Friday, September 10, 2004

Atari plays nostalgia game



By Anthony Breznican
The Associated Press

Atari wants to take you back in time, and to get there, you can ride a Centipede or an Asteroid, or bounce back and forth between the pixilated paddles of Pong.

The video game company said it plans to reissue scores of its classic titles from yesteryear on a single disc that can be played on the game consoles Xbox and PlayStation 2.

Atari Anthology will feature 85 games and is scheduled to go on sale in November for about $20.

But it's only one of the nostalgia projects Atari will push into the market then. The second is Atari Flashback, a slightly miniaturized version of the old Atari 7800 from the mid-'80s. It will have 20 games built into it, including Breakout, Solaris and Battlezone.

Flashback will sell for $45 and include a pair of old-school joysticks.

Atari isn't expecting its decades-old games to compete on a technical level, like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Halo and Madden NFL 2005 that feature colorful realistic graphics, fast-moving 3-D action and the freedom to roam at will.

Instead, the company is aiming at the nostalgia market.

"It's a time machine. You go back to your childhood and you play," Atari chief executive Bruno Bonnell said.

And for gamers who weren't even born when the first PlayStation appeared?

"The kids will think this is quick, this is fast to understand, and we don't need a manual to understand it," he added. "We're going after two generations."

The Atari Anthology disc will offer new twists on the games, too: "trippy mode," which renders the graphics in psychedelic colors, and "time warp" and "double speed," which can alter the pace of on-screen action.

The Atari Flashback console will include one previously unreleased game: Saboteur.

Despite their simple appearance, the games can be very difficult, Bonnell added - especially for people who are two decades out of practice.

On the Net: www.atari.com



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