GAME OF THE MONTH COLLECTION!
ACTIVISION ANTHOLOGY
(Activision, December 2002)


Here is 45 Atari games from the early eighties in one huge collection! Activision not only gives us most of the games they create for the then popular Atari 2600 but they were kind enough to include all the game's instruction booklets, some real 80's rock tunes, and you can even unlock various goodies like older TV commercials, those Activision patches, and more so you can see some awesome video game history! Is Activision Anthology a dream come true for hardcore Atari 2600 fans or is this collection better left gathering dust like most older games?
Here are the games:

ATLANTIS
This game reminds me of Atari's Missile Command (actually a lot of the games here remind me of other Atari games) but instead of blasting down missiles, you're shooting down invading aircrafts. You must defend the underwater city of Atlantis with three differently placed laser guns from any enemies in the sky. There is no patch to unlock here because this was originally a Imagic title.

BARN STORMING
What was a cool enough game at the beginning just ended after a few seconds or minutes. All you have to do in this game is fly under 10 or 25 barns and then it's game over. Barn Storming is a decent time trial idea but there is very little game play here.

BASEBALL
Once you learn the controls in this generically named baseball game then you'll find it was one of the better baseball games on the old machine and it certainly has the best graphics for it's era. I guess Activision had to drop the Pete Rose license they used in the late eighties.

BEAM RIDER
What is Beam Rider? I never heard of this until now. Beam Rider is a very impressive first person shooter with some great graphics and furious action. This one may surprise you.

BOXING
A unbelievable short lived overhead boxing game that can be played with a second person or a computer controlled opponent. Simply score more points in the limited amount of time to beat your friend to win the contest. A fun game if you play against a friend but the appeal is quite limited.

BRIDGE
Can anyone else remember any Bridge video games? I didn't think so. There is a good reason for that by the way because it loads slow and it just stinks period!

CHECKERS
I never had a chance to play this on the original 2600 and I'm kind of I never did. Not only is the interface slow and chunky at times but the computer can take a while to make a move.

CHOPPER COMMAND
Defender? Chopper Command plays just like Williams/Atari's space game, Defender, except for the desert looks of course. You must use your high powered helicopter to protect friendly ground convoys from enemy copters and planes. Chopper Command is a difficult and intense shooter with some decent graphics for its day.

COMMANDO
Come on, if you don't remember the other ones on here then maybe you know this Capcom arcade shoot them up, uh? This is not the original arcade game but rather Activision's Atari version on this popular title. The graphics are bland, the action is slow, and using the grenades are a hassle (you have to hold down the button). Even the NES version is better than this and that was pretty bad too.

COSMIC COMMUTER
In this strange shooter you blast away enemies in the sky while you pick up people from the ground. This is like the legendary Defender but no where near as good.

CRACK POTS
Despite the name, you have to kill climbing multiple coloured bugs before they destroy your building in this unusual game here. As the colours change in the bugs, the trickier they are to hit. Crack Pots is a fun game of single screen action.

DECATHLON
Oh boy! Anybody remember those super annoying tap the joysticks repetitively to move around games? That's what Decathlon is, you compete in several track events like high jump, the 1500m dash, and lot more but you are bound to be annoyed by the controls here. It doesn't help matters when you have press a button to do a certain action all the while you're busting the analog stick like crazy. Decathlon is OK for two players but it's really boring and tedious for one.

DEMON ATTACK
This game got Imagic into trouble because Atari sued the makers of Demon Attack saying it was too similar too their game called
Phoenix. Although I don't see similarities game play wise, I guess the idea shooting down robotic birds is enough for the then money driven Atari. Demon Attack is a very repetitive game but it was still a fairly intense game.

DOLPHIN
Before games like Ecco the Dolphin made their entrance there was Activision's very original Dolphin title. You help a Dolphin out run a deadly Squid while avoiding the many sea creatures that get in the way. You can even turn the tables on the Squid by getting a seagull as a power up. Dolphin is a very unique game!

DRAGSTER
This is another one of those two player only games here. Just be the first to cross the finish line to win but don't over use your engine. Dragster has very limited appeal.

EUDURO
Like Namco/Atari's Pole Position, Euduro is a early 3D racer. Euduro even has changing whether conditions in another impressive feet for the Activision programmers (they really pushed the Atari 2600 to its limits).

