The Plex media server software is now a window into the history of gaming thanks to Atari and the new Plex Arcade subscription service.
The new service promises unlimited access to a large library of Atari classics, as well as any ROM files the user wishes to add to the mix.
Plex Arcade can be enjoyed on a tablet, mobile phone, Mac/PC and television, but you’ll need Plex Media Server version 1.21.2 or newer running on a Mac or PC to get started. Here’s how to set-up a Plex server.
Unfortunately it doesn’t support Linux or the Nvidia Shield as host devices right now. You’ll also need to sign up for a free Parsec account to enable game streaming too.
From there you’ll be able to play via a “just about any” Bluetooth controller (Xbox One or Sony DualShock 4 recommended for best results) on Amazon Fire TV, Android (mobile), Android TV, Apple TV, iOS and the Plex Web App for Chrome and Chromium-based browsers. Plex says support will expand.
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Although there’s a 7-day free trial, this is a paid subscription service that’ll cost just $2.99 a month for Plex Pass subscribers. If you’re an existing Plex Pass subscriber you’ll get a a discount on the regular $4.99 price, but it’s not required. We’re currently seeking information on the UK price and availability.
So what are the available titles? So far there appears to be 27 supported games covering the old Atari arcade machines, the Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 home consoles.
So far, we’ve got: Avalanche, Centipede, Gravitar, Lunar Lander, Major Havoc, Milipede, Missile Command, Sky Diver, Sky Raider, Super Breakout, 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, Adventure. Aquaventure, Combat, Haunted House, Human Canonball, Outlaw ~ Gunslinger, Radar Lock, Solaris, Basketbrawl, Dark Chambers, Desert Falcon, Fatal Run, Food Fight, Motor Psycho, Ninja Golf and Planet Smashers
As we mentioned above, gamers can add their own ROMs and emulators to the mix and personalise their libraries. While the service officially supports Atari games, Plex says that metadata for scanned in games from other retro cartridge games are also supported, including those from Sony and Nintendo. “If your game doesn’t show up in the library it means it is not currently supported,” Plex says in its FAQ page.
Of course, the use of a personal ROM library is somewhat of a legal grey area. We’d recommend also owning a physical copy of the game in question in order to be on the safe side.