Atari's Greatest Hits iPad Review

At first glance, Atari's Greatest Hits appears to be a slice of retro heaven. This newly released App includes 18 Atari arcade games, along with a whopping 92 titles from the Atari 2600 console. The company even sweetened the deal with a variety of bonus materials from the 70s and 80s, including instruction manuals and numerous advertisements, a wonderful feature that'll make classic gamers swoon, at least until they attempt to play one of these games. Then everything falls apart.

First thing's first. Atari's Greatest Hits is free to download and comes with PONG, and you'll purchase additional games ala carte in 25 packs of four ($0.99 each), or a one time download that costs $14.99. Not bad for 100 games.

Thing is, most of them didn't age gracefully. The arcade versions of Centipede and Millipede look good, while others are just a mess of unidentifiable blocks that pass for people and monsters.

That said, we strongly suggest buying the four game packs, despite Atari throwing in one or two stinkers in each download. Although $15 doesn't seem like a lot of money, you'll probably never play Brain Games or Math Gran Prix. At least on the positive side, the developers provide screens of each game, so you don't need to search the Internet before buying.

With this in mind, we were excited to play games from our youth, hits like Crystal Castles, Adventure and Haunted House, but here's the thing. Most of them are unplayable because of the horrendous controls. With Centipede, the track ball lacks responsiveness, making it almost impossible to quickly dodge enemies. Crystal Castles, meanwhile, is a hot mess using Atari's touch screen representation of the old 2600 joystick. To say we were disappointed would be a huge understatement. More like crushed.

Some games, like Haunted House, made the successful jump to the App Store, but that's only because they require slower movement. Play Tempest, and it's a whole other matter.

On top of that, some games are notably absent. Berzerk and Jungle Hunt, where are you?

All of this makes Atari's Greatest Hits a huge disappointment, where not even Bluetooth support for select games can save it. It's clear that Atari needs to release an update. When (or if) that happens, we'll take another look at this promising compilation.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

Download Atari's Greatest Hits

What's Hot: One hundred games, bonus materials, Bluetooth support for select titles.

What's Not: Horrendous controls, only one free game.