Many people today may only know of Atari from family stories, or the AtGames Flashback console series that litters electronics departments of every big box retailer. Despite AtGames’ name being on this compilation as a current rights holder, this collection steps away from the hardware angle, and instead delivers a delightfully no-nonsense collection of classic titles to the Switch.
I’m going to forego the normal format of my reviews since this is a collection of existing, decades-old games, and I don’t feel like, at this point, they should be judged. What I will be going over is the collection’s presentation and features.
I expect the Switch will see an even larger number of classic collections in the coming years, as the Virtual Console hasn’t materialized like on previous platforms. However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Collections are an incredible value. For instance, Capcom’s Mega Man Legacy Collection comes in well under the VC prices for those titles, and other collections contain even more value.
The Atari Flashback Classics cuts right to the chase, dumping the player right into the game selection menu without even a title screen. Catchy music, emulating Nintendo’s Classic series menu music, sets a light, fun mood.
We’ve got 150 titles to choose from here, with some of the most iconic games of all time. I have to say, I really appreciated the inclusion of the arcade versions of many of these games, including Missile Command, Asteroids, Centipede, and Tempest. The 2600 port of Missile Command is actually well executed and very playable, but there’s nothing like the original. Rounding out the collection is a huge assortment of 2600 and 5200 games. Many of the best games on the system weren’t published by Atari, but we still have must-plays like Combat, Adventure, Space War, Gravitar, and Yar’s Revenge making appearances.
While the controls and display options for the home console games is pretty obvious, we have several arcade titles here that are technical outliers. Trackballs, spinners, vector monitors, and even the bizarre controls of Major Havoc are challenges that need to be addressed. The Classics Collection handles it all beautifully. Sure, playing Centipede without a trackball isn’t exactly authentic, but we lose nothing in the translation.
Also very much appreciated is the option to rotate the screen for games that originally had a vertically oriented arcade monitor. I’ve got both a vertical monitor and a FlipGrip (review coming soon!) in my gaming arsenal, and as someone who spent a lot of time with Tempest back in the day, getting to experience it in its original format, or as close to it as we can get on a modern display, is a total treat. All the conversions, even Major Havoc, play very well, and while I do miss flinging the spinner, the titles are all a blast to play. To note, there are also leader boards and a great multiplayer execution rounding out the features here, both simple, but well done.
There’s a huge amount of value here for the Atari fan. Authentic arcade conversions, a huge selection of classic Atari console games, and while the presentation may not be quite as historically detailed and thoughtful as some of the other collections, it is still a very well executed compilation. Now, Atari, how about a third party 2600/5200/7800 collection?
Charlie’s first attempts at gaming did not go well. Repeated, failed run-ins with the first Goomba in Super Mario Brothers 1 plagued his maiden gaming voyage. Undaunted, he would go on to become an avid gamer of all platforms, with Nintendo always sitting atop the highest pedestal. Except for that Halo 3 incident in 2007. We don’t talk about it. It never happened.
Currently, Charlie enjoys playing games on as many platforms as he can get his hands on, with current favorites being the Switch, 3DS and Neo Geo. When he’s not playing games, Charlie is a live sound engineer and manager for his production company, Clear Harmonies, based in Washington, D.C.
Charlie enjoys talking about games nearly as much as playing them, and loves meeting new people, so hit him up!
Plays: All of them games. Seriously.