I played Atari 2600 plus and just 10 seconds proved it's not a games console, it's a time machine

The Atari 2600+ reissue took me back to my childhood instantly

Atari 2600 plus
(Image credit: Rik Henderson / Future)

One of the best products to be unveiled at Gamescom 2023 isn't actually a game at all – it's a reimagined console. However, my first impressions of it were possibly as impactful as if I'd seen Grand Theft Auto 6 running on a Steam Deck 2

That's because the Atari 2600+ is a fully working and accurate replica of the first games machine I ever had access to. My family, like many others in the late 70s / early 80s, acquired an Atari VCS (as it was called at the time) and a handful of games. And, it cannot be underestimated just how important they were to both my subsequent lifelong hobby and eventual career.

Atari 2600+

(Image credit: Rik Henderson / Future)

The new model evokes fond memories, therefore, and more so than most "mini" games console re-releases of recent times. That's because, while it is 80% smaller than the original, the forthcoming Atari 2600+ is no locked device running pre-installed, emulated games. It plays the exact same cartridges I coveted as a kid.

There are a few updates for the modern world, of course (hence the "plus" in the name). It outputs video via HDMI for connection to today's TVs. And, there is a USB-C output for good measure. However, the controllers are identical to the original (you get one included in the box), even to the extent that they can be plugged into the port on an original machine. You can also add authentically recreated paddle controllers that are sold separately.

Alternatively, you can even play using original 70s and 80s joysticks, if you can find some where the rubber exterior hasn't perished. And almost all second-hand Atari VCS / 2600 games will work too – there's only a small handful that aren't yet compatible.

Atari 2600+

(Image credit: Rik Henderson / Future)

To get you started, the Atari 2600+ comes with a new cartridge of 10 games, although even that is authentically designed. You choose each game through dip switches in the rear of the cartridge rather than an on screen menu.

You'll soon find yourself hunting down further games, even newly-created ones like Mr Run and Jump (the game I played in my Gamescom demo).

Either way, the new Atari 2600+ is a slice of nostalgia that is so close to the original that it will hopefully bring you as much joy as it did me. I advise also popping Showaddywaddy on the record player and a Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie in the oven, just to get the full effect.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.