Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 11.11.2022 1

Review for Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration on Nintendo Switch

Nowadays, Atari is viewed "simply" as a pioneer of the video game industry. True, but that assortment of words doesn't really manage to make those born after the '80s feel what Atari really means. The company, which started its life in the distant '70s, didn't just make a new toy - it made history; and it continued making history for quite some time. Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is exactly that: Atari's - ongoing - history. Part documentary, part a large library of games, this collection is a must-have for lovers of all things retro gaming. Here's a look at the Switch version, which might very well be the perfect choice for this due to the system's hybrid nature.

This bundle is divided between two major sections: the timeline of Atari's history, and the library, where you can simply choose amongst 90+(!) titles to play. Don't go there yet. Atari 50 should be viewed as a journey. The timeline mode, which is divided between a bunch of distinct eras, is a step-by-step trip, from the distant beginnings of the American company to this very day. Broken down in small nodes, this timeline is filled with all manner of content, ranging from small quotes from key figures and bits of history, to interviews from creators, rare video footage, covers, flyers, notes, prototype designs, photos of arcade machines/consoles, and, of course, many, many games, with some of them being classics that really helped shaping the industry.

Screenshot for Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration on Nintendo Switch

Unlike many retro collections that have been released on the Switch, there's nothing here that feels like a quick cash-grab. This is easily the best of its kind. From the videos that have various creators and the like talk about the history of the company, to the artwork, photos, etc, this looks very, for a lack of a better word, professional. Even the UI itself is super-slick, and very easy to use, without any extra baggage that could potentially make the whole thing ugly and convoluted. The content itself is not extremely thorough, which is actually a good thing. Like with a museum, players are given enough info to get to know the era this talks about. If in need for something more detailed, one can always buy a book, or watch a documentary like Netflix's High Score.

It's pretty cool that this covers the entire history of Atari and doesn't cut any corners. While the greater emphasis was obviously given to the company's early days, with its super old-school Arcade machines, the 2600 and 5200 systems and the like, there's plenty to learn about the next, much less glamorous, but still interesting period of Atari's downfall. In other words, you'll even get to play titles from the immense failures that were the Jaguar and the Atari Lynx! (Do the Math!!!)

Screenshot for Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration on Nintendo Switch

Once the history lesson is complete, all that's left is to play the actual games - and there are many to choose from. Needless to say that most aren't very good. Some were terrible the moment the got released, and many others are simply way too old to remain enjoyable to this day. Surprisingly, there are also many that have stood the test of time. Sure, they won't glue you to your seat for hours upon hours, but they have their charm. Sadly, due to licensing issues, there are a couple of games that haven't been included although they were major classics.

The good news is that those that can be found here are in "mint" condition, meaning that they succeed in transferring you back to the distant '70s and '80s (and into an ugly green couch) due to the way they have been ported. One can play with the aspect ratio, turn a TV filter on to get that nice retro glow of old sets, and also enable borders that make you feel as if you are standing in front of an arcade machine.

Screenshot for Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration on Nintendo Switch

Never forget that, whether you play Pong, Asteroids, or - Nolan Bushnell forbid - Cybermorph, this is mainly an interactive documentary, not a set of great games. Having said that there are a couple of special things to talk about, the first being the fact that this bundle includes a handful of unreleased prototypes, as well as Airworld, the final addition to the famous Swordquest quadrilogy, which for over three and something decades was left incomplete as a trilogy. The collection also includes a bunch of achievement-like tests, where completing certain tasks unlocks more content - with most of these tasks given to the player in the form of treasure-hunt like clues.

The cherry on top of Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is the inclusion of a bunch of reimagined titles. Essentially remakes of past products that add high-def visuals as well as other modern-ish mechanisms and QoL systems, while retaining the retro feel of it all. A new version of Breakout, a Haunted House that's *gasp* a lot of fun (perfect as an entry level horror game for very young kids), and the best amongst all those, a mix of the vector classics, Asteroids, Lunar Lander, and Tempest into one, continuous experience! Long story short, truly a celebration of Atari, and a strong recommendation for retro gaming aficionados.

Screenshot for Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

This is not a collection of fantastic games, but a fantastic history lesson about gaming's most important company. Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is a journey that begins from the distant '70s, with Pong and the 2600, goes through the 7800 and Jaguar eras, and actually concludes… today, as besides all the classic titles, small documentary-like videos, and so on, this even includes reimagined titles, plus unreleased prototypes - and more. Digital Eclipse crafted a rightful tribute to a legendary pioneer.

Developer

Digital Eclipse

Publisher

Atari

Genre

Other

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sounds like a great collection! I think they did a physical release so maybe I'll pick this up one day! Atari was dead long before I was old enough to game so it's an era I'm not familliar with.

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