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LEGO’s Atari Set Is Better Than Anything Atari Itself Has Made In Years

LEGO’s Atari Set Is Better Than Anything Atari Itself Has Made In Years

No thanks to NFTs, big yes to plastic bricks

Atari is a mess these days, a disaster of a gaming brand, an omnishambles of ill-advised licensing. Except for this thing. This thing, I can fully get behind. While the company’s name might have been dragged into the gutter in the late 1980s after so many substandard products, kicked while it was down in the early 1990s (name your new-gen console after a big cat all you want, people still won’t buy it), and today finds itself exploring NFTs with greater zeal than actually making its new VCS console available worldwide, I am absolutely, wholeheartedly, unapologetically wowed by what LEGO has done with Atari’s first home console to use swappable ROM cartridges, the old VCS.

Check out the reveal trailer for the LEGo Atari set below

TL;DR: look at this thing. It’s a goddamn work of art. An exquisitely realised plastic-blocks recreation of the VCS - latterly renamed the 2600 and I’m not here right now to teach you gaming history, look it up if you need to - this set is released to mark the 50th anniversary of Atari, founded as it was (as Atari, Inc, before all manner of ownership and naming changes) way back in 1972. Based specifically on the 1980-released four-switch model VCS, faux wood grain and everything, this set features over 2,500 pieces and includes the console itself, three cartridges (for the games Asteroids, Adventure and Centipede) which can be rebuilt into delightful designs showcasing the gameplay of each, the console’s bundled CX40 joystick (just as iconic as the console itself), and a rack to store your carts in. A rack! Essential.

If all that wasn’t enough, just like the NES set before it with its hidden Super Mario Bros. World 1-2 layout, this Atari LEGO release features a secret. Slide the console open and up pops a lovely little diorama of a gaming scene, with an even smaller VCS next to a TV and a LEGO mini figure enjoying the on-screen fun. With posters on the wall, a boombox and a cat just trying to see what all the bleeping and blooping is all about, it’s a terrific touch that adds interactivity to a set that already works great - well, that looks like it’ll work great - as an on-the-shelf display piece.

Cor, blimey, look at this thing - it’s bloomin’ gorgeous /
The LEGO Group

The designer of the set is one Chris McVeigh - and as a lifelong Atari fan, it was a dream job. “The Atari 2600 was one of the most memorable gifts I got as a kid,” he said (via a LEGO press release). “I recall spending hours and hours in front of the TV, absolutely amazed that I could play arcade games in my own home. There were so many legendary titles, too, including Asteroids, Adventure, and Centipede. This is why it has been such an incredible experience to bring two icons together, Atari and LEGO, in this awesome set. We hope that building this classic console takes you back to those halcyon days when a handful of pixels meant a world of adventure.”

Personally, I was born slightly too late to get an Atari VCS - or an 2600 for that matter - while they were the current thing, really getting into console gaming with the SEGA Master System and NES. However, as someone who acquired a 2600 Jr as an adult, and who’s played their way through all manner of 2600 ‘classics’ - let’s not be silly here, this era of gaming is incredibly primitive by today’s standards, although there are some evergreen delights amid the 2600’s library, including the open-world genre pioneer of Adventure - this release makes me go all tingly inside with excitement. Those carts, that lil gaming scene, those colourful 3D takes on the 2D action of the included titles - it all looks good enough to eat. But please, do not eat LEGO pieces. Very bad idea.

The LEGO Atari set is available from August 1 for an RRP of £209.99/£239.99. Check it out online here.

Featured Image Credit: The LEGO Group

Topics: Lego, Atari, Retro Gaming