Atari Flashback Classics: Rediscover The Birth of Video Games

Experiencing several blasts from the past.

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As Cee-Lo Green once sang: “He’s an Xbox and I’m an Atari,” implying the two were mutually exclusive. Well, now you can be both, as Atari Flashback Classics Vol 1 and 2 has been released on PS4 and Xbox One. Nostalgia fans will rejoice at the 100-plus playable Atari games remastered in crisp HD for the consoles of today.

The Atari Flashback Classics also includes – a feature alien to the world of gaming in the 80s – online multiplayer gameplay. Players can face off against people around the globe and watch as the live leaderboards change by the second. The unlockable achievements and sociability possible bring a whole new dimension to Atari gaming and allow fans of the originals to play in a new way, while also cultivating potential new Atari fans. From Pong to Steeplechase, Black Widow to Centipede – you’ll be able to bask in the wistfulness of Atari Flashback Classics.

The Atari took the beauty of the arcade games and made them accessible at home, too. The gameplay was often simple, the graphics almost minimalist, but the hours of enjoyment proved tantamount to the growing success of console gaming. Without Atari, there would be no ColecoVision, PlayStation, or even Nintendo 3DS. The Atari is the godfather of all gaming consoles (despite the earlier release of the Magnavox Odyssey – the game of dots that required various overlays to turn the dots into anything – and the transistor-transistor mechanics of Spacewar!). So, as such deserves its place in video game history. Let’s take a look at the games of Atari that have withstood the harsh, unforgiving hands of time.

Pong was the first release for the Atari and has cycled through the revolutions of design and is still being released today (basically, anything racketball-themed can be traced back to Pong). Pong’s success came from the arcade game popularity it received. The ball and paddle working of the game spawned the first home video consoles – with Atari up to its eyeballs in copies.

The first nine-game launch of Atari saw the general public get their consumer hands on game cartridges to be played at home for the Atari 2600. Air-Sea-Battle, Basic Math, Combat, Indy 500, Star Ship, Street Racer, Surround, and Video Olympics hit homes in 1977. The tank gameplay of Combat would be copied for a party game spin-off of Crash Bandicoot (Crash Bash), while Indy 500 would be remade in various iterations throughout the years due to the endurance of racing games. Video Olympics took inspiration from Pong with its ball and paddle gameplay mimicking various Olympic racketball games. And Blackjack’s popularity as a card game endured onto Windows PCs with the Solitaire procrastination games. 

As the gameplay grew more sophisticated, Atari introduced more complex designs to its games – moving away from the blocks of color moving about to depicting more of a picture. Black Widow, Liberator, and Fatal Run took the gameplay further. Black Widow designed an entire spider web the player had to navigate – and is even so popular that it has even been made into an online slot game, which can be found on various operators. The £15 no deposit bonus of Swag Bingo, outlined on Best New Bingo Sites, further shows how the enduring popularity of Atari has been brought into more modern concepts, such as iGaming. The Liberator game is obviously an early version of other supremacy games that feature the world – from the PC’s Age of Empires to the browser game Earth Empires (remastered following its original’s shutting down). Fatal Run continues the driving game tradition but adds the first person element to make the gameplay more thrilling.

As technology rose and rose, and Atari became saturated in a market of competitors, the forces worked in the gamers’ favor by ensuring the healthy competition expedited the creation of new and increasingly more exciting video games. The Xbox/PlayStation rivalry can likely be traced back to the ingenuity of Atari.

Atari will go down in history as one of the most successful and influential games consoles in the world. But, while that might be true, it needn’t go down in history due to the enduring love the fans and developers feel for the stalwart, as evidenced by the Atari Flashback Classics release. A new generation meets and an older generation of video games fans.

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