Atari… Now there’s a name that’s been around for a while. We have to go way back to 1972 to find Atari’s real arcade roots, and what we find is the first ever commercially successful video game with Pong. From there Atari would release many more arcade machines, as well as home consoles and Computers, whilst also changing hands several times, right up until the present day.
Which brings me onto today’s review of Atari Vault, which has been released on Steam… errr. Today!
A quick perusal over the game’s listing spiked my interest, especially given that the collection features over 100 of the best Atari games from it’s arcade and 2600 era, although sadly, no ET. But there was a 15% discount as well, so rather than waiting patiently for a Steam sale, I snapped the little blighter up and then proceeded to play the said package. I now therefore present my findings to you in this fly by review.
I must say, on initial opening of the game, I was mighty impressed. Not only do you get a slick interface that can be controlled by keyboard, mouse or controller, BUT you can frickin’ well spin the arcade cabinets around… Like right around! Sweeeet.
THEN, I found out that the flyers and promotional materials from the original arcade machine’s are also included, all for your perusing pleasure.
Over in the Atari 2600 section, I was even more excited to find you could.. YES. Rotate the bloody game boxes! And look at all the instruction manuals… yellowing included!
It took me some time to get over this initial excitement. But I soon went back to test the games out.
Now, there’s some absolute classics here. It’s not an exhaustive collection for sure, but on the arcade front we’ve got cabs like Asteroids, Centipede, Lunar Lander, Millipede and Sprint to name a few. On closer inspection of the games, you’re provided with a high level of tweakability in the form of control methods, sensitivity and whether you want a graphical overlay around the game.
Inside the games, everything is faithfully recreated, and the environment gives you that arcade feeling, especially if you fill your house with smoke and teenage sweat odour beforehand.
Games like Crystal Castles I found instantly addictive, and you’re reminded at how simple, but highly entertaining some of these games were once you dive in. Sometimes the controls take a while to get used to. For example, playing Sprint with an analogue stick rather than a steering wheel, felt tricky to begin with, but it didn’t take long for it to feel more natural than a gazelle in a pine field.
Over in the 2600 area, you’ve got classic conversions of the arcade games, including Crystal Castles, which looks somewhat more blocky… but yet remarkably high fidelity given the High definition resolution.
The sensitivity of the paddle in pong was a little off putting, but a few tweaks and something playable came to fruition.
The spread of games is also pretty top notch, with everything broken down it categories if you’re into that, and of course there’s both local multiplayer options and frickin’ online multiplayer options. Welcome to 2016 Atari!
Seriously, there’s enough here to keep anyone with a slight interest in Atari Retro gaming entertained for days, and it’s a lot more polished than anything I’ve come to expect from Atari of late. I mean sure, you could download this stuff separately and emulate it using Mame and a 2600 emulator. But that’s time consuming, and no where near as polished, and when you want some Atari action, you’ve just gotta dive right into it, without all that faff.
So for the £12.74 price tag, do I recommend it? You’re sure as hell I do.