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Will you buy an Xbox One X on November 7?


Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Contraband Entertainment
GENRE: Compilation
PLAYERS:   1-2
November 19, 2002
Activision Hits Remixed

 Written by John Scalzo  on January 15, 2003

Full Review: I'm gonna party like it's 1999! It's 2003? Dammit!

The 80s were a fun time. Sure, I could prattle on about The Transformers, G.I. Joe, the '86 Mets, and countless other things, but why? I'm a child of the 80s, it's as simple as that. If you are too then you truly owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Activision Anthology. Review over, put down your Rubik's Cue, ride your Big Wheel to the nearest mall, and leave with one of these new fangled compact disc things that says "Activision Anthology" on the side.

I received my Atari 2600 in 1985 when I was four years old. Pole Position and Bowling were the games of choice at my house. Pitfall got it's fair amount of play, but if you couldn't handle the paddles on Pole Position you were nothing. Pole Position is obviously not on this collection, but Pitfall, and 47 other classic Atari games are.

My Atari broke down never to be replaced again in the fall of 1987. I really haven't touched an Atari since then and even then most of these games are completely foreign to me so I can't vouch for the accuracy of these graphics and the beep blop blips that count as sound effects. Everything just kinda feels right, you know? Each of these games look and sound like an Atari game should. I'm even a little scared of that uniquely Atari phenomenon known as burn-in (ask your parents about that one). It wouldn't even be fair to compare the blocky chicken of Freeway to the wild, polygonal chickens running around Ratchet and Clank. When the time comes I'll probably just pick a number out of a hat and use that for my graphics and sound score.

What I can comment on is fantastic menu screens that Activision has put together to make Anthology that much more the complete 80s package. The menu screen recreates an 80s room right down to the good old fashioned rotary phone. I think I just lost everyone under 16. There is obviously an Atari system, a TV, and an Atari game spindle to choose your next conquest. There's also a corkboard that lists your gaming achievements, another corkboard to post all of the patches that you earn for your achievements, and what 80s room would be complete without a boom box? With twelve fully licensed 80s "classics" to choose from including "We're Not Gonna Take It", "Tainted Love", "Always Something There to Remind Me" it's like you hopped in a Delorean. Is it really a coincidence that almost all of the songs are one hit wonders?

Going through each game one by one is as close to a futile effort as you can get. Reading over the title list will give you an exact idea of what all these games are about. Why did the chicken cross the road you ask? Because there isn't a pit between him and the other side. That is the beauty of these games. You see a pit, you jump it. You see an alien, you shoot it. Simplicity sucks you in. Mastery will take you years.

You're not going to sit around and play these games all day. Instead they're extremely fun in small doses. The dual shock does a more than adequate impression of the old Atari paddle and most games even feature a black and white mode. Because let's face it, if you've never gamed on a black and white TV then you're not an old school gamer. Sure a lot of the games are Space Invaders knockoffs, but you can't top the sheer surrealness of fighting floating gobs of plaque with toothpaste in Plaque Attack. And some games you'll play once and then never touch again (Baseball, Checkers, Moonsweeper). But for $30 can you really go wrong? Pitfall and the one hit wonders alone are almost worth that much to me.

If all this isn't enough to convince you many of the games feature the ability to unlock their commercials and the actual patches you could send away for for accomplishing a high enough score. Every game features the box art, cartridge art, and the complete instruction sheet. Two games that never left the prototype stage also made it onto this compilation: Kabobber and Thwocker. Both fun games, and both worthy of this collection. There are even bonus gameplay modes that to be honest don't do much of anything for me. They're really just there to make the screen harder to see and to recreate another favorite 80s pasttime, the acid trip.


Fishing Derby
Ice Hockey
Demon Attack
Laser Blast
Barnstorming Chopper Command
Grand Prix
River Raid
Sky Jinx
Spider Fighter
Star Master
Activision Decathlon
Keystone Kapers
Plaque Attack
Pressure Cooker
Private Eye
Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space
Cosmic Commuter
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Robot Tank
Title Match Pro Wrestling
Tomcat: The F14 Flight Simulator
River Raid II

Bottom Line
These vague ramblings probably won't help anyone one way or another with their decision if Activision Anthology is worthy of a purchase. Odds are you've decided that for yourself already. But if you're on the fence remember than this is what games were like before, back when your score was the only thing that mattered. For fans of the school that is old, this is a must own game. For those that have never touched an Atari, this is your chance to see what your older siblings were talking about. And for Nintendo, this is the game that should convince you that gamers don't want a handful of old games to be included as secrets with new games and as weird GBA ports. Well we do, but we also want a complete Nintendo anthology just like this. Now, does anyone want to challenge my God-like Pitfall prowess?

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