Atari’s Greatest Hits (Free) by Atari was just released in the US App Store having surfaced in the New Zealand Store several days ago. And, the buzz is huge.
If you were born after 1970, this may be ancient history, but once upon a time, Atari was the king of arcade gaming.
By the end of the decade they were not just the progenitors of the modern console unit, their name was synonymous with home video gaming.
My friends and I dropped many quarters into classics like Missile Defense, Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Centipede with that wild trackball. When I got the additional 99 titles you can purchase in-app, to accompany the free Pong game, I was lost in nostalgia.
What I failed to recall was the consternation the clumsy 2600 joystick caused. Does anyone else remember the Pac Man game? Talk about a let-down…
I also forgot how much harder those first games were.
No matter how devoted we were to mastery, most of us were lucky to see board three of Donkey Kong. I sound like grandma, but kids today do have it easy, at least when it comes to gaming.
Even the original Pac Man was virtually impossible to win.
After playing with Atari’s Greatest Hits for hours I’m in retro-heaven, but I have to fess up. At one time these games were novel, but only the best still pass muster by today’s standards. And, Atari doesn’t own the most iconic titles anymore. They gave up the rights to the biggest names like Space Invaders, E.T. and Pac Man decades ago.
Those titles and later 80’s classics like Tapper, Tetris and Ms. Pac Man have already been ported to iOS, granted without cabinets, but they are faithful renditions.
So, Atari can’t bring you many of their greatest hits, but they offer a great deal. Free Pong, 99 games for under $15, or smaller multi-packs for $.99 each.
But, for $15 many of the VCS titles don’t pass the laugh test, much less the test of time. Unless you are a die hard fan of all things Atari, I suggest you stick to your favorites.
If you love particular games, absolutely drop a buck or two. It’s flashback fun and the games are generally rendered extremely well for the touchscreen.
But, forget selling this to your kids. Mine took one look, laughed and headed straight to his Wii.
The execution of the games in Atari’s Greatest Hits isn’t the problem. There is a glitch in Pong, the paddles aren’t quite long enough, but the quick fix is to change the orientation to portrait. Otherwise the games I knew were faithful renditions.
But, seriously? Backgammon is painful to look at, much less play.
The arcade titles play far better than the VCS’s. I really like the trackball control in particular, but they make up only 18 of the total games.
There are some standout former cartridge games, my favorite is Yar’s Revenge, but there are a lot of antiquated oddball titles like Basic Math and Code Breaker that don’t add much to the package other than memory usage.
Atari’s Greatest Hits looks authentic, in fact it’s pixelated eye candy. And, it’s loaded with goodies like original cabinet art and documentation.
I discovered a fun way to work around what I find to be a clumsy joystick. Grab a Fling for iPad. It works seamlessly on any of the games that use the 2600 joystick and plays better than both the simulated and original console controls.
Don’t get me wrong, I am having a blast going through the whole collection, even the most obscure. But, I am a long-time devotee of Atari.
One thing is certain, this game is destined to be an iOS classic. And, it’s going to make a lot of old school gamers very, very happy. Welcome back Atari!