Go back in time
Once upon a time there was a games company that was instrumental in bringing gaming to the home. That company was Atari. Their early games consoles were one of the first to provide an arcade experience at an affordable price, with the ability to hook up their machine to the TV.
Atari's Greatest Hits on iOS is a vast collection of games spanning the early Atari 2600 console and Arcade Machines that introduced gaming to millions of children and adults around the world. With 100 games in the package, it’s hard not to be impressed with the scope of the App, but an emulator is only as good as the control interface and authenticity of the games.
A great selection of games is nothing without a decent menu system to find them and Atari GH doesn't disappoint here. The Arcade games can all be selected from a scrolling group of arcade cabinets, all faithful to the original design of the cabinet for each game. Selecting one will either take you to the game, if you've bought it, or give you the option to download that title. With each pack of 3-4 games costing 59p or the choice to get all of them for £8.99, this is great value for money if you're in to your classic retro gaming.
Atari 2600 games can be selected from an A-Z list or broken down in to sections such as Arcade and Sim. The menu is pretty slick so makes scrolling through to find your game easy. Each game comes with a scan of the original manual and artwork and many have a Bluetooth multiplayer mode which lets you play against friends, just like the old days.
Each game is emulated very accurately and the 2600 games even have the same little controls to change options before you start. However, the virtual Atari joystick doesn't always feel responsive enough and it would be good to have the option to change to a more modern control system (D-Pad) at the risk of spoiling the authentic look. Games such as Circus and Pong use a slider instead of the joypad, which seems to work better and gives the player more control over the game. A few other games use control schemes that are more suited to them, mostly the arcade games which emulate the arcade controls.
Arcade controls in general fare better, with a virtual flat joypad and fire button(s), though games such as Centipede still feel a bit sluggish, but that may be down to my own memory of the fire button being faster on the original Arcade machine. It’s still a lot better than the virtual joystick of the 2600 games though.
Multiplayer games, such as the classic Combat and Warlords are also supported, with players being able to join a game via Bluetooth. This works well, even between different devices, and is as easy to set up as it was on the original VCS unit.
Even with the vast array of games available, it would have been nice to feature some more classics from other companies which were available on the 2600 in its heyday, particularly Activision. It’s possibly one for future updates if the licences for those games allow.
Overall, the scope of Atari's Greatest Hits is amazing. It’s certainly the best emulator on the App Store for content and presentation. If there were more control options or a modified version for the 2600 games then the package would be perfect. As it is, the App comes highly recommended for all retro gaming fans and those who want to see where it all began.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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