One way to gauge if you are getting up there in age is to ask yourself the simple question, “Do I remember when Atari was the biggest baddest console on the block?” Some of my earlier memories are popping an Atari cartridge in and playing for hours. Back then it was either me playing or me watching my father dominate games such as Pac-Man, Football, and his all time favorite, Missile Command. It was rather simple, just pop a cartridge in and start playing either with the classic joystick, which by the way had one button, or for a few games you had to use the paddle.
After Atari’s peak, they didn’t disappear completely. They have always been a big game manufacturer and nowadays you can go to just about any retailer and find what is called an Atari flashback. Just like the name says, it is a console that has the classic Atari look but unlike the original systems these have the games already installed on the console. They have been putting the Flashback machines out for quite some time. As a matter of fact, they released the third Atari Flashback console in 2011. It contains 60 built-in Atari 2600 games and 2 joysticks.
All that being said, the real story isn’t the flashback machines, but rather that recently Atari has formed a partnership with Internet Explorer to launch the Atari Arcade. Atari will be taking eight of the classic 2600 titles and modernizing them using HTML5. Here’s the best part, these games will be totally free to play. Usually a setup like this has you frustrated with pop-up ads but Microsoft assures us that these will be completely ad free. To top it off, they are also touch optimized for Windows 8 tablets and Internet Explorer 10. Classic titles such as Asteroids, Pong, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, and Centipede have been developed with new features and graphics to honor the 40th anniversary of Atari and the upcoming release of Internet Explorer 10.
To make things more interesting and to give the player the feel of the classic arcade, you will be able to play other people head to head for high scores and leaderboard placement. This seems like a great idea all around. I for one get in the mood to play some classic games every once in awhile but to play head to head in games like Combat and Super Breakout will make the experience more enjoyable and increase the re-playability.
It sounds like Atari and Microsoft are on top of this and have put a lot of thought into what the people desire, which will give gamers hours of fun, competitive gameplay, So, put on some eighties tunes and start chompin’ on some power pellets because it’s game on retro style.