Atari's Greatest Hits lets you relive the early history of video gaming, giving you tons of old-school arcade and Atari 2600 hits on your iPhone. But it's not without flaws. Games like the original Asteroids, Tempest, Gravitar, Crystal Castles, and many more are available via in-app purchases packaged with their associated Atari 2600 games and some extras. In other words, the Atari Greatest Hits app itself is free, but if you want to play Tempest, for example, you'll need to buy the Tempest pack (99 cents), which comes with Tempest, Tempest for Atari 2600, Outlaw (2600), and Video Cube (2600). You also have the option to buy all the packs in one shot for $14.99, giving you more than 100 old-school games.
Upon the first launch of an old favorite, you're bound to be excited to see the same graphics and hear the same sounds you may remember from the classic days of gaming, but once you start playing, that initial excitement will probably wear off quickly.
The problem with playing these old games on the iPhone is the small screen size and limited control schemes for each game. As an example, Tempest, which was originally played with a spinnable knob and a fire button in the stand-up version, is controlled using a vertical slider on the left side of the screen and a fire button on the right. Even after a few plays, we were never able to get the slider to move the way we wanted it to, forcing us to try over and over to move around the board on levels we used to be able to beat easily in the original. Unfortunately, most of these classic games share similar issues.
Overall, Atari's Greatest Hits offers somewhat stunted iPhone versions of the old classics, along with several Atari 2600 titles. Sadly, after playing these old greats the new way, you might find your rose-colored nostalgia tainted. Certainly, some of the more popular titles like Adventure, Combat, and other Atari 2600 hits will be fun to play a couple times, but for the most part, the control schemes and dated games seem to provide more nostalgia than actual lasting entertainment. We should note that the games are much easier to play on the iPad than on the iPhone, so if you have a choice, choose the iPad version.