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Video Gaming Goes Retro With Classic Re-Releases

21 Sep, 2004 By: John Gaudiosi

Watch any MTV music video or travel to the local mall, and you'll see that retro '70s and '80s are still a mainstream part of pop culture. Now video games are going retro. A number of companies are making sure that old games are new again — and at a mass market price point.

Atari will launch a retro video game console, Atari Flashback ($45) in November, along with a new PlayStation 2 (PS2) and Xbox game called Atari Anthology ($20). The new game system, which will look like a smaller version of Atari's classic Atari 7800, the second incarnation of the popular Atari 2600, will ship with 20 classic games and one new game, Saboteur. Other games included in the system are Asteroids, Centipede, Battlezone and Breakout. Marking the 20th anniversary of the Atari system, which was actually a flop when it was first introduced, the Atari Flashback will come with two controllers and all the games will be built-in.

The new Atari Anthology game for PS2 and Xbox features 62 classic Atari 2600 games, including Gravitar, Millipede, Steeplechase and 18 arcade games, including Pong, Missile Command and Asteroids. The disc's price point makes it a great rental and an impulse buy.

Other Atari nostalgia is already on store shelves. Jakks Pacific has had great success with its “TV Games” lineup. The first of these $20 joysticks, packed with 10 games, was the Atari Classic 10-in-1 TV Games. The classic Atari joystick plugs directly into the TV and there are no cartridges to deal with. Games included are Pong, Asteroids, Missile Command and Yars. Another Atari offering comes in Atari Paddle form. This retro pair of game paddles from the Atari 2600 allows for two-player action on games like Night Driver, Casino, Super Breakout and Warlords. Jakks Pacific has also shipped classic collections of Namco and Activision games.

The company signed a deal with Tecmo to bring classic games like Tecmo Bowl Football, Fire-n-Ice and Tecmo Basketball to stores in 2005. A line of Electronic Arts (EA) TV Games is also in the works. Shipping this fall, the first offering is “EA Sports TV Games,” which will include head-to-head versions of Madden NFL '94 and NHL '95. Additional units will include games like FIFA Soccer and Triple Play Baseball.

The “TV Games Collection” has grown so popular — it is sold at non-traditional game outlets due to nostalgia and price point — that Jakks Pacific has signed a myriad of licensing deals and has a whole slate of new games shipping this fall and beyond. A deal with Marvel Comics will result in TV Games based on Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Blade, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, The Fantastic Four and Iron Man. Spider-Man will be the first out of the gate this October with the rest to follow throughout 2005.

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