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Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration

11 November 2022
Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration - cover art
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Atari: Story Mode
About once a decade or so since the 1980s there have been a few Atari compilations and a cartoonishly large amount of Atari Flashback mini-consoles. The usual slag of these games is how simple they are in gameplay and graphics. So many games in those collections you play for about 5 minutes and then you move on.

I feel like Atari 50 not only does a decent pick of the crop but goes above and beyond in a few areas, namely it pulls from the Atari arcades, 2600, 5200, 7800, the Atari Computer games, as well as 1990s systems the Atari Jaguar and Lynx which I don't think have ever been on any compilation.

Even better is that it gives all these games some context, many are placed on timelines and show the strides these games. Normally just having these games together lumped by genre or alphabetically gives them the personality of a Zip file you found online called "Atari-2600-COMPLETE". Will you ever really go through all of them? The timeline with its historical quotes, documentary footage and interviews help put things into place within the company's history. <spoiler>Starting off with early footage of Nolan Bushnell in a factory full of Pong machines and ending the timeline with the current president of Atari genuinely gives you a bit of emotional resonance with going through the whole thing</spoiler>. It's also nice that it's not all sugar-coated nostalgia, they gleefully announce the difficulty of working on some products and some things that show Atari in not the best of light.

There are a lot of games I've never played before that I quite enjoyed on the compilation but I only have a few nitpicks.

Due to rights issues, there are just some games that don't get picked up. Some just-forgotten games like Superman (the first action-adventure game?) for Atari aren't going to get included. Missing out on some other big licensed titles like E.T or Pac-Man (yes they are bad, but these are key parts of Atari history) aren't there. Some third-party games by Activision and Imagic are also things you just feel are missing. (What? Did Activision just want to sit on these titles they haven't released in 10 years?) Who knows who owns the rights to the Starpath Corporation titles either, which really made the Atari just do things you wouldn't imagine.

It's exciting to get Atari Jaguar, 8-bit computers, and Lynx games, but you kind of wish they had a few more, especially of Jaguar. Sure you get Tempest 2000, but then you just get some average to the very worst of what the Jaguar had to offer. No Jaguar CD games either. Would have loved to have Battlemorph or the Iron Soldier games.

Lastly, while it's alright to see how Asteroids and Missile Command evolved, getting the umpteenth variation of them for various systems is a bit of an eye-roller. I do however like most of the remakes of Break Out, Yar's Revenge, and the vector game tribute VCTR-SCTR. Not so crazy about Haunted Houses (endless tutorial blips) and Quadratank (hard enough to get someone to come over to play regular Atari games let alone this wobbly remake).

A really nice collection not unlike Rare Replay that doesn't just drop a bunch of rooms on you with some filters and maybe remaps the controls and calls it a day. I even recently picked up Castlevania Anniversary Collection for the Switch and despite it probably having higher-rated games, its presentation and history is limited to lore in cheaply displayed forms, the Atari 50 compilation was just such a bigger joy to explore and enjoy.
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Catalog

NibiruShiranui Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2024-01-10T06:57:00Z
2024-01-10T06:57:00Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Mudaque Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-11-14T00:37:45Z
2023-11-14T00:37:45Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Azel Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-11-10T14:55:50Z
Windows
2023-11-10T14:55:50Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
gb7b5 Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-11-08T04:01:05Z
2023-11-08T04:01:05Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
tifokyun Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-10-31T19:26:13Z
2023-10-31T19:26:13Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ultraaguy1 Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-10-31T02:13:16Z
2023-10-31T02:13:16Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
justadice Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-10-30T16:21:18Z
2023-10-30T16:21:18Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
The18th Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-10-12T22:38:40Z
2023-10-12T22:38:40Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
NarsU Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-09-25T18:14:58Z
2023-09-25T18:14:58Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
to_noid_or_not_to_noid Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-07-20T22:06:54Z
Windows
2023-07-20T22:06:54Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
KatanaSquirrel Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-06-09T20:59:24Z
2023-06-09T20:59:24Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
renatocfrancisco Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration 2023-04-12T15:44:36Z
2023-04-12T15:44:36Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • unj 2023-03-31 04:32:10.016515+00
    This has been a real blast to go through. Not just for the games, but also what was happening, but also the why (ever wondered why there are still Atari 3600 games being made as late 1989? This fills in some history blanks).

    My only sour points include that could use some more games from the more forgotten systems (Atari 8-bit family and especially Jaguar) and you kind of wish some Activision Atari 2600 games could be here. Instead, we get breakout and asteroids a couple of times.
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  • to_noid_or_not_to_noid 2023-07-20 22:08:07.851628+00
    Neat! Well meaning, informative bit of video game preservation and history. Like taking in a museum exhibit. Peep ‘the Atari handshake’ magazine clipping - adorable.
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  • tifokyun 2023-10-31 19:29:00.202254+00
    i love this collection, but i will forever be upset by the obnoxious focus on 2600/early arcade stuff and the lack of atari 8-bit computer library on here. even still, this has a ton of must-play games and plenty of hidden gems. if anything, this is entirely worth it for ruiner pinball being included (u might have to remap the controls tho, on switch at least the button mapping is absurdist on that game)
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  • superbore77 2024-01-03 19:53:46.658641+00
    This is probably the best game collection I've ever seen, but I am kind of baffled as to what they chose to include. Having zero rep for series like Battlezone while including multiple versions of games like Food Fight and Miner 2049er makes no sense to me, and the Lynx selection is just confusing (they picked Malibu Bikini Volleyball over Blue Lightning?). And this package definitely places a way greater focus on the 2600 than anything else. Considering Digital Eclipse does plan on updating this with more games, hopefully we can see some more variety in the future, but as it stands currently this is a very confusing package. Still an excellent release, both as a collection of games and a history lesson
    reply
    • unj 2024-02-14 12:54:06.470635+00
      Atari sadly sold off the rights to Battlezone a while back. Food Fight isn't great and it seems some rights issues to later games are really tricky. (Warbirds was initially on the switch version, then removed, then re-added due to some copyright but).

      Atari have been re-buying some weird properties lately, so who knows. Maybe they'll add their Jaguar Bubsy game to this.
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