The Anniversary Celebration Review (PS5)

Atari was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, and within a little over ten years it actually created the video game market, achieved extraordinary successes and made serious mistakes which led to ruinous falls and corporate upheavals. His epic story is told today with an unmissable collection for all fans: here is our review of Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration.

Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration it is a somewhat particular collection. Usually the protagonists of these collections are individual franchises (Contra or Castlevania Anniversary Collection), or maybe individual consoles (SEGA Megadrive Classics, HERE the review) but in this case the lens is positioned over the entire story of the Sunnyvale housewith the actual games still playing an important co-protagonist role.

Let’s not misunderstand, There are many video games in this collection, even more than a hundred (find the complete list at the end of the article), but the wealth of extra material, including interviews and documents, underlines how much weight has been given to the Atari brand and its unrepeatable history. We are faced with a collection that, in short, manages to become not only retrogaming but also a documentary. And it does it very well too.


The very structure of the menus encourages exploration of five distinct timelines, each linked to an industry or period of Atari. It starts from the origins of the arcade of the early 70s (among the various Computer space And pong) and then moved into the home with the birth of the Atari VCS (later known as 2600), the first home console to have a real success. Then the great crisis of 1983, which almost destroyed the company as well as the entire American video game market, is also addressed, and not without a very critical approach.

We then move on to the home computer sector, which especially after the takeover by Jack Tramiel (former Commodore founder) became central to the company. And it ends with the bittersweet taste of the 90s, between the failures of the Jaguar and the portable (but not too much, since it was a brick) Lynx.

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The menus are stylistically impeccable

Every time you focus on a point of these timelines, moreover presented with a very pleasant retro style, it is possible to deepen it by seeing vintage or unpublished films, documents, photographs and so on (and also launch individual games directly).

The highlight are definitely the interviews with the big names in the sector of that periodby Al Alcorn (creator of pong) to Eugene Jarvis (defender), by Howard Scott Warshaw (the ominous ET but also successful games such as Yars’ Revenge) to David Crane (author of pitfall! and founder of Activision, the first third party in the history of video games). There are even speeches by some well-known faces who in the golden years of Atari were simple gamers, such as Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango, Psychonauts) or Cliff Bleszinski (Gears of War).

As we said, the documentary value of Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration it’s really top notch. Captivating in the presentation and very interesting in the contents, without ever falling into pedantry or, contrary to what the title might suggest, self-celebration.

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Super Asteroids & Missile Command for the little (ahem) Atari Lynx

Even the part played is no less, but this one it’s pretty much a guarantee when Digital Eclipse is behind it.

The Californian studio has in fact always specialized in the recovery of the old glories of the past, and has also put its hand to very recent and technically perfect collections such as, among others, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection (HERE our review). Again the emulation is flawlessand a note of merit goes to the cure for the masks and the edges of the screens of the arcade version games, reproduced in a realistic way from the original cabinets.

The selection of games is extremely heterogeneous, passing precisely from the arcades of the 70s, some with vector graphics (Asteroids, Lunar Lander), to the polygons of the most recent productions for Jaguar (Club Drivethe masterpiece Storm 2000), from shooters to adventure games, from driving to sports titles. There is even room for the revisiting of a puzzle-game released on a liquid crystal handheld console (Touch Me). Great successes and lesser-known titles join by providing us with a good insight into gaming in those remote years. Beautiful, but far from complete.

As expected unfortunately, all the licensed titles are missing (Star Warsthe same ETor Alien vs. Predator for Jaguar), but also the entire library relating to Atari Games after the 1984 corporate split between Corporation (which acquired Tramiel) and Games (which remained under Warner). In short, nothing Gauntlets, Paperboy or Rampart for this Celebration. And the absence of also hurts pitfall!one of the symbols of Atari 2600, but already to be attributed to the newborn Activision.

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Atari Karts for Jaguar. Does it remind you of anything?

On the other hand, there are some completely unpublished titles (you can find them indicated in the list below), such as the very original arcade shooter Akka Arrhor the conversion for Atari 5200’s Millipede, and six “new” gamesalbeit based on re-imaginings of classic titles.

The first is haunted housesa 3D remake of an exploratory adventure from 1982 (haunted housethis time in the singular) not mistakenly considered the progenitor of survival horror, even before the various Alone in the Dark (1992) or Sweet Home (1989). The second is Neo Breakoutreinterpretation of the classic Breakouts created by Steve Woznick, Steve Bristow and Nolan Bushnell himself in 1976.

