Hello retro friends, and welcome back to The Last Official Release! Kicking off a few weeks ago with the Game Boy, in this series we investigate what the last official release of a console was. In today’s edition, we’re examining Atari’s long-lived 2600.
Released on the 11th of September 1977, the Atari 2600 had a very long-life eventuating in a smaller, budget version called the “Jr” in 1986. In a sombre start to 1992, though, it and all versions of the 2600 were discontinued on the first of January. However, it left an admirable legacy and is notable as the only console to more or less survive the big game crash of 1983. That is a bit ironic since buckets of its shovelware wholeheartedly contributed to it – but hey, that’s a story for another day.
This text is here to discuss the final game after all, and like the Game Boy article, there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet. For one, a few sources claim that 1989’s Secret Quest by Axlon (a company ran by Nolan Bushnell at the time) is it. But that was only in North America.
The final official release actually appears to be a port of Klax, released on the 4th of June, 1990 in PAL regions only. Klax was a very popular game, released on every system under the sun at the time. Being developed by Atari themselves, though, it was fitting that even a 2600 port surfaced.
As mentioned above, the 2600 as a console wasn’t completed dead yet in 1990 even though the official release of games had halted. It was mortally wounded by then perhaps, but it took quite a long time to bleed out since it did live to see 1992, after all.
Although, it’s at this point where the lines become blurred. Even though Klax was the last ‘official release’, there was another retail offering in 1992, but only in Germany. While I can’t find a solid release date apart from the ambiguous mention of ’92, Acid Drop was independently published by a company called Salu Ltd and sold by a few local retailers. It wasn’t exactly the freshest game around, playing identically to Columns except the blocks couldn’t be stacked diagonally.
I’m a bit torn, as the idea of these articles was to look at the last official releases and not anything like homebrew – otherwise, these articles would need to be updated every three months. However, this was long before the homebrew scene became established enough to actually start selling physical copies – let alone to brick and mortar retailers. It’s for this reason, that it’s at least noteworthy.
So, there you have it. While there is a bit of contention about the actual final hurrah, for this article at least, I’m making the executive decision to nominate Klax. It was undeniably official – and developed by Atari themselves, no less.
Anyhoo, stay tuned for more instalments of The Last Official Release and let us know in the comment section which consoles you would like to see researched next. Until next time!