Atari has been around for 50 years so it's time to celebrate the legendary company with one of the greatest game compilations ever.
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50 years of Atari
Atari began in 1972 with their iconic release of the timeless classic Pong and since then, it's been a wild ride of many highs and lows. In recent years, the company has been offering oodles of old-school fun for modern gamers with the release of many game compilations and plug-and-play consoles as well as the odd spin-off and the Atari Recharged games which bring new life to their classic games. Thankfully, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration spans this entire timeline thanks to its astounding collection of games and museum-style content that'll keep you thoroughly entertained as well as educated which is something that I didn't expect. Specifically, you'll even learn a lot about Atari's groundbreaking achievements and shady past and it's excellent to see their entire history; warts and all. v1d30chumz 44-210-77-106
An impressive museum
Now that I brought it up, let's dive into the museum aspect of Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration. It's essentially presented within 5 timelines where you'll learn all about Atari's arcade origins, creation of the game console, ups and downs, foray into home computers, and recent history. After selecting a timeline, you can move along a well-presented node-based map which contains loads of information, archival videos, interviews, concept art, manuals, advertorials, quotes, and more. Before even diving into any game, I found myself obsessed with watching the videos and reading up on the classic games that I love because there's so much packed in that even though I thought I was an Atari expert, I still kept coming across so many new tidbits that I found it hard to put down. 😅
With all of that out of the way, let's get to the games! First of all, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is an eclectic collection in that it includes a solid assortment of titles for arcade, Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, Lynx, Jaguar, and Atari 800 (8-bit PC). It may not feature as many games as Atari Flashback Classics which I still absolutely love and highly recommend but the collection here is still impressive.
My favourite inclusions are of course the arcade games; of which, there are a whopping 25. Classics such as Tempest, Pong, Missile Command, Asteroids, Centipede, and Breakout are included but you also get some rarities such as the prototype for the radial shooter Akka Arrh, the clever and intense I, Robot, the multi-directional shooter Cloak & Dagger, and the fast-paced Quantum where you draw circles around enemies; quite the hidden gem! Anyway, you also get 40 Atari 2600 games with 5 of them being unlockable. The vast majority of these have been featured on other compilations but there is definitely still some fun to be had with them.
Finally, there are 5 Atari 5200 games, 7 7800 games, 5 Lynx games, 5 Atari 800 games, and 9 Jaguar games. These miscellaneous offerings range from dated curiosities to tried-and-true classics such as Tempest 2000, Ninja Golf, and Ruiner Pinball. However, games such as the infamous Cybermorph and the boring shoot 'em up Trevor McFur certainly did not stand the test of time. Overall, this eclectic collection of Atari games from under-represented consoles is solid although not as fruitful as their arcade line-up.
Believe it or not, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration also includes a handful of games that were developed by Digital Eclipse and compose the Reimagined category of games. The best game here is VCTR-SCTR which features levels based on Asteroids, Lunar Lander, and Tempest as it's a great deal of fun to progress through waves that are full of variety and challenge while trying to top your high score. Another great game is Haunted Houses which takes the classic and adapts it to a full-fledged horror adventure. Neo Breakout is excellent as well with its constant modifiers that emerge as you progress. In addition to these, you also get Quadratank with its realistic tank controls, a virtual Touch Me game which inspired Simon back in the day, and a visual recreation of Yars' Revenge. Oh, and if you dig Swordquest then you'll be happy to hear that Digital Eclipse developed AirWorld to complete the quadrilogy because why not? 😊
Odds and ends
Before wrapping up this review, I'd like to discuss that Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration may be fantastic but it's not a definitive Atari collection so if you like what you see here then be sure to pick up Atari Flashback Classics as well. One feature from that collection that's missing here is any online capability. I personally love climbing leaderboards, especially in retro games and considering there are some new titles based on the classics here, I'm rather disappointed that there are no online rankings whatsoever. On the plus side, there is local multiplayer and I appreciate that you can control games such as Breakout with the DualSense's touchpad which is just awesome.
As a long-time gamer who's stuck in the past, I must say that Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is one of the best compilations ever produced. From its expansive museums to its wide variety of classic games and hidden gems, it really is the cat's pajamas.
- + Superb collection of games that spans arcade, console, computer, and handheld releases
- + Top-notch assortment of museum content
- + New games are mostly great fun
- - Although an excellent selection of games, it's by no means a definitive collection
- - I wish there were online leaderboards