In before someone says: actually, this isn't the smallest mini console ever. Yes, I too have seen the Thumby, and it's ridiculous (give it a Google, if you need to). But it's not a mini console in the same way that, say, the Super Nintendo Classic Mini or the Mega Drive Mini is, right? Right. Just as the equally minuscule Funkey S, which we covered earlier in 2021, isn't a known console brand, just an emulation machine that looks like a super-undersized GBA SP. But this incredibly diminutive Atari 2600 is, basically, the famous (Nintendo- and SEGA-preceding) console from the late 1970s shrunk way, way down to palm size. And you can easily fit the very on-brand joystick in there, without compromising your grip. Even the itty-bitty TV, too, if you've big ol' lumberjack mitts.
Not sure why I connected large hands with lumberjacks there, tbqh. Moving on, swiftly: Super Impulse's new Atari 2600 is, its box proclaims, "the smallest fully functioning desk-top console game" - and y'know, I'm willing to go with that. What you get in said box is a lil retro-styled television in brown plastic with flip-out legs and a grey plastic aerial - please don't bother trying to tune it into the non-existent analogue signal. Wired into it is a lovely reproduction of the classic 8-bit console, fixed switches and fake wood grain intact, and its iconic controller. Installed are 10 games - nine from the Atari stable, including Pong, Missile Command and Tempest, and Namco's Pac-Man. It's a strong line-up of classics but do bear in mind that these are versions of the 2600 ports, not the arcade originals.
The one-and-a-half-inch screen is surprisingly bright and clear, you never lose sight of what's going on - with the exception of Pac-Man, but I'll get to that monstrosity in a moment - and the joystick is clicky and responsive. It's all a good few steps up from how Super Impulse's desktop Tiny Arcade arcade machines play - whereas they're more for the look, this is definitely a toy you can get some decent gameplay out of.
I've had this on and off my desk for a couple of weeks and it's a fantastic, brain-calming distraction for when you need a five-minute break from emails and Zoom calls - flick it on, shoot some missiles out of the sky or be incredibly bad at Tempest, and then back to the content coalface. The screen on the TV set can be angled upwards so you can comfortably see it without bringing your chin down to desk level; and if you just leave the unit idle for about 30 seconds it'll power down, saving the juice of its three AAA batteries.
Related: check out this amazing retro gaming store...
Just press the button on the console to power it back up, and the same button will return you from your game of choice to the selection menu. Press it while on the game-selection menu and it'll power off, easy. Some games have options to play around with - the blocks-busting Breakout has a variety of speeds and paddle sizes to pick from, for example - but there's no settings for brightness or volume, and no headphone socket either. The remaining games included are Centipede, Asteroids, Combat, Warlords, and Millipede, and all play as they should.
And so to Pac-Man and its 2600 version. If you know Pac-Man from the many arcade-accurate ports on consoles and computers, this one might come as a shock to you. The maze is different, the colours bland, and the ghosts flicker like crazy, so they're basically invisible at some moments (there are well-documented reasons for this, but I wanna keep this brief).
It's actually the best-selling game ever released for the Atari 2600, with seven million units shifted, but that doesn't mean it's any good - the Pac-Man brand was simply so huge in the early 1980s that almost anything with the yellow pellet-muncher on it could become a best-seller. Pellets, pills... they're wafers in the 2600 version, apparently. It's a stinker, so far away from the perfection of the arcade game, but as a piece of history, worth two minutes of your time if you happen to pick this perfectly petite plaything up.
And what's this? It's not just the Atari 2600 that's come my way from Super Impulse - they've also got a brand-new 'Boardwalk Arcade' toy, in the shape of a desk-top Dance Dance Revolution machine. With three songs available - 'Keep On Movin'', 'Make It Better' and 'Paranoia' - an adjustable volume level and three skill settings, this plays just as you imagine it would, albeit with fingers instead of feet tapping on the arrow buttons in time with the music. And that presents a little problem, as out of the box at least, these keys are pretty darn stiff, and you really do need to push your pinkies down on them sometimes, or else you miss an arrow.
I expect the machine to loosen up a bit in time - but initially, it's nigh impossible to post high scores on anything but the most basic difficulty level. Not that the high scores really matter, as the unit doesn't save high scores if you power it off fully - which I do when it's not in use. Nevertheless, if you're a big fan of Konami's loud and proud arcade machines, a staple of the coin-op world since the late 1990s, this will be a fun toy for the five minutes you spend with it, now and then.
And if you don't play with these things, they still look really nice on the shelves - silly robot toys and LEGO figures, entirely optional (and mostly in these pictures for scale). Just like Super Impulse's arcade machines for ants, these are enjoyable collectibles that games lovers of, let's say, a slightly older vintage are sure to get some teeny tiny kicks out of.
These products will be available in-store at Targets in North America from the end of October/early November, and are available to purchase elsewhere in the world via the magic of the internet. Products covered in this article were sent to GAMINGbible by Super Impulse.
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