The 400 Mini: What Is the Point of It?

The 400 Mini: What Is the Point of It?

Last Updated on January 15, 2024

Like many others, I was stunned to learn that RGL had announced The 400 Mini, a tiny revivial of the Atari 400.

While essentially a PCB capable of playing the whole 8-bit Atari range from the 400 to the 800XL, and the Atari 5200 home console, the choice of chassis and associated marketing is curious. Sure, Atari has the 2600 wrapped up right now, from its own Atari 2600+ release and its own miniature systems, to LEGO.

But the Atari 400 is a curious choice. Being generous, the majority of 8-bit system nostalgia is focused around the Commodore 64, Atari’s early consoles, the Nintendo Entertainment System; specifically to the UK, that list would also include the BBC Micro, the ZX Spectrum, and the Amstrad 464.

The Atari 400

Released way back in 1979, the Atari 400 was certainly an influential system, with its child-friendly membrane keyboard (later reflected in the ZX81) and top mounted cartridge port. But for a British company to follow Commodore-originating mini hardware revivials with a largely forgotten US system over a home grown computer…

The400 Mini

…I got nothing.

The C64 and Amiga (and the VIC-20, to a lesser extent) were the best selling computers for Commodore throughout the 80s and 90s. The Atari 400 (and 800) were not. They weren’t even the best selling Ataris.

Why release The 400 Mini?

Some months ago, we suggested an Atari ST mini, which would make a whole lot more sense if RGL were looking beyond the confines of British-built systems. That seems a strong international brand in the way that the Atari 400/800 do not.

As for the games that run on it, the majority that are worth the time are already out on other platforms, from Evercade to the Atari 50 compilation.

Naturally, I wish Retro Games Ltd. the best with its latest announcement. But I just don’t see any demand or interest, and little buzz post-announcement, for an Atari 400 mini computer system.

Fortunately, more roadmap release news from RGL is expected this year.

The 400 Mini is available to order on Amazon now, ahead of its March 30th release.

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