After decades of mismanagement, Atari finally seems to get it. The company is greenlighting a lot of cool retro-themed projects lately, and microgame compilation Atari Mania is the latest in a growing line of great ideas. Inspired enormously by the likes of WarioWare and NES Remix, this minigame mash-up sees you overcoming challenges like defeating Centipede with a Pong paddle. It’s cool.
Unfortunately, the execution is a little sloppy, leaving little room for error and lacking that snappy sense of polish that makes Nintendo’s impeccable series such critical darlings. The publisher has at least attempted to flesh out the concept, as you’ll spend the time between microgames solving puzzles as the 8-bit caretaker of Atari’s vault.
It’s cute, and there are some compelling puzzles here inspired by familiar objects and items from classic 2600 games. As you explore, you’ll even find box art and game manuals from the original games, which can be inspected and observed in high-quality, which is a nice nostalgic touch that makes you want to seek out every collectible.
You can return to many of the microgames and try to set a high score, while the breezy writing will raise a wry smile from old-school 80s gamers. It’s hard to imagine this appealing to younger players as it’s squarely aimed at those wearing rose-tinted glasses, but that’s not necessarily a criticism, and it’s cool to see these classic franchises all mixed up in unexpected scenarios.
It all just needs a little more polish: the execution isn’t quite tight enough, the pace not quite brisk enough to achieve that addictive, rapid-fire feel of WarioWare. It’s close, and certainly another entertaining idea from Atari, but unless you’re from the era of the 2600 and its ilk, you’ll probably struggle to look beyond the sloppy feel of this otherwise likeable release.