Shortly after the launch of the App Store in the summer of 2008 Atari brought a trio of re-imagined classics to iDevices. Missile Command, Super Breakout and Centipede set the stage for what we had all thought was going to be an onslaught of retooled gems from the company’s early days. But Atari quickly followed it up with… nothing. Since those initial footsteps, Atari’s presence in the App Store has amounted to little more than tumbleweed. Now it’s even less than that, as Atari’s three lonely iPhone titles have mysteriously disappeared completely from the App Store.
Atari’s history with the App Store has been a strange one to say the least. Back in September 2008, Atari took legal action against a number of Breakout clones that were cluttering the service. Despite readying their classic catalogue for other services in recent months (Xbox Live Game Room) not a peep of interest has been shown in returning to the iPhone. They haven’t even attempted to bring any of their newer properties like Backyard Sports or The Witcher to Apple devices.
Then there’s the possibility of an Atari 2600 emulator. A working concept was demoed back in April by Manomino, the developer behind the popular Commodore 64 emulator on the iPhone. At that time Manomino’s CTO Stuart Carnie had said they were “in the early stages of negotiation with Infogrames/Atari, but have a good dialogue going with the right people.” Could these titles being pulled from the store signal the imminent arrival such an emulator? It’s hard to say, but considering these were reworked titles rather than straight ports, it seems unlikely. Both could easily co-exist on the iPhone – if anything playing an old school port of Missile Command might be enough to get some players excited about trying the remastered version.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to point to any real reason why Atari would have pulled these apps from the store. We’ve attempted to contact several Atari representatives about the issue, but our requests for an explanation have gone unanswered. At the moment only one this is certain – iPhone gamers hoping to get in on some Centipede action are going to have to look elsewhere.