The nostalgia is strong with Activision's collection of Atari 2600 games that will fit neatly in your pocket. We check out a new build.
Later this month, Activision will join the growing list of companies who are releasing classic-game compilations with its own PSP collection, titled Hits Remixed. Longtime gamers will remember Activision's storied history stretching all the way back to the Atari 2600--the platform from which the 44 games included here are taken. And from what we played of the game so far, these properly emulated golden oldies will be wrapped up in a visually appealing and easily accessible package with some nice goodies thrown in on the side.
When you jump into Activision Hits Remixed, you'll be greeted with a 3D menu screen that lets you cycle through all the available 2600 games with a cover-and-screenshot preview. Apparently the PSP can fit all of these games into its memory at once, because we saw no loading screens whatsoever after getting to this menu; we were able to go from one game to the next seamlessly. Even better, when you drop back to the menu, the game saves your progress so you can come back to that raging game of Kaboom or Pitfall without having to start over.
Anyway, all the games in Hits Remixed are from the 2600's heyday, so you're looking at such luminaries as Chopper Command (fly a chopper and shoot stuff), Barnstorming (pilot a biplane through a bunch of barns), Boxing (uh...box!), Plaque Attack (fire toothpaste at incoming food to protect the teeth, Space Invaders style), and the aforementioned seminal side-scrolling precursor Pitfall. Some of the games even let you mess with the rules, occasionally letting you control how many enemies you're facing or otherwise tweak the difficulty.
These aren't exactly the most complicated games, but at least there's darn near 50 of them. There's even the odd curiosity like Thwocker, a prototype game that pushed the 2600 to its limit and was never actually released. The game has you bouncing a goofy little dude around so you can pick up musical notes and instruments. Thwocker was apparently discovered in a pawn shop within the last few years, according to the supplemental material provided within the game.
Speaking of which, it looks like there's a lot of nostalgia-inspiring content. You can look at the boxes, cartridges, and manuals for all the included games, and you can also unlock ridiculous old television commercials and earn medals by playing the games well. Hits Remixed uses an Xbox 360 achievements-style system, where hitting a certain score might unlock one bonus, while losing all your lives will give you another one. It seems like an interesting twist on the typical high-score system, since it looks like you'll occasionally stumble into some of the unlockables even when you're doing poorly.
As these games are roughly 25 years old, there's not a lot to say about their presentation, though you can mess with the coloration in some of them, and they all stretch to wide-screen. The emulation seemed flawless, though, from what we played. The 3D between-game menus look neat, as they simulate an entire room, with the camera pointing at your television to let you select games and then panning over to a table to give you access to manuals, unlockables, and your stereo.
The game also features the ultimate nostalgic feature: a soundtrack with notable hits from the era, like A-ha's "Take On Me," Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," and "The Tide Is High" by Blondie. Talk Talk ("It's My Life"), Soft Cell ("Tainted Love"), and Missing Persons ("Walking in LA") are a few more you can expect, so it'll be hard not to bob your head like an idiot while you're kicking back with some 2600 classics, which you'll be able to do right at the end of the month.
compilations are horrible, you need the actual arcade to enjoy it due to the controls. It just doesn't work with the PSP controller...spotty at best.
If anyone gets this for PSP (especially if you've played the games on the 2600), I'd appreciate a comment on how you feel about the control. I had the PS2 version, and got frustrated conrolling games that used the 2600 paddle controller with the PS2 analog stick. Kaboom just didn't feel the same. Maybe the PSP nub will work better. Also, shame on them for not including my favorite Imagic 2600 game, Cosmic Ark!