Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration

released on Nov 11, 2022

Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration takes players on an interactive journey through 50 years of video games via interviews with designers, developers and industry leaders, documentary footage, product design documents, high-resolution original artwork, and a specially-curated list of more than 90 playable games.

At the heart of Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration are the Interactive Timelines, which combine historical trivia, digital artifacts, all-new video interviews, and playable games into one singular experience. When you encounter a game in the Timeline, you can immediately play it without losing your place.

The massive list of games spans six original Atari console and home computer platforms and generations of arcade titles, the most ever included in a collection by the team at Digital Eclipse. For the first time ever, games from the cult favorite Atari Jaguar and Atari Lynx platforms will be playable on modern consoles. Behind every game are the stories of Atari, what was happening at the company, what went into the creation of the games and the hardware on which they ran, all told by the people who were there. It is a rare opportunity to get a rich behind-the-scenes look at the history of video games.

In addition to presenting these Atari classics exactly as they were, the talented team at Digital Eclipse has also created the Reimagined series—six new games that revisit, mash-up and reimagine Atari Classics. Each of these new games is included in Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration.

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This review will go more so over the documentary and educational aspect of Atari, rather than the games themselves as I have already reviewed EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Atari 50 in terms of a educational side shows us the wonders of Atari becoming a powerhouse and planting the seeds of gaming for all of us to experience today. It show us the good and bad decision taken by a company how had high expectations, and while starting off humble and innovative, slowly descended into greed and ego.
The game company originally made games that were fun and innovative, any ridiculous idea they had in mind they would take it and make said games with it, a lot of them becoming iconic, and some.... not so much.
I think the biggest points in Atari's history are:
Arcade+2600 Era:
Atari wanted to use the vector technology to make places like pubs and pinball stores more interesting by having video games.
Atari wanted to innovate by bringing games to consumers, and they made one of the first video game consoles to consumers who just needed to buy the console and games separately.
Atari 5200/Video Game Crash of 1983:
After the major successes of Atari's 2600 and the amount of money that was being earned, Atari had accidently unleashed a beast where EVERY company that wasn't in gaming was attempting to make game consoles of their own. Biggest issue during this time was that companies started to switch from QUALITY OVER QUANTITY to QUANTITY OVER QUALITY.
This reason is what lead to the Video Game Crash of 1983 where people stopped buying games due to the fact the quality of most games were crap, with the face of the Crash being E.T. The extraterrestrial.
Atari also made an oof with the 5200 because of bad decisions by higher ups that wanted to remove the ability of Backwards Compatibility (IRONIC that this is still an issue to this day, seriously screw you SONY and NINTENDO), and they just didn't know what they needed to do in order to make an upgrade.
Atari started to get some steam again after they made the 7200 which was by far a superior console to the 2600, and even had the ability to play 2600 (for 5200 you needed an adapter) the 7200 had a varity of new games and fun remake ports of old games however since the damage was done because of the VGC 1983, Atari never really recovered.
Atari did attempt to compete with Nintendo in terms of it's Handheld market by releasing a GameBoy competitor the Atari lynx with a variety of games, but never reached the level of the Gameboy, and sat in 3rd place behind the Game Gear.
Atari tried to get into the computer market by making the Atari 400/800 Computers in order to compete with other computer sellers, mainly apple. A lot of commercials showed how the Atari 800 was a better computer, even though really it just played games that happen to use an interface like that of computers, but still was worth using for the most part.
Here's when Atari essentially stopped being innovative and resorted to just making a console for it's last legs, essentially the Atari Jaguar was a console attempting to compete with that of the Genesis and SNES and while did have 1 or 2 compelling games, for the most part the console felt like a lesser of the 2. The console attempted to plant it self as the first 64-bit system, at a time where Sega and Nintendo were barely scrapping into the 32bit era, and infact failed in that era with the 32X add on for Sega, and Virtual Boy for Nintendo. The whole "64-bit" thing was apart of a "DO THE MATH" slogan where a bunch of parts were essentially slapped into the thing to make it somehow add up to 64, event though it was clearly 32 bit.
The Atari Jaguar just seemed to want to copy that of famous IPS from Nintendo, in terms of having it's own Mario Kart clone called "ATARI KART" featuring the Bear from Crystal Castles as the mascot. Another example was with Cybermorph which feels sort of like a star fox clone with more of an open area to explore freely except the controls are bad, and theres a creepy green bald lady head that asks
"where did you learn to fly?"
The Atari Jaguar was a flop and had Atari have the rest of it's history as a publisher and developer of certain games but they were done.
Through the years they've been sold off and bought by other companies, and while they do continue to make some games, their no where near at the level they once were.
Atari VCS and beyond: Atari in 2021 released the Atari VCS which was essentially a console that played classic Atari games in a more modern updated console that looked like their original classic woodgrain Atari 2600. It had the ability to be able to use emulators and had it's own controller which clearly was a ripoff of an xbox controller but considering that 3rd party/1st party controllers that were bluetooth were able to be connected it's fine for the most part.
Though as of 2023, Atari has stopped production of the VCS due to not a lot of people caring to buy it and have suspended console manufactures from making more as their revenues have taken a 91% dip.
Still if you're someone who's interested in owning an Atari memorabilia I recommend buying a 7200, a 2600, a VCS (2021), or just buying this collection.
The historical aspect of this game features lots of documents, posters, ideas, pictures, and videos of Atari history, which some for the most part in terms of the video can be a bit biased. Some of the stories can be a bit negative to Atari's overall appearance in terms of their history but for the most part is very inspirational for up and coming game developers for both men and women in the field as many iconic ones were made by Atari.
I think the biggest oof was adding Cliff Bleszinski as a speaker in this game, as his whole video game history and be regarded on the behalf of his massive ego. He made Gears of War 1-3, and then decided to make a garbage game called Lawbreakers, and tried to trash on the players who game him the success in the first place.
This collection has great historical information and has a total of 103 games to play through. Some great, some good, some bad, some horrendous, and some straight up boring. They also feature reimagined games of iconic games. They also feature the fully finished reimagined version of Swordquest: Airworld.
The collection is both a fun memorabilia piece of art that everyone who wants to experience gaming history should own. Because of the amount of games (that fluctuates in terms of the their overall quality and whether or not they're fun) and the interesting behind the scenes history of Atari I'm giving it a 5 stars.

