reviews\ Jan 13, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Atari: Anniversary Edition - PSX - Review

There was a time when my weekends were spent in the eerie glow of large, loud video games-- competing for my attention, and quarters. Those days are back. Twelve of Atari's greatest games have been re-introduced to a generation spoiled with graphics-laden shooters and endless quest games. Sometimes, the most fun can be had with the basics. That's what this collection is designed to remind us. Whether it is the original Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command or.... dare I say.... PONG.... this batch of games will test your hand-eye coordination better than most games today.  

Some of these games utilize the innovative (OK, maybe for the 80s) "Vector Graphics". That is, lines and minimal graphics in lieu of intense game play. It gives the game a futuristic look and feel. Asteroids, and especially Tempest, were perfect examples of this. Some of the games were (poorly) released for the Atari 2600 console, and the results were terrible. The sleek look of the vector graphics was replaced with 2-dimensional solid graphics like any other 2600 game. It is nice to see them back in their original look, if not feel. 

The rest of the games are more traditional in appearance. Centipede or Super Breakout, for example, use standard "solid" graphics instead of the vector "lines". I was never a fan of centipede, and it is interesting to know that almost 20 years later, I am still bad at it! 

For the most part, all of the games have been faithfully reproduced. The only "trick" is in the controls. In the original Tempest, you had a dial and a FIRE button. Now, you have to navigate your weapon and direction with the awkward 4-way direction control pad. Left is right and vice versa. Painful and frustrating lesson to learn. I was very good at this game in the arcades, but at home on the PSX, I have yet to get used to the controls. Old habits die hard... my high scores die harder. 

The same is said for games like Centipede and Missile Command. The original games had  track ball controllers and fire buttons. Again, this translates poorly with a Sony (or compatible) controller. These games were DESIGNED for specific controllers, and do not work well with the "modern" equivalents. These are more than minor problems, but do not negate the positives of the games as a whole.

The graphics are just like the originals, as are the sounds. Some may see that as a bad thing, but hey--  Quake had to start somewhere! At least they did not try to make them more "hip" and ruin the original appearance or sound.

The game play is great, with the controls being the main hindrance. I absolutely hated the controls for Battlezone-- and arcade favorite. Perhaps someone who is new to these classic games will not know any better, and do well. Like I said; these games were design (well!) for specific controls-- which do not exist for PSX. You can modify your controller setup, but no amount of tweaking will make a 4-way pad work like a dial! Maybe someone will come up with a classic controller pack to go with classic games someday. Otherwise, the game play is great and faithful right down to the smallest blip or ping (PONG!). 

Put away Tony Hawk and Madden 2002 for a while and give these classics a shot. It's fun and more challenging than you might think..... even if there are no 3-D demons to slay or hip music tracks to accompany your experience.      

Gameplay: 9
Lots of fun and additive action. The controller problems are annoying but can be overcome with practice. I felt like a teen again.... minus the pimples. I even used my Walkman and listened to "Men at Work" while blasting away. 

Graphics: 8
Looks just like the Arcade originals in every way. A fun, retro look and feel to it. 

Sound: 9
The sounds are straight from the 80s. That is a good thing. Nothing compared to today's stereo gaming, but excellent reproductions of the original blips and blasts.  

Difficulty: 8.5
The games are challenging in many ways. The games may be antique in look and feel, but they are no less challenging and unique. Lots of white knuckle action for amateurs and seasoned gamers alike.   

Concept: 10 
This is the genesis of gaming. Play these and you have experienced the core to all of today's best games. 

Multiplayer: 9 
Many games are 2 player (not Multiple). 

Overall: 9
Lots of engaging fun and challenge for all ranges of gamers. Give this a shot and feel the history of gaming for yourself. These are the days before home videogame systems. Pre-Atari 2600. I spent more in one days' worth of quarters than this twelve game collection costs today. What a bargain for so much fun!!


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