Game Review: Atari 50-The Anniversary Celebration

We’re covering a game that came out a month ago but has so much dang content in it, that I’m just now finishing it. If you haven’t joined the Atari bandwagon yet, let me discuss with you everything that this game has to offer, because it’s the best place for you to start!

Description:

Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration takes players on an interactive journey through 50 years of video games, including a specially-curated list of more than 100 playable classics and six entirely new titles from the award-winning team at Digital Eclipse

At the heart of The Anniversary Celebration are Interactive Timelines, which combine trivia, all-new interviews with the original developers and industry leaders, and playable games into one singular experience.

Play extremely rare titles from the Atari Jaguar and Lynx platforms, 8-bit computers and 7800, 5200 and 2600 consoles.

Features:

Curated List of Classics: 90+ classic games lovingly presented with best-in-class emulation and modern quality-of-life enhancements – including games that have not been available for ages. Platforms include Arcade, 2600, 5200, 7800, Atari 8-bit computers, Lynx, and Jaguar.

Interactive Timelines: Discover the games that launched the modern industry and the creative individuals behind them through interviews, archival images, special source material and behind-the-scenes content in five unique Interactive Timelines.

All-New Videos: Over an hour of exclusive video interviews with key players in the games industry – early Atari designers and engineers and other luminaries of the gaming world — as they discuss Atari’s enduring impact on the video entertainment landscape.

Trailer:

All About Atari 50-The Anniversary Celebration:

When you first start up the game, you’re encouraged to go through the various sections of timeline style of exploration. From pictures to videos to playing the games, they take you back in time and behind the scenes. The goal is to teach you anything and everything about the last 50 years of Atari. Each of the 5 sections of topics has so much to share that there is literally a percentage that it keeps track of for you so you know if you experienced it all or if you’re missing something.

Of course, you don’t have to do the learning. You can at any time press a button to jump into the game library and start playing. On Xbox Series S, it’s the X button to jump in at any time. The games in the collection show the title of the game, a cover or representation of the game, and player count. I personally loved the reimagined games overall, but I want to take the time to discuss all of the games and my personal favorites in each section.

I loved the reimagined games for several reasons. First off, these new games help get new players into Atari without appearing too out of date. Furthermore, they are here to help us create new memories and new nostalgia. Maybe one day 50 years down the road someone will be nostalgic for one of these new interpretations. And not only have they modernized versions of some incredibly fun games, but they also had fun details included in them that eagle-eyed Atari fans would catch. Easter eggs galore, especially in Haunted Houses.

My standout favorite reimaginings are as follows. Breakout became a great arcade game by letting you “continue” after a game over by letting you choose a level after you’ve unlocked it as your starting point. They’ve included a Battle Breakout mode too for multiplayer. Various levels of gameplay include gimmicks to keep the game fresh too.

Touch Me is a wonderful recreation of a handheld device that Atari mad in 1979 as a response to the Simon memory game. It works functionally the same but it lets you choose difficulty levels. 8, 16, and 32 buttons to remember. It’s hard for me with ADHD, but I felt accomplished beating the lowest difficulty.

My final favorite is Vctr-Sctr which is an amalgamation of some of the greatest vector games to ever release. Asteroids turns into Lunar Lander, Tempest and so on. Anyone who loves Vector graphics as much as I do will feel right at home. If you love twin stick games as well, then Vctr-Sctr is almost the sole reason to buy this game. I hope it gets released on it’s own later on. Giving players to buy just the individual games from Atari 50 in a year or so from now would be a great idea!

The full list of games of reimagined titles are:
  1. Haunted Houses (An expanded version of Haunted House)
  2. Neo Breakout
  3. Quadratank
  4. Swordquest: AirWorld
  5. Touch Me
  6. Vctr-Sctr
  7. Yars’ Revenge Enhanced
Atari 50 features several arcade machines, there are 25 to be exact. They all seem to feature the ability to enable or disable screen filters. You can choose to stretch it and remove the filter if you don’t want to keep it looking old school, for instance. My three favorite arcades are Crystal Castles, Super Breakout, and Tempest. I won’t dive too much into these or the console game’s descriptions due to the fact that these have exsited for a long time and you likely already know about them. Interestingly, at least one of the arcade games is a prototype. I have you covered with the whole list of arcade game.
The full list of games of arcade titles are:
  1. Akka Arrh
  2. Asteroids
  3. Asteroids Deluxe
  4. Black Widow
  5. Breakout
  6. Centipede
  7. Cloak & Dagger
  8. Crystal Castles
  9. Fire Truck
  10. Food Fight
  11. Gravitar
  12. I, Robot
  13. Liberator
  14. Lunar Lander
  15. Major Havoc
  16. Maze Invaders
  17. Millipede
  18. Missile Command
  19. Pong
  20. Quantum
  21. Space Duel
  22. Sprint 8
  23. Super Breakout
  24. Tempest
  25. Warlords

Now as far as home games go, the game is split up across all of their consoles and handheld. You’ll find 800, 2600, 5200, 7800, Lynx, and Jaguar games. There are 71 total games across them. Some of the games, for instance, are prototypes, so that’s fun! Some of the games appear to be “top secret” with an icon of a folder with text that has been blacked out. These are unlockables and you’ll achieve unlocking them as you play and experiment with games. So play things you haven’t before, ideally all of them! If you want the full list of console games and know how to unlock the unlockables, I suggest clicking here. There’s far too many games to list here, I’d have you scrolling for days!

With regards to the entirety of the games, buyer beware. There are a couple of repeats that were released across multiple platforms. Some might find this insulting, but I think you should remember that ports made for different systems play differently. Additionally, some people prefer a game on one console over another. So even though you might only play Missile Command on arcade, someone else might only have nostalgia for the 5200 version. Hopefully there is something for everyone on this collection, I definitely think so!

Final Thoughts:

I stand by what I said at the beginning of this article. If you haven’t joined the Atari bandwagon yet, this Atari 50th celebration should be your starting point. If you like Atari and you haven’t gotten this game yet, I’m kind of wondering what you’re even doing here when you could be buying this game and playing it right now! It’s a tear jerking look back at Atari’s beautiful history and it’s packed full of games new and old. There are deep cuts, there are prototypes, and there are games to unlock as you explore the entirety of this title. I love this more than any of the Atari Flashback machines and it’s a staple now that I’ll be playing a lot. Games that archive multiple titles, ala Rare Replay, are great entry points to a bigger world. Thank you Atari, I love you.

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