Atari has been finally been diving into its extensive back catalog to create console, PC, and even Facebook versions of games that have been ignored by the various Atari branded entities over the years. While we have not been overly impressed with the recent Star Raiders and Yars' Revenge 3D console / PC remakes, Atari has also been putting some better games up into the social gaming space. Here is a brief look at Yars' Revenge and Asteroids.
Yars' Revenge (First War) - While the PC/Console remake was a good looking, decent rail-shooter that had very little in common with the 2600 classic, the Facebook game is a well made, also pretty, 2D Flash game with 600+ levels that does a lot to make us forget about the console version.
The original game-play has been left intact while adding new features and a galactic map style level choosing sequence. Your best bet will be to plug a game-pad (or USB 2600 stick) and use Joy2Key or something similar to map the key presses to joystick buttons.
The social experience is enhanced by adding a leader-board to the bottom of the game screen:
It didn't display any friends who had actually finished a game yet, but I assume if any had they would be in the front of the line. It also looks like you might be able to play a real-time battle against your friends based on the "fight" button (coming soon pops up though).
Like most Facebook games, you can spend coins earned in the game on upgrades, but Atari Tokens can also be used. Atari Tokens cost real money ($5 for 400 through $50 for 5000).
Yars' Revenge is well worth your social currency, especially if you loved the 2600 classic.
Asteroids - Luckily (or unluckily depending on your view), there have not been any recent "rail-shooter" console re-makes of Asteroids to compare the Facebook version to. That means I basically have to compare it to the original, Deluxe, Space Duel, Blasteroids, 100,000 other re-makes and my own Retro Blaster from 5 years ago. Needless to say, I love Asteroids, and am not going to be easily pacified by a poor version.
Luckily, like Yar's Revenge, Atari Asteroids measures up nicely. As a pure action game with purchasable bolt on weapons it plays nicely and looks great.
Some upgrades simply cost Galactic Credits and can be implemented right away while others take time that can be sped up by paying Atari tokens. Atari Tokens cost real money ($5 for 400 through $50 for 5000).
While I really like this version of Asteroids, I'm not sure I would actually pay to speed up these upgrades. I'm a cheap bastard though.
All in all, Atari Facebook Asteroids is a very nice, well crafted version of the classic. It certainly looks pretty an plays well. There are a variety of missions and upgrades, but essentially this is a rock shoot and it's a pretty fun one at that.
Atari is doing a nice job of creating retro-remakes for the social space that feel and act similar to the classics on which they are based. We don't know how successful action games are at driving incremental purchase revenue, but Atari is providing entertainment in the form of official social gaming releases to an under-served market. These are fun games that build on the originals, and will hopefully draw in new fans as well as us older gamers who are nostalgic for retro blast fest. We hope these are very successful as we would love to see Star Raiders, Food Fight, Gauntlet and many other classics re-made for this space with the care and precision of Yars' Revenge and Asteroids.