NINTENDO DS REVIEW: RETRO ATARI

I can sum up Retro Atari Classic for you in one word: Pong.

What game would include a version of Pong as part of its compilation? That has to tell you something. I can live with Breakout - but Pong? That's digging to the bottom of the barrel.

For a game that features the word "Retro" in the title, the games included here don't look anything like they did back in the arcade days. They've all been modernized with graffiti tags and hip-hop beats. But the biggest problem is that most of the games just don't play the way I remember them.

The DS has the touch screen going for it. Some of these games originally used different controlling devices in the arcade, most notably the trackball and the large metal dial for Tempest. The touch screen is able to replicate the feel of these devices but it doesn't work for all of the games. At least you can use the D-pad to play them but at that point you may as well just play these classics on the GBA.

The list of games is as follows: Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Gravitar, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Pong, Sprint, Tempest, and Warlords. Not what I would call the best of the bunch. Where the hell is Space Invaders?

There are three methods of control used for the games including touch, where you place your finger on a hot spot, the stylus, which traces a path, and the buttons on the game system. Some of these methods of control just don't do the trick. In Missile Command you touch the screen to where you want the missiles to launch but it's not an exact science. The control system is arbitrary and often you'll end up launching missiles you didn't intend to. On the other hand, Breakout is now too easy to play because you don't have to line up the controller with the big knob you just have to put your finger where you want the ball to rebound. How challenging is that?

Other games are hindered by bad design. Warlords only uses one fireball at a time instead of three. Centipede's play area has been reduced and if you can imagine, the graphics on Asteroids are positively dreadful. How can you screw up the graphics on Asteroids when I'm loath to even refer to them as graphics in the first place? Speaking of which, some of the games that have been desecrated by graffiti actually look worse than they did in the arcades. These new colors and character upgrades actually obscure some parts of the games.

If you want to share in the misery with your friends they're all going to need a copy of this game. Make sure you're fine with these games before you entice anyone else to make this purchase. You might be able to play these games as they're presented especially if you haven't played the arcade version and have no preconceived idea of how they should be controlled. I can't help but compare these games to their original counterparts - and let me tell you there is no comparison.

I really don't see the point of this game. It seems totally rushed. The controls don't always work and when they do they don't work as good as they should. For a game system that's based on a new form of control I hope that Retro Atari Classics is just an anomaly.

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System: DS
Dev: Taniko
Pub: Atari
Release: March 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.0
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
2.0