Atari 50: The Anniversary Collection
Image: Digital Eclipse

Digital Eclipse's Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is out today for PS5, XboxSeries, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

The playable collection features over 90 games, including six new titles based on classic Atari games. It also features a ton of special features and interviews with significant figures from Atari's history, giving some much-needed context around the titles featured in the collection.

But what do the critics make of it? Well, we've read through various reviews and rounded up some of the key impressions here to give you an idea.

Tom Massey for Nintendo Life gave it an 8 out of 10. He praised the presentation and the amount of effort that developer Digital Eclipse put into the collection but highlighted the omission of certain titles like the infamous E.T. for Atari 2600 and Alien vs Predator for Jaguar. He summed up his thoughts with the following:

"That it’s called 'The Anniversary Celebration' rather than 'collection' is a substitution of phrases that couldn’t be more apt. With its smooth, fast, and perfectly-pitched interface, and rich, thoughtfully created content, Atari 50 really is an honouring of the company that founded the industry. It’s true that its content is going to have a greater appeal to an older generation of gamers, to today’s parents (and grandparents) who grew up in the whirlwind of the '70s and '80s arcade scene.

"For them, reliving moments and experiences that used to cost a pocketful of coins will be joyful. For others, understanding the appeal of a lot of these games will take work, and few of the titles outside of the Lynx and Jaguar catalogues are easy to pick up and play for the uninitiated. At the same time, Atari 50 is so thorough and engrossing a retro gaming tunnel, akin to exploring a virtual museum, that it transcends its target audience somewhat. For those interested in video gaming’s history, the unearthing of the past, and for gamers not afraid of what today is considered rudimentary, there’s a great deal of enjoyment to be had in this trip down memory lane."

In his review, The Verge's Andrew Webster called it "the best attempt at a retro collection I’ve ever experienced". Like Massey, he also highlighted the omission of titles like E.T. and Alien Vs Predator, but finished again on a positive note:

"It’s so detailed and sprawling that it feels like a history lesson told in a way that’s completely native to video games. The biggest compliment I can give it is that I now want this for every retro collection. Imagine the likes of Nintendo, Sega, or PlayStation getting similar treatment. It’s a pipe dream, but it’s one Atari 50 makes me want to come true very badly."

Siliconera's Graham Russell gave it an 8 out of 10. He was excited to see these games made more widely playable, but had some worries its library may not transcend simple curiosity:

"As an interactive museum exhibit, Atari 50 is quite successful, if with a clear point of view. As a labor of love, it’s filled to the brim with everything Digital Eclipse could fit. Whether it transcends “well-crafted curiosity” status, though? That’ll depend on your nostalgia for a library of games that has some trouble standing the test of time."

Nintendo World Report's Neal Ronaghan gave it a 9.5 out of 10 calling it the "best museum I've ever played". He praised "the variety of interviews with Atari luminaries" and praised the overall package, but believed some games were more interesting than they are good.

"As an interactive timeline and a virtual exhibit, Atari 50 is unparalleled. No other historical collection comes close to how awesome this is as a context-rich story (the only ones that do are also from the same developer). I hope that this style of giving historical context and not just presenting a list of 40-year-old games without any explanation is the trend going forward for packages like this. Even if I’m not chomping at the bit to play some RealSports Football, I’m thrilled that I now know its place in the grand history of Atari."

John-Paul Jones over at PlayStation Universe gave it a 9 out of 10, praising its variety. Like other reviewers, he also highlighted some missing titles that would have been welcome including "Pitfall!, River Raid, Space Invaders, and Ms. Pac-Man", but was impressed with both its accessibility and production-value:

"Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is an absolute masterclass in how to fashion a retro compilation, all the while providing both contemporary and older gamers with an immediately accessible and immaculately produced window into the halcyon days of one of the video game industry's most prolific pioneers. This is the preservation of video game history done right and Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is the best retro compilation ever made, bar none."

Will you be picking this collection up? Let us know in the comments!