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

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

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!!