Lego launches the Atari Video Computer System set • The Register

Lego followed up its retro Nintendo Entertainment System comeback with a tribute to the Atari Video Computer System (VCS).

The set, retailing for $239.99 (£209.99 in the UK), is a non-working replica of the iconic games console, although only the model with four switches rather than the other six in the range. Not that these switches do an awful lot of things in Lego form.

In fact, compared to the cheaper Nintendo Entertainment System set (with all its tech bits and separate TV), we’d have to describe the VCS set as a little disappointing if it weren’t for the nostalgia factor.

The plastic bricks also do not include a fake cartridge of the best game on the VCS, fight. Asteroids, Centipedeand Adventure just don’t cut it by comparison, even with the reproduction of the hopelessly optimistic cover so beloved by 80s and 90s designers and some neat after-games-themed Lego vignettes.

Lego also chose to skip AND the Extra Terrestrial, described as the worst game of all time. We can imagine a suitable model for this example and the impact it had on the industry at the time.

Still, the 2,500+ pieces will make for a fun build and include a replica of the classic Atari joystick and a mini-fig scale 1980s room that pops up when the front is slid forward.

The price seems steep for what is effectively a plastic throwback to simpler times. Then again, further attempts to recreate that retro magic could cost you a lot more and potentially leave you without even a bunch of plastic bricks to play with.

Or one can always take the plastic assembly and stick something like a Raspberry Pi into it (preloaded with an emulator). Similar things have been done with Lego’s Nintendo Entertainment System where the technical innards of the TV have been stripped out and replaced with a Pi and an LCD screen to create something to play games on (notwithstanding ownership of the ROM).

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It’s a shame that Lego didn’t see fit to include a TV with the Atari VCS like it did with the NES, and also limited the interaction to a 1980s pop-up room and a few switches. However, the design looks good and is reminiscent of a time when sticking something that looked like wood on the front of the console and compressing games to kilobytes rather than gigabytes was state of the art.

Otherwise, there are plenty of examples of VCS that can be had on various auction sites for much less than the asking price of Legos that are much more interactive. ®

Gordon K. Morehouse