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Sony They've led sales in the last console generation and are working on the next with the PS3. Will that and the PSP keep them moving at the top of the pack? Discuss it here.

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Old January 8th, 2003, 02:43 PM   #1
Game Rogue
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Activision Anthology

Besting Activision Classics for the PS1 by 18 games, Activision Anthology collects 48 titles on one disc, giving nostalgia buffs, historians, and fans of retro-gaming alike a chance to relive the glory years of the Atari VCS on their PlayStation 2. As longtime gamers know, Activision, which was the very first third-party videogame company, produced some of the best games ever for the VCS, including such groundbreaking classics as Pitfall! and River Raid.

While a number of the games in this package are dated beyond playability (a really slow game of Checkers anyone?), many of the games are still enjoyable, especially those of the largely forgotten "slide-and-shoot" genre, such as Demon Attack (certain Imagic titles are included) and Spider Fighter. Other games, such as Stampede, Fishing Derby, and Plaque Attack, offer doses of quirky, sometimes addictive enjoyment, falling into the "they don’t make ‘em like that anymore" category. Regrettably, Kaboom!, which was the most intense, most enjoyable game Activision ever produced, is virtually unplayable without the Atari paddle controllers. Luckily, most of the other games handle extremely well using the PS2’s modern controls.

All the games are emulated perfectly (with the exception of scores having a different, less blocky font), and 11 of the games were previously unreleased on any compilation: Baseball, Beamrider, Bridge, Commando, Decathlon, Demon Attack, Moonsweeper, Pitfall 2, Robot Tank, Space Shuttle, and Tomcat: The F14 Flight Simulator. There are two games included that have never been released in any form: Kabobber and Thwocker, both of which are enjoyable.

It’s nice to have so many titles in one collection, especially for those who grew up with an Atari joystick in one hand and an issue of Electronic Games magazine in the other. Nostalgia is definitely the order of the day, and the interfacing is spectacular, from the onscreen VCS system to the cartridge rack to the scanned manuals to the stereo system that plays a variety of hit songs from the 1980s, including tunes by Naked Eyes, Missing Persons and Twisted Sister. There’s something totally surreal (and thoroughly enjoyable) about listening to Blondie’s The Tide is High while playing a rousing game of Megamania.

One of the best things about this compilation is that by scoring certain amounts of points in various games, players can unlock original Activision television commercials. Also nifty is the ability to unlock the old send-away patches for achieving high scores. Much less successful are the gimmicky, superficial, largely pointless gameplay modes, which let players add a variety of graphical effects to the games, such as a starry background, cloud cover, or disco colors. Many of the descriptively titled modes, including Whirl, Tilt-O-Vision, and Cube, make the games needlessly harder because of the distorted, nausea-inducing visuals.

Hands down the biggest disappointment with this collection is its confounding lack of high score saves. Obviously, since you can unlock certain things by reaching specific scores, the disc charts your progress, but your high scores vanish each time you restart a game. This inconvenience is simply inexcusable considering the vast storage space on the PS2 memory card, not to mention the power of the system itself. These old games are all about high scores, and it’s ridiculous not to include a save feature. Nostalgia for the past has very little to do with the hassle of writing down your high scores in a note pad.

Despite one silly inclusion (the goofy game modes) and one egregious absence (high score saves), Activision Anthology is a must-have for collectors and a good history lesson for those too young to have experienced the heyday of the Atari VCS. Not only are many of the games still enjoyable, it’s like a virtual trip down memory lane.
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Old January 8th, 2003, 08:22 PM   #2
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Cool, I asked around these forums if anyone's played this game, but not many retro fans here. Thanks for your review. I may pick it up one day when it goes cheap.
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Old January 9th, 2003, 05:44 AM   #3
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I want H.E.R.O.!

I loved that game when I was a kid...

Cheers,

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Old January 9th, 2003, 03:48 PM   #4
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