Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1

Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 Review

Have you played Atari today?

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation 4 on

Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 is also available for Xbox One

ESRB Everyone rating

Diving into a collection of retro games is always an interesting experience. Here we have a mix of fifty arcade and Atari 2600 games so get your quarters ready for a trip back to gaming past.

Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 screenshot 1
Break out the DDT: it's Millipede for arcade!

Atari has a long history of producing dozens of landmark video games. Their 2600 console was one of the first mainstream successes in home gaming so it's fantastic to be able to revisit it once in a while in this day and age. Thankfully, the collection of games featured in this volume is bursting with awesomeness. First, the nine included arcade games are the highlight of the package with gems such as Centipede, Lunar Lander, and Pong (of course). They're all faithfully emulated with cool artwork that surrounds the play area. You can even compete with online leaderboards when you have the default options selected. Another great inclusion is four unreleased Atari 2600 games in the form of Combat 2, Save Mary, Stunt Cycle, and Tempest. You can tell that most of them didn't see store shelves for a reason but I found Save Mary in particular to be a fun little buried treasure where you help a girl escape from the bottom of a well. Anyway, let's take a look at the entire list of games:

List of games included in AFC Volume 1

  • Black Widow [Arcade]
  • Centipede [Arcade]
  • Liberator [Arcade]
  • Lunar Lander [Arcade]
  • Millipede [Arcade]
  • Pong [Arcade]
  • Space Duel [Arcade]
  • Tempest [Arcade]
  • Warlords [Arcade]
  • 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe
  • Air-Sea Battle (Target Fun)
  • Backgammon
  • Basketball
  • Blackjack
  • Bowling
  • Canyon Bomber
  • Centipede
  • Circus Atari
  • Combat (Tank Plus)
  • Combat 2 [Unreleased]
  • Desert Falcon
  • Dodge 'Em (Dodger Cars)
  • Fatal Run
  • Football
  • Home Run (Baseball)
  • Human Cannonball (Cannon Man)
  • Millipede
  • Miniature Golf (Arcade Golf)
  • Pong Sports (Video Olympics)
  • Quadrun
  • Radar Lock
  • RealSports Boxing
  • RealSports Football
  • RealSports Soccer
  • RealSports Volleyball
  • Save Mary [Unreleased]
  • Slot Machine (Slots)
  • Slot Racers (Maze)
  • Sprint Master
  • Star Raiders
  • Steeplechase
  • Stunt Cycle [Unreleased]
  • Super Baseball
  • Super Football
  • Swordquest: Earthworld
  • Swordquest: Fireworld
  • Swordquest: Waterworld
  • Tempest [Unreleased]
  • Warlords
  • Yars' Revenge

Aside from the arcade and unreleased games, there are plenty of other Atari 2600 titles to play. Some obvious choices are included such as Howard Scott Warshaw's classic Yars' Revenge and the simplistic yet addictive multiplayer games Combat and Warlords. One game that I enjoyed a lot due to its intricate complexity is 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe. Anyway, there's a surprising amount of sports games which make for quite the mixed bag. A few of them are almost unplayable such as Miniature Golf and Bowling. However, RealSports Volleyball and Basketball can be rather fun in their simplistic interpretations of the sports. It's great to see all three released Swordquest games in one place. Not only can you play them and figure out their obtuse puzzles as if it's 1983, you can also flip through scans of the epic comic books that were included with the original games. Hey, you might even find some interesting clues in them...

Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 screenshot 2
No need to go to the beach when you have RealSports Volleyball at home

One problem that kept coming up as I played through these 50 games is that I frequently got confused after booting some of them up. None of the arcade games have instructions but they're mostly self-explanatory, especially if you've played them before. I didn't have much problem with them except for Liberator (which somehow escaped my memory). I quickly got disoriented watching missiles fly all over as a planet dotted with bases rotated in the centre of the screen. Luckily, each Atari 2600 game comes with scans of the instruction manual but that just wasn't enough sometimes. For example, Desert Falcon is a complete mess with awkward controls and convoluted visuals. Its hard-to-follow instruction manual didn't even help me understand it that well.

Finally, even though there are plenty of great classic games here that make it a worthwhile package, a few games are far from impressive. Probably the two biggest wastes of time are Blackjack and Slot Machine. I'm sure anyone could break out a deck of cards or find some online slots if they really wanted to. Besides those, some games simply haven't aged well. Air-Sea Battle is incredibly boring as you just aim a turret at enemies that soar across the screen in a loop. Canyon Bomber is similar in that all you do is fly back and forth and tap a button to bomb the ground to smithereens. Star Raiders is a first-person space shooter that may have been novel at the time, but it sure is tedious playing it today. All of that being said, I can't complain too much about additional content no matter how bad it is.

Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 screenshot 3
Get ready to admire Swordquest's epic comics in all their glory

Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 is a must-buy collection for anyone who loves retro gaming and doesn't already own these games. Overall, there are enough classic titles and hidden gems here to delight even the most cynical old-school gamer.

  • + Decent selection of arcade games
  • + Four unreleased gems
  • + Reliving the Swordquest games and comics can be quite epic given their history
  • - A few confusing games could use more detailed instructions
  • - Some of the older Atari 2600 titles definitely haven't aged well
7.9 out of 10
Gameplay video playlist for Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 7:44

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