Atari Flashback Portable

A retro review of the Atari Flashback Portable

Nintendo has deservedly received accolades for their Classic Edition console – but there’s another new system for those who like their gaming even more retro. The Portable is Atari’s latest entry in their Flashback line, and in my opinion, it is their best so far. The Atari Flashback Portable is a lightweight handheld system, measuring roughly 2.5 by 6 inches.

It features 60 built-in games, playable using a direction pad and a small color screen. The system is inexpensive but that shows in places. There’s a USB cord to charge the battery – but not an AC adapter. The screen is low resolution – but that’s more of a factor when the game boxes are displayed rather than the games themselves. And finally, the system feels very light – not packing the same heft as some other handheld gaming systems.

atari flashback portable

Those flaws are easy to forgive, though, thanks to one saving grace. The Atari Flashback Portable comes with an SD card slot – allowing you to add more games to the system. So, while Atari’s 60 built-in games are not bad – it’s no longer a concern that their lineup doesn’t feature your favorites. Simply add an SD card with the games you love, and the Flashback Portable lets you relive the memories.

Thanks to its mobility, the Atari Flashback Portable is currently my game system of choice. It’s the perfect addition for road trips and vacations. And, it’s proved an easy way to introduce my young daughter to the joys of retro gaming. If you’re an Atari 2600 fan, you might want to check it out.

Robot Tank Sealed for 32 Years & Counting

I came across this sealed copy of Robot Tank for the Atari 2600 at an antique fair. You can read the Retroist’s review for this game here. The vendor informed me he got it from a storage unit formerly owned by a game store. At one point in time, he said he had lots of copies – but he was down to his last few. I’m always amazed at finding something 30+ years old in the original shrink-wrap. This one had a retail price tag of $23.20, but that was covering the original price. Maybe that original price was $29, meaning this was marked 20% off. Anyway, I’m leaving it sealed, so I’ll never know the details of how to get that “Free Robot Tank Poster.” Oh – and fair warning – the box says that the robot tanks attack in October 2019 – so you’ve only got 4 years to prepare.

robot-tank-back

The First Used Video Games

This ad appearing in the November 1983 issue of Electronic Games magazine represents one of the early forays into the used cartridge business. At the time, I would have been excited to get 15 cartridges for $79.95 but unenthusiastic that they got to choose them. Although it doesn’t say it specifically, I’m guess that the Christmas Special was for Atari 2600 cartridges. I wonder how many used cartridges that you’d have to buy in order for that $30 membership entitling you to a 10% discount to really pay off?

Tracking down the elusive New Chocodiles!

When Hostess emerged from bankruptcy, Twinkies, Zingers, cupcakes and fruit pies trickled back onto store shelves. But I had little hope of ever seeing a Chocodile again. Even before Hostess went out of business, a Chocodile was hard to come by, because they were distributed nationally.

Here on the west coast, I’d see individual ones now and again, especially at off-brand gas stations. In July of 2014, Hostess announced that Chocodiles were returning, but I was unable to find them and decided they just weren’t going to return to my neck of the woods. Which is probably a good thing, since I may have started camping out at my grocery store if I thought differently.

We had no sign of them until I came across a bunch of ransacked boxes in the Hostess section recently.

At first it looked like every Chocodile had been snapped up, but then I found a couple of stragglers amongst the cherry pies. The packaging is different, and they’re now called Chocodile Twinkies. And, I’d like to have a word with the marketing genius who decided that “fun size” meant “smaller.” But, they’re now two to a package, so it seems to work out to about the same amount food. To me, they tasted about the same – so I consider it a pretty good deal on snacking nostalgia for only a buck. And judging by how the boxes were rifled through, I’m guessing I’m not alone in that assessment.

chocodile-twinkies-inside

Star Trek: The Secret of Vulcan Fury

After Interplay released the brilliant Star Trek: 25th Anniversary game in 1992, they followed it up with the even more polished Star Trek: Judgment Rites. Not only were these great adventures, but also they featured the original cast as voice actors. Then, in 1997, Interplay promised Star Trek: The Secret of Vulcan Fury. It was to be a cutting edge adventure game, using the latest motion capture technology. Again, the original cast lent their voices to the game, using a script by famous Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana. Sadly, financial problems at Interplay, coupled with the high development costs meant that this game never saw the light of day. I still find this especially sad as a fan of Deforest Kelley who played Dr. McCoy. To my knowledge, this was the last time he played Bones, and the recordings seem to be lost forever. Part of me still holds out a glimmer of hope that this final installment of the original crew may someday see the light of day, but it seems highly unlikely