Review: Atari Flashback Classics – Nintendo Switch

Up until recently Nintendo Switch owners had to watch and endure their contemporary console friends get their Atari classic gaming fix. Well, this is no longer the case!

The Atari Flashback Classics compilation is a collection of 150 Atari favourites for the Nintendo Switch. Taking full advantage of the Switch features, like vertical / TATE orientation (for compatible games), Switch owners now have lots to gloat about to their other console brethren. Let’s just say this straight off the bat – this compilation is choc-full of the legendary publisher’s iconic library of games, with titles from the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 home consoles, along with former Atari coin-op/arcade exclusives.

Of course we were always going to play Atari’s seminal arcade titles first! Well, the scrollable 11 page games menu had the arcade titles first, so it made the choice easier. If there is one gripe here, we just wish that that you could customise the games menu. Anyway, it was game on with Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Pong and Tempest (to start with), and boy, they did not disappoint! These classic Atari arcade games are perfectly converted on the Nintendo Switch, with impeccable controls (each game has a pop control area showing which map buttons to the correspond Switch controls). We also love the bezel artwork, which gives that authentic arcade feeling.

Speaking of artwork, the home console games (Atari 2600 and 5200) get their full box art on the menu and also come with their respective full manual. Some (not all) game manual scans are tad blurry, but it’s still a great example of conservation that helps turn this release into an almost museum-like archive.


source: Atari

Atari Flashback Classics has a slew of features, including a local achievements system, leaderboards and a local (up to four players) and online (two players) multiplayer. These features were designed to bring players together, just like back in the day – a neat little touch.

This massive library of classic Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and Atari arcade games is perfect for those Switch owners craving for a one-stop shop to play old school Atari games either at home or on the go. If you want a fix of classic Atari gaming on your Switch, then grab the Atari Flashback Classics now.

Disclosure: Atari Flashback Classics [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by UberStrategist for this review.

 

Film Review: Easy To Learn, Hard to Master – The Fate Of Atari

The story of Atari has been told many times, from books like Atari Inc: Business Is Fun to umpteen documentaries, but none tell the full and complete story as well as Easy to Learn, Hard To Master: The Fate Of Atari.

Narrated by revered Commodore Engineer, Bil Heard, this documentary delves deep into the Atari history like no other film before it. From Atari’s humble beginnings as Syzygy and the breakthrough of Pong, to the Atari VCS/2600 home console, its subsequent sale to Time Warner and downward spiral to oblivion in the early 80s.

The story is weaved perfectly with many points of view, including former Atari Inc. President, Ray Kassar, who had never told his side of the story prior to this documentary. This is quite important, as stories about Atari had always been told from their former engineers (like Al Alcorn) and co-founder, Nolan Bushnell, so it was refreshing to get management perspective from Ray and Manny Gerard. This is even more poignant as Ray Kassar passed away in December 2017 – making his story even more important when it comes to Atari’s history. Another poignant interview was with old foe, Ralph Baer (Died on December 6 2014), himself a great inventor and the grandfather of video games and the concept of home gaming consoles.

Other notable interviewees include Joe Decuir, Howard Warshaw, Ed Rotberg, Dannis Kable, Dave Rolfe, Eugene Jarvis, Steve Russell, former Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa and former Atarian and Activision co-founder, David Crane, to name just a few. If you don’t know the story of Atari or you would like the definitive history on Atari, then we highly recommend Easy To Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari.

Title: Easy To Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari
Director: Tomaso Walliser & Davide E. Agosta
Production: Junk Food Films

Ultra Space Battle Brawl: It’s Bang Bead For Your Switch!

If you are craving for some PongWindjammers or Bang Bead action for your Nintendo Switch, then keep reading! Hang on, Bang what? Ahhhh, if you don’t know, that’s fine, this game plays it a similar way…

So what do you get when you sprinkle some Pong on steroids, a dose of fighting elements, Japanese 80s aesthetic, some cool Indonesian urban house music and a hefty pinch of Windjammers and Bang Bead for good measure? You get Ultra Space Battle Brawl, that’s what!

For those of you that haven’t played Atari’s Pong or Bang Bead and Windjammers on the Neo Geo, Ultra Space Battle Brawl is a fun competitive game fit for settling disputes, be it with your friends and family or rivals, this couch party game has the essence of a flying fighting game melded onto a single screen that is easy to pick up and play but hard to master.

The game provides a choice of ten protagonists, each with their own unique “Ultra” and quirky skills that can easily turn the tide in the heat of battle. Story mode sees you battling through a number of rivals that will determine your fate in the Intergalactic Society, that is if you manage to beat them all. For those that prefer a party game (of up to 4 players), the ‘Versus’ mode is for you. Versus provides the freedom to set the number of rounds and battle modes, be it 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, 1 vs 2 or 2 vs 1. Once your character is chosen you are thrown into a battle where the premise sees you smacking the puck towards your opponents end attempting to smash their glass gem while also defending your end. If you manage to win the necessary rounds, you move onto the next (even tougher) opponent.

Sounds simple enough? Um not really, as this game will see your rage meter go through the roof when you battle tougher opponents that require lightning fast reflexes and dexterity to have a chance at beating them. This game does shine when played against other humans, where you rib each other or give high fives when battling on the same side.

The background story to how this game came about is quite cool too – Ultra Space Battle Brawl was first born out of a Mojiken Camp, an internal team building program. During this program the whole Mojiken Studio crew had to build a prototype based on proven products and fresh concepts. From all the prototypes they came up with, it was Mojiken Studio’s co-founder Eka Pramudita’s Ultra Space Battle Brawl that came out on top.

