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January 2, 2003
Activision Anthology - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price

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One of the first ever tennis games.
Retro gamers take note. Never has a company combined so many classic games into one package for such a low price. Activision Anthology is a classic gaming compilation that delivers nearly 50 Activision games for the Atari 2600 from Barnstorming to River Raid and never-before-released titles - all for the first time on the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. For the total retro gaming experience, players can choose from "Classic" mode or "3-D Enhanced" options which offer a challenging twist to these timeless classics. Players will also be able to go online to download new games and demos, as well as historical info about Activision, the games and their creators.

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Anyone remember fishing?
OK. So you're looking at the surrounding screenshots thinking "What the...". But this package includes pixel perfect reproductions of the Atari 2600 which was the only console of choice back in the early 1980's. Games in this package include true classics such as Chopper Command, Kaboom, Rampage, Megamania and Dragster, as well as some of the more obscure classics, like Commando (which I did own and loved) and Space Shuttle, as well as some previously unreleased games like Kabobber.

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Pitfall - a true classic.
One of the most interesting elements of this package is the Multiple Gameplay Modes - Revisit your old favourites in "Classic" or "3-D Enhanced" modes. "Classic" mode lets you play the original way with all of the sound effects and action you remember. "3-D Enhanced" modes add a bit of challenge, such as Ricochet mode, in which the game screen bounces; Cube mode, in which the game appears on each face of a spinning cube; and Whirl mode, in which the game screen slowly spins 360 degrees around in the middle of the screen as you play. Is it only a novelty? Time will tell, but it could spice things up a little bit at the very least.

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Chopper Command.
Activision Anthology has a couple of other features that could lift the title a little. The first of these is the front end which is set in a childs bedroom. Instead of a typical flat screen shell, the menu functions of the game are brought to life in the setting of a teenager's bedroom from the '80s. To play a game, select the Atari 2600 console on the floor; to change the music, select the radio; and to go online, select the phone.

While the game includes the original sound effects from the games (which are pretty much just monotonous beeps) the developers have also includes some very cool 1980's music tracks which can be played in the background. The soundtrack features hit songs that are sure to bring the memories rushing back, and include Blondie, Soft cell and Men Without Hats.

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Commando - my personal favourite.
While still requiring confirmation for inclusion in the PAL release it should be possible to connect online to download more games. The online portion of Activison Anthology allows you to connect to the Activision Classic Gaming Web site where you can download game prototypes, technology demos and other rare game oddities never before released to the public. The Web site also features historical info about Activision, its designers, programmers and the console system that started it all. It could be an interesting addition although it isn't clear if downloaded games, which were typically only a couple of kilobytes, will be stored to memory card.

Activision Anthology won't be everyone's idea of a fun time. The games are extremely basic, and lack anything resembling modern graphics or sound (apart from the front end and background music), but for retro gamers, there is no reason not to pick up this title. Better still, Activision are releasing the title to retail at the lower pricepoint of $AU49.95. Expect a release in early 2003.