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Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration Review – A Half-Century Of Gaming History Stuffed Into An Excellent Package


On June 27, 1972, Atari, as we all know it at the moment, was born. Nicely, technically, it was born a number of months earlier underneath the identify Syzygy Engineering, however the identify Atari began life in 1972. I do know this and lots of extra attention-grabbing info concerning the firm due to Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, Digital Eclipse’s love letter to the gaming big.

Atari 50 is actually a playable documentary, strolling you thru 50 years of Atari’s video games, residence consoles, handhelds, and PCs break up into 5 totally different timelines. Every of the 5 timelines focuses on a unique facet of the enterprise, with dates typically operating concurrently. Each is full of movies, photographs, design paperwork, and extra. It is a museum exhibit in a field and a pleasant one as well.

This magical historical past tour incorporates an astounding 103 playable video games, from the unique 1972 arcade model of Pong to a variety from the Jaguar and Lynx, Atari’s closing residence console and handheld, respectively. Every is a 1:1 port as if Digital Eclipse ripped the motherboards from the machines themselves and transferred the sport into my console. Whereas there are many previous favorites like Asteroids, Breakout, and Journey, I discovered a few of the lesser-known titles, like Quantum and I, Robotic, fascinating in their very own proper.


Not content material to easily port over previous titles, Digital Eclipse included a handful of different titles elevating this assortment to the stratosphere. Two separate homebrew video games seem within the story, one for the Atari 800 PC and the opposite for the Atari 2600, which showcase simply how a lot can nonetheless be finished with older consoles within the current day. Seeing a recreation firm even acknowledge the homebrew scene is uncommon, however for Atari and Digital Eclipse to embrace the neighborhood sufficient to incorporate it right here is fantastic. 

Nevertheless, it is Digital Eclipse’s personal creations that steal the Fiftieth-anniversary present. The Reimagined collection consists of seven old-school Atari video games rebuilt by the crew for the fashionable age, and seeing these older video games is splendidly nostalgic. Haunted Homes is my favourite reimagining, because the outlined 3D setting fully transforms the unique expertise. Yars’ Revenge Enhanced can also be superb, despite the fact that it does not stray as removed from the unique.

I have to embrace one necessary caveat: these are Atari video games of their unique type, which means they’re as rudimentary as traditional video games get. Some video games have the lifespan of a mayfly, whereas others – the multiplayer video games specifically – have extra to supply. Even the Reimagined set, whereas well-crafted, could solely final 15 to twenty minutes per session. It is a assortment of fast hits, and it does not take very lengthy to get via the 100 video games included within the library, which means your mileage could fluctuate from a replayability standpoint.

Outdoors of the sport library, the love and care Digital Eclipse put into this mission is unmistakable, as is obvious by a few of the relics it has included in every of the timelines. The a whole lot of photographs, previous field artwork, and movies provide an unimaginable look again at what Atari was on the peak of its powers. The previous Nineteen Eighties-era TV commercials are significantly notable; seeing a baby specific pleasure for E.T. is hysterical in hindsight. 

A few of these inclusions go above and past. Take The Swordquest collection, which had three launched video games and a fourth that by no means launched. Again within the day, every recreation was bundled with a small comedian ebook that not solely advised the story of the sport, but additionally gave clues on resolve the puzzles throughout the corresponding recreation. Atari 50 consists of every a kind of comics of their entirety so you will get the complete expertise and profit from these clues. 

As for that fourth unreleased Swordquest, Digital Eclipse discovered the design ideas from the collection’ creator Tod Frye, constructed it from scratch, and included it as one of many seven “Reimagined” video games. To say that this assortment is thorough is an understatement, and Digital Eclipse’s respect for the supply supplies is seen and appreciated.

My favourite a part of the historic inclusions are the handfuls of video interviews with not solely members of the Atari crew all through the years however different distinguished recreation builders throughout the business. Notable Atari alumni featured embrace firm founder Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn who’s credited because the creator of Pong, and programmer Eugene Jarvis. Different featured names embrace Double Advantageous’s Tim Schafer and Gears of Warfare creator Cliff Bleszinski. Every interview provides new tales, anecdotes, and a little bit of technical knowledge to the legend of Atari, whereas giving the entire assortment that particular documentary really feel, with little moments of rationalization peppered all through a treasure trove of digital artifacts. 

With Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, Digital Eclipse has set a brand new bar for future historic compilations in video video games. It is a digital touring museum exhibit, as the sport bursts on the seams with nostalgia due to greater than 100 playable video games and a whole lot of relics from the developer’s vault. Whereas a very good quantity of the video games supplied will go by rapidly, these temporary life spans can’t overwhelm the wonderful historic worth of Atari 50, and I hope Digital Eclipse has extra wings of its digital historical past tour opening within the coming years. 

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