Atari Classics Evolved Review
Atari Classics Evolved box art
System: PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: Atari 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Atari 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 18, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
If you like mini-games, and vintage arcade games, then look no further
by Cole Smith

For the amount of games that you get and the budget price, it's difficult to beat Atari Classics Evolved for sheer entertainment value. But it's not for everyone. These old-school games may not appeal to the younger gens that appreciate storylines and depth with their games. By the same token, the "refurbished" touch given these classic games may turn off purists - although the classic version of each of these games is also included. What we have here is an offering designed to appeal to the majority of both camps. If you like mini-games, or vintage arcade games, then look no further than Atari Classics Evolved.

Atari Classics Evolved screenshot

Every Holiday season we can expect some kind of classic game compilation, and Atari Classics Evolved is the latest such offering. There's no denying Atari's monopoly of the video game market in the early 80s. The company was an industry unto itself. But the inability to improve on the graphics and processing capabilities of the home system led to the collapse of the video game market. Let's also not forget some of the atrocious games that were released during Atari's reign - some of which are included in this title. But one man's poison is another man's treasure. There are more than 60 games in this collection, which guarantees that you're going to find plenty of games that you'll really enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed a few games that I used to hate back in the day. I suppose I just didn't appreciate them for what they were. But make no mistake, there are still some real dogs here, but even if I only liked half of them, it still works out to less than a buck a game.

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The list of classic games is impressive, although there are a few redundant titles such as Asteroids Deluxe, Super Breakout, and Millipede. Other titles include Missile Command, Centipede, Battlezone, Tempest, Asteroids, Lunar Lander, Warlords, and Pong. There are 11 different arcade classics that you can play immediately. Each of these games also includes an updated, alternate version which would earn it the title of "Evolved." Most of these upgrades are purely cosmetic. You can expect more detailed graphics, backgrounds, and tunes. The colors are more vibrant, the character models are more refined, and some of the perspectives have been enhanced to look more three-dimensional as in the case of BattleZone.

Atari Classics Evolved screenshot

You may recall that some of these games such as Pong, Super Breakout, and Tempest used a rotary dial as the main controller. Centipede used a roller ball. And let's not forget the joystick. Of course the PSP has no such control system, and there are no peripheral adapters available. The PSP system functions quite well for all games, and actually offers an improved degree of accuracy and precision, although one may argue that it takes some of the fun out of these games. I found the adaptation of the PSP control system to be more than adequate in terms of replicating the relative speed, smoothness, and flexibility of the joystick, rotary knob, and roller ball. The games were still quite challenging, and I just didn't miss the original control devices.

Challenge is the name of the game. There is little in the way of variety of gameplay or depth. Each game requires you to master one basic technique. The gameplay will become progressively challenging, as it will increase the difficulty in each subsequent level. The speed of the game will increase, the enemies will multiply where they will increase in strength and deploy more projectiles. The environment will contain more booby traps, and you'll be seriously short of extra lives. These games know how to induce anxiety. There's nothing worse than getting to the last level and having your only life extinguished by some wicked boss. "Game Over," was one of the most feared messages in the arcade.

Atari Classics Evolved screenshot

Hopefully I don't have explain Pong to you, because I won't. Super Breakout is a variation on that theme, but in this instance you keep rebounding the ball to knock out various bricks on the screen. You don't need two players to make the most of the gameplay. Missile Command is a shooter where you target enemy missiles with a crosshair and shoot them down before they destroy the cities you are protecting. One of the first tube shooters, Tempest has you encircle a vortex to target and destroy any strange geometric shapes that swirl up from the depths. A space shooter, in Asteroids you control a spaceship that destroys asteroids and UFOs. You have to be careful to get out of the way of the debris.

Screenshots / Images
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