A Collection of Criterion-Esque Games Worthy of a Pioneer


Atari 50 Review: A Collection Of Criterion-Esque Games Worthy Of A Pioneer

As witnessed mortal combatOn the recent 30th anniversary of, significant milestones in the gaming industry usually come and go without a glance. A straightforward collection of past titles is often the best behemoths like Nintendo can offer for their biggest franchises. Atari 50: the anniversary celebration, however, is a real exception. In triumph, a company that has struggled to stay relevant in the modern age has released the greatest collection of games ever. Developer Digital Eclipse not only provides great insight into gaming’s past, but puts it into context while offering stellar new ways to advance Atari’s legacy.

Atari 50 stands out in interesting ways from many other similar collections – including Atari’s Back to Atari series – because it is designed as an interactive museum. As a result, it doesn’t by default offer a main menu showcasing the hundred or so games available, but rather a list of specific eras, ranging from its arcade origins to the introduction of the Atari 2600 in modern times. From there, gamers can take an in-depth look at Atari’s releases through arcade flyers, fantastic video packages that feature insights from former Atari employees, and gaming luminaries like Tim Schafer and Cliff Bleszinski, and even some salvaged game design documents.

Atari 50 Review: A Collection Of Criterion-Esque Games Worthy Of A Pioneer

Atari 50 Review: A Collection Of Criterion-Esque Games Worthy Of A Pioneer

There have been excellent Atari documentaries and books, and Atari 50 rivals the best of them. He doesn’t shy away from broaching taboo subjects, such as drug use, his embarrassing old versions such as I got you – the Atari arcade game that had chest-shaped joysticks – or its own flaws that contributed to the crash of the game. From a historical point of view, this is a real selling point and it has a huge advantage compared to books and movies in that most games are actually playable and included here.

RELATED: Atari Teams Up With Digital Eclipse For 50th Anniversary Retro Collection

Interacting with these games is more engaging due to the setting provided by this collection, as it contextualizes the time and place surrounding each of their releases. While many titles are too simple or lacking in gameplay appeal in 2022, they are certainly historical and intriguing novelties when placed in the history of the medium, which, again, Atari 50 does so well. They are easily playable as a simple press of a button in the museum menu will bring up the respective game. True to its subtitle, The anniversary collection shows how important presentation is as it gives a higher quality impression than what could have been just another Backtrack compilation.

Atari 50 Review: A Collection Of Criterion-Esque Games Worthy Of A Pioneer

Atari 50 Review: A Collection Of Criterion-Esque Games Worthy Of A Pioneer

Some of the games included are classics and hold up despite their age, like warlords‘ brand of multiplayer fun. However, what makes this package even more appealing is that there are six new Digital Eclipse titles that range from 3D remakes of classics like Yars Revenge to new sequels that keep the spirit of the originals alive. For example, the vector love letter Vctr-Sctr takes the gameplay from Asteroids, Lunar landerand Storm and smash them in a stylish high-score chase, while Neo Breakout modernizes the original brick breaker. However, the craziest inclusion is Sword Quest: AirWorlda faithful recreation based on the original design documents of the canceled action-adventure game that concludes the sword quest series. They might not be as attractive as individual titles, but they make great bonuses to this stellar historical collection.

But the game locks down a few obscure titles as unlocks. For example, one unlocks after going through the museum and another is found hidden in the tutorial of haunted houses. No one’s probably dying to play Basic math Where Race 500, but having Easter eggs is an odd choice for a digital museum, because displaying the full story is the awesome part. However, this approach means it takes full advantage of the interactive medium, and it’s also kind of fitting given that the collection includes some of gaming’s earliest Easter eggs like the notorious one found in Adventure.

Digital Eclipse is really on a roll. Just a few months after the excellent TMNT: The Cowabunga Collectionthe studio has upped its game yet again with Atari 50: the anniversary celebration. While it doesn’t feature an absolute treasure trove of design documents and concept art (although there are plenty of them), its overall museum-like presentation and incredibly well-produced videos make it a joy for any historian of the game or anyone who has fond memories of Atari. It’s the closest the game has ever come to having a Criterion Collection-like release and it’s a plan that does the pioneering company justice.

SCORE: 9.5/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9 equals “Excellent”. The entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its genre. The gold standard that every creator aims to achieve.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our Atari 50: the anniversary collection exam. Revised to version 1.002.000.

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