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Activision Anthology Review

Developer: Aspyr Publisher: Aspyr
Release Date: December 8, 2003 Also On: PS2

With games such as Sonic Mega Collection, Intellivision Lives, Mega Man Anniversary Collection, Namco Museum, and Midway Arcade Treasures, as well as all of the NES and SNES ports available by various means between GCN and GBA, this generation is truly the generation of the old-school revival. Activision Anthology is yet another link in that chain of old-school goodness. Containing 55 games, most of which were originally released by Activision for the Atari 2600, and the rest of which are prototypes or are homebrew Atari 2600 caliber games, this is one of the bigger of the old-school collections available.

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Now, 55 games may seem impressive, but you have to remember that the Atari 2600 was a 2 bit system, so none of these games are going to be lengthy games like what are seen today. Even the old-school classics found in other compilations will put these to shame in many cases. However, in the Atari 2600, it wasn’t about the length of the game, or the realism of the graphics. It was about fun. Nothing got in the way of the fun like today.

The graphics on this game are, as you would probably expect, horrendous by GBA standards. However, they are emulated very well from what they originally looked like on the Atari 2600, where such is applicable, and the ones that never were Atari 2600 games look like they easily could have been. Overall, a very good job by the emulating team here, although a few minor problems do exist. Such things are hardly noticeable however, unless you are one of those who memorized things back then and minor speed lapses will throw you.

Sound is similarly subpar by GBA standards, but seems to be emulated fairly well. The main thing to commend here is the music that is played on the menu screens, which sounds very much like it could have been recorded in the ’80s, although it is, to the best of my knowledge, not actual music from the ’80s. The game even gives you the option to turn on or off the songs that you like or dislike, and there are four or five to choose from or alternate between. Sometimes they seem a bit short when you are taking the time to read an instruction manual, but that is hardly a major complaint.

I don’t know what I can say to do justice to the gameplay on these games. Amazing, purely amazing. I have gotten used to my GCN games and my GBA games, and yet I can still feel the shiver in my spine as I shoot at a hamburger with a toothpaste bottle or drop a brick to keep the floor under me in my pig’s house. The graphics are subpar, but the gameplay is unmatched by anything since. This is how games were meant to be: pure, untainted fun. The era of graphic supremacy has taken from that a lot, and playing a game like this can easily remind me of that.

So far as replay goes; I do believe I am going to have to give what could be my first ten. With 55 games, most of which are to be played for the sheer purpose of beating one’s high score, and with unlockable patches in most of the games for certain scoring thresholds, nothing could possibly beat the replay value except possibly another collection of this type of games that is comparable in quantity. Sure, not all 55 are going to be games that you enjoy, and indeed, not all 55 are with me. But there is enough in these 55 games to keep the old-school fan happy for hours upon hours on end.

If you have any memory of the Atari 2600 era, you owe it to yourself to relive those memories with this game. If you have never seen the humble beginnings of console gaming but are curious, you owe it to yourself to get this game. Nobody but the most ardent of graphics-based gamers could play this game without coming away from it entertained. The conclusion is simple: if you are a true gamer, you should get this game.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8
Written by Martin Review Guide