More than four decades on since the first ever Atari game was released into Japanese arcades and the iconic video gaming giant is back with a collection of hits from the seventies and eighties for the PC. It’s known as Atari Vault and it promises to offer hundreds of hours of pure retro-gaming-bliss.
This mammoth collection, which consists of one hundred classic Atari games, is an Atari fans dream come true; but with so much nostalgia on offer is it worth your time? To some who do not understand the enjoyment had from classic titles such as this then probably not, but in my eyes it is a well rounded collection with a few surprises in store for those that wish to look for it.
Developed by Code Mystics, and published by Atari, the Atari Vault consists of one hundred Atari developed games; eighteen of which were released into the Arcades while the remaining eighty-two were released onto the Atari 2600 console. It is an impressive list and as such you will find familiar arcade classics such as Pong, Asteroids, Super Breakout, Centipede and Millipede making-up the list alongside their Atari 2600 ports. It’s not just well known titles that are included either; as to keep the balance of interest rather forgetful titles, such as Golf, Chess and Combat are also included for your retro gaming pleasure.
As you would assume each game remains faithful to their original arcade chipboard or cartridge variation; with the only difference being the inclusion of local multiplayer and online leaderboards (where applicable). It’s also obvious to note that some HD re-mastering has been done to give the games are more ‘visually pleasing’ experience that what you would normally receive from a traditional Atari 2600 console or a replication unit. Disappointingly however this pain-staking process of remastering the games for a newer generation does come with a few flaws and it varies depending on the game being played.
Some of the games, most notably Asteroids on both the Arcade and Atari 2600 ports, would see the spaceship disappear upon pressing the back (down) button on your controller (keyboard). It’s such a bizarre glitch but it results in those two particular games being relatively restricted if not unplayable. Asteroids is one of my favourite games on the list, and one of the most notable titles, so it is disappointing that the game has been released in this state. Of course it could be a graphics-card glitch, as things like this have been known to happen, but it is still a bit of let down. Ironically enough though Super Asteroids, which could be considered its sequel, does not suffer from this issue – so it really is a bit of a “hit and miss” situation on what to expect from each title on the list.
Fortunately however Atari Vault offers much more than just a trip down memory lane with its selection of one hundred retro games; as a nice selection of supplementary content is also included. For starters each Atari game, be it Arcade or 2600 port, has had their original arcade cabinet or box art recreated digitally for players to see before they choose the game they want to play. That’s right; there are no long-list of game titles here, although that is an option, instead it is a selection of games with their original cabinet or box-art being displayed for your retro viewing pleasure. Speaking of which upon choosing your game of choice you can either opt to play the game or view original assets related to the title; a feature which most popular re-releases of classic games tend to forget.
It’s a nice ‘museum’ piece which, for Atari 2600 games at least, allows you to view the original game-manual in full detail. For the arcade variations of Atari games however you will be able to view a selection of promotional artwork or assets related to that game; with most relating to the cabinets artwork. As mentioned its a nice throwback to those who used to play the games back in the seventies and eighties; but more importantly it’s a nice museum piece for those wanting to experience what the cabinets and manuals were like back in the day but were unable to do so at the time.
In short what Atari Vault offers isn’t just one hundred games re-hashed into a simplified collection for the PC; instead it offers a love-letter to Atari fans and while not all games will operate as initially expected it is a nice piece of retro gaming and one i recommend adding to your Steam collection.