Why I can’t put down Atari’s latest nostalgic retro-gaming throwback

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Atari’s new 50th-anniversary compilation is stuffed with historical filler, but one new game contained in the package won’t let me go. I’m talking about Vctr Sctr, a retro-style arcade shooter that melds the addictive gameplay of classics like Asteroids and Tempest with modern gameplay concepts.

As a package, Atari 50: The Anniversary Collection sets a new high-water mark for retro video game compilations. The collection’s “timeline” feature deftly weaves archival materials like design documents and manuals, explanatory context and contemporary quotes from the game’s release, and new video interviews with game creators into an engaging, interactive trip through gaming history.

But while the presentation shines, the games contained within Atari 50 often don’t. Sure, there are a few truly replayable classics on offer here, especially in the games from Atari’s glorious arcade era. That said, the bulk of Atari 50‘s selection of over 100 titles feels like filler that just doesn’t hold up from a modern game design perspective. Dozens of “classic” Atari games—from 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe on the Atari 2600 to Missile Command 3D on the Jaguar—boil down to mere historical curiosities that most modern players would be hard-pressed to tolerate for longer than a couple of minutes.

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