Packed with 80 old games from the Atari canon and available at a budget price, Atari: 80 Classic Games in One is a great way to relive some of the high points of classic gaming. However, poorly implemented customization options and sometimes less-than-perfect emulation tarnish what would otherwise be an incredible trip down memory lane.
Of the 80 games available in the package, 62 were previously released on the Atari 2600. Among many, many others, you'll find classics like Combat, Missile Command, Asteroids, Adventure, and Yar's Revenge. Nearly every genre of the day is well represented--there are plenty of action, sports, driving, and puzzle games to choose from here, as well as several games that seem thrown in just for the sake of rounding the collection off at 80 games total: Basic Programming and Fun With Numbers, to name a couple of such cases. In all, though, the selection of Atari-produced games is fairly comprehensive, with the more familiar games being the clear standouts. In addition, the emulation of these games is spot-on, with all of the trademark lo-fi sounds, simple graphics, and flicker that gave these games their distinct feel. Thanks to the accurate representation of the original hardware, the gameplay that so many gamers grew up with is perfectly intact as well.
While the large number of Atari 2600 games is a great feature of this package, the real draws are the 18 arcade classics that make up the remainder of the 80 games available. Featuring Pong, Super Breakout, Centipede, Millipede, Crystal Castles, Warlords, Missile Command, and a host of vector-graphics games such as Tempest, Battlezone, Major Havoc, Red Baron, and others, these games are arguably the ones most worthy of your playing time. Unfortunately, these games are also the most unevenly re-created, with spotty and unfaithful sounds and--worst of all--twitchy controls, regardless of what input method you select. For the most part, the traditional raster-display games, such as Centipede, are the most accurate representations of their original incarnations, and they feature accurate graphics and sounds that are very close to those of the originals.
The vector games, on the other hand, seem to have the most trouble staying true to their arcade originals. Since these games originally used special monitors that produced graphics with rays of light rather than pixels, the versions of these games in Atari: 80 Classic Games in One are more of a simulation than anything else. While Tempest, Battlezone, and Red Baron resemble what you might see in an arcade, Gravitar produces graphics so small that they are nearly impossible to see, regardless of what resolution you select. Across the board, the vector games also have the most inaccurate sound, at times sounding nothing like the real thing. If you grew up playing these games in arcades, you'll be pretty disappointed by these re-creations.
As previously mentioned, the controls for all of these games are very twitchy and overly sensitive. This holds true if you're using a joypad, a mouse, or a keyboard. While the sensitivity can be adjusted, even on the lowest setting, something still doesn't feel quite right. To compound this problem, each and every game has its own individual settings, forcing you to adjust the controls to your liking for every game you choose. Why some sort of universal control configuration wasn't included is a mystery, and this ultimately detracts from this compilation.
Atari: 80 Classic Games in One does feature an incredible number of games for a budget price. Too bad about the various inaccuracies and quirks found in the translations of many of the better games. As such, this is a decent product, overall, but if you're looking to relive your gaming days of old and demand nothing less than perfection, you'd be better off finding another way to get a classic-gaming fix.