The first thing you'll notice when booting up Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is just how much effort has gone into putting this collection together. Developed by the brilliant Digital Eclipse (TNMT: The Cowabunga Collection), 'Atari 50' rounds up over 90 playable Atari games (including six new ones) along with an in-depth retelling of the history of the company, from its earliest days through to the Atari Jaguar and beyond.
You can just play the games if you want to, but the main way to experience The Anniversary Celebration is to navigate through a timeline in which you'll be presented with high-quality images of arcade machines, consoles, game boxes, posters and more, along with quotes from key Atari alumni. There's even a whole bunch of new documentary footage along the way, in which you'll learn about everything from the creation of Pong to whether Atari employees used to take drugs while they worked (spoiler, they did!).
Whether you've been an Atari fanatic for decades or you don't really know anything about the company, this timeline structure serves as a really well-designed history lesson that you'll surely be fascinated by. We certainly were!
As for the games themselves, many of the classics are included such as Pong, Asteroids, Missile Command, Centipede and Tempest 2000, but others such as Pitfall!, Alien vs Predator and Ms. Pac-Man unfortunately don't make the cut. Of the six new games, the highlight is surely Swordquest: AirWorld which marks the first entry in the series for nearly 40 years, and there are also some cool reimagined versions of the likes of Breakout and Yars' Revenge.
We're not going to go too in-depth on the quality of the ports in Atari 50, because admittedly we didn't spend that much time with these games back in the day. That said, everything seems to play really well based on first impressions, and many games offer different variants depending on how many players you have and what difficulty settings you want to use. You also get bespoke borders along with a few screen filters to play with, and the game booklets are even preserved in high-quality digital versions so you can browse them at your leisure.
Ultimately, then, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is a beautifully crafted compendium that does a great job of retelling the company's history over the past 50 years, complete with a fantastic number of playable games including plenty that had never appeared on modern consoles before. Sure, it's still missing a few classics that we'd liked to have seen, and a lot of these games admittedly haven't aged very well at all, but otherwise we're really impressed with what Digital Eclipse has put together here.
Have you bought Atari 50 yet? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments below.