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Activision Hits Remixed – PSP Game Collection Review

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Travel back to the 70s and 80s in this collection loaded with retro games and classic rock. Activision tunes in to a happening of some of their most infamous titles for the Atari 2600 console. This UMD does the job of taking you back to those days of turn-knob TVs, wood paneling and joysticks with just one button, but do the games translate on a next-gen handheld?

Basics:

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Release Date: 11/08/2006
  • Type: PSP collection of classic Atari 2600 games.
  • ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

The Good

  • Most of Activision and Imagic's greatest Atari 2600 classics in one collection
  • Great unlockables that include original TV commercials
  • Some of the biggest 80s hits that rock as you play.
  • Includes two previously unreleased Atari 2600 games: Kabobber and Thwocker.

The Bad:

  • Some graphics are too small to make out on the PSP screen.
  • No way to save game progress.
  • The Media section's look at game manuals, cartridges and packaging are simple computer generated remakes instead of original images.

Features:

  • Over 40 classic Atari 2600, with 12 classic rock hits.
  • Media Mode to access recreations of game manuals, cartridges, packaging and unlockables
  • Game Sharing for multiplayer modes via Wi-Fi connection.
  • Bonus game Chronology List
  • Song playlist on/off, volume and song skip options.
  • Original difficulty settings remain intact.

History:

The games behind Activision Hits Remixed aren’t just titles originally published by Activision, the collection also includes a few popular games from the long forgotten publisher Imagic.

It seemed during its run, all of the Atari 2600's successes and failures had a dramatic impact on the video game industry. In this specific case it was Atari's failure to recognize and reward the work achieved by their game programmers at the height of the systems financial success. Realizing that they held all of the knowledge and technology needed to create the games themselves, Atari's top programmers began to leave the corporate giant and start their own publishing companies.

Unlike today where numerous publishers can all release games for a single system as long as they pony up a license agreement from the manufacturer (first party), at the time of the 2600 all games made for a specific system were published by the same company that created the system. So any game designed for the Magnavox Odyssey, were published by Magnavox, and the same went for Atari and their 2600 games. The idea that another company publishing games for the 2600 never occurred to Atari until, in 1979, top programmers David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead left the company and joined forces with businessman Jim Levy to form Activision, giving birth to the third party publisher.

Atari immediately took legal action, but eventually lost out, allowing Activision to freely publish for the 2600. With Atari's top creative minds at the helm, Activision started cranking out innovative and high quality games, eventually outselling Atari's own in-house titles. In 1982 Activision published the 2600's second best selling title, Pitfall! By this time new third-party publishers were popping up all over the industry to get their slice of the 2600 pie.

Following the same steps as their former co-workers, in 1981 Atari staffers Rob Fulop, Bill Grubb, Bob Smith, Mark Bradley and Denis Koble, teamed up with former Mattel employees Jim Goldberger and Brian Dougherty to form the game publisher Imagic. With its high quality and ground breaking titles, Imagic became the third largest publisher of 2600 games, just behind Atari and Activision.

Tragically Imagic was one of the many publishers who fell victim to the Video Game Industry Crash of 1983, and a few years later sold off most of their titles to Activision.

The Collection

Activision Hits Remixed is a huge collection of the best Atari 2600 games from the collections namesake, with a few titles from Imagic peppered in for good measure. All of the titles were published between 1980 and 1985, which combined with the 80s rock tunes does a fairly good job projecting those nostalgic retro days long gone.

Although the games aren’t as intricate or extensive as the ones of today, these titles have a bigger focus on gameplay and innovation. The first priority of a 2600 game was to create an addictive experience that the gamer could replay many times over before getting bored. The games at this time were also far more difficult to play, with only a limited number of lives and no continues.

One major advantage that the PSP version has over the original releases is the controls. While the joystick for the 2600 was groundbreaking, it also wasn't as responsive and especially difficult in areas where response time is critical. The PSP controls are dead-on accurate, so no more delay in jumping or changing of direction at critical times. While the controls are a big bonus, the largest drawback to the PSP is the small graphics. These 2600 titles were intended to be played on the large, family living room television, not a tiny 4.3 inch screen. The size reduction makes some of the games with smaller graphics difficult, and in the case of Atlantis, nearly impossible to play.

The big treat is the inclusion of not only the ground breaking platform adventure Pitfall!, but its lesser known sequel, Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, which is superior in many ways to the original, but released right at the beginning of the industry crash. Pitfall II includes everything that made the original a hit, but with more extensive environments and weapons.

Another major bonus are two original 2600 titles that never saw a release. The programming for both Kabobber and Thwocker was completed, but the projects were canceled before going to manufacture, making these two titles legendary and highly sought after by collectors. Both games are of a very high quality, original and much more fun to play than many of the 2600's top titles. It's a tragedy that they never got to see a release on the original system, but at least now we get a chance to see what we were missing all those years ago.

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