The 8-bit era of Atari was before my time. I started the next generation with the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo as a young toddler. I still respect and have enjoyed iterations and ports of Atari 8-bit games over the years. What hasn't been done well is anything outside of bundles of seemingly random collections. They're nearly countless at this point and have spanned to nearly every console imaginable. Atari anniversary collections, various Atari-themed packs, and various retro packages with fancy UIs or presentations. However, no single retro package has been as cohesive or beautifully created as Atari 50. Even Sega's recent Genesis Collection with its retro 90's bedroom and bookshelf display can't beat this.
The entire game is presented like an interactive history lesson. You go through four timelines. Atari's origin story and their arcade routes. You get to see photos, printouts, commercials, and interviews with various Atari developers and industry veterans such as Tim Schafer (Psychonauts) and Cliff Bleszinski (Gears of War). These are presented in chronological order. A game is presented when its release comes up in the timeline. Some games have cover art, photos, and even comics underneath them to view. As you advance in the timeline you get a feeling like you're playing an interactive museum tour. There are no fancy 3D menus or anything, but the clean and simple UI works well. There are a few surprises peppered in like unreleased prototypes and Digital Eclipse's own recreations of iconic games like Yar's Revenge and Haunted House.
As you advance to the home console and PC timeline things get more interesting. You will eventually get to Atari 5200 and 7800 games which are a bit more advanced. You will also get to play a few PC games for the Atari home computers. Then you will finish up in the 90s with the Atari Lynx and Jaguar. Sadly, there aren't many games in this timeline, and the biggest issue with this entire game is the lack of third-party titles. You only get to play Atari-published and own games. That's very limiting, and while I understand this is Atari's own history there are many games that helped make their systems great outside of internal developers. The few Jaguar games range from Cybermorph to Tempest 2000 and Missle Command 3D. They aren't great, but interesting to dive into. That's another thing about this whole collection. Very few games are fun to play longer than five minutes. Some are pretty clunky and bad. This isn't a "greatest of" collection which I really appreciate. You will most likely go back to the more fun games like Missle Command, Centipede, Millepede, Tempest, or their latest versions in this game. You get special bezels, backgrounds, overlays, and control options for every game as well. You can also select various modes and some games support save states which is cool. You also get a digital view of every manual for the game including the arcade operator's manuals. They didn't leave anything out.
By the time I spent around 5 hours in the game, I got to the end of the timelines. You can go back and play any game in the library view and pick your favorites. These games run really well and look great, but many gamers who didn't grow up in the 80s will probably find this nothing more than a history lesson. Even more, will find pretty much every game boring or uninteresting. However, that's not a knock to the games, but just a warning to younger audiences. Anyone younger than 30-35 will most likely not find this game interesting or fun. If you have a curiosity about Atari's history or games then this is the best place to get that. If you have an itch for trying out 8-bit games or want to go back without emulating anything then this will give you nearly 100 games. I also appreciate how few ports and copies of the same game are in here. Each game was hand-picked and placed with relevancy.
Overall, Atari 50 is one of the best retro packages you can ever play. Telling an entire developer's history with games placed in their correct time slots and even including unreleased games and reimaginings of some is just fantastic. The videos are entertaining and interesting and you will learn a lot. There are so many details added from commercials, print ads, posters, manuals, customizable controls, save states, and more. It's a complete and cohesive package for Atari lovers out there. Just be warned that there are no third-party games and less of the 90s stuff.

