There comes a time when every console gets the retro compilation that will allow gamers to enjoy Atari's deeply retro classics from the late 70s and the early 80s, and this time has finally come for the Nintendo DS with the release of Atari Greatest Hits: Volume 1. It's a budget priced retro collection sporting 50 games that were released for the Atari 2600 and for the now (mostly) defunct arcades.
The games selection is pretty impressive, including among others the arcade versions of Asteroids, Pong, Centipede, Tempest and Missile Command, along with the 2600 versions of Adventure, Outlaw, Gravitar, Basketball, Football and a few dozen other games. Unfortunately Activision's classics -especially Pitfall- haven't been included, whereas some of the games thrown in are beyond terrible and badly aged (think Slot Machine or 3D Tic-Tac-Toe), though generally speaking this particular cartridge hasn't left my DS for the past 10 days I apparently needed to prepare this review. Don't think I'll be playing anything else on it for quite some time too, as Atari's Greatest Hits is indeed brilliant.
Asteroids and Tempest, just to name a couple of games, are as addictive and incredibly fun to play as ever and the simplistic sounds and visuals do help bring the gameplay forth. As for the emulation -and presentation- of the games it is, well, spot-on. Both screens of the DS are used to allow you to fiddle with your virtual 2600's switches or to display the marquee of the arcade game you are playing. Oh, yes, and each game comes with a complete manual too.
To make a sweet deal even sweeter Atari has also thrown in the military training version of Battlezone (boo-hiss for militarism), the 2600 prototype of Tempest, a few vintage ads and more than a few other digital memorabilia, to complement the single-card download multiplayer most games seem to support.
Verdict: If you are into old games and/or have fond memories of Atari's classics you simply have to grab Atari Greatest Hits: Volume 1 on the DS.