Buying Original Hardware

While not the easiest way to play old Atari home console games, it is the most authentic. Atari game consoles are still available in retro game shops for reasonable prices and are not extremely difficult to find. In fact, online retro gaming stores generally carry a range of old consoles.

However, the complications come when trying to attach and play them on modern TVs. Clearly, TV connections have changed over the decades. There are several options to get the console connected to your TV including directly through the coaxial TV antenna connection. Depending on what connectors come with the console you buy, you might need an adapter like an RCA female to F male connector. This converts the old Atari connector to a coaxial connector. There are also more complex connectors and adapters that will take your old console and connect it through the HDMI port. However, don’t expect any expanded graphics as that was a limitation of the original hardware. For that, you must read on, adventurer!

Retro Atari Clone Consoles

Easier, but not as authentic, are the new waves of retro clones. These are licensed consoles that are made to play old home console games. For the Atari, there is a clone console from Hyperkin called the RetroN 77: HD. It connects to the TV through an HDMI and can output up to 720p. The console has several options on it so you can play just like we did back in the 70s and 80s – 4:3 ratio (the old square TV aspect ratio), color, and black and white. They even have a faux wood panel version if you want that old-school aesthetic.

Atari Flashback Consoles

With built-in games, this is a less authentic, but perhaps most affordable, way to play all the popular games on the platform. With various versions from single game USB-based hardware to full replica consoles with dozens of games, you can find a way to scratch the retro Atari itch, at a cost.

Digital Store Collections

The least authentic way to play is by purchasing a digital pack of games on a modern console. You get the comfort of the modern controllers but lose the feel of how it really was playing those games back when they were new with some really odd joystick models that were not quite ergonomically terrific. These packs might be the most cost-conscious way to get back to those original old-school games, but when faced with that not-so-good port of Pac-Man to the Atari 2600, this might give you less buyer’s remorse in the end. These are available on almost every modern console now as well as on the PC through platforms like Steam, etc.

Meanwhile, for the Atari Jaguar there are large markups if you manage to find them in an online shop.

Atari on the Go

For the Atari Lynx it’s a different game altogether. Again, original Lynxes can be found in retro gaming shops, albeit with hefty markups and are harder to find given that there were around 3 million sold. Plus, collectors love these! That means they’re hard to come by in general. Games on the other hand are far easier to find in various states from loose all the way up to still packaged like new. It all depends on what you want to spend, if you’re collecting to play, or collecting to have a complete set of everything Lynx-like.

Data provided by Legally Retro


Todd Friedman Todd Friedman (403 Posts)

Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the retro gaming community and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit in Chicago, IL for the past 16 years. He also has published 2 books and written for various different gaming magazines including Old School Gamer.