The wait is over and we can finally talk about what is surely the most unbelievable announcement of 2010! We’ve been under a strict NDA to hold our tongues, but today we can tell you about our exclusive reveal: Atari is officially re-entering the console market!
It’s been speculated, rumoured and wished for for a while now, but in an official statement from Atari it has been confirmed that they will be releasing ‘a new handheld device this coming winter’ to compete with the recently unveiled Nintendo 3DS. Following the tradition of naming products after wild cats such as the Lynx, Jaguar etc, Atari will be naming this product The Cougar and is billing it as a ’4D Gaming Experience’. Incredibly, developers and gamers alike will now be able to play with length, width, depth AND smell.
An Atari official, Chief Product Designer Pilar Lofo stated that she thought that it was ‘clear that there’s always been something missing from the gaming industry, and while improvements in graphical quality and advanced technology such as motion controllers and true 3D gaming are steps towards the future, at Atari we’ve always known that, to provide the most complete gaming experience possible, you have to include the most powerful sense of them all, smell.’ Continuing she told us that ‘It’s fitting we chose the Cougar as our console mascot, as Cougars have an exceptional sense of smell themselves. They’re actually able to detect fresh prey, potential mates and even open bottles of cheap sparkling wine from up-to twenty miles away’.
The Cougar is much like the consoles we’re used to now, with motion capabilities and HD visuals, but with the added benefit of being able to, quite literally, smell the on-screen action. Ever wanted to know what nasal delights the freshly cut grass of match day Wembley Stadium holds? Atari is looking to make that fantasy a reality.
So why haven’t we seen this kind of hardware before? ‘To be honest, the tech just hasn’t been there. We dabbled (with the help of Data East) in this technology for the 7800 release of BurgerTime, which contained a scratch and sniff portion on the top end of the cartridge, but this never took off due to several factors; most notably poor marketing and the fact that the smell wasn’t within the immediate proximity of the player. However with a handheld being played much closer to the face, our new ‘Dynamic Aroma Formula Translation’ software and the ‘Aromatic Release Synchronisation Engine’ being on hand to instantly mix and spray the ‘AromaPaks’ at exactly the right nostril receptor frequency, we can finally realise this lofty ambition!’
I asked Pilar if this system was resource heavy on the system, as Natal and Move is claimed to be, ‘Of course, there are some great demands on the CPU to work out exactly which smell is needed, and when, in a title, but thanks to our new Polar Foil cooling system we’re able to get incredibly high speeds from fairly inexpensive system parts. So this should never be an issue’. Keeping production costs low could be the key to taking on Nintendo’s offering, undercutting the industry leader with the backing of a just-as-well-recognised brand name, as Ms. Lofo continues, ‘We’ve been away from this market for some time, lulling the competition into a false sense of security, but we’re pleased to be back, simultaneously reviving some fantastic titles for our launch’.
Leading the charge is the multiplayer classic Combat, which will be seeing a next generation make over, featuring 100 player deathmatches, high definition visuals and a realistic ‘smell of the battlefield’, and the more casual focused ‘Cougar Bowling 4D’ which plays like a pass the controller Wii Sports Bowling but with added cheap leather and fast food smell. ‘We’re specifically aiming The Cougar at the late teen demographic’ continues Ms. Lofo ‘we think we have a lot to gain in that sector, but also a lot to offer the younger players, looking for their next big experience… in gaming’.
So what do you think? Can Atari muscle back in on the market? Or do you just think this stinks? Drop us a comment in the box below and make sure to check back with Midlife Gamer regularly for more news on the Atari Cougar.