REVIEW – Atari Flashback Classics (Switch)

Atari Flashback Classics brings 150 arcade, 2600, and 5200 games to the Nintendo Switch to play on the go, on your TV, and with your friends. With a collection like that, it is hard not to recommend it to any fan of retro games. Honestly, you could stop reading the review right here and go purchase the game, but if you need more convincing, feel free to keep reading.

Like I said, there are 150 games within this collection. They consist of 32 Atari arcade cabinet games, 102 Atari 2600 games, and 16 Atari 5200 games. Some of those are duplicates, though. For example, there is a version of Asteroids for all three systems.

On top of all those game options, you can also earn 66 achievements by playing, beating, or completing a given aspect of the games. For instance, one includes trying all 150 games. Another has you reaching a score of 20,000 or higher in Saboteur. There are also online leaderboards for most of the arcade games, so you can see how you match up against others around the world.

All of the games allow you to change up the display options, too. For instance, you can turn off the on-screen touch controls or controller, turn on and off the scanlines, turn on and off the Atari 2600 flicker (in TV mode), and change up the level of vector glow. Some games also allow you to turn the Switch vertical to get a full-screen experience. For titles like Centipede, this was a great addition.

Many of the games do have online multiplayer, but I was never able to try it since no one was ever online each time I tried it. There is supposedly an overall or universal lobby, though, with all the people playing a game online. But again, I never saw anyone there, so I wasn’t able to review this piece of the game. Local multiplayer, however, worked just as you would expect it.

[Author’s note: We have updated the above paragraph from the original review, as we had previously assumed each game had its own lobby. This was due to ignorance and presumptions since we never saw anyone online in this game.]

When it comes down to it, the controls are really where this collection sometimes falls short. Modern gaming controllers have analog sticks that quickly snap back into place, which primarily function like the joysticks of arcade cabinets. For many games, this is not a problem, but for others, it becomes an a big barrier to entry. Games like Pong and Breakout, for example, were built for a paddle-style controller. Having to constantly keep the analog stick tilted creates additional challenges. If you let go of it, your paddle will snap back to the center. You can, however, switch the controls to “relative” instead of “absolute,” which will change that. This helps, but I found that I still needed to move the sensitivity down to its lowest setting to make the game playable.

Thankfully, many of these issues can be resolved when you take the game into handheld mode and use the touchscreen. Games like Breakout allow you to move that same paddle along the bottom of the screen with your finger for precision control. The only unfortunate thing is that you can only get this type of control when playing away from your TV. Those who never plan to play a game on the big screen should, therefore, have very few issues with the controls.

The only other minor flaw I found was menu navigation is sometimes not that intuitive. Every once in a while, I would find myself in a game and unsure how to back out of it. Most of the time, you just hit the plus or minus button and then the main menu button, but sometimes, that button is not there, and you just hit the B button (or its equivalent on your Joy-Con controller).

In the end, this is a solid collection of 150 classic Atari games. If you were to purchase all of them on their own, you would pay so much more than the $39.99 MSRP of this title. Even with the few control issues and minor menu flaws, Atari Flashback Classics is a must buy for any retro game fan. Seriously, it’s 150 Atari games in your pocket.


LAUNCH TRAILER


GAME: Atari Flashback Classics
PUBLISHER: Atari
MSRP: $39.99 US
RATED: E for Everyone
RELEASED: December 13, 2018
OBTAINED: Review code from Atari for press purposes