Boy howdy, looking back in time can really open your eyes. I came into gaming in the early nineties, back when Sonic and Mario were fiercely scrapping for home console dominance. I never really played the true classics, well, at least not in the same way that I would lose hours of my time playing roshambo in Alex Kidd. Sure, I dabbled in the occasional game of Centipede and Asteroids, but I never committed too much of my time to them in the face of Altered Beast and Golden Axe. Now, via this collection, I’ve finally taken them more seriously.
The Atari Flashback Classics Volume 3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, delivering fifty classic games in one neat bundle. First and foremost, I take issue with the game’s price tag. Don’t get me wrong, fifty games in one is certainly appealing on paper, but in practice, these games are just far too dated for me to comfortably recommend at $19.99/£15.99. Those that love classics, and indeed those that want to replay games from their childhood, will no doubt find heaps of value here. Though, for everyone else, be cautious.
That being said, the collection, from a history-of-gaming perspective, is a goldmine. There’s a lot in this package that simply needs to be appreciated. It helps, of course, that the games within are diverse; sports, shooters, racers, and so forth. I was particularly looking forward to playing Super Breakout, given the amount of time that I put into games of a similar structure on my first consoles. Sadly, some issues prevented me from enjoying it as much as I could have – such as the paddle not loading up as I watched the ball leave the screen.
The majority of games run as they once did, totaling; Adventure II, Air Raiders, Aquaventure, Armor Ambush, Asteroids, Astroblast, Atari Baseball, Atari Basketball, Atari Football, Atari Soccer, Avalanche, Canyon Bomber, Centipede, Countermeasure, Dark Cavern, Destroyer, Dominos, Final Legacy, Fire Truck/Smokey Joe, Frog Pond, Frogs and Flies, Holey Moley, International Soccer, Maze Invaders, Micro-Gammon, Millipede, Miniature Golf, Missile Command, Monte Carlo, MotoRodeo, Pool Shark, Realsports Baseball, Realsports Basketball.
Realsports Football, Realsports Tennis, Realsports Volleyball, Saboteur, Sea Battle, Sky Diver, Space Attack, Star Raiders, Star Strike, Super Breakout, Super Bug, Super Challenge Baseball, Super Challenge Football, Sword Fight, Wizard, Xari Arena, and Yars’ Return. The Atari Flashback Classics Volume 3 offers online multiplayer with leaderboard support, though, I suspect these elements is where the collection’s longevity will be put to the test the most. As alluded to above, there’s some cracking additions on show here, but only some, at best.
There’s quite a number of games, more than half included, that I’ll never have the motivation to play again. These might have been big hitters back in the day, but gaming has come a long way since then, and the frustration that several of these games relay due to awkward controls alone, is too much to bear. Pool Shark is arguably one of the better games as far as its controls are concerned, but even then, there’s some poor feedback to contend with all the same. Centipede is reliably precise, but odd visual blemishes persist throughout.
Likewise, Asteroids is every bit as fun as its original counterpart was, but here, I witnessed an infrequent stutter that would (ever so slightly) cause the ship to flash on and off the screen. Now, as aforementioned, most of the games run perfectly fine, and I’m sure that the majority of the few technical issues within are products of original release rather than new problems overall. It’s the controls that get in the way the most. I’m no expert, but I don’t think the Xbox One controller suits the input that’s needed to support some titles.
I don’t know how the hell Holey Moley was played back in the day, but needing to hit pop-up moles with the controller feels far too alien and fidgety. The lack of fluidity makes it hard to get far into the game. This problem isn’t isolated to this one game, but as previously noted, a number of them in total. Regardless to all of that, if we’re to look at this collection as a respect to past times, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Just, don’t come into this with high expectations; an old game that handles poorly is still exactly that.
One thing I did really appreciate was the layout of each and every game. They’re clearly presented and expertly preserved in their original state, with a few modern touches thrown in on select titles for that added kick. The title screen gets a huge thumbs up from me; showcasing each game in their classic state – complete with cartridge and machine images for that much loved authentic feel, and the ability to browse manuals (how I miss those). There’s also some neat settings that allows you to tweak some options here and there.
My biggest gripe with the collection is that of its accessibility. I’ll reiterate, I know very little about the original controllers that came with some of these games, but there’s clearly a learning curve when it comes to playing these games on modern hardware. Take, for example, the numerical layout that sits to the left of the screen for select titles. These oftentimes come with inputs that make little sense, forcing a lot of trial and error to grasp some form of understanding. It’s not a deal breaker, but prepare for a similar experience.
I’m not going to knock the audio and visual design of these games. Clearly, for obvious reasons, they’re hardly breaking any current gen walls, however, their preservation on both fronts needs to be commended. The visual and audio quality sits remarkably well, giving fans a nostalgic treat that will no doubt stay with them for a long while yet to come. When all is said and done, select newcomers and die-hard Atari fans will find the most love and value here, whereas most others will likely pick this up, slam an hour in, and put it down.
The Atari Flashback Classics Volume 3 is certainly a worthy choice if you’re looking for a true nostalgic hit. There’s a wide selection of retro titles on offer here, with online and leaderboard support added for heightened value and extra longevity. With that in mind, this is a bundle of fifty massively dated games that, by current standards, handle pretty poorly for the most part. This will likely only appeal to a specific crowd.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.