Atari 2600 classics compilations are still, more than 20 years later, being released with astonishing frequency. It's almost taboo among the gaming community to be critical of these perennial publications, as they hearken back to the industry's infancy. Especially on mobile, however, Atari is attempting to milk a teat that has long gone dry.
The title "Atari Legends, Vol. 1" lets you know two things: that these games are legendary, and therefore must be approached with reverence and zeal, and that you are expected to await and eventually purchase future installments in what will be a series of compilations. This first edition includes versions of Combat, Centipede, and Asteroids. The latter two of these games have been released as stand-alone retro titles for mobile phones, so it can at least be said that Atari Legends represents a better value than those single releases.
If you're not already on intimate terms with these games, chances are you won't be interested in this package. By way of an overview, however, Combat is a vehicular combat game of the simplest sort; Centipede is a stationary shooter featuring enemy insects and fungi; and Asteroids is a space shooter in which you destroy carbon detritus, suspended in the vast stellar matrix of space. Each of these games is controlled via movement keys and a single button, so they are easily ported to the mobile phone's keypad--or so you'd think.
In practice, it's actually a minor pain to perform the simple offices of these games. You can move and shoot simultaneously in Centipede, as originally intended, but only so long as you slam on the fire key at an exactly constant rate. If you slip up, you'll be unable to shoot for a short period. This isn't true of the original arcade and home versions; it's an emulation problem. In Combat, it's slightly difficult to move your vehicles using digital controls, because acceleration and rotation are separate functions. The game was meant to be played with the stock Atari Joystick, so it was designed with analog in mind. Furthermore, Combat was meant to be enjoyed by two players. To clarify, you could not play the home version of this game against the CPU. Since Atari didn't include GPRS multiplayer, thereby creating an innovative product with an old favorite, it has included some lame AI for you to play against. Combat is probably the origin of modern deathmatches. It was a mistake to release this molested version of the game. Asteroids, on the other hand, fares fine and is the most playable of the three ports.
The game's original sounds and graphics are intact, although Centipede moves more slowly than the original versions of the game. You navigate between the three games via a selection screen, over which a single bar of terrible house music is incessantly repeated. Generation Remix demands at least eight bars of terrible house music before it can reincorporate a retro product into its hip youth counterculture. It's a good thing this aberration is only present during menu interaction.
If you're aching to own three marginal versions of these formative games, this compilation will lend you succor. You'd likely be able to find superior ports of these games on other platforms available to you, though. In mobile and in the greater gaming world, we're ready for 16-bit nostalgia (especially given the high-end specs of the Sony Ericsson S710, on which we played). Three competing wireless versions of Centipede are plenty.