Set to release later this year, the Atari VCS is the iconic gaming company’s re-entry into the console market. However, the software line-up for the system is largely unknown at this point. Atari has stated that it will feature “hundreds” of classic Atari titles and other current titles. While a system can’t succeed with just retro games, Atari has such a library of classic licenses that it could find success by bringing back some of its hits from the ’80s. With that in mind, here are 10 Atari VCS games the system has to have.
Atari VCS Games | Adventure
A lot of gaming is owed to Adventure. A graphical spiritual successor to the text adventure Colossal Cave Adventure, the 1979 release was the first action-adventure game ever released on a console. The Swordquest series would later expand on its fantasy ideas and its simplified gameplay. Despite its primitive nature, Adventure has everything one would expect from an action adventure game, there are castles to explore, fearsome dragons, and plenty of smaller foes populate the world.
The genre has only grown in scale and complexity since then, but a new entry could modernize the iconic title while also keeping its streamlined experience. After all, Atari VCS will need games that offer up something different from what is available elsewhere.
Atari VCS Games | Asteroids
We’ve seen a lot of arcade classics see great stylish reboots like Pac-Man Championship Edition, but Asteroids has never gotten the treatment it truly deserves. We’d love to see a modern incarnation of the title that adds in some interesting new wrinkles while staying true to its core of blasting up gigantic asteroids into tiny pieces. A vibrant HD remake could retain its simplicity while also make it fun for a new generation of players.
Atari VCS Games | Breakout
Designed by none other than Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Breakout was a hit when it released in 1976. Essentially a one-player Pong, players attempted to break a number of bricks while not letting the ball ever hit the ground. It’s been remade and ripped off hundreds of times throughout the years, and while ideally we would see a new version on Switch, it’d be great to get it as a VCS title as well.
For those that fear the formula can’t be modernized, you just have to look at Shatter for an example of how it can be expanded into a fantastic game. Throw in Arkanoid-style power-ups, a great aesthetic, and you’ve got a fantastic arcade game that everyone can enjoy.
Atari VCS Games | Centipede
One of the best classic vertical shooters is Centipede. The player has to shoot down a bunch of different insects from spiders and scorpions to the titular creature. This is made more difficult as there’s a field of mushrooms, which spawn from centipede pieces. The gameplay is time-tested, so a fresh coat of paint would make this a valuable exclusive for the Atari VCS.
Atari VCS Games | Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles is a fantastic arcade title but it only featured 37 stages. The action revolves around a wizard hat wearing bear named Bentley that is trying to collect gems in dangerous castles filled with different enemies. His reason for getting into this scenario? We have no clue, but games used to be simple and sometimes you just wanted to see a bear live his best life. A visual upgrade with a few potential power-ups and new courses to explore would make for a great time.
Just make sure to keep the Easter egg where players could see the word “Atari” appear in the second level by jumping in the southeast corner of stage one 100 times.
Atari VCS Games | Lunar Lander
Lunar Lander was one of the most difficult, but satisfying Atari arcade titles where players attempted to keep their spacecraft from crashing. The gameplay is probably too simple to stand on its own nowadays, but it could be made more complex with a few additions or tweaks similar to Taito’s Lunar Rescue.
Plus, Atari could add in multiplayer like the canceled sequel was supposed to have.
Atari VCS Games | Missile Command
Missile Command is easily one of the best early arcade games. Players had to protect a series of planetary bases. A new title in the series could build upon the original’s gameplay, and potentially bring in some base-building elements to make things more interesting.
The developer can always go the route of its sequel, Liberator, which saw players destroying the bases from orbit rather than protecting them.
Atari VCS Games | Sprint
We don’t see many top-down racing games anymore and that’s exactly why a reimagining of Sprint would make a lot of sense. If it wants to find a successful niche, Atari needs to fill holes that the market isn’t currently serving. There are plenty of ways to freshen the formula, such as adding items into the mix. However, as long as the courses are tightly constructed and the racing feels good, Atari should be able to make the series relevant once again.
Atari VCS Games | Tempest
Thankfully, we don’t have to wish about getting Tempest on the Atari VCS as Jeff Minter’s Tempest 4000 is one of the few titles confirmed to be coming to the system. That is great news as the psychedelic release is a fun update on the arcade title’s tested formula. There aren’t any other shooters quite like Tempest and nobody makes a weird game like Llamasoft does. It’s a perfect pairing that resulted in an entertaining game that stays faithful to the original while still surprising the player.
Atari VCS Games | Warlords
As far as multiplayer titles go, Atari’s grandest achievement is Warlords. The four-player game was a blast when it released in 1980, and it received a great remake for Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. The formula has proven to stand the test of time and another updated version would be a great fit for the Atari VCS. After all, Atari needs exclusives that will appeal to all types of players and bringing back local multiplayer in a big way could lead to it being quite lucrative for the company.