We've long wondered if any of the companies that have held the rights to the Atari back catalogue over the past 20 years would ever see fit to put out a compilation of Atari-branded games from that most golden of console oldies, the Atari 2600. Well now the wondering can finally cease. Hot on the heels of the announcement of Intellivision Lives! for the DS, the company that presently calls itself Atari (formerly Infogrames' North American division) has released a trailer for Atari's Greatest Hits Volume 1 for the DS with a projected release date for North America in November.
This collection of 50 games will include several arcade games that also appeared on the poorly-executed Retro Atari Classics for the DS, so hopefully any shortcomings will be corrected. According to the folks at Blast Magazine, 20 of the games will support single card-multiplayer whilst head-to-head titles will require multiple cards to play, suggesting that the former are alternating multi-player games that involve handing off the DS to your friends which is a bit disappointing and one of the limitations of the first Atari collection for the DS.
Taking a page from the excellent Activision Anthology for the GBA, virtual instruction manuals will be included for the 2600 games as well as a trivia game and memorabilia showcase. Whilst we're happy to see Atari 2600 games get released on the DS, looking at the line-up it's notable that many of the titles are ports of arcade games which are also included in the collection. Without a doubt the Atari 2600's greatest developers were Activision and Imagic, so the line-up isn't quite as spectacular as a revamped Activision Anthology would be, but there's still some gems in there that will be fun to play, especially if, as claimed, the controls are rendered faithfully to the originals.
It's noteworthy that this is "Volume 1" meaning that we can hopefully look forward to at least one more volume. In our fantasies Atari would license Atari Games arcade titles from Time Warner Interactive like Peter Pack Rat or I, Robot and 3rd party titles for the Atari 2600 from Sega, CBS Fox, Activision and others. Of course the Atari library also includes a couple of other consoles, the 5200 and 7800, not to mention 8-bit computer games, all of which have been emulated and could potentially fit the roster of a future collection. Even if we "only" end up with the balance of Atari arcade games pre-dating Time-Warner's split of the company into separate arcade and home console divisions and 2600 games like Circus Atari and Yar's Revenge, we find it hard to complain when a company with an extensive classic IP catalogue decides to put that catalogue to use in the service of fans. Hopefully this will push others to do the same (we're looking at you, Activision and Time-Warner Interactive).
Check out the full game list and see if any of your favourites from yesteryear are among them:
Arcade: Asteroids, Battlezone, Centipede, Gravitar, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Pong, Space Duel and Tempest
Atari 2600: 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, Adventure, Air-Sea Battle, Asteroids, Atari Video Cube, Basketball, Battlezone, Bowling, Centipede, Championship Soccer, Dodge ’Em, Flag Capture, Football, Fun with Numbers, Gravitar, Hangman, Haunted House, Home Run, Human Cannonball, Math Gran Prix, Miniature Golf, Missile Command, Outlaw, Realsports Baseball, Realsports Boxing, Realsports Football, Realsports Tennis, Realsports Volleyball, Sky Diver, Slot Maching, Slot Racers, Sprintmasters, Starship, Stella Track, Submarine Commander, Surround, Swordquest Earthworld, Swordquest Fireworld, Swordquest Waterworld, Tempest and Video Checkers