Relive Your Youth with Classic Atari Games

At the risk of dating myself, I must confess I grew up playing Atari 2600 — Asteroids, Centipede, Space Invaders, Breakout — I had them all. Sadly, when Nintendo debuted I packed up my trusty Atari console, along with all of its games, and marched them down the street where they were greeted by a younger boy in the neighborhood.

I sorely wish I had saved both the console and the cartridges, but what is past can not be undone. Time and game consoles continue to move forward… well, sort of.

You see, those old gaming classics never really died. They just sort of went into hiding for a few decades, only to re-emerge in all of their 1980’s glory, ready for a new generation of gamers to tackle the process of getting Pitfall Harry past his obstacles.

Over the years a number of ways to play the old classics have emerged, but Atari themselves has recognized the value in nostalgia and done something to capitalize on that feeling.

Do You Want to Play a Game?

Atari, the company responsible for so much of the wasted time in our youth — well, mine, I will not not lump you in with me — is still around today. In fact, the once dominant console maker still maintains a web site and those old classic games to go along with it.

In fact, a number of the ones you may remember are present and accounted for right there — just waiting for old geezers like me to stumble in.

Games:

  • Super Breakout
  • Yars’ Revenge
  • Asteroids
  • Centipede
  • Combat
  • Lunar Lander
  • Missile Command
  • Pong

Get in the Game

Atari partnered with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in order to launch this service, but do not let this fool you. The service will work every bit as well in  most any other modern web browser, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. I used Chrome for this review and experienced no problems or feature loss. If you are wondering the difference, well, Internet Explorer gives you the games ad-free, and there is something to be said for that experience.

Many moons ago, heck in the mid-90’s as a matter of fact, I had an Atari-like controller that plugged into my desktop and let me control games. In fact, I had a disc that contained a bunch of classic arcade games such as River Raid, and that collection was the inspiration for the controller purchase.

Time has marched on — I am older and computer hardware more modern. Today these games require nothing more than a mouse (mouse pad for laptop users) and keyboard.

But you came here for the games so let us get to that now, using a staple of my youth — Centipede.

We will use single-player mode, which is actually the only option in this case. Once clicked, you have a choice of simply beginning the game or checking out information on the controls.

Controls

You probably have no reason to click this — it’s pretty darn simple. Left and right arrow keys move you back and forth and the space bar is tapped to fire shots. Still, given that some games, such as Asteroids with its “hyperspace” option, are a bit more complicated, it is always a good idea to check this in advance.

Playing

If you are looking for a modern take on these old games, such as the new Pitfall for Android, then this is not the place. Games are preserved almost as they were originally.

With that said, the games are not one hundred percent faithful, but certainly very close to their original 1980’s look and play — though Asteroids probably comes incredibly close.

Pause / Play and volume are both controlled from the top right of the screen and you will need to use the mouse for them, and there is no keyboard shortcuts for these options.

Attention Developers

Atari is also soliciting developers to bring their own games to the Arcade platform. An Atari Arcade SDK is available to help you build an HTML5 game. For incentive the company promises “Once your game is published in our arcade and available on our many platforms you instantly begin to earn a competitive revenue share based on advertising, in game purchase, and other future revenue sources for your game”.

Taking the Road Less Traveled

While Atari provides this service free, it is not the only method of replaying these classic games. There are outlets available on mobile platforms, such as Android, which features Atari’s Greatest Hits.

You can also take a route that is questionable in legal terms, though no game maker has ever made a move to block it. This involves installing an emulator such as Stella and then one of the many web sites that distribute ROM’s. Almost every early game ever created is available in this form. Not just Atari, but Activision, Nintendo and many more can be found. Stella is the best way to go for a pure experience, but it is software, as opposed to being web-based.

Conclusion

Kudos to Atari for not only keeping these games alive, but bringing them to the web for fans to play free of charge. Atari plans to add more games in the future. Perhaps they may even team with Activision to bring that content to the online arcade as well.

Atari is a name that many people of my generation hold great reverence for. But you do not need to be of my age — my kids, who never saw these games in their heyday, still get a kick out of playing them. Atari is an ageless form of entertainment.


Summary

Play classic arcade games online.

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  • Free  | 
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  • Fellow old geezer here. This is excellent news–I’m excited to see that these games are coming back and look forward to checking this out. I have very fond memories of blisters on my palms from many hours of Decathlon and getting in trouble in school for writing a walkthough of the Raiders of the Lost Ark game…Thanks for the article!

  • Hey man thanks for the awesome review, they made those games so much more fun than these days.