As a premiere pinball, The Atarians is notable for some unusual design decisions, such as the two pairs of stacked flippers and the use of inductive under-playfield sensors instead of rollover switches. Unfortunately, anything about the Atarians themselves are lost to the mists of time, as none of the game rules, instruction manuals, or promotional material give any indication as to who they are or what is going on. Who are The Atarians? Why are there two of them? What is the futuristic landscape seen behind them? Who is the long-faced alien with the flaming hair? Why is he blue on the backglass and orange on the playfield? Are those yellow-skinned folks in the purple tights his Mooks or his captors? Why doesn't the female Atarian use her sword? Why are we asking all these questions?
The Atarians demonstrates the following tropes:
- Dangerously Short Skirt: Worn by the female, of course.
- Flaming Hair: Seen on the long-faced alien on the playfield.
- Humanoid Aliens: Not the Atarians themselves, but the folks they're facing.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Or in this case, made it.
- Jet Pack: The Atarians are each wearing one to allow them to fly through space.
- Mooks: The yellow-skinned bald humanoids with the purple jumpsuits. Maybe.
- No Plot? No Problem!: There are enough hints to create some sort of Science Fiction plot, but that's about it.
- Ray Gun: The male Atarian welds one.
- Speed Stripes: Seen on the playfield.
- Spelling Bonus: Spelling ATARI (via the five saucers at the top of the playfield) doubles the bonus, while EXTRA BALL awards an extra ball.
- Stab the Sky: The female Atarian does this on the playfield.
- Team Title