Activision Anthology
System: Playstation 2
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Contraband Entertainment
Released: November 2002
Genre: Compilation
Capabilities: Dual Shock 2 Analog Control Compatible, Memory Card Compatible

Review Written: February 9, 2003

I’ve played my fair share of compilation games. Atari, Sega, Midway, Namco, and others are notable for their old “best of” releases. Now the world’s first third party publisher, Activision is throwing its hat in the ring with an astonishing 45+ games from the old Atari 2600.

There are a bundle of classics on here. Everyone should be able to recognize at least a few of the games out this nostalgic collection. Hell, I remember the countless hours I spent with Boxing, Ice Hockey, and Pitfall to name a few. There are also many other memorable titles in Activision Anthology that classic gamers will get a kick out of. These range from old hits like River Raid and H.E.R.O. to the never before released games of Kabobber and Thwoker. Each and every title is worth checking out at least once, if not only for some quick impressions. This was the case for me when I experienced the world’s first console wrestling game which is dubbed Title Match Pro Wrestling. Just like most old VHS games you’ll get your fill from many of the ones included here within your first five minutes playing them. However, with enough time you’ll be bound to find several games that’ll keep you hooked.

Activision didn’t have to do much for finding a perfect control scheme on the PS2 controller. The X button represents the sole button on the original Atari 2600 controller. R1 is used to toggle between playing games with one or two players, and that’s about it. It can be somewhat subtle to get past the few options screens that you run across, but other than that cumbersome experience, everything else should flow fine.

Two out of three times when a company releases a compilation game, they tend to skimp out on the extra features which make the title seem haphazard. I don’t know about you, but releasing these types of games makes extras seem mandatory. Activision Anthology does this in spades. Exactly like in the recently released Sonic Mega Collection, Activision provides us with scans for all the old cover art and instruction manuals of each title in this collection. You have to work for some of the better extras by beating the set high score in specific games. These unlock additional ways of viewing game play, and old commercials for several of the titles in Activision Anthology. It would’ve been cool if Activision would’ve managed to squeeze in some interviews with some of the original developers like Atari Anniversary Edition managed, but what they furnished gets the job done just fine.

Naturally, all of the graphics are as archaic as it gets. Keep in mind the total size of all the games in here are equivalent to an icon on your desktop.  Activision emulated all the titles to perfection, and they appear exactly as we remember them over 20 years ago. The main menu is replicated after what our father’s room most likely compensated of. There’s an old fashioned television set, a radio to adjust the game’s soundtrack, an Atari 2600 complete with rotating game rack, and a notepad to view the unlocks list and adjust options. The bonus modes of viewing the games are an appreciated bonus. While they won’t add anything in particular to the actual game play, they’ll rekindle many memories. This goes in hand with the “V-Hold” feature which had us constantly adjusting that function on our old television sets so we can get the whole game to appear on screen.

The audio is also reminiscent of how it was way back when. The trademark bleeps and buzzes we remember are still nerve-wracking as ever. Rarely did any Atari 2600 game consist of any background music whatsoever. Activision kept that in mind and decided to up the retro factor by adding a sweet 80’s soundtrack. It consists of twelve hit songs such as “We’re not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister, and “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, to name a few. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from Activision as a better way to play these games. As for all you Atari geeks that think this is an atrocity, than fear not because you have the option of disabling the background music and experiencing all these titles in their original fashion.

Playing each and every one of the 45+ games will keep you busy for a great while. Beating the high scores to unlock the extra viewing modes and original commercials will challenge you even further to break those high scores. Most of these titles can be played with two players so you can now relive those classic bouts of Boxing and Dragster all over again.


Graphics: 4.1
Sound: 7.4
Game play: 6.9
Replay Value: 8.0 

Overall: 6.6

This is probably the most nostalgic game out on the PS2 right now. For anyone that wants to relive the first golden era of video games than you can’t go wrong by purchasing this game. Even new gamer curious at how the first generation of games looked should give this one a rental at least. This collection of favorites is rounded off nicely with the inclusion of old commercials and extra viewing modes. Like I said, some developer interviews and maybe a couple of more 8 or 16-bit hidden games would’ve been nice, but what Activision has to offer should be perfect for any retro gamer. Of course, if you’re the one who only expects the very best out of your PS2 and hates re-releases than you can add this one to your avoid list with the other collections from Sega, Namco, and Midway.

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