It seems in recent years there is a bandwagon of sorts to cash in on the ever growing popularity and nostalgic wave of retro games and systems. It seems as if Jakks Pacific rode shotgun in said bandwagon, at least for the plug n play market. At some point I picked up a Jakks Pacific Atari 2600 controllers for $1 in a thrift store, I was aware of the company but I wasn’t sure if they could pull of an authentic Atari 2600 experience in just a joystick.
Jakk’s Pacific’s take on the Atari 2600 joystick is a reminiscent design of an original 2600 joystick, with a little more bulk for the system board, battery compartment as well as the AV cables and main buttons for operation. Packed inside are 10 classic Atari 2600 games: Adventure, Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Circus Atari, Gravitar, Missile Command, Pong, Real sports Volleyball and Yars Revenge. Anyone who grew up with these games may immediately see an issue with the selection of games for this unit, but I’ll be discussing that later.
Overall the feel of the controller is comfortable and, despite it’s weight and operational buttons, once you start playing you may find yourself thinking it is an original Atari 2600 joystick. The games are all functional and fun, as the system delivers a fairly decent facsimile of a classic Atari 2600 experience, despite being strictly single player and having the option of 10 games without needing to swap out the cartridges. That fact may attract or put people off, depending on your demands from Atari 2600 style hardware.
So lets look back at the issue I mentioned earlier, some of the games included are for use with the paddle controller, and since this is a joystick that doesn’t really allow for the same control as the original intent. I think Jakk’s Pacific was in a rush and wanted to grab the rights to a handful of games and quickly shove the unit on the market without thinking of keeping true to the software needs. That isn’t to say you can’t play Circus Atari with the joystick, it just isn’t as smooth as it was on the original hardware.
Do I have any gripes about this unit other than it’s game selection? No. I love having a good selection of games packed into one simple and easy to use unit. Since both of my Atari 2600 systems don’t work, I can still play a handful of video games I can’t otherwise play.
This was the unit that started my interest in retro gaming plug n plays, and now I own quite a few. I won’t be covering them all, but I will be covering the rest of Jakk’s Pacific’s Atari 2600 inspired systems. Needless to say, I enjoy them all, but I’m just wanting to inform you guys of what they do and why I like them.
About the author
Samuel Floyd first fell into video gaming with the Atari 2600...in the mid-90s! Always late into the system wars, Samuel enjoys that as he acquires them when they're cheap and the hot titles of yesteryear are bountiful. Samuel loves RPGs, his favorite being Crystalis for the NES.