Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration (Sniper)
Genre: Compilation
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

This Atari compilation isn't just a basic ROM menu list: it's a svelte interface that walks the player chronologically through the history of Atari, rotating between game manuals, box art, videos, and actual emulated games. The interface is immaculate, while the media on offer is of the very highest resolution. The games themselves are wonderfully emulated and have full save state support, support for various mode and dip switches, along with some border and filtering options.

As is the case with the graphics, the audio in the various video clips and the gentle music which plays in the menus is of the very highest order. The aural experiences from the various emulated games, from the basic beeps in the original "Pong" to the modern-sounding DSP music in Jaguar titles, sounds perfect.

Switch compilations are often troubled by input latency but everything in this compilation, from the wrapper menu interface to the actual games, is snappy and precise even when played in docked mode. Some of the games, particularly the modern "takes" on classic formula, offer limited re-mappable buttons. There are a lot of very deep games to explore, from "Millipede" to "Crystal Castles" to "Star Raiders. The almost Fuze-like "Reimagined" titles are also surprisingly fun.

This compilation can be viewed and indeed consumed in two ways: it can either be treated as a glorified ROM loader-- and there is a menu option to go straight to the games list-- or it can be savored like a delicious dinner via careful scrutiny of the absurdly high resolution manuals, box arts, video interviews, and occasional gameplay but contextualized by the surrounding material. Played the first way the compilation is only so-so: there is a lot of meat to master, but many iconic titles are absent. Taken up in the second manner though, there is really nothing else like it in the industry.

Sniper's verdict: