Over the years there have been many official and unofficial clones of the Atari 2600 which came with built in games, allowed you to use original cartridges or both. In recent years these imitation machines have become affordable for most people, allowing everyone to play the Atari 2600 with the classic joystick.
Here are some of the clones that have been released (in no particular order)
The Sears Video Arcade was the first Atari 2600 clone ever made. It was licensed by Atari and sold from 1977, it actually played a big part in the 2600 becoming successful. The system was very similar in design to the original Atari 2600 except it had 4 switches instead of 6 (Atari would later adopt this design).
The Sears Video Arcade II was Sears last Atari machine. The design of the console and it’s controllers were based on the Atari 2800, which was released in Japan the same year (1983).
The Gemini is an Atari 2600 clone released by rivals Coleco in 1982. The system was smaller than the Atari 2600 version which was out at the time though the main difference was the controllers. The traditional joystick was replaced with a controller which had both a joystick and a paddle on it.
It was also sold as the Columbia Home Arcade in Canada and certain stores in the USA.
The Supergame VG-2800 was an Atari clone which was developed by a company called CCE and released in Brazil in 1984. It is very similar to the Coleco Gemini.
The joysticks were based on those from the original Atari 2600 although the fire button was much larger.
The Supergame VG 3000 was an Atari 2600 clone which was released in Brazil in 1985. It’s the successor to the Supergame VG-2800.
The system came with two controllers which were hard-wired to the console itself. Each controller had a joystick and one fire button at the left hand side.
The MegaBoy was a portable Atari clone which was released by Dynacom in Brazil. It came with 3 educational games which helped teach Mathematics, Music and English though any Atari 2600 cartridge worked with it.
The TV Boy, TV Boy 2, TV Boy 3 and Super TV Boy were unlicensed Atari clone consoles which were made in the 90s and sold throughout Europe (particularly the UK). The console had 127 Atari 2600 games built into the joypad itself and therefore had no cartridge slot to play additional Atari 2600 games.
The Atari Flashback Game System is an official Atari machine which was released by Atari in 2004.
The console came with joysticks similar to those from the Atari 7800 and played 20 games from the Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 catalogue. The hardware they used for the system is different from that of the original Atari machine therefore most games had to be ported, which proved to be very unpopular with gamers.
You can pick up the system brand new from sites like Amazon for around $15.
The successor to the Flashback was released a year later in 2005 by Atari. This machine proved to be more popular with retro fans.
The design of the flashback is similar to the original Atari 2600 and the 7800 inspired controllers were replaced by the iconic 2600 joysticks. There were 40 games bundled with the system, including some homebrew games.
Unfortunately, the system cannot take original 2600 or 7800 cartridges but it’s supposed to be fairly easy to fix with this with a hack. The flashback 2 proved to be incredibly popular, selling close to one million systems in the states alone!
The Jakks Atari Classics retro joystick is a cool looking Atari 2600 clone which connects directly to your TV using standard AV cables. It’s had positive reviews from retro gamers so far.
The joystick takes 4 AA batteries and has the following games build in: Centipede Asteroids, Missile Command, Circus Ataru, Yar’s Revenge, Breakout, Gravitar, RealSports Volleyball, PONG and Adventure.
The Atari Paddle Controller TV Video Game System is an Atari clone similar to the Jakks Atari Classics device, however there is a paddle instead of a joystick.
The following games were built into the paddle: Super Breakout, Casino, Warlords, Steeple Chase, Nightdriver, Breakout, Canyon Bomber, Demon to Demand, Video Olympics, Pong, Arcade Warlords, Circus Atari and Streetracer.
Another plug and play product from Jakks, the Atari 2-Player Paddle Controller features 13 built in games and connects directly to your television using AV cables. The main selling point here is clearly the addition of a second paddle controller.