Althena's Temple Logo


New Life for the Atari 2600

May 8, 2016

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me an Atari 2600 he found at the dump. It works, but it is such a pain to use that I almost never played it. Sometimes more than a year went by between plays.

The Atari 2600 connects to the TV through an RF connection. Modern TVs don't have that anymore, so I connected the Atari 2600 to a VCR and from it to a TV set. So every time I played it, I had to turn on all three devices, make sure they were all set to the right channel, and use the remote because the VCR cannot be controlled otherwise. After you went through all that, the image I got... sucked compared to the image from composite cables.

That's why for the most part I played Atari 2600 games through an emulator, Stella, on my Mac. It was much more convenient and the image looked great. However, I always thought in the back of my mind that I was not playing on the original hardware.

A few months ago I bought an Atari 2600 Jr already modded for S-Video on eBay. I also bought a Harmony Cart, a multicart for the Atari 2600. You just store the games in a standard SD card, insert it into the Harmony cart, insert the Harmony Cart into the Atari 2600 cartridge slot, and you can play any of the games you stored.

That combination literally brought the Atari 2600 back to life for me. I use it with a TV set I already had with an S-Video port. That TV set is only used for the Atari 2600, so I only had to configure it once. Now I just turn everything on and start playing. The image looks great (better than RF and composite, although not quite as good as my Mac's monitor). Plus other than the fact that I load the games from the Harmony cart, it "feels" like a real Atari 2600. Because it is one.

And although I still have a rather large collection of original Atari 2600 cartridges, now I don't have to go to the bookcase and get the individual cartridges in order to play them. I have all the games in the Harmony.

The Atari 2600 Jr is much smaller than the original "woodgrain" ones I always had. Plus it's compatible with all the games. I like it more than the previous versions of the console.

Playing that console again made me remember that I always thought the Atari 2600 joysticks felt "stiff". Of course, that's part of the Atari 2600 experience.

Now I play with my Atari 2600 once a week or so. I especially like River Raid and a new version of Pac-Man called Pac-Man 4K.

It was worth it to spend all that money in order to make playing with the Atari 2600, one of my favorite consoles, much more convenient.



Previous editorial, Owning a Ms. Pac-Man Arcade Cabinet

Previous editorial, Open Source Portable Consoles

Previous editorial, When You No longer Buy New Games

Previous editorial, My Memories and Experiences With the Neo Geo

Previous editorial, The New Retro System

Previous editorial, I Heard That Before

Previous editorial, Skipping a Generation

Previous editorial, The Forklift

Previous editorial, The Saturn 2

Previous editorial, RPG Masterpieces

Previous editorial, Sega, the Master of Narrowband

Previous editorial, Shenmue is Out - Big Deal

Previous editorial, The System That's Dying

Previous editorial, Something is Lost

Previous editorial, The Dreamcast Launch: Good and Bad

Previous editorial, The Next Genesis

Previous editorial, Waiting For The Dreamcast

Previous editorial, I Don't Deserve a Mother As Good As Mine

Previous editorial, Shen Mue at the Game Developers Conference

Previous editorial, Saturn, the King of 2D

Previous editorial, Fade Away

Previous editorial, The Disadvantages of Being a Working Designs Fan

Previous editorial, Change the Camera Angles!

Previous editorial, Be Careful With What You Wish For

Previous editorial, The Second Time I Play an RPG

Previous editorial, Tons of Crap

Previous editorial, The PlayStation from a Sega Fan's Perspective

Previous editorial, Thoughts about the Genesis Nomad

Previous editorial, Mainstream

Previous editorial, Why I love the Atari 2600 so much

Previous editorial, Can Sega avoid its past mistakes?