very short life span.
In this review, i went through all of the games I could remember from my childhood, intentionally looking for any parts, bugs or errors that were not in the original games played on the original console. I'm happy to report that I couldn't find any at all while still having a great nostalgic experience.
Yes, the odd Space invaders port is back in the Deluxe model. As i mentioned in the previous review of the Flashback, this version of space invaders is not the original 2600 version. It seems to be based a bit more on the original arcade version of Space Invaders II. This is not a bad port at all. Personally, i was never a fan of the Atari 2600 port of space invaders.
In fact, some casual gamers that may not have experienced the golden years of the 2600 may like this above all games on the unit. Still, this game leaves a number of original Atari 2600 fans in a bit of disbelief. This is a good game but it's not what 2600 fans would expect in an Atari 2600 compilation.
Limited Edition Posters
The Deluxe version of the Flashback4 includes a set of 5 limited edition posters. Some of the artwork on the posters is akin to Arcade cabinet marquee and side art, Esepcially the Asteroids and Centipede art. Overall the posters are nicely designed and printed on great glossy paper. Unfortunately, the posters come folded instead of rolled. Not exactly the best for framing. This is more of a shipping prohibitive issue rather than something intentionally done than just for the sake of doing so.
Copies Of The Original Atari Controller Patents
Last but not least, the Atari Flashback4 Deluxe comes with an interesting set of copied patents of the original Atari 2600 controller.
The documents are also signed by Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari (and the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza chain). While they are not original documents and not a personally autographed signature this serves as icing on the cake for Atari fans looking for something to add to their collection. The patents documents also come nicely packed and sealed.
As with my previous review, i felt strongly that there is something in the Atari Flashback 4 console for everyone; That includes casual gamers and die hard Atari fans. This time around, it's clear that AtGames and Atari have truly upped the ante with this new Deluxe model. Not only have they added paddles to increase the gameplay experience but have also offered up an interesting line of collectibles.
Die-hard Atari fans will almost always prefer the original hardware for playing games. However, brand new replica paddles and a slew of other collectibles added to the Deluxe model is sure to entice. While the collectibles in the collection are not 'vintage' per say, The memorabilia in the Deluxe set do serve as de-facto modern day Atari memorabilia and serve a big silver lining for even the most purist of Atari hardware fans.
With the recent explosion in retro gaming, prices on retro consoles and games have increase much in just a short amount of time. The Atari flashback consoles act as an inexpensive bridge for casual retro gaming without having to resort to countless garage sales and online auctions in order to get a console and collection of games going, wait for shipping, hope the controllers and games work etc. This can be a daunting task. The Atari Flashback4 Deluxe is the perfect product for those looking to simply enjoy some classic Atari gaming without the hassle and fuss that comes with collecting.
Special thanks to out to AtGames for the review sample. The Atari Flashback4 will be available now at atgames.net, atgames.us, amazon.com, dollar general and many other retail outlets.