FISHING
DERBY
In here, the person with the most fish before the time runs out is the winner. The string is too difficult to get full control of so this not one of my favourites.

FREEWAY
Help two chickens get across the road in this very limited version of Frogger. Freeway can only be played with a friend and worse yet, you can only move up and down, that's it! Maybe this was cool back in the early eighties but not today. "Give me Frogger!"

FROSTBITE
This is a very intense and very original jumping adventure in the dangerous
Antarctica ice lands. The game is simple: collect enough ice to build your own igloo while avoiding the many Polar bears, crabs, birds and especially that ice cold water. This is one game I could easily play for hours but I lost interest after I unlocked all of the game's secrets! Sure, I could go for the high score but there is a serious problem with that, more on that later.

GRAND PRIX
One of the first games made by Activision for the Atari 2600 is this really simple and unfulfilling racing contest that ends as soon as you cross the finish line which only take about a minute or two. Grand Prix is anything but grand!

H. E. R. O.
Another original action game here as the hero goes on rescue mission through a dangerous mining area. H. E. R. O. is a good action game.

ICE HOCKEY
Despite the popularity of the Atari 2600, there have been very few real Hockey games (no, Pong doesn't count as real Hockey). Ice Hockey is sure primitive compared to what we get now of days but this is still a lot fun and I bet Hockey fans will still like it regardless.

KABOOM!
Maybe the biggest disappointment here. Kaboom originally could only used with the Atari paddles before but now you are forced to move around your character with the very loose Playstation Analog stick. It just doesn't feel right.

KEYSTONE KAPERS
Keystone Kapers is a unique cops and robbers game in a hectic shopping mall. You play the role a traditional keystone cop who is on a continuous mission to catch the thief in 45 seconds while avoiding the many hazards like shopping carts, bouncing balls, radios and toy airplanes. Keystone Kapers is fast, it's has variety, and most importantly it's fun.

KLOBBER
Klobber is a surprisily fun chase game featuring cute lovable characters on a yellow grid. Klobber was never officially released but it's still a good game. Maybe the Great Crash killed this one in 1984?

LASER BLAST
Whoa! What the fudge is this? This shooter really blows! Use your startup to destroy three ground battle guns and repeat and repeat and repeat................

MEGA MANIA
Mega Mania is a cool Galaxian-like shooter where you have to attack 8 levels of typewriters, blocks of killer cheese, evil hamburgers and other strange stuff. What makes Mega Mania so original is that each stage has a different pattern to learn if you want to survive. Your ship even looks a lot like the Star Ship Enterprise from the original Star Trek. "I recommend this!"

MOON SWEEPER
Moon Sweeper is a boring first person shooter on the surface of the moon.

OINK
The three little pigs try to escape from the big bad wolf by laying bricks to rebuild your homes. I only wish that we could play as the wolf instead since he doesn't need to go up and down all the time. Not one of the better Activision games here.

PITFALL
Pitfall is a super challenging but fun adventure game that was years ahead of its time in terms of gameplay. Pitfall was actually one of the first real side action platformers in gaming history and this game alone sold in the millions. Sadly though, adventure games have come a long way since Pitfall especially in terms of options but Pitfall is still very playable even today and it was still way better than that ugly NES game Super Pitfall.
http://www.epinions.com/content_70864965252

PITFALL II: The lost caverns
This rare Pitfall game features tons of new material like a cool new no die system, improved graphics, and this even has some decent background music, a rare thing for the old Atari 2600 here. A simply great non linear adventure game with lots of challenge plus this is the closest thing to Super Mario Brothers on the collection!

PLAQUE ATTACK
Plaque Attack is a very weird shooter where you have to defend 8 teeth from various flying food products like hamburgers, candy canes, and more oddities with your trusty toothpaste? Unusual but still fun single screen action that quickly becomes challenging.

PRESSURE COOKER
Pressure Cooker is a original game that shows the pain at working for a place like MacDonalds or Burger King. Help a chefs make the correct orders of hamburgers all the while the clock continues to be your enemy has people want these specially made burgers in a hurry! This game was so good that I always hoped that there would be some kind of sequel but I Activision is too busy now with games like Tony Hawk Prostaker.

PRIVATE EYE
Another surprise on the collection! The graphics are not only colourful and very stylist in a cartoony kind of way but Private Eye also has great controls and interesting game play.

