The 2016 Atari Flashback Portable is great, it has a rechargeable battery, an AV out port, many built-in games, and an SD card slot for adding even more games! All for about $50. It's generated a lot of enthusiasm, as well as many questions.
Does the Atari Flashback Portable have a cartridge slot?
No, it has a slot for an SD card, which is better. SD cards are smaller, cheaper, and can hold more information.
What cards are compatible?
Most name-brand SD cards, 8GB or smaller in size, should work with this unit. Note that the entire Atari 2600 library is only a few megabytes in size, these games are tiny by today's standards.
My Atari Flashback Portable doesn't recognize the card! What can I do to fix it?
Make sure it's formatted properly. Many AtariAge members have found that the SD Association's Card Formatter utility produces better results than the built-in utilities in Windows or Mac OS.
My Atari Flashback Portable isn't reading the list of games on the SD card, or when I select something, it boots me out! What am I doing wrong?
Per AtGames' instructions, you must put your Atari VCS (or 2600, if you prefer numbers) ROM files into a folder called Game.
AtariAge members have learned that your ROMs must be unzipped .BIN files, with the following format: the first initial should be a capital letter, followed by all lowercase letters. For example, Spaceinv.BIN will work, but SPACEINVADER.BIN will not. Either a .bin or .BIN suffix should work fine. Place your ROMs into a folder called Game in the root of your 8GB or smaller SD card, and they should be detected by the unit.
Can I change the box art for my custom ROMs, like with the AtGames Sega Genesis/MegaDrive portable?
While the menu software looks the same, the MDB utility does not produce a file that is recognized by the Atari Flashback Portable.
The Atari Flashback Portable looks a lot like the AtGames Sega Genesis/MegaDrive portable. What's different?
It's different inside, and the battery isn't user replaceable (not as easily, anyway). The two units share a similar housing, but are not compatible with each other except for standard accessories like the MiniUSB charging cable and the optional AV out cable.
Can the Atari Flashback Portable play every Atari VCS ROM ever?
No, but it can play a lot of them. Some of them won't be compatible because of 2-player requirements, others are no fun without paddles, some require the player to use the right joystick (which doesn't exist on the portable), and others have technical quirks. Fortunately, the AtariAge community has come together to share what they've found, and has built a compatibility list. This compatibility list is derived from the AtariAge ROMs list, found here. Please share any other findings by posting in this thread. If you use a different ROM source, please note the name you used. If you're uncertain about how to add your findings to the spreadsheet, just make a comment in the thread and a community member will update the list as convenient. Alternately, check out Arenafoot's comprehensive rundown of compatibility here.
Neat! Where can I get some of or all those ROMs to play on my Atari Flashback Portable?
Right here on the totally tubular AtariAge! To make things easier, here is a set of renamed the ROMs available for download so they will work with the Flashback Portable: Game.zip 2.24MB 2786 downloads. Radical! But wait, there's more!
Cool. Anything else?
Wicked awesome AtariAger Arenafoot has modified that Game folder with non-working ROMs removed, and homebrews and hacks added in. Games that have been modified to work with the portable are labeled "portable." Unzip the archive, and place the Game folder in the root of your SD card: AFBP_2016_02_12.zip 2.74MB 1529 downloads
This file was last updated February 12, 2017 to include a working DKVCS. Major props to Nukey Shay for that and other work in making these games work on the Portable.
What are these ugly little ._ files next to my ROMs?
You'll likely only see this if your SD card has been in a Macintosh. The ._ files come from Mac OS, and are easily removed with the dotclean utility.
Can Atari VCS ROMs be modified to play on the Atari Flashback Portable?
Yes! Visit this AtariAge thread for a a large number of games that have been modified just for compatibility with the Atari Flashback Portable. There's also a wish list thread for those that haven't yet been addressed.
Wouldn't it be better to just have a more compatible emulator?
Maybe, but for those of us who waited 39 years for an official, affordable, portable Atari VCS, this is still pretty cool. If enough people buy it, maybe there will be updated versions in the future! There's a speculation thread for talking about new releases in this product line.
My Atari Flashback Portable screen is scratched, right out of the box!
Are you sure? The unit shipped with a plastic screen protector firmly stuck on for protection. Unlike the similar sticker on the Sega handheld that had Sonic on it, the Atari Portable's screen protector is clear. Peel it off from a corner and enjoy a better view of the screen.
My Atari Flashback Portable has different games!
There are some pre-production units in circulation with Jungle Hunt, a Flashback-specific version of Space Invaders, and two other games on them. Apart from the different onboard games, they're functionally identical, and you can add the "missing" ROMs to either machine.
What's up with the different-looking version of Space Invaders on some units?
The Flashback-specific version of Space Invaders was custom made for the AtGames Atari Flashback TV console, and is different from the vintage 1980 Atari VCS version. It was designed specifically for the Flashback unit, and is unlikely to work on an original Atari VCS console or emulator. Note that you can load the original 1980 Atari VCS Space Invaders ROM on the SD card.
Where's the Frogger music? I remember music in Frogger. This looks different, too.
The version of Frogger on the 2016 Atari Flashback units was created especially for this release. The original arcade game contained musical themes which are no longer available for licensing. Note that you can load the original 1982 Parker Brothers Atari VCS Frogger ROM on the SD card.
Why is there a black and white/color switch, and why doesn't it stay BW unless I hold it down?
This switch was added to enable functions that rely on the BW/color switch for game functions, such as Secret Quest.
I don't like the way you formatted that compatibility list. I can do better!
Great! Suggestions are welcome. We've locked the top headers to protect against vandalism/cluelessness, but if you post in this thread, an editor should make the changes for you.
I don't like the list of ROMs you posted! I want a different set!
Great! Zip up your "custom playlist" and post it in the thread below. If enough people like it, maybe it will show up in this top post!
I want to play the Atari Flashback Portable on my television. How do I do that?
There's an AV Out mini-jack port on the top of the unit. Here is a picture of the type of cable you need (thanks for the gnarly picture, Asaki!). With a typical stereo audio cable, video would be right/red and audio would be left/white.
How about some links?
- Arenafoot's comprehensive review including game lists, places to buy, notes, and impressions
- Bill Logiduice's comprehensive review at Armchair Arcade, with gameplay videos
- The AtGames Flashback Zone with their online store, other products, and links to their Facebook and Twitter
- Amazon product review and ordering page
AtGames releases these things all the time, should I just wait for the next one?
Maybe. These are generally seasonal releases, and the 2016 version is no longer available for sale directly from AtGames' online store. The 2017 version looks very similar, featuring an onboard lineup of 70 games, featuring Namco games. It will include a homebrew version of Pac-Man, and the original 2600 versions of Dig Dug, Galaxian, and Xevious. The Activision games Pitfall, River Raid, and Kaboom are featured on the display box as well. Everything we know about this to date is posted here. The extent to which the emulator and compatibility will change is currently unknown.
Have you played Atari today?
Why yes, yes I have. The Atari Flashback Portable lets me bring the chunky retro gaming experience everywhere my active lifestyle needs to go.