Anybody that grew up during the 70s and 80s will know the name Atari, one of the original game industry titans that released many classic arcade and home console games. Since then, many things have changed and the landscape of the industry is different, but the classics from that era still remained and continued to be rereleased on various platforms. Atari Flashback Classics brings together an ensemble of Atari branded arcade and home console games, including the Atari 2600, 5200, and more. The games still maintain the same gameplay that many have loved over the years, but is the collection a great celebration of a time long since passed? Not completely, but it does have plenty of old-school gaming to share around.
There’s eleven pages of games to choose from in this collection. Everything from arcade cabinet titles to the 2600 and 5200 titles you’d expect are included. Of course, being an Atari focused collection means you’re not getting any of the big third –party games that also defined the console, such as Star Wars or any other big releases of the time. But you can play the different versions of Pong, Combat, Asteroids, Centipede, and many more. The differences between the various versions of the same game are interesting to notice, despite the gameplay being identical.
A fun nod included here are how the games are displayed in their original cartridge format within the menus. Atari 2600 games have their signature top label displays, while the 5200 titles have their very own that were released at the time. All the games are organized alphabetically and divided between the arcade and home titles, but there are no options to change the organization of the games.
If you’re looking for a 5200 game, you’ll have to scroll and look at the cartridge and label just to be sure. This can be a little tedious, but only if you’re looking for something specific. It does however help that the box art for games is shown on the left side, giving a bit more insight into the history of the games and how they were sold back in the day.
Each game does have either local multiplayer or online leaderboards enabled. You can immediately share your high scores online with others. If you’re hoping for online multiplayer instead, you’re out of luck. Two Switch consoles can connect to play with each other in any of the games that have multiplayer, but online games aren’t a thing here. Playing locally on the same Switch console can be fun and feels closer to the original experience for some of these games. Using the joycons to play Combat or any of the sports games included can be fun with others who have an affinity for Atari gameplay experiences.
The collection is light on extra content. There’s not much else to enjoy outside of the games themselves and the online leaderboards. One good inclusion, however, is the addition of high resolution scans of the original instruction booklets and box arts for the home console games. The arcade titles don’t have this, instead the only get the multiplayer or leaderboards, but the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 games all have their original booklets that can be viewed in full from the main menu.
This is a fun look into the history of Atari, but is very slim and short lived. It would’ve been nice to see more concept art or bonus features for any of the Atari games, arcade or otherwise, to give this collection some more value. There are some achievements unique to each game, but you don’t get much from obtaining them as you play other than small pieces of artwork.
Atari Flashback Classics is for the older Atari fan or those who want to show a younger generation what it was like to be a gamer back then. The games are simple to get into and fun for a time, but unless you really love this old-school style of game the fun will be finished all too soon. No online play for any of the games limits these to local multiplayer, which might not be too extensive unless you have someone nearby to play with you. The leaderboards are great for those aiming for high score supremacy, but that will only go far if you’re a big fan of classic Atari games. As a window into a time where things were much more simple, this collection does only what it needs to do and nothing more beyond that.
This review was based on a digital review code for Atari Flashback Classics on Nintendo Switch, provided by Atari.