Review – Atari Mania

I have already stated in the past that I’m a huge WarioWare fan, and given how terrible its latest entry was, I am more than happy to welcome competitors delivering something similar in order to take advantage of its source of inspiration’s currently dying momentum. The thought of Atari doing something similar is genius in concept, given how the company’s classic titles have the same length and complexity of your average WarioWare microgame to begin with. I was actually pretty excited to try out Atari Mania, not only for the genius gameplay loop, but also due to it featuring an adventure mode of sorts, paying tribute to the company’s fifty year legacy.

Atari Mania Caretaker

I’ll give you this: at least you’re honest and upfront.

Initial impressions were stupidly positive. Atari Mania starts off with your pixelated character, known as the Caretaker, entering the Atari building for yet another mundane day at the company. At first, all you need to do in the game’s exploration-based segment is to mop the floor and collect a few items, until you find a ghost known as a Dead Pixel. These sentient glitches are kidnapping known Atari characters, such as the cowboy from Outlaw or the performers from Atari Circus, and it’s up to you to rescue them all. You defeat these ghosts by partaking on a series of microgrames, a-la WarioWare.

In theory, an amazing concept, since each gauntlet of minigames starts off with simple recreations of classic titles like Pong, Asteroids, Yars Revenge, and so on. The further you progress into these series of challenges, things spice up, with the sentient glitches adding elements from different games into each other. For instance, you might have to beat a round of Pong with the tank from Combat, or progress through a maze in Wizard with the intentionally hard-to-control spaceship from Asteroids. In practice, however, things aren’t as ideal. The execution felt shoddy at best, and massively disappointing at worst.

Atari Mania Tank

The fact that Combat hasn’t been “Recharged” yet kinda surprises me.

Two things ruined my overall enjoyment with this gameplay loop. First of all, the framerate is actually… terrible. I don’t know if this is a problem related to the Switch version, but Atari Mania is sluggish. It’s sluggish when you’re in exploration mode, but given the trouble-free nature of these sections, I can put up with a poor framerate and unresponsive controls. When I’m in a microgame, and have a streak ruined because of a lack of polish, then we have a problem. The second main issue is a bizarre hit detection in some of these games, which make some of them near impossible to beat, especially those where you’re supposed to avoid hazards.

These random difficulty spikes frustrated me beyond belief, since there is no way to progress if you don’t beat these sentient glitches. They usually hold items that are used to clear hazards, so you HAVE to endure these gauntlets until you get a randomly generated streak of games that don’t require twitch-like reflexes. This also makes the optional microgame gauntlets, where you can get extra goodies such as original Atari game manuals, nearly impossible to beat without losing a bit of your sanity in the process.

Atari Mania Bugs

In theory, an easy game: avoid the red orbs and reach the end goal. In practice, a massive hassle, all thanks to poor controls, framerate, and hit detection.

All in all, Atari Mania has a fantastic concept, and could have been a surefire hit, but its poor performance, lack of polish and unfair difficulty ruined my enjoyment with it. The fact that WarioWare: Get It Together somehow managed to be even worse is the only reason I’d call Atari Mania the ideal candidate if you want to have something that even remotely resembles Nintendo’s cult classic series on the Switch, but even so, it’s a massive stretch. A few patches can improve its performance, but I feel like the only way to put this series back on its tracks would be by releasing a sequel addressing all of its issues. Which I sincerely hope Atari does, as the idea behind Mania is too good to be thrown away without giving it a second, more focused chance.


Graphics: 6.0

I like the pseudo-remastered coat of paint given to all Atari titles in this collection, but the sluggish framerate hindered my overall enjoyment.

Gameplay: 5.5

The core idea is excellent. The gameplay loop, in theory, is excellent. The controls and bizarre difficulty spikes ruin everything, however.

Sound: 7.0

Not a lot of tunes included in this soundtrack, but they weren’t all bad. Some of them were actually quite catchy.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Atari Mania could have been an excellent love letter to the company’s history, as well as a competitor to the currently mediocre WarioWare series, but its design flaws and technical issues hinder what could (and should) have been a surefire hit.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Atari Mania is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, and Atari VCS.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch .

A copy of Atari Mania was provided by the publisher.