Nostalgia is a powerful thing, isn’t it?! Recently we’ve been getting remasters, remakes, ports, backwards compatibility, and re-releases of classic games from the last ten to twenty years. Atari was at their peak many years before that, with their Atari 2600 home gaming console. If you’ve never played any of the original Atari games before then just imagine a pixel-style game but zoomed right in so the pixels are big blocks on the screen, accompanied by blips and bloops for the sound.
Riding on the nostalgia train, Atari and Code Mystics have released the third collection in their trip down memory lane, the Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3. Just like the previous two collections (which I own but haven’t reviewed), the collection contains 50 games for you to peruse and jump back in time as you turn on your imagination and pretend the squares on the screen are humans playing football, a spaceship flying through the galaxy, or a racecar. The question is, who is this collection for? Let’s take a look.
My colleague reviewed the Atari Flashback Classics collection on the Nintendo Switch a few weeks ago, the main difference between that pack and this one is that the Switch version has 150 games on it as it’s comprised of all three of the volumes which you can buy on the PS4 and Xbox One. The other major difference is the price, on the Nintendo Switch and PS Vita, all 150 games will set you back at 40 dollars, these individual volumes of 50 games each costs 20 dollars. That’s my first complaint regarding the collection, the price.
I’ll list them all below, but you’re getting a total of 50 (fifty) games for £15.99 ($20), yet quite a few of the games are only going to appeal to hardcore fans based on their nostalgia. I honestly liked the selection of games they have given us in this pack as it contains a lot of Atari 5200 games as well as the Atari 2600 ones. If you’re not aware, the Atari 5200 was a more advanced Atari (think an Xbox One X) which could play Atari 2600 games, but the Atari 2600 couldn’t play Atari 5200 games. The Atari 5200 games are more advanced in that they have more colours on screen and the blocks look more like what they’re aiming to appear as.
Here’s the list:
1. Adventure II (2600)
2. Air Raiders ™ (2600)
3. Aquaventure (2600)
4. Armor Ambush ™ (2600)
5. Asteroids (5200)
6. Astroblast ™ (2600)
7. Atari Baseball (Arcade)
8. Atari Basketball (Arcade)
9. Atari Football (Arcade)
10. Atari Soccer (Arcade)
11. Avalanche (Arcade)
12. Canyon Bomber (Arcade)
13. Centipede (5200)
14. Countermeasure (5200)
15. Dark Cavern ™ (2600)
16. Destroyer (Arcade)
17. Dominos (Arcade)
18. Final Legacy (5200)
19. Fire Truck/Smokey Joe (Arcade)
20. Frog Pond (2600)
21. Frogs and Flies (2600)
22. Holey Moley (2600)
23. International Soccer ™ (2600)
24. Maze Invaders (Arcade)
25. Micro-gammon (5200)
26. Millipede (5200)
27. Miniature Golf (5200)
28. Missile Command (5200)
29. Monte Carlo (Arcade)
30. MotoRodeo (2600)
31. Pool Shark (Arcade)
32. Realsports Baseball (5200)
33. Realsports Basketball (5200)
34. Realsports Football (5200)
35. Realsports Tennis (5200)
36. Realsports Volleyball (5200)
37. Saboteur (2600)
38. Sea Battle ™ (2600)
39. Sky Diver (Arcade)
40. Space Attack™ (2600)
41. Star Raiders (5200)
42. Star Strike™ (2600)
43. Super Breakout (5200)
44. Super Bug (Arcade)
45. Super Challenge ™ Baseball (2600)
46. Super Challenge ™ Football (2600)
47. Sword Fight™ (2600)
48. Wizard (2600)
49. Xari Arena (5200)
50. Yars’ Return (2600)
As a gamer who literally grew up with the Atari 2600 and the 5200, this collection brought back a lot of memories, but not the ones I would have hoped for. As I mentioned previously, I own all three of the collections and there are some really big ommissions which are clearly not here because of licensing rights. I would have loved it if Namco had been involved, or even classics such as Keystone Kapers and Pigs in Space. Although looking at the titles we do get, there is a good variety of sports, action, adventure, and racing games in this collection, all of which span both consoles and even some arcade ports.
