You may have heard about Ataribox. The first Atari-branded console in 25 years will— Well, we’re not actually sure, because details are slim.
What we do know: the design is inspired by classic Atari consoles. It’ll combine classic and current gaming content. And it’ll be crowdfunded.
Also, long-time gamers might doff their sceptic’s hat, given that ‘Atari’ has been hacked to bits and sold off more times than a car that’s been through a dozen chop shops.
So for Stuff, it’s all about the games. We don’t care about what ports and specs the Ataribox has, just that it’ll be able to play these beauties…
Pong is no more a realistic take on tennis than Angry Birds is a wildlife documentary. But it needs to be on Ataribox to showcase where it all began. Sure, it’s archaic when played today, and you’ll tire of its bats, balls and blips within minutes, but Pong is a vital slice of history that ushered in the dawn of arcade and home gaming.
Bleak doesn’t really cut it when describing Dave Theurer’s classic defence game. Made at the height of the Cold War, Missile Command has you defend six cities from a barrage of nukes. Fail and it doesn’t even bother with ‘Game Over’, instead grimly stating ‘The End’. It’s a tense, brilliant slice of classic gaming – although one that really needs fluid controls (the original used a trackball) to do it justice.
Not an entirely accurate simulation, Paperboy tasks you with peddling like crazy along a street packed with hazards and a general public seemingly trying to kill you. You lob papers at subscribers’ houses, and also use them to smash the windows of evil non-payers. Presumably, the things come with a covermounted brick, so you can ‘build your own house’ over several thousand issues. Barg.
“Wizard is about to die!” Gauntlet tells it like it is as you – and up to three chums – roam mazes packed with psychotic demons and ghosts spewed from monster generators. The aim: grab loot, keep energy reserves up by munching food, find keys, and make for the exit. Simple stuff, but fun in multiplayer, assuming you don’t shoot food when one of your party’s seconds away from dying. (And if you do, be warned: the game will rat you out.)
The original Tempest was a superb lane-based vector shooter, but Jeff Minter’s Atari Jaguar take betters it in every way. Infused with a thumping soundtrack, visual pyrotechnics, power-ups, and some tricky combinations of deranged enemies and complex ‘web’ layouts, it’s the finest game to grace Atari’s last console, and should grace its next. Although Stuff might also gently suggest Atari bury the hatchet with Minter and get TxK on to the thing as well.