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Atari Flashback Classics review for PS Vita


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Code Mystics/AtGames
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: No
ESRB: E

Unlike our resident Atari fan, I have to confess that my interest in Atari Flashback Classics was piqued almost entirely by the fact that the game came out on the Vita. I mean, I owned an Atari console at some point (I want to say the 5200?), but I’d be lying if I said the games on here held any nostalgic for me.

In other words, I went into the game curious as to how much it would appeal to someone who didn’t have any kind of emotional attachment to the games on offer. The answer? Even without the nostalgia factor, this is still an interesting, and occasionally even enjoyable, collection of games.

True, some of these are interesting solely for their historical value. Like, chances are good that you’ve played something like Centipede, Breakout, Asteroids, or Pong at some point in your life. Your enjoyment of them won’t be enhanced by seeing them recreated in all their original/basic glory.

But other games provide a fascinating glimpse into gaming’s history in a good way. Take Football, for example: despite the fact it came out forty years ago, it’s still neat to see where the sport got its electronic beginnings (and to see how much emphasis it placed on the running game). Likewise, titles like Basketball and Bowling may be rudimentary versions of their titular sports, but they’re still fun to play, as are Final Run (racing) and Poolshark (pool).

Still others are fun for the novelty factor. Dominos, for instance, is a cross between snake and an elaborate game of dominos, and it quickly proved to quite addictive. So, too, was Hangman, if only because it’s not something you get to play very often anymore. Even Frog Pond, where you jumped up and down as a frog trying to catch flies, proved to be much more fun than I would have expected going in.

That said, given that Atari Flashback Classics features 150 games, it should come as no surprise that there’s all kinds of terrible filler on offer here, too. Quite a few games were absolutely baffling, even with manuals included. I have no idea what I was supposed to do in Brain Games or Flag Capture, nor did I ever figure out what the point of Combat or Combat Two was. For every game that I couldn’t get enough of, there was at least one that I played for a few minutes, before simply giving up.

Still, that’s a pretty decent hit rate: I’m sure that if you were to pull 150 games from any system, you’d have an equal number of hits and misses. So it is with Atari Flashback Classics. It may not make you rush out and find an old Atari cabinet or console in an antique shop, but it will make you appreciate exactly why Atari was, for a time, synonymous with video games.

Atari provided us with an Atari Flashback Classics PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B