Atari Turns 40, Celebrates with New Centipede

Forty years ago today, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari, and the gaming giant is celebrating with a big push onto smartphones. The company released Centipede: Origins for iOS and Droid devices last week, overhauling the original’s iconic pixelated graphics with a fresh design and layers of new gameplay aimed at today’s Angry Birds generation.

“The touch screen adds a dimension that I think is much more personal, as opposed to a joystick,” Giancarlo Mori, Atari’s head of product development, told me in a recent interview. “We’re trying to find the sweet spot between nostalgia and innovation—to give more than the original game design will allow.”

Atari’s not stopping with Centipede, though. Yesterday, it announced the seven finalists of its “Pong Indie Developer Challenge,” which invited game makers to re-imagine the arcade legend. Users can visit Atari’s website to vote for their favorites. Now, if I could just get a revamped Yars’ Revenge to play while waiting for the train, I’d be set.

Atari through the years:

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