Hello! I found the Atari Flashback 4 on sale for $39.99 at a Rite Aide in Los Angeles, day of its release on 11-12-12. If it were $49.99, as is the suggested retail, I would not have bought it. Overall, I'd say a new one is worth between $20 and $30.
It comes with the FB4 unit, power cable, yellow and white AV cable, two wireless remotes (batteries not included), instruction manual and poster.
It has 75 built in games, including some good ones like Jungle Hunt, Space Invaders, Missile Command, Centipede, Asteroids, Battlezone, and Atari Circus, and several sports games. I also have a Flashback 2, and unfortunately, the Flashback 4 does NOT have Lunar Landing, Pitfall, or Atari Climber (as the FB2 does). Also, the FB4 does NOT have an Atari 2600 cartridge slot. (Why not, at this point?)
Strike one came when attempting to unscrew the tiny screw on the wireless controller in order to load the batteries. This took some time and consternation as you need a tiny phillips head and plenty o' torque!
The controllers, nicely, have the "select" and "start" buttons on them on the back (in addition to the standard "fire" button on top), as well as a button the calls up the main menu (so you don't have to get up and press the button on the system itself--a much appreciated design upgrade).
Strike two came when I first plugged in the system. I sat the FB4 unit on top of a book in front of my HD TV, the book sitting on a carpeted floor. Them menu came up just fine, but there was immediately a harsh static-like "scratching" noise coming from the TV speakers, as if the unit was accepting some kind of interference. Turning off the unit and back on again didn't help. But turning off the unit and moving it up to the TV stand, then turning it back on did alleviate these noises.
The menu is nice, and the games seem to load and play fine. The wireless remotes are nice, and the joysticks are intentionally looser than the originals to give the sticks more "play" room. A nice touch. However, if you point your controller up or down just a bit too far, the unit will NOT pick up the sensor and you won't be able to move your sprites on screen. So the wireless remotes do have a caveat, in my opinion, as they need to be lined up correctly at all times--plus they require batteries.
However, you CAN hook up wired Atari controllers (sold separately). There are two ports on the front of the system that allow for wired controllers. (Side note: though I haven't tried Genesis controllers myself, I heard form another review on youtube that the left/right directional controls on the Genesis controllers won't work correctly [or at all] on the FB4).
Games Test: Jungle Hunt played well. Save Mary played well too, but it was hard to see the mechanism at the top of the screen (very washed out, even on different picture settings). I haven't tried all of the games yet, but the ones I did seemed to play just fine.
Fatal Run, funnily enough, crashed and locked up the first time I played it. It went to a black screen with black and gray bars. I don't remember if I turned the system off completely or just used the menu button on the remote, but I had to reset the game back to the main (game select) menu. I played it again and it didn't lock up on me that time.
What I find IMPROVED on the FB4 over the FB2 is HDTV compatibility. Yes, you can only hook up through your AV cables (not S-Video or HDMI). But the FB2 had resolution problems on the HDTV's (for example, in Asteroids on an HDTV, you'd either see the ship, or the asteroids, but not both on screen at the same time). The FB4 seems to have all of the graphics on the screen at the same time on my HDTV. (Asteroids works fine). The sound in all of the games, upon initial trials, seems fine too.
Note: it seems so far that a few of the games require two players.
Overall, the unit seems fine. I'd still love to see a more solid unit that runs flawlessly, with ALL of the Atari classic built in (like Lunar Landing and Pitfall), as well as a 2600 cartridge slot.
I have found the "wireless" controls not very useful. They just don't work if the are not lined up EXACTLY. I tend to tilt my controller in my hand while I play, so this doesn't work for me. I have been using my Atari controllers from my Flashback 2, (which I got for free earlier).
In addition, after my purchase of the FB4 at Rite Aid for $39.99, the price went down to $29.99 at the same store, with the Rite Aid card (as of November 26th, 2012). I returned my original FB4, also concerned with the audio scratching/feedback i was getting from my HD Samsung TV with the FB 4 plugged in. I bought a new FB4 for $29.99.
I tested out the new FB4 unit. Same audio crackle problems. To be fair, I hooked it up to another, smaller HD TV and did not notice the audio distortions. So perhaps that was my set-up, but that still seems to be a QC issue that would have been tested out and fixed prior to launch. (I also noticed the small clear wireless receiver window on the unit had tiny scratch or crack marks in the inside--so I'll return this one as well).
To reiterate the positive part of the review, the BIGGEST plus of the FB4 over the FB 2 is HDTV compatibility. This they got right! (minus the audio crackles I was getting!)
I also neglected to mention that the FB4 also does not include "River Raid," one of the best games on the FB2, nor "Caverns of Mars."
Lastly, I tested the Genesis controllers for myself on the FB4, and indeed the left/right directions do not function during game play (only on the main menu).
So here is my wish list for the Flashback 5, if it ever comes to fruition:
1) All popular Atari 2600 games, including the 75 on the FB4, plus: River Raid, Lunar Landing, Pitfall, Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger, Kaboom!, Caverns of Mars, and Solaris, and whichever other popular games I forgot to list.
2) An Atari 2600 cartridge slot.
3) NO "wireless" controls, but rather, classic Atari 2600 joysticks with extra long cords, as well as the additional menu/select/reset buttons on the back of player 1.
4) Include smoothly working, wired paddles (and INDICATE which games are paddle or track ball games in the manual, and even better, on the game menu!)
5) Full compatibility with all old Atari controllers AS WELL as Genesis controllers.
6) Fix the potential audio crackle (more robust testing and quality control on various HD TV set-ups).
7) Indicate on the game menu which games require 2 players.
Fulfilling these above seven, well thought out upgrades would have you one SPECTACULAR video game machine worth buying!