RIVER RAID
Another popular Activision legend on the collection here. In this shooter you blast away enemy boats, planes, helicopters down a endless river. It is up to you to balance feul, speed, and shooting down enemies to becomes successful. River Raid is a excellent shooter.

RIVER RAID II
The second game added more complex features to the series and maybe you might like it better than the first and maybe you won't.

ROBOT TANK
This poorly named title plays similar to Atari's legendary Battlezone. Robot Tank started out well enough but what's the deal with that stupid darkness mode? This game is a 3D disaster and not in a good way!

SEA QUEST
Plays similar to Plaque Attack and not that old Super Nintendo/Genesis game from that canceled NBC show in 1994.

SKIING
Simply race down snowy hills and clear the course in the best time possible. Although the game ends after you cross the finish line there are many difficulties to pick from.

SKY JINKS
Another weird time trial game where you fly through several things in the way.

SPACE SHUTTLE
I tried my best to play through this and enjoy but IT WAS SO BORING! I hate Space Shuttle, I hate, I hate, I hate HATE HATE IT!

SPIDER FIGHTER
In this highly intense shooter you blast away tons of angry spiders that are not afraid to shoot back. Spider Fighter acts like Centipede but there is no Centipede and there is more even fire power.

STAMPEDE
The cows and bulls are out of control and it's up to you to catch them all. Here is another game that could only be released during the 2600 era.

STAR MASTER
Remember Star Raiders? This is Activision's version of a real 3D flight simulator and I don't have the patience for it.

TENNIS
Although this is easy get into, but the game realize on luck rather than true skill.

THWOCKER
Here is another lost Activision title released on this collection. Guide your little character down a long corridor of enemies and walls.

TITLE MATCH
This has to be the worst wrestling in known existence! See very laughable solid coloured characters mess around a ugly looking ring as you try your best to figure out what the heck is going on. Title Match is a huge embarrassment!

TOMCAT
I hate 3D flight simulators and I really hated playing them in on the ancient Atari 2600. This is no exception!

The graphics are carbon copies of their original 2600 versions and unlike Activision's first Playstation compilation of 30 games these titles run just has fast as their originals. The 2600 games still look like garbage compared to what we regularly play on the Playstation2 but for Atari games these were some of the best looking around believe it or not.

Activision not only gives us a massive collection of Atari 2600 games but they also through in 12 classic music hits from the 80's as well. You'll hear stuff like "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister, "It's My Life" by Talk Talk, "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats, "Mexican Radio" by Wall Of Voodoo (my favourite), and lots more. I really like the idea of free music in video games so this is welcome bonus but some players maybe spoiled by Grand Theft Auto Vice City's huge 50 something track selection. It only takes a hour for the tracks start to repeat themselves and if you play a good game like Frost Bite than that hour can come quickly.

The only serious problem I have with Anthology is that the memory cards will NOT SAVE your high scores! The memory card will save any unlockable patches, commercials, and any additional screen options but since your top scores can not, this really hurts many of the game's replay value. Getting the high score and best time is the whole of most of these games here and I would assume the Playstation2 could do this save function in its sleep unlike the Atari 2600 but I guess we still have to wait if we after hope to record our achievements.

Activision Anthology is really great for nostalgia purposes because they were kind enough to give us tons of great extras like real video game commercials. I loved seeing the late Phil Hartman (from Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons fame) in the old Ice Hockey TV ad, he was so amazily funny in that ad, it was classic! Most of the TV ads were well done too (upset for that lame Laser Blast one where they lied and said it was the best shooter around) and I wish more companies would do this sort of thing. This also has to be the biggest collection of games on the PS2 so there is tons of choice for many players. Despite all of the bonuses of 45 games, retro tunes, and cool unlockables, this collection fails to keep me playing beyond a few days. I also didn't like how close the important buttons on the controller itself, you could easily hit the Reset, Difficulty switches, and Black and White by accident. Activision Anthology makes a great rental but it's a very questionable buy especially since the Gameboy edition actually saves your scores but this doesn't.

Conclusion:

 

154KB needed to save to PS2 Memory Card
Activision Anthology
overall rating: 85/100

Find Activision Anthology on eBay here!

For 1 or 2 players
Rated (E) for Everyone

graphics: 1/10
sound: 5/10
gameplay: 7/10
replay: 7/10

-StarSoldier
(Ryan Genno) 2007

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