As the game industry matures, the market for older game content grows. People who grew up with pioneering arcade games such as Defender, Xevious, and Missile Command find themselves longing to replay these old favorites. Realizing this, Infogrames, the current owner of the Atari name and catalog, has put together a collection of Atari's classic arcade games, seasoning it with archive materials including interviews and photographs. The collection, handled by the perennial retro compilation developers over at Digital Eclipse, contains some classic Atari games from the late '70s and early '80s. The ports are nearly arcade-perfect for the most part, though a few of the games suffer from control issues. Still, at a retail price of less than $20, Atari Anniversary Edition can be worthwhile if you're feeling nostalgic.
Featuring 12 games total, Atari Anniversary Edition contains more games than your average retro collection. The package contains Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, Battlezone, Centipede, Crystal Castles, Gravitar, Millipede, Missile Command, Pong, Super Breakout, Tempest, and Warlords. Additionally, an aftermarket level replacement add-on for Tempest, called Tempest Tubes, is also included. It would have been nice to see some other game variants, such as the rare version of Battlezone that Atari produced for military training purposes, included in the pack. Games with strictly digital control--Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, and Battlezone--all control just fine, though Battlezone forces you to use a simplified, one-stick control scheme unless you want to use keyboard controls, which offers the arcadelike two-stick setup.
The rest of the games originally used some sort of analog control scheme. Centipede, Crystal Castles, Millipede, and Missile Command all relied on trackballs for precise analog control, and you can use your mouse to control these games. Unfortunately, the mouse isn't ideal, as it never really works as quickly as a trackball could. Crystal Castles suffers the most from this, as you can't move poor Bentley Bear around fast enough to avoid the wicked trees and gem eaters on the game's higher stages. Warlords and Tempest used paddle-style spinners, originally. Fortunately, Tempest works well enough without any analog support whatsoever, and using the mouse for Warlords works great.
Graphically, the game tosses in a lot of extras, such as full-on cabinet artwork and background images that make the games look more like the original arcade machines. However, you'll usually want to turn these extras off so you can have more screen area devoted to the actual game. Additionally, each game has an alternate graphics mode that does little things, like adding color to Battlezone's vectors or totally redrawing all the characters in Crystal Castles. The games all sound reasonably close to their arcade counterparts, though a lot of the music, particularly the high-score music in Battlezone, sounds like it was recreated.
If you're looking to play these 12 classic (OK, maybe Gravitar isn't a classic) games again, your best bet is, of course, to hunt down the original arcade machines. However, if you don't have an empty garage or a pile of money to spare, Atari Anniversary Edition emulates the 12 games well enough.