One thing any owner of an Atari 2600 will tell you is that the console itself was like a controller! It has so many buttons, switches and toggles which you could fiddle with to change the games. What’s that? You want your game to run in black and white? There’s a switch for that. Change the game mode? Nope, no menu here – tap a ‘mode’ button multiple times until it looks like it’s the right setting on the screen! The Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3 collection emulates this perfectly with a ‘virtual console’ which can be brought up at any point complete with every switch and toggle you can think of!
I’ve just realised, just by sheer chance, the touchpad on the DS4 controller emulates the ‘paddle’ controller. If you don’t know what that is, it was a controller with a wheel-like knob on the top which you turned to move left or right. It was commonly used for games like Pong, but also racing games and Breakout-style games. It’s a bit sensitive, but using the touchpad is a lot more responsive than using the analogue stick in the majority of cases within the collection.
Even though Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3 may not be for everyone, as I can’t imagine younger kids today will have the patience to play old Atari games, Atari really does know how to create an emulation menu screen! Not only does every game show their original end labels and box art, but you can also fully re-configure your controls before you load a game up, read the original manual for each game (which has been scanned in), and even change various emulation options. That’s right, the Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3 collection has the original manuals and box art, something the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection seemed to forget this generation!
I know what you’re asking though, what emulation options can you change! Well, you can toggle the arcade bezel (which I’ll come to next), toggle the Atari 2600 flicker if you want the authentic look, or enable scanlines. The Atari 5200 games also allow you to toggle on a few options such as skipping the title card when you press Options. The stars of the show though, other than the classics, are the arcade ports.
The arcade titles come complete with their bezels which look just like you’d see back in the arcades many years ago. These usually have instructions on them telling you the gist of the game or how to control it – which we don’t need these days but it still looks cool. These games don’t come with a manual (as you didn’t get one in the arcade) but if the game supported leaderboards on the original machine, these are still here only now it’s an online leaderboard! The arcade games also have a different set of options which is different per-game. You can set how long rounds are, how many points to win, or what difficulty the game is – these are basically the toggles the arcade owner would manually set in the arcade cabinet.
One final thing, which you may not be aware of; aside from the online leaderboards for the arcade machines, a lot of the titles fully supports online multiplayer. That’s right, Nintendo may have added multiplayer to NES titles but Code Mystics have added multiplayer to the original Atari 2600 games, which is so surreal! You can either invite someone to play with you or create a public room and see if anyone wants to play a game. My issue with this is that I could never find anyone to play anything with me online. However, all games that are multiplayer still work fine in couch-MP, which is where I played most of the games with my parents over Christmas.
I don’t think it would be fair, or worth it, to get into details about the visuals and sound aspect of the Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3 collection, as you can see by the images what it looks like if you’ve never experienced an Atari before. I do like the visuals of the menu though, and all the small details like the scanned in manuals and various options you can change. The visual aspect of the menu isn’t why you’d buy the collection though, even though reading the manuals was quite fun and informative. The games are why you’ll buy it and most likely your nostalgia for the console from your childhood.
For me, I really enjoyed playing Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3 as it had quite a few games I used to love such as Centipede, Frogs and Flies, and Adventure II, but the other collections had more which tickled my fancy. My suggestion would be to look at the listing of each game and pick up the one which has the most games which appeal to you, alternatively; if you have a Nintendo Switch or PS Vita, and an American profile, I’d recommend picking up the collection on there as you’re effectively paying for two collections and getting three for the same price.
My nostalgia glasses allowed me to enjoy the Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3, your mileage may vary though. As the third collection in the series, we’re once again greeted with some classic Atari 2600, 5200, and arcade titles, yet we’re missing some notable franchises and games which is most likely down to licensing. With the power of nostalgia, me and my dad loved playing all these old classics again with our modern controllers in full high-def with a split-second load time, yet I imagine a lot of younger gamers may not see the same appeal.
For the price, you’re getting an extensive collection of yesteryear classics for you to try out for the first time, or relive your childhood with, a collection which is sure to entertain you for many hours should you have the patience for brutally hard games. However, if you’re looking for the best value pack of Atari Classics, and you live in the USA, then either the Nintendo Switch or PS Vita versions are the best value for money.
Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 3£15.99
- - Nice selection of games
- - Every console game has a scanned-in manual to read
- - A few emulation options to tweak the visuals and gameplay
- - The touchpad works like the paddle
- - Contains a few classics
- - No big-named games
- - Multiplayer is empty (online)
- - The games are very dated, only fans and nostalgia will find a lot of entertainment here
- - Cheaper to pick up the collection on the Switch or PS Vita