Video Game Review — Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration


Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is an interactive journey through 50 years of video games through interviews with designers, developers, and industry leaders, documentary footage, product design documents, and of course, more than 80 playable games. Read on for my review of this new video game anthology.

Atari is celebrating its 50th anniversary and with it, the spark that launched the modern video game industry. It has been five decades since a small team in Silicon Valley combined their creativity, curiosity, and passion to make video games and hardware. Their efforts resulted in Atari, one of the world’s most recognizable and enduring entertainment and pop culture brands.

At the heart of the 50th Anniversary Collection is a curated list of over 80 games that span seven different hardware platforms – a true feat of emulation by the team at Digital Eclipse. Behind every game are the stories of Atari, what was happening at the company, what went into the creation of the games, and the hardware they ran on … told by the people who were there. It is a rare opportunity to get a rich, behind-the-scenes look at the history of video games.

The talented team at Digital Eclipse also created five new games that revisit, mash-up and reenvision Atari Classics.

  • Airworld – yes, the team at Digital Eclipse created the fourth chapter of the never finished Swordquest series: Airworld.
  • Haunted House – a modern 3D isometric adventure based on the classic original.
  • Vctr Sctr – a celebration of the vector era of gaming, which combines gameplay from a variety of vector arcade classics into a single challenge.
  • Neo Breakout – an amazing and addictive two-player competition that combines the best parts of Breakout and Pong.
  • Yars Revenge Reimagined – the best-selling first-party Atari 2600 game of all time with modern graphics.

And, as fitting for the brand so closely associated with the development of the Easter Egg, you can unlock hours of additional content and games as you progress through the collection.

Key Features

  • 80+ classic games lovingly presented with best-in-class emulation and modern quality-of-life enhancements – and the ability to play classic games that have not been available for ages.
  • Discover the brand that launched the modern video game industry and the creative individuals behind it through interviews, archival images, special source material and behind-the-scenes content within an interactive timeline.
  • Emulation of games created for six hardware platforms: Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800,
    Atari ST, Atari Jaguar, Atari Lynx.
  • Over 60 minutes of exclusive interviews with key players in the games industry — from early Atari designers, engineers, and other luminaries of the gaming world — as they discuss Atari’s enduring impact on the video entertainment landscape.
  • A retrospective on gaming history that is a must-own for collectors and fans of video games.

My Thoughts

Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is the greatest video game compilation I have ever played. It is so lovingly crafted that I am in a constant state of awe every time I fire it up. From the music to the user interface to the new games, everything about Atari 50 is a joy to experience. The interactive museum woven throughout is beautifully implemented and a delight to explore. This anthology has hundreds of hours of replay value and a treasure trove of goodies to enjoy along the way, including video interviews with the folks who brought these games to life.

Digital Eclipse could have easily copied and pasted roms onto a bare-bones compilation. Instead, they spent untold hours creating an anthology that feels like a true celebration of everything Atari. All the highs and lows are included, not just the company’s successes. Having the opportunity to play Atari Jaguar games because of their inclusion on this compilation was fantastic. I also had a great deal of fun exploring the Atari Lynx offerings included in this release. All eras are represented in Atari 50, and I couldn’t be happier about that fact.

I had the honor of interviewing Atari’s founder Nolan Bushnell last year, and he was easily one of the most intelligent and fascinating people I have ever spoken with. Now, one year later, I find myself playing Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration and loving every minute of it, with a deeper appreciation for the insights he shared with me. This game isn’t just for those in need of a hefty dose of nostalgia. It is for anyone who loves video games and the joy they bring us. It is a celebration of the birth of an industry that is still thriving today. I wholeheartedly recommend Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration because it is the most fun I’ve had playing video games this year and the perfect way to look back on the company that blazed the trail for others to follow. Long live Atari. Here’s to another 50 years!

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