Atari Vault - PC Review

This is a very large and generally well done collection of classic Atari games. Certainly not every great title shows up here, but more than enough to bring out the nostalgia in almost any old gamer. A few tweaks here and there could have improved things, but the overall offering is both solid and generally enjoyable.

I likely skew older than the average gamer as I near my fortieth birthday next month, which means that these were the types of games I actually cut my teeth on. Absolute classics like Asteroids (in a few different flavors), Breakout and Centipede share the stage with less familiar titles like Blackjack, Circus Atari and Save Mary. Every title is either from the 2600 days or an arcade port, and with one hundred of them in total, there is a lot to like here.

I will not list out the entire collection here in the body of my review, but I have done so at the very bottom, in alphabetical order, in case you are curious (the number of R and S titles is quite large). Obviously with a title like this, I am not going to break down and review each of the one hundred games. By today's standards most of these would be considered incredibly simple and likely be almost impossible to properly review even in individual format.

However, I can talk about the collection as a whole, and what it brings to the table and where it comes up short. Aside from the actual collecting of the titles, the best features have to be the online and local multiplayer options as well as the Steam leaderboards. With titles like this, you are not trying to beat the game. No, back then you were either trying to best another player or hang up an impossible to beat score for others to look at with wide eyes and amazement. To this end, the collection works rather well and includes these features that take us out of the arcade or off of the couch and allow gamers to experience that same competitiveness even though we could be worlds apart logistically.

The UI of the game is solid and it is easy to not only bounce around from game to game, but customize each on with the input device of your choice. While the game themselves are obviously pretty limited visually, the marquees and cabinet images used on the sides are a nice touch that helps to bring the games to life more effectively. I also liked the bit of 'extra' in the form of manuals and materials from back in the day. It runs well and it does a nice job of jostling my sense of nostalgia. While this is really only a drop in the collective 2600 bucket and there were games I would have loved to see in this collection that were not included, the breadth of what is offered here is pretty extensive and it offers up nice variety that should appeal to a wide range of gamers.

There are however, some issues with the overall package that I should address. For one, those aforementioned materials appear to be scanned in at a rather low resolution, and do not look as good as they could. Speaking of looks, the lack of v-sync options in the menu are just frustrating. There is way more tearing that occurs here than there should be. Also, while I tested it with a handful of different controllers and they worked well, it was odd that so many of the games excluded the use of joystick and wanted to force me to use the directional pad. While most controllers these days obviously have both, that could be a concern if you have a controller that is lacking that option. Last gripe on the controller front, but it is also worth noting that the games that relied on rotating or trackball controls just do not seem to translate as well to the controller or mouse/keyboard combination. Games like Centipede have never felt as good with a controller as with a trackball, and I suspect that will always be the case.

There are obviously some quibbles there in the last paragraph, and they are certainly worth noting as they impact some games more than others. On the whole, the collection works really well. The number of games is impressive and the overall interface works really well. The games play nicely, though there are some hitches here and there with specific titles, but not enough to dissuade me from playing and generally enjoying myself with this collection.

Game Information

Code Mystics
Single Player
Local Co-op
Other Platform(s):

Article by Nick

Full list of games:
◾3D Tic Tac Toe - 2600
◾Adventure - 2600
◾Air Sea Battle - 2600
◾Asteroids - 2600
◾Asteroids - Arcade
◾Asteroids Deluxe - Arcade
◾Backgammon - 2600
◾Basic Math - 2600
◾Basketball - 2600
◾Black Widow - Arcade
◾Blackjack - 2600
◾Bowling - 2600
◾Brain Games - 2600
◾Breakout - 2600
◾Canyon Bomber - 2600
◾Casino - 2600
◾Centipede - 2600
◾Centipede - Arcade
◾Championship Soccer - 2600
◾Checkers - 2600
◾Chess - 2600
◾Circus Atari - 2600
◾Code Breaker - 2600
◾Combat - 2600
◾Combat 2 - 2600
◾Concentration - 2600
◾Crystal Castles - 2600
◾Crystal Castles - Arcade
◾Demons to Diamonds - 2600
◾Desert Falcon - 2600
◾Dodge-Em 2600
◾Double Dunk - 2600
◾Fatal Run - 2600
◾Flag capture - 2600
◾Football - 2600
◾Golf - 2600
◾Gravitar - 2600
◾Gravitar - Arcade
◾Hangman - 2600
◾Haunted House - 2600
◾Homerun - 2600
◾Human Cannonball - 2600
◾Liberator - Arcade
◾Lunar Lander - Arcade
◾Major Havoc - Arcade
◾Maze Craze - 2600
◾Millipede - 2600
◾Millipede - Arcade
◾Miniature Golf - 2600
◾Missile Command - 2600
◾Missile Command - Arcade
◾Night Driver - 2600
◾Off the Wall - 2600
◾Outlaw - 2600
◾Pong - Arcade
◾Quadrun - 2600
◾Race - 2600
◾Radar Lock - 2600
◾RealSports Baseball - 2600
◾RealSports Basketball - 2600
◾RealSports Boxing - 2600
◾RealSports Football - 2600
◾RealSports Soccer - 2600
◾RealSports Tennis - 2600
◾RealSports Volleyball - 2600
◾Red Baron - Arcade
◾Return to Haunted House - 2600
◾Save Mary - 2600
◾Secret Quest - 2600
◾Sentinel - 2600
◾Sky Diver - 2600
◾Slot Machine - 2600
◾Slot Racers - 2600
◾Sword Quest Fireworld - 2600
◾Space Duel - Arcade
◾Space War - 2600
◾Sprint - Arcade
◾Sprint Master - 2600
◾Star Raiders - 2600
◾Starship - 2600
◾Steeplechase - 2600
◾Stellar Track - 2600
◾Street Racer - 2600
◾Stunt Cycle - 2600
◾Sub Commander - 2600
◾Super Baseball - 2600
◾Super Breakout - Arcade
◾Super Breakout -2600
◾Super Football - 2600
◾Surround - 2600
◾Sword Quest Earthworld - 2600
◾Sword Quest Waterworld - 2600
◾Tempest - 2600
◾Tempest - Arcade
◾Video Cube - 2600
◾Video Olympics - 2600
◾Video Pinball - 2600
◾Warlords - 2600
◾Warlords - Arcade
◾Yars Revenge - 2600
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