Meet Astronomer. It's an indie game from 2017 that's getting a physical release this year — on the Atari 2600.
The game is the brainchild of Alex Pietrow, who only dabbles in gamedev for now. His real gig is astronomy, studying a solar physics PhD at Stockholm University.
But why release an Atari game in this day and age?
"Making games has been a [childhood] dream of mine," Pietrow explained in an email to Kotaku. "When I discovered that the Atari 2600 community was still alive and kicking and that they still made and published games I really wanted to try myself."
The reason why the 2600 appealed was a mix of nostalgia, and ease of use. "Unlike many games these days you don't have to spend hours on them to get things going and can just turn on the console and play for however long you have time," he said.
Astronomer is fairly chilled as a game, mind you. The objective is to aim the telescope beam at a star and watching it throughout the night. Once you aim the beam at a star, you'll fill up your score — but if you take pictures of clouds, it'll bugger the whole process and you'll have to start from scratch.
The game was naturally inspired by Pietrow's real-life work, but also a love for simplicity. The experience is helpful for his career, too. "On top of that I would say that coding for the Atari is good practice for my day job where I code a lot ... due to all the limitations you really try to optimise the code," he explained. "I discovered all kinds of tricks that come in handy with real astronomy."
And as per Atari tradition, here's the full image for the box art — and also the inspiration for the game:
Image: Babak Tafreshi / ESO
To grab the Astronomer cartridge, or the boxed version, you can find more information over at Packrat Video Games.