While many gamers my age have many fond memories of there Atari 2600. There is no getting away from the fact that Atari made some very strange decisions during there time as a console manufacturer. The Atari XEGS is certainly one of these strange decisions.
Atari released the Atari XEGS in 1987 right after they released the Atari 7800. It was almost as if they realised they did not have a snow balls chance in hell of beating the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System with there 7800 so they thought they would jump back to being computer specialists with there Atari XEGS a kind of mix between a games console and a computer. Did it work? Well not really, but the machine does have some things worth noting.
The Atari XEGS was pretty much an Atari 65XE Computer that had done really well, but packaged to look like a console. While it did have cartridges it still could use all the other Atari computer accessories such as floppy discs and a printer to name a few. From a looks point of view this is a very odd looking machine it has a sturdy look to it, but some design choices make it a bit of a pain in the butt to use.
Two main issues are that the port to plug in the controllers could not be in a more awkward spot. I mean really it should not be this much of a pain just to plug in a controller. Also I get why they included a keyboard, but why on earth did they give it such a short cable? It would have made far more sense to just attach the actual console to the keyboard than give us the pathetic cable that they did do.
As far as the controller goes its the standard Atari 2600 controller that we had been using for the better part of a decade. In this day and age one button simply did not cut it, but thankfully the Atari XEGS did have a keyboard that did come in handy for many games. In addition to this the computer was packaged with a light gun that has a very I guess you could say unique look to it. Many people say it looks terrible, but I must admit I kind of like it the thing just screams 1980â??s.
You may think so far that I hate the Atari XEGS well that is not true it was a very odd decision for Atari to release this, but it does have one thing in its favour. Games lots and lots of games. The Atari XEGS has a great library of games for you to play ranging from all genres. And despite the computer running on old tech it could produce very high quality graphics at the time with a great range of colours. Sadly though the games that were on thus system could not compete with the likes of what was being released on the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System at the time.
The Atari XEGS is not a terrible system at all. I just think it was a mistake to release it when they did. Just like the Atari 7800 I feel that Atari released this simply a few years to late. This would also be the last home console that Atari would release before the Atari Jaguar a few years later. If you are a collector you can pick one of these up fairly cheap and it does have a truly great library of games to play. Getting Atari XEGS games complete in box can be a bit pricy, but if its just the actual games themselves then it really should not cost you to much.
Video Overview Of The Atari XEGS
Image courtesy of Wikipedia