Available for free to PlayStation Now subscribers, Atari Flashback Classics vol.1 is a great collection of old-school games, and it brings the nostalgic arcade feel to the convenience of home consoles. With 50 different games to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.
While some of these games show their age and may be retro games that are difficult for fans to understand, others hold up surprisingly well and are worth checking out. Many can be played with multiple players for friendly competition and may dazzle gamers with their intense gameplay, tight controls, and depth. Players should note that they can check the controls for each game from the main menu by pressing the Options button.
10 Home Run
Players swing, pitch, and run for a full nine innings in this fun baseball game. Pitchers can use the left analog stick to change the pitch while the ball is in mid-air, and those at bat need nerves of steel to quickly decipher a Ball from a Strike.
While some old-school sports games fall flat from trying to accomplish more than they’re capable of, Home Run has simple mechanics and controls that help it achieve the ambitions of an early baseball sim. Hitting a grand slam is always thrilling, even with 1980s software.
9 Lunar Lander
Players attempt to carefully land a lunar lander on the moon in this early predecessor to space simulation games like Kerbal Space Program. Using the HUD measurements of altitude, vertical speed, and horizontal speed, players can get bonus points for softly landing on tiny mountain peaks or narrow caverns.
While it may not be one of the bestselling video games of all time, this is a great game for players who like to be rewarded for their precision and patience. This game may seem difficult at first, but its difficulty is consistent. Darting one’s eyes between the HUD measurements and the little lander on-screen amidst the starry backdrop of space in a frantic attempt to not blow up yet again becomes immersive very quickly.
Players engage in a 1-on-1 game of basketball and try to outscore their opposition over the course of the four-minute game. Moving, shooting, stealing, and rebounding are all required skills on the retro hardcourt.
Fans of the NBA 2K franchise may be intrigued to note that this decades-old basketball game also utilizes release-timing on jump shots. Much like in modern games, players can master getting to their spot and releasing a perfectly-timed jumper. Like many Atari games, this one’s great for that pick-up-and-play accessibility, and is a blast when playing against friends.
7 RealSports Volleyball
Players take to a sunny beach for some 2-on-2 volleyball, controlling both players on their side at once. Serving, setting, and spiking their way to victory, gamers must employ anticipatory and reactionary speed if they’re to succeed. Players should use the shadow of the volleyball to try to plan their movements, and points must be scored consecutively to count.
Once gamers get handy with the movement and being able to track where the ball is moving, it can feel very rewarding to get a rally going and rack up the points. It feels great to chase down an opposing serve, set it up for your teammate self, and spike it back. Like most games, it’s even better playing against a friend.
Available for up to four players at once, players protect their base by controlling a paddle that catches or ricochets the fiery ball bouncing between the four bases. Players can catch it and send it back at specific players, and the last base standing wins. This is one of the best Atari 2600 games that are still worth playing today.
This game takes the paddle mechanics of Pong, adds four bases to protect, a bit of multi-ball madness, and covers it with a layer of Risk-like shaky allegiances to add up to a terrifically fun old-school multiplayer game. Players can try to stay out of the fight and conservatively protect their base or try to catch the fireball and aggressively target opponents.
Players patrol the edges of a variety of 3D geometric patterns, shooting and avoiding the various enemies that try t0 climb towards the player. With a variety of levels and enemy types that get increasingly difficult, players can also use a Superzapper attack once per level to destroy all the enemies on the screen.
As commented on in a podcast by The Arcade Files, Tempest was inspired by a nightmare its lead designer had where monsters crawled out of a hole in the ground. This game gradually increases the feeling of being overwhelmed by an unstoppable force and almost feels like an early attempt at a horror game. While the atmosphere and “feel” of the game are great, tight controls and thrilling tests of skill to survive each level are the main appeals of this classic game.
4 Space Duel
Players fly their spaceship across a 2-D plane while shooting and avoiding enemies from one level to the next. Players must carefully deal with large enemies that break into smaller and smaller enemies that soon litter the whole screen, as well as spaceships that hunt and shoot at the player on higher difficulties.
This improved version of the classic Asteroids still holds up thanks to its responsive controls, thrilling and fair difficulty, and interstellar atmosphere. It feels great to master the skills of flying, shooting, and shielding at just the right moments. Gamers will need to strategically prioritize their targets, which adds a nice element of depth to the gameplay.
Players control their “bug blaster” along the bottom of the screen, shooting centipedes, spiders, scorpions. and fleas before they reach the player. Centipedes will zigzag their way down the screen, changing directions when they reach the end of the screen, or bump into one of the many mushrooms. Each segment of the centipede that is destroyed will become a mushroom. This is a great game for fans of Galaga, one of the most definitive games of the 1980s.
One of the most popular games of its time, this classic proves that shooting arthropods never goes out of style. Groovy old-school sound effects and fast-paced gameplay belie the true level of tactics and forethought that is required to make it past the first few levels. Shooting enemies while bearing in mind that they become obstacles that make the level trickier is a unique challenge that gamers will need to acclimatize themselves to.
2 Atari Force Liberator
Players take control of four spaceships on the corners of the screen and shoot down missiles that launch from planets in the middle of the screen. Players can use shields in an emergency, but the shields can only take three hits. While protecting their ships from the missiles, players must also shoot all the missile bases on the planet to proceed to the next level.
This game appears to take inspiration from Missile Command, which was released two years prior in 1980. Innovating and improving drastically on the concept and gameplay of that game, AFL stands out as being among the most impressive in the old-school Atari collection. Gamers must decide if they’ll aggressively target the missile bases or cautiously defend their ships in this engrossing shooter.
1 Black Widow
Players take control of a black widow spider in the middle of a web and shoot enemies that appear on the screen. Different enemy types have different behaviors, such as laying eggs that quickly hatch into more dangerous enemies, exploding when shot, or hunting down other enemies.
Black Widow is a terrifically fun and responsive twin-stick shooter that engages with its simple controls and surprisingly deep mechanics. Seeing various enemies interact with each other is reminiscing of the complex A.I. systems found in modern games like Watch Dogs and Deus Ex. Ambitious players can challenge themselves to get high scores by taking risks like pushing eggs off the web before they hatch. Hopefully, this will be the next best retro game that makes a modern comeback.