Continue with Quadratenktank combat game that gives its best in multiplayer, and inspired by the classic tank of 1974, also by Bristow. Swordquest AirWorld instead it is the fourth and final chapter of the adventure series which was at the center of a very particular contest in the years of its release (you know the Angry Video Game Nerd, right? Click HERE to remedy and learn more). Since the first three (EarthWorld, fire world And Water World) are all present in this collection we can consider the circle finally closed.

To complete the list of unreleased we find VCTR-SCTRsurprising and really fun mix between various classics (Asteroids, Lunar Lander, Storm), And Yars’ Revenge Enhanceda purely graphic restyling of Warshaw’s classic.

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Neo Breakout, one of the unreleased games in the collection

Summing up, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration it’s one of the best-crafted collections we’ve ever seenthanks above all to its documentary soul, capable of painting a very effective, even if not complete, picture of one of the fundamental brands in the history of the video game, its peaks and its failures.

Its only “problem” is only in the catalog of games offered, not so much for some bloody shortcomings (more than predictable given the licensing problems), but for the real enjoyment that can be drawn from them: some of the titles offered were minor even all era, many others have inevitably aged. In short, we are talking about games that are sometimes too simple and repetitive, other times too cryptic if not practically unreadable. Beyond the due respect and affection for these “grandparents”, it must be said that there are not many that are still really fun to play.

But this is just a warning, we don’t want to nor can we blame them: 40 years on the back in the gaming field are roughly the same distance that separates the discovery of fire from the colonization of Mars. Therefore we suggest Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration without any reservations to all fans of retro gaming and video game historya little less than all the others, who can find obviously fresher collections by drawing on more recent but more recent titles.

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As Bluto Blutarsky would say: FOOOOOOD FIIIIIGHT! Here in the Atari 800 version

We leave you with the complete list of titles in the collection:

Atari Arcade

1. Akka Arrh (UNRELEASED)
2. Asteroids
3. Asteroids Deluxe
4. Black Widow
5. Breakouts
6. Centipede
7. Cloak & Dagger
8. Crystal Castles
9. Fire Trucks
10. Food Fight
11. Gravitar
12. I, Robots
13. Liberator
14. Lunar Land
15. Major Havoc
16. Maze Invaders (UNRELEASED)
17. Millipede
18. Missile Command
19. Pong
20. Quantum
21. Space Duels
22. Sprints 8
23. Super Breakouts
24. Storm
25. Warlords

Atari 2600

1. 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe
3. Air-Sea Battle
4. Asteroids
5.Basic Maths
6. Breakouts
7. Canyon Bombers
8. Centipede
9. Fight
10. Combat Two
11.Crystal Castles
12. Dark Chambers
13. Demons to Diamonds
14. Dodge ‘Em
15. Fatal Run
16. Gravitar
17. Haunted House
18. Millipede
19. Miners 2049er
20. Missile Command
21. Outlaws
22. Quadrun
23. Race 500
24. Real Sports Baseball
25. RealSports Basketball (UNRELEASED)
26. Real Sports Boxing
27. Real Sports Football
28. Real Sports Soccer
29. Real Sports Tennis
30. RealSports Volleyball
31. Saboteur (UNRELEASED)
32. Secret Quests
33. Solaris
34. Super Breakouts
35. Surrounds
36. Swordquest: EarthWorld
37. Swordquest: FireWorld
38. Swordquest: WaterWorld
39. Warlords
40. Yars’ Revenge

Atari 800

1. Bounty Bob Strikes Back!
2. Caverns of Mars
3. Food Fight
4. 2049er miners

Atari 5200

1. Bounty Bob Strikes Back!
2. Millipede (UNRELEASED)
3. Missile Command
4. Star Raiders
5. Super Breakouts

Atari 7800

1. Asteroids
2. Basketbrawl
3. Centipede
4. Dark Chambers
5. Fatal Run
6. Ninja Golf
7. Scrapyard Dog

Atari Lynx

1. Basketball brawl
2. Malibu Bikini Volleyball
3. Scrapyard Dog
4. Super Asteroids & Missile Command
5. Turbo Sub
6. Warbirds

Atari Jaguar

1. Atari Karts
2. Club Drive
3. Cybermorphs
4. Evolution Dino Dudes
5. Fight for Life
6. Missile Command 3D
7. Ruiner Pinball
8. Tempest 2000
9. Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy

Atari Handheld

1. Touch Me

Atari Reimagined

1. Haunted Houses
2. Neo Breakout
3. Quadratenk
4.Swordquest: AirWorld
6. Yars’ Revenge Enhanced