Ahhh the Atari; the first gaming experience I had as a child. I remember it so fondly; those long and lazy afternoons spent playing Kangaroo and Centipede. I even have pictures of my grandmother playing with me. I’m sure she had no idea what she was really doing, but she still sat down to play with me. I think that’s what I remember most fondly. Sadly, my parents sold it in a garage sale after they bought me the Sega Genesis. I suppose they didn’t see the need in having two gaming systems in the house, much like today.
Alas, my Atari longing went on for 20 odd years, until this Christmas. I did all I could to ensure I got one of those Atari Flashback systems I had been seeing in stores. You saw them, they were everywhere! And let me tell you… nothing feels better than opening that box for the first time and seeing this little Atari box. It was like reuniting with an old friend.
How is it, you ask? Well, let’s break it down:
- At first, I noticed that the AV cables were permanently attached to the system. I suppose that should be expected of a “plug n’ play” style system, but I was really hoping that wasn’t the case. It’s more so something I’m OCD about, as I like to keep all my cords neatly wrapped after use to ensure they don’t get worn out or anything. In most cases, if something like that does happen, I can just go out and buy new cables. I can’t do that here. I’d have to actually rewire the AV cables or figure something else out. I’m not fond of that idea.
- The second thing about this is that it’s light weight, which gives it this cheaply-made feel. Again, what was I expecting? Maybe some sturdier plastic. It’s more durable than my Retron 1, but that’s not saying much.
- The controllers are actually fairly well-made. After you stick those two AAA batteries in them, they have a little more weight. Of course, they’re wireless… and that’s a serious flaw with these types of games. If you had enough experience with games, you know that wireless controllers have a bit of a lag when compare to their wired brethren. For Atari games, which require split decision responses, lag can be a serious killer. These also work of infrared, which means it has the same issue your TV remote has if you don’t aim it around the necessary spot. It doesn’t pick anything up. Luckily, there are two controller ports in the front, which allow you to pop in your regular Atari controllers. I intend on getting a regular controller, along with the paddle, sometime soon.
- The most important part of any of these “plug n’ play” systems is the games, and the Atari Flashback 5 has 92 pre-loaded games on it! It includes the classics, and some of my favorites, Centipede, Millipede, Breakout, Super Breakout, Pong, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Tempest, and Asteroids. Then there’s a few that are… really, you included that 4 grid Tic-Tac-Toe game? Well, at least there’s Centipede… wait… why does it look like that? Is this the 2600 version? Really, Atari? Was the arcade version just too much for this thing to handle? Well, that’s a bummer… but whatever. It still PLAYS well, and that’s all the matters.
Overall, the Atari Flashback 5 system is okay. If you can’t find a working Atari, this is an acceptable substitute. With 92 pre-loaded games, it makes trying to track things down less of a hassle, and it certainly doesn’t eat up storage space. The controllers are a bit laggy if they’re not within appropriate view of the systems sensor, which makes playing games like Pong and Breakout nearly impossible. You’re going to want wired controllers for this thing, which aren’t terribly expensive. The games, despite not being their superior-version counterparts, are still as fun and energetic as I remember. That’s what really matters.