Atari is no stranger to releasing classic compilations on consoles. Atari Anthology, Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 1 and 2, and even a few games for Microsoft’s short-lived Game Room project on Xbox 360 have made their way into our hearts once more, bringing a number of classics with them, arcade and Atari 2600-wise.
Now we have yet another, Atari Vault, a game that simply does away with the history lessons in favor of giving you over 100 classics to choose from for $20. That’s not to say every game is a classic – some of the SwordQuest titles are certainly an acquired taste – but it’s a valiant history lesson for those that missed out on gaming in the 80’s.
Probably the most noteworthy section is the arcade one, in which you can play everything from Asteroids to Red Baron to Tempest by simply selecting your game, tweaking options and starting it up. The games are emulated very well, right down to their original arcade coding, although the screen size is debatable with little borders around them. This is the way the original arcade games were set up, though, so it’s certainly not too bad.
There’s also a section for Atari 2600 games, and while some of these haven’t aged particularly well (Combat just looks old), there are a few gems worth taking on, like the home version of Tempest, the very rare Combat Two (which is surprisingly enjoyable) and several others. Don’t expect these games to blow your mind, but do expect a good time without having to worry about using a stiff one-button controller.
As for controller support, the game stubbornly only supported the Steam controller at the beginning – and was awkward at best. However, Atari recently patched the game to support the Xbox 360/Xbox One controller, and while it’s not always perfect (it can lean a little too hard for its own good), it is solid when it comes to the gameplay of most titles. You can also tweak options if you prefer to go with keyboard-style play, which isn’t half bad.
The game doesn’t have much to offer in terms of replay value, but, c’mon, you have 100 games here, along with a handful of Achievements to unlock and high scores to top. Back in the day, that’s all we needed for entertainment. And for $20, you’ll get your money’s worth out of it.
Atari Vault could’ve done more with its options – the main menu’s music is a bit annoying and there are some games, like Food Fight, that are sorely missing. That said, with the variety presented in this compilation, decent emulation across the board, and good gameplay options, it’s the next best thing to hitting an arcade – and this Vault is open 24/7.