STAFF REVIEW of Atari Flashback Classics - Volume 3 (Xbox One)

Sunday, January 13, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

Atari Flashback Classics - Volume 3 Box art Nostalgia can make you remember something much better than it actually was. I found this out a few years ago rewatching a few of my childhood TV shows and replaying a few classic games I grew up with. Needless to say, it certainly wasn’t the experience like I remember. One of my first gaming memories is actually playing the original Pong at my grandma’s house, with the paddles, which is most likely how I become hooked on gaming in the first place. It wasn’t long after that she had an Atari 2600 and my gaming love grew from there.

I remember playing those classic games, plugging in the cartridge and flipping the TV to channel 3. I grew up with those games before the Nintendo boom started with the NES. For those wanting to replay those titles but not dig the classic machine out of the garage, along with an older TV with the proper connectors, Atari has you covered with their newest release: Atari Flashback Classics – Volume 3.

For the older crowd, or anyone wanting to see gaming in its infancy, Atari has included 50 games, yes, 50, in this bundle. Some are hits, some are misses, but you can experience many classics from the arcade, the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200. If you’re an old school Atari fan, you’ll no doubt enjoy this bundle, but for others, it’s going to be a hard sell.

First, let’s get the included games out of the way so you can peruse the list and see if your favorites are included or not, as I’m sure that will be the make or breaking point for some.

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)

So did you see something on the list that brings back fond memories, or one that you vaguely remember playing years ago? While not all the games are hits, keep in mind this is the third compilation of Atari games. There were a few games I enjoyed from the list, but one has to wonder "Could it have done without multiple games of the same sports?" Absolutely, but there were a couple I enjoyed replaying, and trying for the first time.

Given that the genres are fairly varied, there should be something here for everyone. I thought I was going to put the most time into Super Breakout, but a friend and I played Dominos and Sword Fight the most, which was surprising. While the number of included games is impressive, honestly, there’s a few that I didn’t enjoy and most likely will never touch again. Obviously, everyone will have different tastes, but in the end there were only a handful of games from the list that would cause me to boot up the game to play again.

My biggest takeaway from this bundle was simply how far gaming has come. Many games look hideous, and control even worse. It makes you appreciate how great gaming is today, which wouldn’t have been possible without Atari and these games that paved the way nearly 40 years ago. I suspect that non Atari fans are going to become very frustrated with these games though, as they generally control quite terribly and it isn’t explained very well how to properly play.

Case in point, the Super Breakout paddle moves at mach speed, making it virtually impossible to play. I looked and looked but was unable to find a sensitivity option for the paddle anywhere. I guess I could have changed it in the Xbox accessory settings, but I don’t see anyone going through that much hassle and effort to do so every time. Some games are confusing with how to even start them. There’s a UI layout to the left of the screen for some games, which I guess is to mimic the hardware controls on the old Atari consoles themselves, but it’s confusing, doesn’t make sense and eventually becomes frustrating.

What Atari did do right though was add a few extras; not as many as I would have liked, but it’s appreciated. Firstly, you can view the original cabinets and manuals. I miss the days when games came with a full manual, and seeing the original Atari ones digitally is the next best thing. The biggest, and most surprising addition that I didn’t expect in any way, is online multiplayer.

That’s right, you can finally challenge your buddy across the country to some Super Breakout, Sword Fight, or other Atari classics to see who really the best is once and for all. With online multiplayer and leaderboards, I’ll forgive Atari for the lack of other extras and ‘fluff’ given they went this extra mile. You can simply host a match for a friend to join, though it would have been awesome to see a lobby of sorts where anyone could join, or tournament style setups. I’ll take what I can get though and be grateful.

Nothing has been remixed or altered, and these classics look and play just like they did from their original cartridge versions. Obviously the games are now in HD, but you can’t hide how terrible some of the games look from back in the day (Side note: the visual, audio and gameplay scores are obviously low, but aren’t being factored into the overall score, as it’s unfair to judge them in today’s standards). If you really want an authentic experience, you can toggle filters to make it look like it has that classic RF static. Needless to say, it will bring waves of nostalgia, good or bad, reliving these classics again.

If you take Atari Flashback Classics – Volume 3 for what it is at face value, a trip down memory lane of a time when gaming was in its' infancy, and you keep your expectations in check, you may enjoy this collection of games, especially if you're an Atari fan and/or played the Atari consoles so long ago. While I’d argue the $20 (CAD) price point is a little high, even factoring in that it’s 50 games, it’s a decent collection if you want to feel some nostalgia and see what gaming was like back in "the day".

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 1.0 / 10
Visuals: 1.0 / 10
Sound: 1.0 / 10


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