Atari Vault Review (PC)
Right, allow me to dispense with the pleasantries here. If you are reading this review you are probably already interested in picking up Atari Vault- a collection of 100 Classic Atari games. So instead of a regular review format, what if we do like a FAQ style review and the do a summary at the bottom with a score judging the collection as a whole? Deal? Ok, then, let’s give this a bash.
Atari Vault, what is this exactly?
Well, Atari Vault is a collection of 100 Classic Atari games. The game is developed by Code Mystics who have worked with the same collection of games for the 2010 DS releases Atari Greatest Hits Vol.1 and 2, as well as the iOS and Android ports. They have also been involved in other classic collections such as Activision Anthology and the Rare Replay collection. Atari Vault runs the original games’ Rom image wrapped into an emulator made with the Unity 5 game engine.
What games does Atari Vault come with?
The 100 games are split in 18 Arcade games and 82 Atari 2600 games.
|Asteroids||Asteroids Deluxe||Black Widow||Centipede|
|Crystal Castles||Gravitar||Liberator||Lunar Lander|
|Major Havoc||Millipede||Missile Command||Pong|
|Red Baron||Space Duel||Sprint||Super Breakout|
Atari 2600 Games
|3-D Tic-Tac-Toe||Adventure||Air-Sea Battle||Asteroids|
|Bowling||Brain Games||Breakout||Canyon Bomber|
|Chess||Circus Atari||Code Breaker||Combat|
|Combat 2||Concentration||Crystal Castles||Demons to Diamonds|
|Desert Falcon||Dodge ‘Em||Double Dunk||Fatal Run|
|Hangman||Haunted House||Homerun||Human Cannonball|
|Maze Craze||Millipede||Miniature Golf||Missile Command|
|Night Driver||Off the Wall||Outlaw (video game)||Quadrun|
|Race||Radar Lock||RealSports Baseball||RealSports Basketball|
|RealSports Boxing||RealSports Football||RealSports Soccer||RealSports Tennis|
|RealSports Volleyball||Save Mary||Secret Quest||Sentinel|
|Sky Diver||Slot Machine||Slot Racers||Space War|
|Sprint Master||Star Raiders||Star Ship||Steeplechase|
|Stellar Track||Street Racer||Stunt Cycle||Submarine Commander|
|Super Baseball||Super Breakout||Super Football||Surround|
|Tempest||Video Cube||Video Olympics||Video Pinball|
|Warlords||Yars’ Revenge||Return to Haunted House|
|Sword Quest Earthworld||Sword Quest Fireworld||Sword Quest Waterworld|
Can you use the old Atari Controllers to play the games?
Sadly not, you can play the games using a mouse and keyboard, game controller and steam controller. Local multiplayer is as simple as either plugging in an extra controller or nicking the keyboard. There is also online multiplayer available for the applicable games although we weren’t able to test it.
This all sounds good, so what did you think of it?
Well, selection wise on the 2600 games, there is quite a lot to keep you going here. Classics like Asteroids, Missile Command and Centipede are great whilst games like Concentration, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe and Hangman show you that even the classic consoles had their fair share of shovelware. There are also notable omissions from the collection presumably due to the fact that it is focused purely on games made by Atari themselves. Pitfall, Kaboom! And Keystone Kapers from Activision are amongst the more popular games not in this collection. These omissions are rather strange considering Code Mystics have ported them before into the 45 game collection called the Activision Anthology. The mobile versions of Activision Anthology are still available to buy so you would assume Code Mystics still have the rights, which make you wonder if this will be add on content in the future perhaps. Film tie-ins such as E.T. and Superman are also missing but understandable due to licences expiring and other red tape. The bottom line here is that you will probably only want to play about half of the 2600 games in this collection. And whilst getting 41 classic games and 41 filler games is still good bang for your buck, you can’t help but feel that the collection is somewhat lacking, especially if you have this collection in other formats.
The presentation of the whole package is rather cool as well. All of the 2600 games have their accompanying manuals as well as a digital representation of the game boxes they would have originally come with. The boxes and manuals have been faithfully reproduced and even come complete with dings, dents and the occasional tear. The Arcade games also have representations of their original cabinets, including the cocktail variants where applicable.
The Arcade games have been ported and the controls mapped very well. All of the games played well on my 360 wired controller with no cause for concern. Arcade Asteroids is still a fun game whilst Lunar Lander is still one of the most difficult and addictive games ever made. The games have been transferred over to Steam very well and it was a pleasure to play them.
The 2600 games on the other hand are a bit of a mixed bag. Games using the joystick controller have been ported over well and control exactly like you remember them. The paddle controller games seem to be an issue when it comes to control. Games like Breakout, Human Cannonball or Warlord where precise movement is needed are very difficult to play well. It’s strange that Code Mystics seem to struggle to map these controls to a stick controller considering Atari themselves nailed it when they converted Missile Command’s track ball controls to joystick 35 years ago. There are also games that simply do not work. Race, for example, has non-responsive controls so that you can accelerate your vehicle but cannot turn. There are also at least two games – Save Mary and Desert Falcon – that crash the entire program every time you try to run them. The issues surrounding the games in Atari Vault becomes more worrying when you go back to the DS and mobile versions of this collection and discover that they don’t have any of these issues. At the time of writing there was a patch that was released which we hoped would fix any issues but the only thing it seemed to do was mess with the resolution so that the lovely menus and reproduced instruction manuals suffer from horrific sporadic screen tears all over the place.
So, It sounds like you’re not recommending this one then?
Not at the moment, no. The collection of games itself is rather good. Sure it is missing quite a few seminal games but for £15 you are getting 100 pieces of gaming history in a well presented package. Another one of the issues in recommending Atari Vault is that it adds nothing new to the classic game collection genre apart from now being available on Steam. If you care about the Atari 2600 you will probably have these games from previous collections on either mobile, DS or PS2. Fixing the current issues and possibly adding more games to the collection – even as DLC – would be a step in the right direction to making Atari Vault a must have for PC gamers. Until then, your Atari classic game itch may be scratched better on other platforms.
5 pongs out of 10