Atari may be bankrupt, but its games are still available everywhere
This week Atari, the game system that my generation grew up with, filed for bankruptcy. It's a sad end to an icon of youth, but, still, the company's legal troubles do not spell an end to everything. First, while there are legal nuances that I will not detail because of the complications they bring with them, the important thing is what Atari meant to all of us -- games. Simple, 8-bit joy, created with the 2600 way back in the dark ages of 1977.
Just because the company experiences financial woe does not mean its legacy will cease to exist. The games live on in many forms, and we can still relive our youth whenever that nostalgic mood strikes.
It is not just Atari either -- nostalgia is big business and Atari, while the maker of that famous 2600 console, was not the only company producing games. Sure, it had some big ones like Asteroids, Missile Command, Breakout and more, but others, like Activision, were in the game cartridge business as well with titles like Pitfall and River Raid.
These titles may seem like distant memories, but they live on, still capitalizing on this aging audience that is not ready to let go. Given that premise, combined with the sad Atari news, this is as a good a time as any to look at what is still out there.
Web Browsers Make Atari Life Simple
Last year Microsoft made a big deal about Atari games for Internet Explorer 10. However, the truth is that Atari Arcade can run in other browsers as well. The advantage IE holds is that of an "ad-free" version of the games.
If you use Google's Chrome as your web browser then you have even simpler options at your disposal. Visit the Chrome Web Store to find many popular titles that can be played right on the New Tab page once they are installed. The company has made several of its titles available -- Centipede, Asteroids, Tempest and Pong, to name just a few.
Phones and Tablets
Android fans will be happy to know that "Atari's Greatest Hits" is available from the Google Play Store. Missile Command is included for free, but 100 Atari 2600 games are available in all and four-packs can be unlocked for $0.99 each, or you can grab the whole thing for $9.99.
Not an Android user? Are you an Apple fan? The same deal is available for iOS as well. Just head to the App Store and get that same game pack with the same pricing.
Emulators and ROM's
Well, I have covered the basics so I may as well mention the less-than-legal methods for accomplishing all of this and getting these games to play right on your desktop. I will not provide links, but all of this is dead-simple to find.
First you will need an emulator -- Stella works extremely well, or at least I have been told so. Naturally I have never tried such a thing. You will then need to download a ROM of each game you want. The files are mostly only a few KB's each and there is a lot more than just Atari titles available.
More Nostalgic Games
Many other seemingly forgotten companies have made old game titles available. Activision is among the most prominent recently. The company has a game pack available for mobile that is very similar to the Atari one I mentioned earlier. In addition, it also has released a 30th anniversary edition of the popular Pitfall game for both Android and iOS. The new version is updated and feels more like Temple Run though, as opposed to playing like the golden oldie.
In the End
While I gave my 2600 and a bag full of games away to a kid down the street when Nintendo launched, there are still numerous options to play those old titles. In fact, I am sure there are many more than the ones I just outlined, but that is okay because these are more than enough methods for wasting my time and having my son look over my shoulder and make comments about things like "bad graphics". He can have his Need for Speed. I will still take Asteroids any day.
Photo Credit: Hexidecimal