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Play old-school Atari games in any HTML5 Web browser

Ever get a hankering for some old-school Atari? Now you can play eight classic video games in any HTML5 Web browser, even on touch-screen smartphones and tablets.

Play some Asteroids in Safari flawlessly at Atari Arcade. (Click to enlarge.)
Screenshot by Christopher MacManus/CNET

Zap! Atari and Microsoft today launched Atari Arcade, an excellent example of how HTML5 can change the way we play video games.

The portal of retro entertainment -- primarily launched to celebrate Atari's 40th anniversary -- includes Asteroids, Centipede, Combat, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Pong, Super Breakout, and Yars' Revenge. The best part? It's free, and doesn't require Flash, Java, or any other plug-in to play, running solely on HTML5.

That means you can play these classic games in modern versions of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and other HTML5-enabled Web browsers (such as those on Android and iOS devices). Talk about the perfect way to sneak a little game time in somewhere.

I tested a few of the games on an iPad 2 running Safari, and much to my surprise the experience worked very well. Atari and Microsoft created a special version of each game optimized just for touch-screen computers, and everything runs very responsively on Apple's tablet.

Unfortunately, it appears you may need to watch a 30-second commercial before playing each game (unless you use Internet Explorer, says The Verge). The Atari Arcade also worked perfectly in the latest version of Chrome for Windows.

Go get your game on, or watch this highly overproduced video below from the two companies showing off Atari Arcade. Atari also seeks interested HTML5 developers to help build games for the arcade.