Retro Atari Classics
Developer: Atari | Publisher: Atari | Release Date: 2005 | Genre: Retro Compilation| Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon | Size: 128 Mbit
We have no problem with retro game compilations provided they offer value for money (i.e. not just one or two games on a cart) come with extras and bonuses that will appeal to enthusiasts (i.e. interviews plus artwork) and the actual games are either accurately emulated or faithfully reproduced. On paper the “Retro Atari Classics” collection looks like a good dean, then memorable titles from the seventies and eighties all presented in their original and “remixed” modes. It’s only when you pop the cart into your DS that the truth becomes apparent.
Nostalgia sells which is why there are so many of these retro compilations available. This one boasts the unique feature of offering touch-screen support allowing you to play these classics in a way that wasn’t possible before. Since most of them used dials, paddles or trackballs the touch screen should allow for more accurate controls than gamepads and buttons. Well that was the theory in any case. In reality the touch-screen controls render most of the titles nearly unplayable. Some like Tempest even screws up the button controls, forcing you to use the stylus, although the rest at least allows you to choose between the two options.
Time has not been kind to most of these titles so if its pretty pictures you want then move right along. The promised “remixed” mode which makes use of artwork by “graffiti artists” is a joke and looks like the crayon scribbling of a three year old. It’s shocking how bad some of the visuals are and I’m not even talking about the original games here. Speaking of the original games if you are a true retro buff you’ll (a) have all these games already and (b) notice that they are not accurate emulations of the original titles. The differences are often minor but still noticeable. Don’t expect any form of extras either. The menu system is easy to navigate, but looks a bit drab and is sorely lacking in the bonus features department.
The sound effects and music sound like they should which is a relief, but not really an accomplishment considering the age of these games. What is really a slap in the face is the fact that you need multiple carts in order to play the wireless multi-player. I find it very hard to believe that games such as Pong can’t make use of a sharing mode. I don’t’ think a lot of people is going to rush out and buy extra copies just for multi-player. Perhaps this was done in fear of gamers not purchasing the game after experiencing how terrible it is playing against a friend.
It’s not all bad, I actually had fun playing Warlords but the appeal of games such as Lunar Lander and Spring on the DS is a bit questionable. The sad thing is, this has already been done much better on the Gameboy Advance. Save your money and don’t fall for this cash-in.
*Review originally published in 2005.