If you also want to come out on top and can’t wait for Windjammers, then you should grab this game for your Nintendo Switch, stat!

Title: Ultra Space Battle Brawl
Developer: Mojiken Studio
Publisher: Toge Productions
Price: USD$14.99

image source: Toge Productions

 

Ted Dabney: The Passing of Atari’s Silent Co-Founder

Last week news broke that Atari’s Co-Founder, Ted Dabney had passed at age 81. We wouldn’t usually post this type of news on here as it has already been covered enough by the bigger online media outlets. However, we didn’t want Ted’s passing to go unnoticed by our readers, as Ted’s importance to the video gaming industry is equal to his contemporaries, like Nolan Bushnell.

Ted Dabney co-founded the tiny electronics company called Syzygy Engineering in 1971 (renamed Atari in 1972) with his more famous business partner Nolan Bushnell. Ted and Nolan had previously partnered to program Computer Space, the first coin-operated video game ever brought to market. Computer Space was produced at the Northern California trivia game maker Nutting Associates, named after its owner Bill Nutting.

image source: RePlay Magazine

At Atari, Ted played his part, along with designer Al Alcorn (and Bushnell, of course) in the design and production of Pong, the first “hit” TV game which ushered in the age of video gaming. If you have read Curt Vendel and Marty Goldberg’s Atari Inc: Business is Fun, you’d know the background to Ted leaving Atari (Ed: It wasn’t pretty nor fair to Ted). But Ted being Ted, he never harboured any ill will towards Atari and went on to work at electronics firms outside the coin-op business. Ted preferred a simple life to the limelight that Atari should have afforded him.

According to the Huffington Post, Ted died of the esophageal cancer he’d been fighting. He and wife Carolyn had spent part of his remaining years operating a grocery store up in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

May his legacy live on! Rest In Peace Ted Dabney.

 

Everything Retro Is Hot At CES 2018

If you were in Vegas last week for the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) you would have been forgiven for thinking that it was the 1990s!

It definitely looks like companies are finally tweaking to the fact that retro gaming is big business. From Hyperkin announcing the mighty Ultra Game Boy to Retro-Bit announcing their partnership with Sega, it looks like 2018 is going to be a big year for retro gamers and their credit cards!

Here are our hot retrogaming picks from CES 2018:

Hyperkin Ultra Game Boy in an aluminium case will turn heads for sure!
image source: Gizmodo

Retro-bit did a mic drop by announcing that they had signed a licensing agreement with Sega to produce accessories for Sega’s Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast gaming consoles! They even showed off games for the NES and SNES! These guys were on fire in Vegas!

Retro-Bit’s Sega Dreamcast Bluetooth Controller, Receiver and TV connectivity cables

Retro-Bit’s Sega Saturn controllers!

Retro-Bit’s Sega Mega Drive / Genesis Bluetooth Controllers

Retro-Bit’s Games for the NES (Holy Diver) and SNES (R-Type Returns CE)

source: Retro-Bit on Twitter

(Atari) Table Pong – If you weren’t lucky enough to snag this via its super early-bird Kickstarter price, then you will be paying three times more for it now!

source: Alex Kidman via Finder

 

2015 World Video Game Hall of Fame Finalists

HallOfFame-TITLEJust in case you have been hiding in a cave for the last week or two, we thought we would take this opportunity to bring you up to speed on the 15 electronic games finalists to be inducted into The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame. The inductees will be formally recognised in a ceremony at The Strong museum in downtown Rochester, New York, on June 4.

Which games made the cut? Surely there wouldn’t be too many surprises when you scan the below list of inaugural inductees. We reckon there should have been some Yu Suzuki arcade classics in the hall of fame, but we are sure they will make the next induction. So, which other iconic game(s) do you think should have made this initial World Video Game Hall of Fame list?

Oregon Trail (1971)
HallofFame_oregon_trail

Pong (1972)
HallofFame_Pong

Space Invaders (1978)
HallofFame_SpaceInvaders

Pac-Man (1980)
HallofFame_Pac-Man

Tetris (1984)
HallofFame_tetris

Super Mario Bros. (1985)
HallofFame_SuperMario

The Legend Of Zelda (1986)
HallofFame_zelda

Sonic The Hedgehog (1991)
HallofFame_Sonic

Doom (1993)
HallofFame_doom

FIFA Soccer (1993)
HallofFame_FIFA

Pokémon (1996)
HallofFame_pokemon

The Sims (2000)
HallofFame_Sims

World Of Warcraft (2004)
HallOfFame_wow

Angry Birds (2009)
HallofFame_angry_birds

Minecraft (2009)
HallofFame_minecraft

source: The Strong – National Museum Of Play

Cute LEGO Arcade Stop Motion Videos

featured image

We love Michael Hickox’s simple, but oh-so-cute LEGO arcade stop motion videos!

‘LEGO Donkey Kong’

Video source: Michael Hickox on YouTube

‘LEGO Arcade’

Video source: Michael Hickox on YouTube

‘LEGO Arcade 2’

Video source: Michael Hickox on YouTube

Source: Michael Hickox on YouTube

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msausretrogamerMs. ausretrogamer
Editor and Researcher at ausretrogamer – The Australian Retro Gamer E-Zine. Lover of science fiction, fashion, books, movies and TV. Player of games, old and new.

Follow Ms. ausretrogamer on Twitter