Atari 10-in-1
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7  |  Atari 10-in-1 Review
larsoncc , 1/10/2004 2:58:38 PM

The Atari 10-in-1 Joystick(Note:  A version of this review was posted before our database crash.  However, it's been completely re-written, expanded, and clarified, as the source has been lost forever!)

The package for the Atari 10-in-1 has the following tagline: "Experience a blast from your PARENTS' past!" Holy crap. I'm not that old!  We'll just pretend we didn't see that.

The Atari 10-in-1 Joystick looks like the perfect "all-in-one" system - 10 classic Atari games, a sturdy joystick base, and only one cable coming out of the unit (to connect to the TV).  The unit is powered by batteries, which seem to last forever. 

The 10-in-1 is very portable - it'll give you a chance to show your buddies the wonders of a classic Atari 2600 system (in the comfort of their own home!), with no risk to your collectible system, and no mess to pack up.

The controller is solidly constructed, and feels almost exactly like the classic Atari joystick (just a bit thicker).  This is the top selling point of the system - I dare you to look at that controller for more than a minute and then say "nah, I don't need one of those."  The pangs of nostalgia are almost painful.  

But are looks everything?  Unfortunately, no - the biggest complaint that I have about the unit is that there are only ten games included.  Given that Jakk's has released systems with only 5, or even only a few variations on one game, the Atari 10-in-1 seems downright generous.  Still, I have to say that 10 isn't enough here.   In contrast, check out the Intellivision 25 - it's the same price, higher quality games, and more of them.  Admittedly though, nostalgia carries a premium price, as everyone is intimately aware of Atari's games, but not so much for Intellivision (*cough*get the Intellivision!*cough*).

The 10 games included with the joystick are good, but reveal some disappointments and pass over some (I think) more obvious choices.  Here's what comes with the unit:  Asteroids, Pong, Circus Atari, Yar's Revenge, Missile Command, Gravitar, Adventure, Volleyball, Centipede, and Breakout.  There are some obvious losers here, with the biggest disappointment being Breakout.  In case you're not aware, Breakout was really meant to be played with a Paddle Controller.  Without the right controller for Breakout, it feels jerky, unresponsive, and unfair - the ball moves faster than you can respond at times (again, because of the joystick).  Volleyball is another worthless add-on, not simply because it's a bad game, but also because Jakk's passed over tons of great games to include this dog.

The winners of the collection are Yar's Revenge (a GREAT game which needs more attention), Missile Command, Asteroids, and Adventure.  For me, Circus Atari played really well (despite the lack of a Paddle Controller) and my friends loved it.  Hopefully, you've played these games, but if not, there are a set of instructions that you can read before you get into the game screen.  Documentation is always a plus, because a quick 'refresher course' is sometimes needed on games like Gravitar. 

When I showed the 10-in-1 to my friend, I swear to you, the first words out of his mouth were "Sweet - let's play Space Invaders!" Of course, that's not a game for the system.  I can name a ton of games that should have been included.  Among the forgotten many:

  • Ms. Pac Man
  • Space Invaders
  • Enduro
  • Pole Position
  • Combat
  • Warlords

I'm going to stop there, because just looking through my personal collection reveals at least a dozen games that should have been included.  Not to mention the tons of second and third party titles that are missing from the list.  A bit of cross-licensing work would have done wonders here (Imagic and Activision especially), even if it meant that the console needed to be sold for more money.  If this system had double or triple the games, and the right selection of games, I can honestly say that I would have bought more than one (one for upstairs and one for downstairs), even if the system had cost more.  We'll have to see how that new Atari Classics system fares with its 35 games.

In the end, the Atari 10-in-1 looks like a Shelby Cobra Mustang, but feels more like a Peugeot.  Not bad, it works, but it could have been so much better.  I expect that the system will provide a good distraction, but won't be actively played in your house after a week or two. 

I give the 10-in-1 a 7/10 - form over function, unfortunately.

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