VGJ Miscellany: Activision Classics – Retro Sports Pennant

Activision Classics

System: PlayStation

Released: September 30, 1998

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Learning Technologies Interactive

Activision Classics is a collection of 30 Atari 2600 games for the PS1. I remember this anthology getting a critical review in Animerica magazine, the same review that partially inspired me to do retro anthology collections. AC is criticized for its poor emulation of old Atari games on a far more powerful system.

The loading screen is kinda trippy.

Atlantis: A difficult shooter where you’re supposed to defend Atlantis with two piddling little cannons. I get wiped out almost immediately. Skip!

Barnstorming: A very simple and pointless game. I can’t figure out how to win or lose.

Boxing: A top-down boxing game distilled to its purest essence. You score points for landing solid hits on your opponent. You can even KO him.

Chopper Command: Defender with helicopters and a much more leisurely pace. The sunset in the background is pretty snazzy for an Atari 2600 game. Isn’t one of the early Star Wars games basically CC?

Cosmic Commuter: I remember liking this game because it was more involved than some of the other games on this disc. It’s kind of difficult.

Crackpots: A pretty fun game where you play some poor schmuck trying to save a building from being destroyed by pests. Your only tool: pots that are dropped on the pests from above. The bugs change patterns and colors a few times before resetting.

Dolphin: Stop trying to make dolphin games happen. They’re never going to happen.

Dragster: I don’t understand how to play this game, unlike…

Enduro: A leisurely racing game with some decent day/night graphics. I’ve played through this game at least once.

Fishing Derby: A boring fishing game, as simple as can be. However, you can pretend that the fishermen are Mario and Luigi due to their color schemes, but you may as well just play Mario Party for that.

Freeway: You’re a chicken. You have to cross the road. Why? To get away from this game.

Frost Bite: This game leaves me cold, despite a decent premise and colorful graphics.

Grand Prix: Horribly simple top-down racer. I’d rather play Enduro.

Hero: I need a hero! Being a hero isn’t so bad in this mazelike game where you have to rescue people, blow up walls, and zap monsters.

Ice Hockey: A simple game with competitive AI.

Kaboom!: A frantic yet shallow game where you catch bombs thrown by a crook.

Keystone Kapers: A quirky game where you have to catch a crook in a multi-level building. You have to navigate the floors to catch the crook in time.

Laser Blast: A slightly strategic shooter.

Megamania: A tough shooter.

Pitfall: A challenging game with varied obstacles. You have a timer of 20 minutes to beat the game.

Plaque Attack: I like this shooter. You play a tube of toothpaste squirting, well, toothpaste to protect teeth from food. If one of the food items touches a tooth, you lose it (weak enamel?), but you get an extra one every two thousand points. PA has varied visuals and fast, responsive controls. Plus, it instills the value of brushing your teeth.

River Raid: A fairly involved top-down shooter. You have to shoot or avoid enemies, maintain your fuel levels, and try to keep from smashing into walls.

River Raid 2: A tough game. I couldn’t figure out how to take off at first.

Sea Quest: Another tough game where you have to rescue swimmers from sharks and avoid enemy submarines.

Skiing: A possible predecessor to SkiFree? Skiing is a simple slalom race. The controls have a unique feel; there’s a delay that you have to account for.

Sky Jinx: I don’t get the point of this game.

Spider Fighter: A difficult and fast-paced shooter. The enemies are so fast that it’s difficult to ascertain their patterns.

Stampede: A strange game where you have to wrangle some critters. Surprisingly, the controls for moving up and down are stiff.

Star Master: A nigh-incomprehesible and potentially seizure-inducing first-person outer space shooter.

Tennis: Surprisingly difficult, but otherwise unremarkable.

My favorite games in this collection are Crackpots, Enduro, and PA. The sports games make a surprisingly strong effort, too.

AC is a cheapie collection that lacks goodies like interviews or background art that Midway’s anthologies had. One annoyance is that the game boots you back to the title screen when you quit a game. This also drags out the process of choosing a different difficulty level or course on an individual game.

The games are loaded on the PlayStation’s RAM, which means that you can take the disc out and swap it with any CD of your choice. So you could blast the Spice Girls while playing Crackpots. 😀