Retro games turn back the clock

Retro games turn back the clockThere's a new game in town: Atari Flashback 2.0. Moms and dads falling somewhere between Gen-X and the tail end of the Baby Boom may pretend to buy it for their offspring, but more likely they are waxing nostalgic for Asteroids.

While shut-em-up toys are no-brainers for this impulse-driven category, drug also is finding its niche in priced-right electronics for kids (and big kids). The products put retailers on trend with what's hot this very minute and add a new dimension to the toy aisle.

Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Pong, the first arcade game made for the home, Atari this summer is launching Flashback 2.0 for less than $30. The unit is a follow-up to the Atari Flashback Classic launched for the 2004 holiday season, which so far has shipped more than 550,000 units to retail stores.

Flashback 2.0 features Pong and other classic games like Asteroids, Centipede, Millipede and Missile Command. It also features retro wood-grain paneling and two classic joysticks for multiplayer competitions.

According to Libe Goad, editor in chief of, a gaming Web site for women, many of today's video games are complicated, with a definite learning curve for beginners. "Atari and some of the other plug-and-play games that are really popular right now are just simple fun--easy for anyone to pick up."

That's why plug-and-play games are so ideal for the drug store channel. You just plug it into your TV, it's cheap, and there's a lot of variety," she said.

Eric Levin, executive vice president of TechnoSource, the maker of $9.99 plug-and-play games sold in retail outlets like Walgreens, estimates that the U.S. plug-and-play category could be worth as much as $500 million.