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By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 27, 2004   |   Episode 4 (Show Archive)  

   
Once upon a time, in a world long before the NES, Genesis, or PlayStation, there was a console that ruled them all . unfortunately, it was made by Atari. In those dark days before the great game crash, Atari was the king of the world releasing popular systems, games, and accessories. But things aren't quite like they used to be, and Atari is not the ruler it once was. Instead Atari is nothing more than a name owned by a company, a name that is slapped on disappointing games with very little to offer.

Even with a history like Atari's, 2004 was really a bad year for the company. Game wise the company failed to turn out even one worthwhile game, simply spending all their money and time on disappointments like Driver 3 (sic), Demon Stone, Terminator 3, and yet another Godzilla game. With a line up like that I'm almost afraid to review the website ... but it's my job, and somebody has to do it.

Look and Design: Looking at Atari's website you would never know you were in the presence of a company hanging on by a small thread. Although simple, the website is actually quite nice looking. The site allows you to search any number of ways, including by genre,

Atari is marketing a faux-Atari 7800 that costs nearly as much as a GameBoy Advance ... talk about feeling nostalgic!
price, and system. But for some odd reason you can't search any of the classic systems Atari made games for, which is something missing from most of the websites we've reviewed so far.

Accessibility: As I mentioned above, Atari's website is extremely easy to search since you can find a game in a number of different ways. Perhaps the most novel is the ability to search by price, a function sorely needed in other websites. The game pages themselves are a bit of a let down. Instead of featuring game-themed pages, each game has its own standard layout with a video clip (or large picture, depending on the game), overview, features, and screenshots. These pages look no different than the news pages, which is downright shocking considering how good the rest of the page is.

Atari's website seems to be missing a large chunk of their catalog, including games from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Only the most recent games seem to have a place on Atari's website which completely undermines a company trying to base

Since DRIV3R has no Buzz feedback, I'll leave mine: "what the hell is this? didn't you guys learn anything from Grand Theft Auto III?"
itself on its history. Instead it focuses all its attention on the recent disasters ... and a bunch of Nancy Drew games found in Her Interactive. Strange.

Insider Information: Interestingly enough, Atari updates their news on a regular basis. You can expect to see multiple stories every month, many more than we've seen on the other sites we've reviewed so far. But even though they update all the time, it's extremely difficult to find news older than three headlines ago. I spent more than a half hour trying to find a way of searching through the database, ultimately figuring out a makeshift way. For a site so full of news, it's a shame they don't display it or let you search.

Parting Thoughts: As I was starting to lose interest in the Atari website, I noticed a quote on the bottom of my page. The text read, "It's got all those games for such a small price tag." It was part of the Buzz, a little section on Atari that quotes positive feedback left about their products. This made me curious; I wonder what the Buzz is about Atari's recent games, all of which have proven to be highly disappointing. The first title I looked up, Terminator 3: the Redemption, had no Buzz surrounding it. This didn't surprise me, since Terminator 3 is an extremely lame game.

Things picked up when I surfed over to the Test Drive: Eve of Destruction website, where the Buzz states that somebody likes "to race and crash the buses (sic)." We find an equally intelligent response to the lame Transformers game, "you can actually battle Megatron and Unicron!!" Unfortunately there wasn't a nice thing to be found for Asterix & Oberlix: Kick Buttix . how disappointed will your French teacher be?

FINAL GRADE: B


(Important Note: This review was written on November 27, 2004. As is the case with websites things tend to change and get moved around. We've decided to cover major companies who should have a presence on the web for many years to come, but the actual reviews of the layout may not be relevant for more than a month to a year. Having said that, we're hoping this article was still interesting, and if not, at least you go this extra little paragraph of explanation that you wouldn't normally get on the other websites.)
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