Captured on Nintendo Change (Handheld/Undocked)

Atari, and its exuberant founder Nolan Bushnell, had been Seventies trailblazers who shaped, established, and pioneered the online game business. Brushing a near-century of mechanical coin-operated gaming apart and barging pinball right into a dusty nook, Atari grew to become the focus of bars in all places with Pong in 1972. It was the dawning of the digital age, and Bushnell and co. had been right here to make it enjoyable.

Generally we’re in peril of forgetting these details. The Japanese gaming revolution did a lot to construct on, excellent, and usurp Atari’s preliminary endeavours — and in such a gloriously progressive style — that we are likely to focus our retro gaming goggles someplace between the mid-’80s to late ’90s. It’s, in fact, generational. For individuals who grew up with them, there’s nonetheless an affection for Clive Sinclair and the early PC gaming growth, the Spectrums, the Commodores, and the Amstrad; the CBS Colecovision, the Vectrex, and the Grandstand console. However 50 years on and it’s now Atari’s second, and it wished everybody to know.

In consequence, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is a painstaking love letter to the organisation’s historical past and its accomplishments. You’re greeted with an outstanding interface, superbly designed and rendered, however by no means overblown. It captures the nostalgic whimsy of Atari’s halcyon days proper all the way down to the background music and rolling video wallpapers.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Handheld/Undocked)

And its quick, barely lacking a beat when skipping easily via content material, taking a cut up second to load field artwork to full decision, or diving proper into documentary footage as if it was ready poised on your consideration. Video games, too, of which there are over 100 unfold throughout seven Atari codecs, from Arcade, 2600, Lynx, Jaguar, and every part in between, spring to life with the faucet of a button. There are not any on-line choices, leaderboards or in any other case, however with such a dense quantity of content material, it is simply forgiven.

The format is clear, vibrant, and neatly categorised via Arcade Origins, Start of the Console, Highs and Lows, The Daybreak of PCs, and The Nineties and Past. It’s a deftly organised odyssey that runs throughout timeline charts suffering from trivia, pictures, developer interviews, and anecdotes. It’s a pleasure to discover arcade flyers, field artwork, traditional adverts, pictures, and a number of excellently produced developer interviews from the unique {hardware} creators.

Even the nice Nolan Bushnell himself, sitting comfortably in his Atari 50 emblazoned T-shirt, joins the procession with a particular recorded phase. It’s fascinating to match the presentation of Atari 50 with one thing like Capcom’s Arcade Stadium titles. The latter comes with fairly 3D-rendered gimmickry that resembles an precise arcade, however lacks the interior heat exuded right here.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Docked)

With the event of this assortment dealt with by Digital Eclipse, the video games appear completely emulated, at the very least so far as we will inform, with none visible hiccups or delays. There are very nice arcade bezels for the 4:3 side ratio, with a mushy however acceptable scanline filter and an choice to vary the glow depth of sure titles to match how burned within the tube was on the machine you performed as a child. Some extra filters wouldn’t have gone amiss — maybe one thing to essentially convey out that outdated CRT flavour — however because it stands the presentation is completely acceptable. Sure gems, like Asteroids Deluxe, have a simulated depth of subject impact to render what was as soon as a printed background sitting behind its glowing vector sprites, and it truly makes it really feel as if you’re peering into the display. It’s delightfully performed, and an excellent instance of the bundle’s consideration to element.

Removed from an inexpensive cash-in, throwing old-school video games along with a minimal of fuss, Atari 50, quite the opposite, is all fuss: fuss in regards to the firm, fuss in regards to the good occasions and the unhealthy, and fuss in regards to the universe Atari created. Classics embody I, Robotic, Meals Struggle, Yars’ Revenge, Tempest 2000 and so many extra. Solely sometimes do you stumble on titles like Firefox, one of many first Laserdisc-driven arcade video games, solely to be disillusioned to seek out that it’s data solely and there’s no play choice. That is doubly saddening with the absence of Pc House, the world’s first arcade online game, and no Aliens vs Predator on Jaguar, more than likely as a result of licensing points. E.T.: The Further-Terrestrial suffers the identical destiny, a comparatively poor recreation that nonetheless has significance within the Atari story.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Handheld/Undocked)

One can’t faux that each one of Atari’s output was stable gold. Even one of many Jaguar’s designers admits that the console’s output had high quality points, and it exhibits within the majority of its titles on supply. Whereas sure Lynx, VCS and 2600 titles depart just a little to be desired, and there’s sure to be one thing lacking that upsets somebody or one other (in our case, 1983’s Star Wars arcade), however there’s a lot to peruse that it’s extra in regards to the journey.

And, as if it wasn’t already a brilliantly produced bundle sewn along with considerable content material, there are six brand-new video games thrown in too. 40 years on and Swordquest: Airworld is a fourth sequel you by no means anticipated, impressed by its authentic creator, and accompanying the three entries that preceded it. Neo Breakout, is — you guessed it — an expanded, modernised model of Breakout with thrilling new twists; Quadratank continues the tank sequence with a four-player battle royale; the confusingly titled VCTR-SCTR mashes up components of Tempest, Lunar Lander, and Asteroids, going vector loopy with an addictive rating problem; and Haunted Homes reimagines the Atari 2600 authentic, now in a 3D voxel-built area, able to reignite the survival-horror spark with recent challenges. Yars’ Revenge: Enhanced — which isn’t the identical recreation because the current Yars: Recharged — revitalises the unique with a glowing new graphical overlay that may be swept away to disclose its authentic pixels with a faucet of the shoulder button. There’s even an unreleased arcade prototype, too, within the type of Akka Arrh, full with simulated LEDs flashing behind the bezel.


That it’s referred to as ‘The Anniversary Celebration’ moderately than ‘assortment’ is a substitution of phrases that couldn’t be extra apt. With its clean, quick, and perfectly-pitched interface, and wealthy, thoughtfully created content material, Atari 50 actually is an honouring of the corporate that based the business. It’s true that its content material goes to have a better attraction to an older era of avid gamers, to at present’s dad and mom (and grandparents) who grew up within the whirlwind of the ’70s and ’80s arcade scene. For them, reliving moments and experiences that used to price a pocketful of cash will likely be joyful. For others, understanding the attraction of numerous these video games will take work, and few of the titles outdoors of the Lynx and Jaguar catalogues are straightforward to select up and play for the uninitiated. On the identical time, Atari 50 is so thorough and engrossing a retro gaming tunnel, akin to exploring a digital museum, that it transcends its target market considerably. For these concerned with video gaming’s historical past, the unearthing of the previous, and for avid gamers not afraid of what at present is taken into account rudimentary, there’s quite a lot of enjoyment available on this journey down reminiscence lane.

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