The DS is in the unique position to bring some new life to some classic titles. The touch screen and its numerous opportunities has the chance to bring some unique control schemes to a handheld, and that’s unfortunately not the path the aptly titled Retro Atari Classics takes. The gimmicks here are “remixed” version of 10 classic titles with new graphics created by graffiti artists. It doesn’t make any sense.
Most of the overblown and gaudy graphics in these new versions defeat the purpose of playing the simply crafted and otherwise appealing games. The included titles are almost all undeniable classics, while others barely qualify. The games are as follows:
At least a few of those should spawn a few memories, even for a casual gamer. Why we need another version of Pong, especially one with “remixed” graphics (which adds nothing to the game), is rather questionable, and Sprint was done better years later by Midway. Otherwise, classics like Centipede and Tempest are wonderfully emulated here, and take advantage of the console in multiple ways.
The biggest differences involve those games that use both screens. Missile Command works flawlessly with the dual screen set-up as bombs drop from the top screen onto the bottom. This however takes away some of the intensity. With plenty of time to maneuver and set up a shot, the split second reaction time needed to make the game such an experience is lost. Centipede is one that benefits though, more closely resembling the vertical alignment of the original.
Pong is an odd change, switching the game to a vertical view so it can use the advantage of the second screen. It’s not really classic Pong in this sense. Others suffer from awful control set-ups like Gravitar, which is confusing and annoying. The games all offer touch screen controls and standard d-pad options, so it’s hard to criticize them, even though playing Asteroids with a touch screen is a useless exercise.
Those who are not purists and just want a quick fix on the go will do fine here. The added features may actually end up appealing to them, whether or not they defeat the purpose of a classic compilation. There’s no question that Tempest will forever be memorable in any form, and Warlords in multi-player is a must (with wireless options). If you don’t mind change and you’re not too attached to your childhood, this little set will serve you fine. Otherwise, the aggravations aren’t worth the effort.