Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration (PC)

Atari collections aren’t anything new. You can find them everywhere, from Flashbacks you plug into the TV or 2600 styled handhelds, to collections like the Atari Vault on most consoles or systems, and all those that have come before. A new collection has been introduced to coincide with Atari’s 50th anniversary, so lets see if it can at least stand out and offer something new for the occasion.

Given a 50th anniversary is usually regarded as something major, Atari decided to do something a little different than usual for a game collection. Instead of just adding a bunch of games and a few goodies, which is still there, what you end up with instead is a full timeline from 1971 onwards for the company with plenty to see, read and play. Various chapters break things up into manageable chunks with your progress through each tracked, there’s new interviews alongside rare ones too that offer a lot to fans of Atari or those with an interest in the early days of gaming.

Personally I’m a SEGA kid, starting out with the original Master System, but my earliest gaming memories I can recall was of my mom playing Pressure Cooker on an Atari 2600. This is probably why I’m really nostalgic about Atari and always have been, and this collection feeds on nostalgia like nothing else. Its been interesting going through the game as its not just an Atari history lesson, but a window back in time when attitudes to gaming was different, which you can glean from the copious interviews, arcade flyers & game development documents available throughout.

I guess one of the more important aspects to this would be whether the emulation of the games is adequate, and given there was previously an Atari Vault available that featured several of the games, there’s not much to worry about. Everything seems to play fine. and with there now being Jaguar games to play, a bump up to some rudimentary 3D graphics not usually found in previous Atari collections.

All those beautiful vector graphics are accounted for too, the games are pretty much displayed as is, with few options like screen glow and scan lines that can be added to spice up the presentation. Personally I just added scan-lines and left it, the game doesn’t boost resolutions or anything for the 3D games and maxes out at 1080p anyway.

This collection packs in the usual arcade and VCS/2600 games that you find almost everywhere, with the 5200, 7800, Atari 8-bit computers, Atari Lynx, and finally the Jaguar included – the latter two a first for any collection. These are made up of the usual titles like Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command, to name a few, with some notable additions for the new consoles. The highlight for me as a series fan is Tempest 2000, though Missile Command 3D and the infamous “Where did you learn to fly?” Cybermorph were interesting too on the Jag. You’ll no doubt find a few favourites among the 100 or so games, but there’s also new games added to that mix this time. These are generally fresh takes or revamped classic series (VCTR-SCTR, Haunted Houses and Neo Breakout were good fun) but each is worth a try and may surprise you.

I suppose there’s going to be people out there that may be disappointed by what’s on offer, the libraries for the new consoles aren’t really that extensive and there’s less games than the Atari Vault when you factor in the DLC for that. There’s no doubt some notable omissions too, third-party licensing would probably be difficult for something like Alien Vs Predator on Jaguar to be added for example, that more keen Atari fans than myself will pick up on. Hopefully, like the aforementioned Atari Vault, DLC will come down the line to add more for the Lynx & Jaguar in particular.

Atari 50 is pretty much the new benchmark for retro collections to me, it’s no longer gonna be enough to just add a few lines on a menu somewhere with a collection of games. Sure the game collection here could be more extensive given Atari’s legacy, though it is good to finally see Atari’s later systems, but for me it’s overshadowed by the interactive history lesson on offer that’s packed with content going all the way back to the early days of gaming as we know it. Its as much a game of nostalgia & curiosity, which should definitely be on the radar of Atari fans and gamers with a more vintage taste in general



An interactive history lesson, packaged with a multi-system retro collection, which makes for an interestingly nostalgic celebration.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.

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