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Review

Review: Atari Flashback Classics

As you all probably know by now, I like to consider myself a connoisseur of the classics. I frequently buy retro titles that I have little to no nostalgia for just so I can see what I missed out on as a kid. But every once and a while I will always return to the old mainstay of my youth: Atari. I will always consider myself a fan of those old games that were made before the NES, despite the fact that not many of them aged very well. Unfortunately though Atari had gone bankrupt a few years ago and ended up selling off the rights to many of their IP's, most of which found their way to the Taiwanese game manufacturer AtGames who are infamously known for producing a large array of poor quality plug-n-play consoles. Did they screw this up too? Or did the team they hired, Code Mystics make a passable port?

Atari Flashback Classics for the Nintendo Switch is a compilation of all three volumes previously released for XBox One and PlayStation 4 over the past couple of years. Individually they each had 50 games; roughly 10 arcade titles and a handful of home games, most of which from the Atari 2600, to pad out the total. As such the Switch version has all 150 games without the need to swap volumes. This is a very nice convenience especially since the Switch version is $20USD cheaper than buying each volume separately.

Visually, the games in the collection vary in terms of quality. Some look stunning even to this day, but many others look like a steaming pile of digital feces. This is also reflected while the game is undocked as many of the Atari 2600 games that had sprite flicker don't show up very well on the Switch's screen. That doesn't always reflect how the game plays though. There are a small handful of games in the collection that look like crap, but are some of the most fun games of the bunch. If you can just stomach past their looks and have a friend that will play with you, online or otherwise, I'm betting you'll have a grand time.

Now considering that most of the arcade titles on this collection, and some of the Atari 5200 games, used special controls like a trackball or dial, they can't be emulated perfectly. That being said, Code Mystics did a decent job with what they had. While the left stick controls are WAY too sensitive even on the lowest setting, they ingeniously managed to incorporate the Switch's touchscreen for controlling many of the games that had those unique controls. It's just a shame that those controls are only available when the system is undocked.

Overall while this collection is miles above the plug-n-plays that AtGames has been producing, it is not for the average gamer. It is for collectors, and for those who grew up with these games. Like I said at the beginning of this review most of the games on this compilation did not age well, but there still glimmers a shining light within those crusty visuals. The addition of achievements and the inclusion of the manuals for the 2600 and 5200 games is very nice and I love the fact that they also included the SwordQuest comics from back in the 80's. It's little touches like that that really make collections like this stand out, even if they only stand out an extra inch or two amongst the crowd.

AUDIO

CHALLENGE

CONTROL

VISUALS

ORIGINALITY

EXECUTION

PROS:

  • Lots of games
  • Cheaper than buying each volume separately
  • Online play
  • Achievements
  • Touchscreen support
  • Small download size

CONS:

  • Quantity over quality
  • Stick sensitivity is too high even on lowest setting
  • Online leaderboards only work with paid service
  • Visuals degrade when console is undocked
  • Some games are duplicates for different Atari systems

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