Say farewell to any semblance of productivity at the office today.
Atari is relaunching eight of its classic games on the web, working with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team and developer Grant Skinner to update Asteroids, Pong, Combat, Centipede, Missile Command and others — staying true to their origins in television sets and arcade cabinets but adapting them for the new world of web browsers and tablets.
Here’s a direct link to the new Atari Arcade site where you can play the games.
The games were developed in HTML5, and in addition to regular keyboard and mouse they work on multitouch devices such as tablets, giving users the option to tap the screen to control the gameplay — a major departure from the joysticks most of us grew up with.
Microsoft is aiming to boost interest in its new touch-friendly Internet Explorer 10 in advance of the Windows 8 launch.
Bonus: You’ll be able to play against your Facebook friends. The games are free and, yes, they’re just as addicting as you remember.
“What you really want to be able to do is have a series of games that you think, ‘Gee, I’ve got 10 minutes before I need to pick up the kids from school, and of course, an hour later, the kids are waiting on the curb,’ ” says Atari founder Nolan Bushnell in a behind-the-scenes video about the new project, below.
Atari has been offering versions of the games on its site in Flash, closely resembling the arcade classics, but the new versions completely update the titles for modern expectations and making the gameplay more immersive and responsive.
Not insignificantly, the ball in Pong is now round, not square. And the rollerball in Centipede is replaced with multiple fingers on a touch-enabled tablet.
The amount of “testing” going on inside Microsoft has been “extensive,” says Ryan Gavin of the Internet Explorer team.
The games work across the latest web browsers, but the project is part of Microsoft’s effort to showcase the underlying technology of Internet Explorer, including the ability to leverage the processing power on a computer or device to improve the experience. The games can switch between 3D and 2D elements and also go from 60 to 30 frames per second, and vice versa, after detecting the characteristics of the browser and machine that the user is playing.
The games are ad-free in Internet Explorer, encouraging users of other browsers to download and try the Microsoft browser.