Activision Anthology


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 4

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8

Do you wanna know what really makes a classic gamer like myself get excited? Strippers. That’s right, strippers. But when I can’t get out to a strip club to receive a lap dance from my favorite Asian honey, I whip out a different piece of hardware – my favorite video game system. And being the classic gamer that I am, a disc full of classic goodness almost makes me forget about those long silky legs, those perky breasts, and the way she keeps dollar bills pinned beneath her thong. Almost, I said.

Though Activision may not approve of what I stand for, I truly respect what they stand for. As the first third-party developer in the history of gaming, it’s good to see Activision take a step back and examine their roots. There were a few missteps on the original PlayStation system in the forms of Activision Classics, featuring very poor reproductions of Atari 2600 and Intellivision games, but it seems they’ve unlocked the puzzle for creating truly quality retro-compilations. Activision Anthology for PS2 is IT.

Over 40 Atari 2600 games are crammed into the first 100k of this offering, and the best news of all is THEY GOT THE EMULATION RIGHT. This has been a sticking point on home emulation for quite some time, but no worries here! All of the button-mashing, swerving, edge-of-your-seat thrills are reproduced perfectly here. Of note is that several of these Atari 2600 titles (Beamrider, Bridge, Commando, Decathlon, Pitfall 2, Robot Tank, Space Shuttle) have never been available on a home system SINCE the Atari 2600. There are also two prototype games, Kabobber and Thwocker, which have been available on the internet for awhile but are released officially for the very first time here. An excellent collection of games from virtually every genre. Quality.

It’s the 21st century now, however, so what’s a developer gonna do to make their early 80’s hits seem a little more contemporary? Not what you’d think! Activision cleverly sets the entire game in a room with a TV, a rack of cartridges, a wall plaque, and a boom box. It LOOKS like the 80’s! The boom box has an eclectic selection of 80’s tunes (though at 12 tracks they’ll get a little repetitive before you know it) and you select a cartridge from the rack where you can glimpse the manual or box before plugging it into the console to play.

Another update to the games involves the unlocking of various surprises, awarded through good gameplay. In the 80’s Activision offered patches through the mail to their high-scoring players, and that tradition lives on here. Do well enough and you unlock that game’s patch. You can also unlock various original television commercials and some very bizarre “effects” that you’re free to use on any game. An example of this is the cloud layer effect, which makes the game appear as if it’s under a fluffy layer of clouds. Oh-kay…

There are three areas that could have used improvement. The first is the music selection, which is fine as is but DOUBLE this many tracks might have been a little easier to take when playing over an hour on this game. The second is in the effects – I wish Activision had taken a cue from Nintendo’s Game & Watch Gallery series and provided simple enhanced versions of their titles. The game engines don’t need any tweaking at all, just a facelift to the graphics and sound would have been simply marvelous. Finally, the “missing” games. There has been speculation that the empty slots in the onscreen cartridge rack are there to hold downloadable titles. Unfortunately, internet connectivity was scrapped with this release so we’ll never see the few missing Activision titles and are just short of having the full 2600 library as a result.

All in all, this is a fabulous title that everyone who ever played an Atari 2600 needs to add to his or her collection. You’ll see why the game industry is still doing so well when you see this piece of the foundation it was built on.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:45 PM