Atari Vault brings together 100 of their own games from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, 82 on the Atari VCS 2600, and 18 in their original arcade form, including a few in both format.
You can’t fault the value of this package – you get 100 games for a penny under 15 quid – that’s 15 pence a game, for anyone who failed maths at school, and given that a lot of these games were almost £30 apiece back in the day, that represents a huge saving. It’s also a lot easier to just get this up and running in Steam than it is – for the uninitiated – to source a reliable emulator and find the ROMs themselves.
However, bear in mind that Atari Vault only features Atari-made games, as opposed to those that appeared on an Atari console. Hence, as you go through the list, while there are a huge number of games to play, you’ll instantly be thinking, “Hey, where’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Pitfall, Q*Bert and Battlezone?” and so on. Well, both Raiders and Battlezone were made by Atari but the rights must no longer reside with them. Apparently Battlezone was sold to Rebellion Games, and I presume Spielberg or Lucasfilm own the rights to Raiders. Meanwhile, Pitfall was made by Activision and Q*Bert was programmed by Parker Brothers. As for Pac-Man, well, who knows.
And I would’ve loved to have had E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, even if Atari have wanted to forget about it. It’s not a very playable game, but it’s a must-have.
Hence, if there’s a game here that’s not available, it’s most likely a rights issue… unless it’s E.T. Atari hates E.T.
You can set the screen to be completely black when playing the game, so it’s like a 4:3 centre within a 16:9 screen, or with bezel art around it. Or, you could simply play on a 4:3 monitor as I still have, and then it’s just as nature intended. My footage of Adventure and Asteroids were set to 4:3 whereas the rest are in 16:9, including Video Pinball.
Back in the day, I played Video Pinball so much that I kept a game going overnight. You couldn’t pause it, but I managed to find the ‘sweet spot’ that kept the ball in play, bouncing up and down without going down the hole in the middle. On and on it would bounce until I returned to the game the next morning… as long as my parents didn’t realise it was still on and switch it off! (No, they didn’t. Hurrah!)
I also loved Missile Command, in both the arcade and on the VCS. The arcade version plays more easily, with the mouse acting like the spinner in that you can move it wherever you want with ease, whereas for the VCS, you’re restricted to up/down/left/right.
I’m not normally one for multiplayer gaming, but the option is there if you can find someone else online to join in a game. However, given that there’s 100 titles to this package and that it’s not exactly as prominent on the multiplayer stakes as, say, Tom Clancy’s The Division, you won’t find as many people to go up against. There is, however, 2-player (and more) options for those games which have that built-in by default, such as Pong.
One thing that does irritate – I don’t like how, as the game ends, it throws you back into the Vault’s own menu system, which is done slightly differently between 4:3 and 16:9. I’d rather be left in VCS-world, as you would be normally. There doesn’t seem to be a way to stop this.
Oddly, Save Mary – I game I hadn’t heard of before now – crashed when I tried to run it. It points you to a folder where it’s saved some info about the reason for the crash and tells you to send it to the owner of the game.
Overall, there are a lot of good games worth playing – certainly enough to justify the £14.99 price, but you will be wondering where a lot of your favourites are.
The 82 Atari VCS 2600 games are:
- 3D Tic Tac Toe
A Game of Concentration
Air Sea Battle
Atari Video Cube
Championship Soccer (aka Pele’s Soccer)
Demons to Diamonds
Off the Wall
Return to Haunted House
Sword Quest Earthworld
Sword Quest Fireworld
Sword Quest Waterworld
And the 18 Arcade games are:
Check out more videogame footage on the DVDfeverGames Youtube Channel!
Atari Vault is out now on PC.
- Publisher: Atari
- Players: single player; online multiplayer
- HDTV options: 1080p
- Sound: DTS 5.1 (well, it’s mono, really)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.