Monday 24 October 2022

Atari Mania Review (Switch)


With the 50th anniversary of Atari upon us the company is celebrating it’s back catalogue with a host of new versions of classic games, retro collections and this little oddity which aims to tap into the market in between Warioware releases. It’s certainly a creative thing to do and one we’ve seen surprisingly under utilised outside of Nintendo and Atari certainly has a large enough back catalogue to potentially pull it off.

The game starts in suitably quirky fashion with you taking control of the caretaker of the Atari Museum. You can explore the museum which acts as the games small overworld area. Here you collect items that help you solve puzzles and sweep up messes. As you progress through the puzzles, you’ll open more areas and it’s here where you engage with the various challenges as the dreaded dead pixels start appearing and mutating and warping the classic games held within.

The set up is very much the same as Warioware in that you must undertake a number of challenges within a strict time limit before facing off against a boss at the end. The challenges are all based around classic Atari games such as Millipede, Breakout and Haunted House, but they become intwined and mutated as you progress.

For instance, you might be playing as the paddle from Breakout in Millipede and trying to hit it with a ball or playing as the bad guy in Yar’s Revenge and trying to survive being blasted. It’s all very creative and the mix ups all work very well. That is, in terms of ideas at least as some of the games have loose controls that makes the experience much more difficult than it should be. Anything with the breakout paddle is especially susceptible to this as it moves in such a strange way it can be incredibly tough to pass even early challenges.

Most of the games work well, but it becomes frustrating when you are eleven of twelve games into a sequence to then be hit with a run of titles difficult to control which quickly sees you fail the sequence. As the game is fairly small it means players may find themselves stuck very quickly as they continually come up against a sequence of games they can’t get through. Practice does of course help but there is a big difference between a display of skill and fighting the games controls.

The controls really are the biggest issue with the game as everything else is excellently put together. There’s classic box art and manuals to find and unlock and the overworld puzzle aspect works well to keep everything connected. The plot is wonderfully crazy as well and adds another level of fun to everything going on.

Overall, this is a creative and inventive game that uses the back catalogue of one of gaming’s oldest companies in new and fun ways. It’s a certainly charming and people old enough to remember experiencing the titles it features will get a warm nostalgia buzz. But it really needs to have its controls refined for some of the games as too often what should be a fun distraction turns to frustration.

Overall 6/10

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