Activision Hits Remixed • Page 2

2600 games. Actually, not quite that many.

Sport

This is an easy category to write about, mainly because it'll consist of giggling and grimaces to convey the pain. My notes for Boxing read 'top-down, rubbish', Tennis merely says 'heh', Skiing notes that it's 'really bad', Ice Hockey says 'ho ho', while Decathlon - easily the pick of the bunch - is described (with amazing insight) as a 'button masher'. Generally speaking, the graphics limitations don't give the programmers a prayer of even vaguely approximating most sports, or are simply so limited in gameplay terms that it's reduced to half-hearted button pressing or shuffling movements. Decathlon is definitely a good 'un though. I'll never tire of that whole Track & Field button epilepsy.

Miscellaneous

The best thing about games in those early days was that publishers were willing to put out all sorts of crazy games with off-the-wall concepts - and this collection is rammed with games that almost defy classification. Barnstorming has you flying through barns while trying to avoid geese, while Dolphin is perhaps best described as a chase-'em-up, where you're trying to outmanoeuvre a chasing squid in the water, with the chance to turn the tables on it if you dive out of the water at the right moment.

3
Fishing Derby - dig the detail.

Others are easier to describe, but no less unique. Fishing Derby, predictably, has you dropping a line down to the fish, reeling it up when you've got a bite, while trying to avoid losing your catch. Grid-based muncher Kabobber is certainly an interesting concept, where you try to control a cluster of little critters around in the hope of adding to you numbers. Kaboom feels like one of Nintendo's Game & Watch games, where you have stop bombs reaching the bottom of the screen with your bucket of water.

Oink! is similarly charming, and tasks you with stopping a rabid wolf from breaking into your house of straw. He frantically tears what look like tiles off the side, while you struggle to replace them with equal haste. It's amazingly simple, but curiously enjoyable. Pressure Cooker, though, feels a bit like Burger Time gone wrong and simply wasn't very playable. Equally horrible was Thwocker - a bouncy platform-style game with tedious instant death tendencies to have you reaching for the Game Select button. But few can compare to the pointlessness of satellite docking game Space Shuttle - a gaming experience seemingly designed to shatter young children's dreams and annoy the parents who paid for the game in the first place. For the board and card game mentalists, Checkers and Bridge do a reasonable early job of simulating these old favourites, but presumably about one person reading this will even care, so we'll move swiftly on.

Elsewhere, things pick up with road-based Frogger-inspired Freeway, while Frostbite is an interesting igloo building game where you hop between floating blocks of ice avoiding clams and snow geese. And towards the end of Activision's 2600 adventures, we got to enjoy some really good stuff like action adventure Hero - where you had to explore caverns with a chat with some sort of hover ability and shoot the sort of bugs that inhabited early '80s videogames.

4
Laser Blast. Giant frickin' lasers.

Arguably the most famous game on the entire collection is Pitfall - a game which helped take the plaforming genre to new heights, with large multi-screen environments and challenging trap-laden levels with swinging ropes and snapping crocodile pits. It's absorbing even now, which is probably why David Crane is such a familiar name 25 years on. The sequel, though, is blighted by irritating music and a baffling death mechanic which systematically drags you back to the beginning if you die. And a special mention also goes to Keystone Kapers - a robber chasing game set on multiple stair-linked levels where you have to hastily leg it after a criminal before he makes his escape. My ever tolerant partner was right - it's a lot of fun.

And as I scrabble for a hasty conclusion to this round-up, that's the main thing to take away from this package. Somewhere, there will be a game or two that you remember from your youth that's lingered in your mind ever since, but that you perhaps haven't seen since your childhood. If only to sate those dewey-eyed memories, Activision Hits Remixed is well worth the meagre asking price. With its game sharing facilities, you can even enjoy the various two player modes with a fellow geriatric (without having to buy another copy, usefully), and each game comes with a slavishly reproduced instruction manual and box art for maximum nostalgia points. The front end is pretty lovely too, with many thoughtful touches (including a hilarious soundtrack of early/mid '80s gems) and far from being a loveless cash-in exercise, it feels like a fitting tribute to a bygone age that doesn't neatly fit into most people's associations of classic gaming. Attaching a score feels a little mean, because in terms of what the games are worth (even collectively) it wouldn't even register on the scale, but as a sensibly priced package it somehow serves its purpose admirably. For those that were there...

6 /10

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About the author

Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed

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Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.

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