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Proof that Atari is Creatively Bankrupt
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 12, 2007   |   Episode 70 (Show Archive)  

   

I'll buy Atari myself if it means that we can finally get a 3D Dig Dug game that explains just what the hell is going on underground!
I don't care what kind of heartless bastard you think you are, as far as I'm concerned it's always a little sad to see a video game company pack it all in and leave the industry for good. While it's not the kind of news that generally gets a lot of attention, I was sad to see Acclaim throw in the towel a few years ago, and don't even get me started on my emotions for the recently-deceased Telenet Japan (maker of Valis, Final Zone II, Cosmic Fantasy and a bunch of other exciting 16-bit games).

But as sad as I know I should feel, I'm having a hard time feeling bad about the impending doom surrounding Atari. Don't get me wrong, as a video game historian I fully appreciate the impact Atari has had on this industry. Without

While Atari should be respected for all of the innovations they brought to the games industry, the company has made other questionable decisions in the past!
Nolan Bushnell and Atari there may not be a console industry to talk about and I would be forced to run the largest website devoted entirely to my love of puppet pornography (actually, that's not a bad idea). As far as I'm concerned Atari deserves as much respect as you can muster, but this is hardly the first time Atari has been in financial hot water, and the Atari of today is nothing more than a name being used by Infogrames. Maybe it's finally time we accept that the "Atari" name means absolutely nothing in this day and age, so let's let Atari rest in peace and move on from there.

As far as I'm concerned Atari is creatively bankrupt. So far this year Atari has published a Dungeons & Dragons tactical RPG that doesn't even come close to matching the brilliance of Jeanne D'Arc and Final Fantasy Tactics, a Wario Wares rip-off that is so close I'm surprised Nintendo hasn't sued and two different Dragon Ball Z games. This is a company that couldn't even make anything good out of something as promising as Bullet Witch. It's not just that Atari is out of money and over their heads in debt; it's that they haven't had a good game idea in years. There's just no way to sugarcoat the truth, Atari is creatively bankrupt and we've known about it for years.

I can hear you now, "But Cyril, don't you think you're being too harsh on this poor, destitute company?" Of course I am, you and I both know that. But maybe there's some truth in what I'm saying. What would you say if I could prove that even their box art design team is creatively bankrupt? Gaze in amazement as I present to you the cover art for Atari's newest PC role-playing game, The Witcher, and compare it to the 1994 game ZeeWolf for the Amiga.


It's the perfect metaphor; no matter what Atari tries to do they find themselves taking from the past. As a publisher, Atari has been criticized for spitting out one bad licensed game after another, flooding the market with generic games that are quickly put together with no care for quality. The Witcher was Atari's

As somebody who played the PSP Earthworm Jim game on more than one occasion, I'm a little disappointed to see that it was cancelled!
answer to that charge; it was going to be the company's first give role-playing game in years, the kind of game that even hardened game journalists were excited about. To be completely fair, The Witcher is licensed off of a line of books ... but at this moment not a lot of us people populating North America are real familiar with the writing of Andrzej Sapkowski.

After releasing nothing but anime fighting games and boring retro compilations, Atari was on the brink of giving us something worth talking about. But as always, Atari blew it. Instead of focusing on the great atmosphere, fantastic story and superb soundtrack, we're sitting here talking about how Atari decided to steal somebody else's cover art. I expect so much more from Atari.

It's hard to root for a company like Atari. While nobody can argue that this is one of the most important video game companies of the last thirty years, the Atari of today contributes almost nothing important to the modern day gaming industry. Worse yet, they are constantly making questionable decisions. For example, I was certainly disappointed

These days the best games coming from Atari are their multi-game compilations!
that Atari decided to pull the plug on the Earthworm Jim revival. And it's also worrisome when your biggest game releases start with the words "dragon" and "ball" followed by the letter "Z". Something is wrong with Atari, and I'm not sure it's worth doing anything about it. As far as I'm concerned fixing Atari might be more trouble than it's worth, so let's try to remember the good days while never thinking of the modern creatively bankrupt business plan.

Unfortunately you and I already know that the Atari name will never go away. This is America; a country founded on the principle that we never forget about those who made us who we are. Somebody is going to pick up the Atari name for dirt cheap and milk all of the company's major hits from the last three decades. There's no doubt that Electronic Arts will pick up Atari and use the well-known name to sell casual titles. It may not be Electronic Arts, but some company is going to see the Atari sale as a good deal and we'll have another few years to wonder if somebody can make a success out of the Atari name.

That day will come soon and rest assured, when it happens the company will be as creatively bankrupt as it is today. I don't care what game they will tap to reintroduce them to the world, but I'm sure that it will have something to do with anime, feel rushed and lack any real innovation or distinguishable quality. And if it does look promising, it will probably turn out to have stolen the cover art from a little played European game. Because that's just what they do. They're Atari and they are creatively bankrupt.
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