I’m not quite old enough to have headed out to the arcades to play games; thankfully I’ve always had the luxury of being able to play at home. Part of me wishes I could have been part of that community though, if only for the social aspect, something that is predominantly an online affair these days.
Thanks to the wonders of technology though a single disc can now squeeze in 14 of these arcade machines, and 36 home console releases, rather easily. It is here where we see the entrance of Atari Flashback Classics Volume 3 on Xbox One.
Before we begin properly though, a word of warning, don’t expect wall to wall classics here. In fact, describing some of the games, such as Monte Carlo, in this way could well be seen as a criminal offence. You will certainly find that some of the titles included are solely for the Atari completionists out there.
Alas, I digress. Back to the crucial question; is there enough gaming pedigree in the Atari Flashback Classics Volume 3 to entertain everyone? Well, first off, you’ll notice there are plenty of games included in this collection. 50, to be exact – and I’ll be sure to drop the full list at the end of this review. By law of averages, that means there are some great games, but they are sadly outweighed by more forgettable titles. This is, already, where we hit make or break for many as it really depends on how much of a retro gamer you are. £15.99 is not a bad price for the bundle, however if the stronger titles such as Destroyer, Super Breakout or Centipede don’t win you over, this is not going to be the collection for you. Bear in mind too that at the time of writing, the achievement “Unearthed” was a rare one, with a completion rate at 3.57%. All you had to do to get this was try every game in the collection (ie load it up). This hammers home my point brilliantly.
However, let’s assume you know what you are going in for, and crack on. From the off we find the menu screens are gleefully nostalgic, complete with appropriate borders for each game. Digital copies of original manuals are included, and some titles have online leaderboards to add a bit of longevity to things, whilst you can also play a fair few of the games with a friend if you have a second controller. Beyond that however, there are no frills. The games are exactly as you would have found them 40 odd years ago (yes, some are that old). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however some games, I’m looking at you Wizard, have not really stood the test of time well. Also, some are almost unplayable if you try and use the thumbstick, due to the sensitivity, so it’s best to stick to the D-Pad for the most part.
As I touched on before, there are some great little games to enjoy here, and looking towards the arcade originals first, the likes of Avalanche, Destroyer and Dominoes rank amongst the most enjoyable. Avalanche has you catching rocks falling from the top of the screen at an increasing speeds, Destroyer sees you attempting to destroy numerous underwater vessels and Dominoes plays much like the famous mobile game Snake, where you have to lay the longest trail of dominoes to win. On the home console side of things however we have games of the standard of Asteroids, Centipede and Super Breakout amongst the strongest titles available. Many don’t need explaining and Asteroids is potentially the most famous of the lot, which sees you play as a dinky little spaceship trying to safely navigate an asteroid field as well as dealing with some other nasties. Centipede plays like a more complicated Space Invaders and Super Breakout is a top down Pong where you have to smash all the bricks whilst keeping the ball in play. My personal favourite, however, is a lesser known game called Maze Invaders. This is a bit like Pac-Man on steroids, and things get frantic very quickly, but it’s bags of fun to play.
Truthfully though, only around 20-25% of the games are really enjoyable, then it all starts to go downhill. This is because we find the collection padded out with lots of throwaway sports titles – you get three different versions of Baseball to play if you should so wish – while some games such as soccer and football (the american variety) aren’t even worth going near if you aren’t interested in the respective sports.
For that reason calling all the games in this Atari Flashback Classic Volume 3 collection “classics” is something that I cannot in all good faith let go unchallenged. In reality around a quarter are really enjoyable, and the rest are either quirky relics of years gone by or just bloody awful. Still, £15.99 is a reasonable price to expect to pay if you fancy a trip down memory lane or aspire to own every Atari title ever made. There’s enough here to please those who enjoy a bit of retro gaming, but if you don’t, move along as there’s nothing to see here.
As promised, that full list of games found in the Atari Flashback Classics Volume 3 is as follows: 1. Adventure II (2600) 2. Air Raiders ™ (2600) 3. Aquaventure (2600) 4. Armor Ambush ™ (2600) 5. Asteroids (5200) 6. Astroblast ™ (2600) 7. Atari Baseball (Arcade) 8. Atari Basketball (Arcade) 9. Atari Football (Arcade) 10. Atari Soccer (Arcade) 11. Avalanche (Arcade) 12. Canyon Bomber (Arcade) 13. Centipede (5200) 14. Countermeasure (5200) 15. Dark Cavern ™ (2600) 16. Destroyer (Arcade) 17. Dominos (Arcade) 18. Final Legacy (5200) 19. Fire Truck/Smokey Joe (Arcade) 20. Frog Pond (2600) 21. Frogs and Flies (2600) 22. Holey Moley (2600) 23. International Soccer ™ (2600) 24. Maze Invaders (Arcade) 25. Micro-gammon (5200) 26. Millipede (5200) 27. Miniature Golf (5200) 28. Missile Command (5200) 29. Monte Carlo (Arcade) 30. MotoRodeo (2600) 31. Pool Shark (Arcade) 32. Realsports Baseball (5200) 33. Realsports Basketball (5200) 34. Realsports Football (5200) 35. Realsports Tennis (5200) 36. Realsports Volleyball (5200) 37. Saboteur (2600) 38. Sea Battle ™ (2600) 39. Sky Diver (Arcade) 40. Space Attack™ (2600) 41. Star Raiders (5200) 42. Star Strike™ (2600) 43. Super Breakout (5200) 44. Super Bug (Arcade) 45. Super Challenge ™ Baseball (2600) 46. Super Challenge ™ Football (2600) 47. Sword Fight™ (2600) 48. Wizard (2600) 49. Xari Arena (5200) 50. Yars’ Return (2600)