LEGO’s Atari Set Is Better Than Anything Atari Itself Has Made In Years
Atari is a mess these days, a disaster of a gaming brand, a mess of ill-advised licensing. Except for this thing. This thing, I can fully fall behind. While the company name may have been dragged down the drain in the late 1980s after so many substandard products, it was dropped as it broke down in the early 1990s (name your next-gen console after a big cat whatever you want, people still won’t buy it), and today finds himself exploring NFTs with more zeal than making his New VCS console available worldwide, I am absolutely, unreservedly and unabashedly impressed with what LEGO has done with Atari’s first home console to use interchangeable ROM cartridges, the old VCS.
Check out the LEGo Atari set reveal trailer below
TL; DR: look at this thing. It’s a fucking work of art. A beautifully crafted plastic block recreation of the VCS – later renamed the 2600 and I’m not here to teach you the history of the game, look it up if you need to – this set was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the VCS. ‘Atari, founded as it was (as Atari, Inc, before all manner of ownership and name changes) in 1972. Based specifically on the four-switch VCS model released in 1980, faux woodgrain and all, this set includes over 2,500 pieces and includes the console itself, three cartridges (for games Asteroids, Adventure and Centipede) which can be reconstructed as delicious designs showcasing everyone’s gameplay, the CX40 joystick that comes with the console (just as iconic as the console itself) and a rack to store your carts. A rack! Essential.
If all that wasn’t enough, just like the NES set in front of her with her hidden Super Mario Bros. Layout of World 1-2, this Atari LEGO version contains a secret. Slide the console open and a cute little diorama of a game scene appears, with an even smaller VCS next to a TV and a LEGO minifigure enjoying the on-screen fun. With posters on the wall, a boombox and a cat just trying to figure out what the fuss is about, it’s a great touch that adds interactivity to an ensemble that’s already working really well – well, it worked. seem to work well – as a shelf display piece.
The designer of the set is a certain Chris McVeigh – and as a lifelong Atari fan, it was a dream job. “The Atari 2600 was one of the most memorable gifts I received as a kid,” he said (via a LEGO press release). “I remember spending hours and hours in front of the television, absolutely amazed that I could play arcade games at home. There were also so many legendary titles, including Asteroids, Adventureand Centipede. That’s why it was an incredible experience to bring together two icons, Atari and LEGO, in this impressive set. We hope building this classic console takes you back to those golden days when a handful of pixels meant a world of adventure.
Personally, I was born slightly too late to get an Atari VCS – or a 2600 for that matter – when they were the current thing, really getting into console gaming with the SEGA Master System and NES. However, as someone who acquired a 2600 Jr as an adult and has been through all sorts of ‘classic’ 2600s – let’s not be silly here, this era of gaming is incredibly primitive by the standards of today, though there are some evergreen delights amid the 2600s library, including the open-world genre pioneer of Adventure – this version has me going in all shivering with excitement. Those carts, that little game scene, those colorful 3D take on the 2D action of the included titles – it all looks good enough to eat. But please do not eat LEGO pieces. Very bad idea.