While the biggest gaming handheld launch of 2024 will be Nintendo Switch 2, I can't help but be hyped for MyArcade's lovely looking Atari Gamestation Portable. This smart little retro gaming handheld looks like 50 years of Atari knowhow in one smart device. And yes, I also love the 1980s beige and orange design. It's certain to be one of this year's best retro consoles.
Announced at this year's CES, the Atari Gamestation Portable is a retro gaming delight as it doubles down on the way we played Atari games in the 70s and 80s and doesn't make any concessions for modern gamers. The result is a handheld retro console that adds to the familiar D-pad and face buttons with Atari-specific controllers: the Trak-Ball, Paddle, and Keypad.
Atari as a brand is having a renaissance at the moment. Our Atari 2600+ console review scored this machine highly, while the company acquired retro game specialist developers Digital Eclipse and Nightdive Studios in 2023, as well as put out a call to indie developers for new games. When it comes to making the most from nostalgia, Atari is a brand master right now.
Having grown up with the Atari 2600 and its innovative paddle controller and wasted hours in the arcades using the Missile Command Trak-Ball, I love that both these design ideas are making a return in the new MyArcade handheld. The small retro gaming handheld features a mini-Trak-Ball below the D-pad and little miniature paddle-like controller above, perfect for a game of Breakout.
One controller I never used is the old video touch pad controller, essentially a grid of 12 buttons used for puzzle games and sims such as Brain Games and Codebreaker. Even this niche controller style that few would have enjoyed is being catered for in the Atari Gamestation Portable, subtly designed into the console's beige, brown and orange stripes, just below the standard ABXY buttons.
Having grown up with the Atari 2600 and its innovative paddle controller and Trak-Ball, I love that both these design ideas are making a return
The Atari Gamestation Portable looks like a nice blend of old ideas and new technology; it features a seven-inch high-resolution display, two rear-mounted USB type-C ports and even a little kickstand. What I love is how the mix of tech and design also brings to life how you'll play the handheld, with LEDs illuminating which set of its controllers the loaded game supports.
A final note of detail, MyArcade has developed its own OS for the Atari Gamestation Portable, ensuring the promised 200 plus games at launch will play perfectly. I'm confident this new retro handheld will impress, MyArcade's range of retro consoles are already firm favourites.