Atari Mania review for Nintendo Switch, Atari VCS, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PC, Atari VCS
Publisher: Atari
Developer: iLLOGIKA Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards

No matter how advanced the video Game industry becomes, every single gamer out there should know that it all began with Atari. They were the creators and innovators of coin operated and home Video Games, and just about everything we play today began with the simple games from the era of Atari. Now, 50 years since their creation, Atari is still with us, bringing back their classics and creating new challenges with Atari Mania, a combination of new and classic elements guaranteed to bring the fun!

Atari Mania is a retro microgame collection very similar to the WarioWare titles. You play as a caretaker of the actual Atari Vault, a museum of classic Atari games and Characters. Think of it as a “Night at the Museum” situation, except not only are the characters alive all the time, but the vault is their home. One night, a dead pixel appears and begins to grow, pulling the Atari Characters into the void it is slowly creating. In order to combat the dead pixels, you have to enter the voids and play a series of Atari themed mini games and then face the Dead Pixel in a one on one battle. In order to get access to the many rooms in the vault where the dead pixels are wreaking havoc, you’ll have to collect tools, and solve simple puzzles scatted in most of the rooms. Completing these puzzles will not only open new sections, but you can collect the many Atari themed Collectables like Posters, Atari Box Art, Instruction manuals and some great artwork.

The mini games you discover all have very simple concepts but that doesn’t mean that they will all be a cakewalk. Some are very straight forward like “shoot the Millipede before it reaches the Bottom” or “Score a point In Pong”, while others will have you reaching a checkpoint in a short amount of time or protecting a character from laser fire as he runs to the goal. If you fail a challenge, you lose a “Life” and move on to the next challenge. Running out of lives resets your progress and you have to begin again.

All of the minigames are themed after the games and characters you are trying to restore, with elements from many different games coming together to create new challenges as you defeat more Dead Pixels. Facing the Dead Pixels themselves takes all of the concepts from the mini games and puts them together in a challenging boss battle. You are given very little instruction and need to figure out how to damage the boss enough times within a tight time limit, to seal up the voids and rescue the characters. Failing to win the battle will set you back to a previous mini game challenge and, as long as you have some lives available and win the last mini game, you can challenge the boss again. After you defeat the boss, you can replay the mini games found in the void anytime you wish by playing the Arcade machines that appear around the vault. When I first unlocked a machine, I thought it was going to give me access to a single classic Atari game, but as cool as that sounds, it’s not the case and the only classic Atari material you can collect are limited to the art and manuals from the vault puzzles and challenges.

The graphics are very true to the classic Atari style with everything being pixelated and simple. The characters have little to no facial features, and limited animation but you never have a difficult time figuring out what everything and who everyone is. The sound effects and music are also fantastic, even if they are a bit more advanced than the original Atari systems could produce, it’s not advanced enough to take you out of the game and feels very natural. Control is extremely simple, with most of the mini games using the d-pad and one button. You’ll have a few more advanced controls at your disposal with some of the vault puzzles, but nothing about the controls are remotely difficult or hard to understand once you begin playing.

Atari Mania is a fun and challenging microgame experience for just about anyone who likes games. The concept, games and the overall presentation is both equal parts classic and innovative. Even after a long play session, I was drawn back to it to get further into the vault and challenge more mini games! I do wish you could unlock the actual Atari games you collect the artwork for, but not having those isn’t a deal breaker by any means. This is a great game to represent Atari’s 50 years of innovation and rich history that is the foundation of what we have today. Check this one out if you want a great challenge while reliving gaming’s incredible past.

Atari provided us with an Atari Mania Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A