The company, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Infogrames, is remaking the Atari 2600 classic Haunted House, and a couple of listings on Gamefly suggest that Centipede and Star Raiders remakes could be next.
Given the timing, this wouldn’t surprise me. E3 was crowded with remakes of well-known or in some cases forgotten video game franchises. Fondly remembered games like Goldeneye and NBA Jam are being brought back to life, while franchises that never really went away, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat, are going back to their 2D roots. These are safe bets in the midst of a games industry slump. If Atari wants to jump on the nostalgia train, now’s the time.
The difference between Atari’s remakes and the examples I saw at E3 is that Atari’s games are so old, there’s very little to build from. Haunted House could be a great game, but it’s impossible to say whether the remake is faithful to the original, because the original is so primitive. If Star Raiders gets remade, it’ll probably resemble Wing Commander more than anything else.
Basically, I feel the same way about Atari’s games as I do about the upcoming surge of movies based on very old video games. They won’t necessarily be bad, but they’re just blank slates with recognizable names.