Packed with 85 old games from the Atari canon and available at a budget price, Atari Anthology is a great way to relive some of the high points of classic gaming. However, the less-than-perfect emulation tarnishes what would otherwise have been an incredible trip down memory lane.
$19.99 for 85 games is a pretty great deal, even if some of the re-creations aren't perfect.
Of the 85 games available in the package, the bulk of them were previously released on the Atari 2600. Among many, many others, you'll find classics like Combat, Missile Command, Asteroids, Adventure, and Yar's Revenge. Nearly every genre of the day is well represented--there are plenty of action, sports, driving, and puzzle games to choose from here. In all, the selection of Atari-produced games is fairly comprehensive, with the more familiar games being the clear standouts. In addition, the emulation of these games is spot-on, with all the trademark low-fi sounds, simple graphics, and flicker that gave these games their distinct feel. Thanks to the accurate representation of the original hardware, the gameplay that so many gamers grew up with is perfectly intact as well.
While the large number of Atari 2600 games is a great feature of this package, the real draws are the 18 arcade classics that make up the remainder of the available games. Ranging from Pong, Super Breakout, Centipede, Millipede, Crystal Castles, Warlords, and Missile Command to a host of vector-graphics games such as Tempest, Battlezone, Major Havoc, Red Baron, and others, these games are arguably the ones that are most worthy of your playing time. Unfortunately, these games are also the most unevenly re-created, with sound that is spotty and unfaithful and graphics that are frequently out of proportion. For the most part, the traditional raster-display games, such as Centipede, are reproduced the most accurately, with graphics and sounds that are very close to those of the originals.
The vector games, on the other hand, seem to have the most trouble staying true to their arcade originals. Since these games originally used special monitors that produced graphics with rays of light rather than pixels, the versions of these games in Atari Anthology are more of a simulation than anything else. While Tempest, Battlezone, and Red Baron resemble what you might see in an arcade, Gravitar produces graphics so small that they are nearly impossible to see, regardless of what viewing mode you select. Across the board, the vector games also have the most inaccurate sound, at times sounding nothing like the real thing. If you grew up playing these games in arcades, you'll be pretty disappointed by these re-creations.
While Atari Anthology is a new console title, this package is essentially a spruced-up version of a compilation released for the PC in 2003 called Atari: 80 Classic Games in One. Thankfully, much more effort has been put into making this collection of games better. This time around, the controls are well implemented and the games are more playable overall. Atari Anthology does feature an incredible number of games for a budget price, but it's hampered by the various inaccuracies and quirks found in the translations of many of the better games. As such, this is a decent product, overall, but if you're looking to relive your gaming days of old and demand nothing less than perfection, you'd be better off finding another way to do so.