‘Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration’ Review: A Golden Experience

Till just a few years in the past, Atari felt like a relic of gaming’s previous: an iconic brand relegated to artwork books and Sizzling Subject T-shirts. Quick-forward to at present, and the corporate’s 18-month-long hearts and minds marketing campaign beneath CEO Wade Rosen has paid off in time for its fiftieth anniversary, seeing out 2022 with what could be its greatest fashionable creation but.

Rosen, who turned Atari’s head honcho in April 2021, has inspired the corporate’s reinvention, even when it refuses to let go of its previous. Its Recharged collection, specifically, has been a triumph; SneakyBox and Adamvision Studios’ recent takes on the likes of Breakout and Yars’ Revenge have been nice enjoyable. Now, one other developer with nice kind–Digital Eclipse–has been introduced in to create what Atari undoubtedly hopes to be its magnum opus: Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration.

The chances-on guess has paid off. Atari 50 could be one of the best recreation assortment ever made, and needs to be the bottom template for future builders to observe. This isn’t a easy bundle of video games you choose primarily based on the standard of the titles in it, like Atari’s very personal Flashback Classics collection–it’s virtually a museum, and never within the bizarre (however surprisingly compelling) manner like final month’s Atari Mania.

However none of that is actually a shock. Very like Annapurna Interactive in 2021, Digital Eclipse has spent this yr proving itself to be greater than a reliable developer which cares for supply materials–its identify is now a seal of excellence. Even after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Assortment–an outstanding and trustworthy reliving of one other franchise’s classics–Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is arguably its biggest achievement so far. The “celebration” in its identify couldn’t be extra apt.

As quickly as you begin Atari 50, it appears like a premium, triple-A product. You possibly can leap straight into the video games themselves–one thing that’s extremely tempting, given you’re spoiled for alternative with over 90 titles–however the core mode of Atari 50 is its exploration of the corporate’s historical past by way of a number of timelines. You could suppose it’s going to be a slog, however it actually isn’t; if something, its strategy makes you neglect concerning the unimaginable assortment of previous video games it has in retailer.

The expertise is damaged down into 5 chapters: Arcade Origins, Delivery of the Console, Highs and Lows, The Daybreak of PCs, and The Nineties and Past. Each properly partitions Atari’s historical past into clear, clear narratives, permitting each the supply materials and the video games themselves to shine within the right context.

You’re by no means compelled to learn or watch something to progress by way of the expertise; its easy X/Y-axis strategy to development and depth lets you dig as deep as you need into particular focal factors, like consoles or trade developments. What’s extra, Atari 50’s mild gamification of each piece of data–photographs, movies, manuals, and extra are ticked off as you open or watch them–not solely encourages you to discover the whole lot that’s there, however allows you to to select up the place you left off, or spotlight no matter you’ve missed, do you have to be inevitably seduced by its in depth catalog.

Nonetheless, Atari 50 is so thoughtfully compiled that you simply’d be forgiven for skipping the video games completely till you’ve pored over each part–nothing ever strays near boring, nor outstays its welcome.

Movies by no means really feel too lengthy; they keep on with the subject at hand, introduce necessary human parts to the corporate’s highs and lows, and supply a wealth of never-before-heard anecdotes. Every article, picture, advert, or guide is scanned in unimaginable element. The accompanying accessibility choices make rattling positive you get the whole lot out of every fastidiously chosen piece of data.

Crucially, Atari 50’s historical past part isn’t even near immodest. Whereas key figures actually present delight of their previous work, each they and the expertise as an entire is a warts-and-all exploration of Atari’s ups and downs. It is aware of when to battle its nook–like declaring the Atari Lynx was underappreciated–however the recreation doesn’t pull its punches, whether or not that’s criticizing enterprise selections, former CEOs, video games, promoting campaigns, or minor issues like how crap the Atari 400’s keyboard was.

It even showcases footage of the infamous Alamogordo Burial of 1983, when tons of unsold video games have been despatched to landfill in New Mexico. Unsurprisingly, E.T. The Further Terrestrial doesn’t function on Atari 50, however let’s be honest: that is nonetheless a celebration, not a lamentation.

Fortunately, almost the entire precise classics are right here to play, in addition to loads of also-rans. Being trustworthy, quite a lot of them haven’t aged effectively, whereas many extra merely weren’t any good on the time. Others you’ve in all probability by no means heard of, like Trevor McFur within the Crescent Galaxy or Malibu Bikini Volleyball. Nonetheless, even when these aren’t your cup of tea, you’ll be able to nonetheless not less than rotate and zoom in on their field artwork and uncover extra causes to surprise why they have been made within the first place. And not less than they’re right here. Don’t love one recreation? Strive one of many different seven dozen or so alternate options.

In the meantime, unplayed prototypes, similar to Howard Scott Warshaw’s Saboteur, shine an exquisite mild on the What May’ve Beens, including one thing particular to the combo even when they nonetheless present their age. Nonetheless, the nicest additions to Atari 50 are the six new video games created for it beneath the “Atari Reimagined” moniker by Digital Eclipse.

Haunted Homes, Neo Breakout, Quadratank, and Yars’ Revenge Enhanced put a brand new spin on established supply materials, whereas VCTR-SCTR takes a number of cues from Atari’s proud historical past of vector-based graphics to create an entire new IP. Nonetheless, the star of the present, not less than for purists, is SwordQuest: AirWorld. Taking unique design ideas from collection creator Tod Frye to construct a fourth title within the SwordQuest collection, this all-new, old-looking title stays true to the unique franchise, whereas giving you quick access to a guide to unravel the sport’s myriad puzzles.

For all Atari 50’s strengths, there’s one main sticking level: getting dumped into video games with none data of what you’re doing. This, to its credit score, it true to the unique experiences, however controls themselves aren’t clear within the slightest with out hitting choose and going by way of the menu. Trusty buttons you suppose’ll do what you need them to finish up restarting the sport, or take you to a different unintelligible display screen. An additional preparatory choice to be taught the controls, and basic premise, would go a great distance.

Nonetheless, Atari 50 by no means appears like something wanting the celebration it markets itself as. Whereas the most recent generations of avid gamers could discover little to take pleasure in from its in depth again catalog, Atari 50 arguably gives one of the best worth for cash you’ll get from a recreation in 2022.

If you already know anybody aged 40 or over that has a console, it’s a sewn-on winner for the vacation season, however for anybody with even the slightest curiosity within the assortment, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration will greater than match expectations, and earns its place on any gamer’s shelf.

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Jean Nicholas

Jean is a Tech enthusiast, He loves to explore the web world most of the time. Jean is one of the important hand behind the success of mccourier.com