A simply gorgeous romp through the annals of Atari history, filled with candid interviews, as well as legendary, rare, and unreleased games, and plenty of fun surprises! Future compilations take note — this is how you do it!

A delightful work of documentary and game preservation, as well as a joyful object in itself. Heartily recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in the early days of video games.

This has to be the best retro compilation I've ever played. I thought I knew most of what there was to know about Atari, but this game proved me wrong. I couldn't have been more happy either. Digital Eclipse managed to dip up some truly fascinating tidbits of Atari history. 30 (!) pages of design documents for major havoc? Sign me up!
Rarely do we see compilations made with this much passion and true care. Most of them we get nowadays are nothing more than rom collections with basic menus and paltry options.
The games themselves in this collection range from masterworks to fascinating artifacts of a bygone era. Most of them (I would say the majority at least) are still incredibly fun to play. Sure I may not play cybermorph or Sprint 8 as much as I will say Tempest 2000, but having the chance to finally play those games for myself was still a treat. In fact this is the first time any Atari Jaguar games have been rereleased officially.
The presentation is damn near flawless. The arcade games are probably the standout in this regard. Presented in their original ratios with the cabinets faithfully reproduced. The same goes for the console games, only here the borders are television sets, computer monitors and more. You can also pause the game at any time to read the manual or arcade flyer (depending on the game of course).
Overall, Digital Eclipse has somehow outdone themselves yet again. All I can hope for now is for more game companies to give these talented folks free reign over their back catalogs.

Atari 50 is a fantastic compilation of Atari games throughout the years, from the arcade, to the 2600, to the Jaguar, and everything inbetween. As you go through the timelines you get to try out tons of classic games, sprinkled with high-resolution scans of manuals, print ads, and interviews from key Atari and other game industry personnel.
As far as game compilations go this is certainly one of the best ones out there, even if quite a lot of the games don't hold up well (if they ever were in the first place). It would have been nice to have some more famous titles as particularly licensed ones (such as E.T.) are absent, but with the quantity and even new creations it's hard to really complain. Especially when none of the games in the collection are half as bad as the penultimate interview, being several minutes with the creator of Ready Player One.