Game Design Essentials: 20 Atari games

Shaggy June 1, 2008 2

I’ve never held back on the fact that I’m an Atari fan at heart and I always have been – that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate games from other companies, I just happen to have had some great memories with many Atari games through the past and I appreciate their often overlooked contributions to the game industry as a whole. In fact the article I’m going to link to starts out by discussing how every company seems to have it’s fans except for Atari which in fact are out there but in smaller numbers than what is seen by other ‘factions’.

The article is called Game Design Essentials: 20 Atari games and it takes a look at not just a number of titles to come out of Atari over the years but what it was that made them great games. All of them are arcade titles which is why I am pointing this out and in a way this fits in with my “Missing in Action” articles (which I have not been able to continue with lately since I have been so busy and they take a little while to put together) by pointing out play aspects that are unique, interesting, fun, and generally only work in an arcade setting as opposed to a console setting. The article focuses a lot on Atari Games (the division that existed after Atari split in two in 1984, with the arcade division keeping many of the same people) and their efforts in the late 80s but does take a look at some pre-crash games like Gran Trak10 and Sprint, Tempest, Asteroids, Centipede, I, Robot, Quantum and Major Havoc (these latter three I’d love to own for my personal collection one day but they are quite rare). Of course they also discuss excellent titles like Marble Madness, Paperboy, VIndicators, Tetris, Rampart, Gauntlet Legends as well as a few stinkers like Batman. In addition to taking a trip down memory lane or taking in a game history lesson, I think the article makes some excellent points on certain play aspects that still could be utilized in today’s new arcade games and thus makes a great case as to why we should see more than racers & light-gun titles, even with today’s more advanced technologies.

[Game Design Essentials: 20 Atari games @ Gamasutra via GameSetWatch] (Image via [Discuss on the Forum]


  1. Molloy June 2, 2008 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I’d say the main reason you don’t hear people championing Atari is their golden days are long in the past. That and the brand has been dragged throught the mud recently by Infogrammes which that whole nasty Driv3r/Future Publishing review score fixing scandal. That and the fact that games released by ‘Atari’ have been shit. They’ve sold off most of their development teams now too so I doubt there’s going to be a renaissance.

    Even without taking all that into account people have very short memories. I don’t hear much talk about Gremlin, Complie, Data East, Irem, Nazca nevermind more obscure arcade devs like UPL and Westone.

  2. Shaggy June 2, 2008 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    It’s true that Atari’s golden days are past although I don’t like to compare the current Atari to either the console or arcade divisions of the past – they don’t have any of the same people, none of the great ideas, etc. I’d rather just see the Atari property sit unused instead of being used the way it has been. The only thing I have seen to come out of them that I liked was the Flashback 2 but in all honesty they are Atari-in-name-only and if they don’t get anywhere with Alone in the Dark then they are sunk as it is. That’s probably better, than someone else can buy them up that may not shame their memory so much. Of course the arcade division is dead and stuck with Midway, another company that is a mere shell of what they used to be.

    I do hear a little about Irem from time to time, every time R-Type comes up – it does seem that there aren’t any Data East fans out there but it didn’t have the same legacy as a company like Atari or Midway.

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