Holy Flashback Bat Geeks! Atari’s Greatest Hits Comes to iOS.
- By: Atari Inc.
- Genre: arcade game, retro game
- Platform: Universal
- Price: Free with in-app purchases
- Multiplayer Options
- SAHGeekMom Rating: 4 Stars
- Pump gives it 0 Pump’s up!
- Recommended Age: 30+
Atari’s Greatest Hits (Universal. Free to download, comes with one game, Pong, 99 additional titles available as in-app purchases) was just released in the US App Store having surfaced in the New Zeland Store several days ago. And the buzz is huge.
And by the end of the decade they were not just the progenitors of the modern console unit, their name was synonymous with home video gaming.
My friends and I dropped many quarters into classics like Missile Defence, Asteroids, Space Invaders, and oh the joy of Centipede and that wild trackball.
The trouble is, when I got the additional 99 titles you can purchase in-app to accompany the free Pong game, I was lost in nostalgia.
What I failed to recall was the consternation the clumsy 2600 joystick caused. And does anyone else remember their Pac Man game? Talk about a let-down…
Arcade left – Atari VCS right
I also forgot how much harder those first games were. Let’s be frank, generally our quarters and tokens bought us two minutes max of playing, and many of us spent as much or more time watching the best players duke it out, as playing ourselves. (They got easier. But only in the early-mid 80’s did true casual gaming emerge. I could last 45 minutes on Ms Pac Man!)
No matter how devoted we were to mastery, most of us were lucky to see board three of Donkey Kong (never owned by Atari, just an example of the era.) I know I sound like grandma, but kids today do have it easy, at least when it comes to gaming.
Even the original Pac Man was unwinnable for almost all but the proto game-geek Billy Mitchell.
(If you are love these game, love docs, or just want to see a very funny movie, and you have not seen King of Kong,: Fistful Of Quarters, (CLICK HERE FOR MOVIE TRAILER) open Netflix and pop some corn. Or at least check this out 😉 – total LOL! Billy is always SO serious… rockstar my ars…. Seriously, even if you are the anti-geek, watch the award winning movie and laugh until you cry as a hapless down-on-his-luck gamer Steve (rhymes with dweebie) Weibe takes on Billy, his evil minions and his super-sized ego.)
Ok, enough, get to the point old geek, right?
Well, I kinda did. This is an app for old folks like me who want to stroll down memory lane, but not, as you can see by Pump’s score above, for everyone.
*Word of caution. Read App Store Comments with grain of salt. The game is free to DL so anyone can comment, and if you don’t read a review like mine, most people don’t understand what they are buying. This is a love it or hate it app.
It’s no reflecction on our generation’s replay value, but video games are not fine wines. They generally don’t improve with age.
And Atari doesn’t own the most iconic titles anymore.
They gave up the rights to the biggest names like Space Invaders, E.T. (why anyone would want that terrible game is beyond me, but it was a huge hit for them and I am reading complaints) and Pac Man or never owned them to begin with.
Those titles and later 80’s classics like Tapper, Tetris and Ms. Pac Man already ported to iOS, granted without cabinets, but faithful renditions or retro-style with a new twist. Look at Namco’s Pacman on iOS and compare to above:
So Atari can’t bring you many of their greatest hits, no matter how much haters wish or whine in the App Store comments.
But they can offer a great deal. Free Pong, 99 games for under $15, or smaller multi-packs for .99 each.
But for $15 many of the VCS titles don’t pass the laugh test, much less the test of time. Unless you are a die hard fan, of all things Atari, I suggest you stick to your favorites.
If you love particular games, absolutely drop a buck or two. It’s flashback fun and rendered well for touchscreen, when you consider the source material.
I made my second video ever, sound and artless, to give you a peek under the hood:
The execution of the games in Atari’s Greatest Hits isn’t the problem. Some games are well rendered, others just don’t work on a touchscreen.
I suggest you AVOID IPHONE PLAY. The screen is too small and the controls too large for effective gameplay.
Otherwise the games I knew were faithful renditions.
But, seriously? Backgammon is painful to look at, much less play.
The arcade titles play far better than the VCS’s. I really like the trackball control in particular, but they make up only 18 of the total games.
There are some standout former cartridge games my favorite is Yar’s Revenge, but there are a lot of antiquated oddball titles like Basic Math and Code Breaker that don’t add much to the package but memory usage.
Atari’s Greatest Hits looks authentic, in fact it’s pixelated eye candy. And loaded with goodies like original cabinet art and documentation.
And I discovered a fun way to work around what I find to be a clumsy joystick.
Grab a Fling for iPad. It works seamlessly on any of the games that use the 2600 joystick and plays better than both the simulated and original console controls.
Don’t get me wrong, I am having a blast going through the whole collection, even the most obscure. But I am a long-time devotee of Atari.
I have to concede, however, that while it’s a pixel-lovers dream, the full package may not be for those whose lives don’t have the video game equivalent to a soundtrack.
I turn again to AppSpy as they seem to share my opinions and their reviews are nice to look at 🙂
One thing is certain, this game is destined to be an iOS classic and spark much debate. And it’s going to make a lot of old school gamers like me very very happy. Welcome back Atari!
Ok that’s it for the big game of the week. I’ve been quite sick, please forgive how infrequently I’ve posted, but also please check out my other reviews both here and on appadvice.com.
And have a GREAT weekend!
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