Tag Archives: Activision

Battleship: B4 U H8

Remember Battleship? ‘Course you do. It’s the game parents use to teach kids about grid references, and a game that, despite being regarded as an all-time classic, has all the tactical depth of playing “Guess What Number I’m Thinking Of”.

Do you remember the 2012 movie, though? It had Rihanna in it. Also aliens. And there was a video game adaptation for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, developed by Double Helix and published by Activision. Both were pretty roundly panned by critics at the time of original release for being seemingly stupid ideas that had very little to do with the source material they were supposedly based on.

With the seventh generation of video game consoles rapidly entering “retro” territory, you can now pick up unpopular, poorly received, critically maligned titles like Battleship for less than a fiver. And you know how much I love a good unpopular, poorly received, critically maligned title, particularly when you can divorce it from its original context and enjoy it on its own terms. So let’s take a closer look at Battleship.

Continue reading Battleship: B4 U H8

The Adventures of Rad Gravity: Creative Vision

We talk quite a lot about “video game auteurs” these days, and how modern technology allows game designers to realise their visions like never before.

This sort of thing has been going on for quite some time, however — and in some respects, it’s even more impressive when a developer clearly expresses their creativity through a work from the earlier days of gaming.

Such is the case with The Adventures of Rad Gravity, a 1990 release for NES developed by Interplay, designed by Brian Fargo (of Bard’s Tale and Wasteland fame) and published by Activision. Oh, and no need to brave the second-hand market to find a copy any more, either — it’s part of the Interplay Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system.

Continue reading The Adventures of Rad Gravity: Creative Vision

Atari A to Z: MegaMania

Activision may be a company that a lot of gamers like to steer well clear of these days thanks to issues like predatory DLC and microtransactions, but back in the days of the 8-bit micros, they were one of the finest companies out there.

They credited their programmers and designers, they put out games that pushed the boundaries of underpowered hardware such as the Atari 2600… and they just made great games, full stop.

One fantastic example is MegaMania, a thoroughly weird but extremely enjoyable fixed shooter that will get you bobbing and weaving between waves of hamburgers, engagement rings, bow ties and steam irons. No symbolism there, no sir.

Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Enduro Racer

Back in the early days of home computing, you couldn’t rely on arcade game companies to provide official ports of their own games.

Nope; they tended to be farmed out to other publishers and developers who had more experience with working on the 8- and 16-bit platforms of the era. One such example of this was the relationship between Sega and Activision; this resulted in a number of Sega arcade classics getting ported to systems like the Atari ST.

Here’s Enduro Racer, one of several products of this partnership. Can the humble ST stand up to the might of this Super Scaler classic?

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: H.E.R.O.

Activision were a prolific developer back in the days of the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit computers, with many of their most well-regarded games making the jump from one platform to the other.

One particularly beloved example is H.E.R.O., a game that some see as a spiritual precursor to open-structure 2D platform games such as Metroid.

Whether or not you believe that, the adventures of Roderick “R.” Hero remain a jolly good time even today, so let’s go have some fun!

Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Borrowed Time

“Sam, you’re a dead man.” And how; Activision’s Borrowed Time, an “illustrated text adventure” from 1985, really, really, really wants you dead.

An early game from Interplay with involvement from Brian “Wasteland” Fargo, Borrowed Time is an early attempt to break out of the pure text format of adventure games with a graphical, mouse-driven interface. It’s not quite a full-on point and click adventure just yet, but it’s a first step in that direction.

It’s also a monstrously difficult game, fond of murdering its protagonist at regular intervals right from the very outset. You’re doing well if you manage to survive just leaving your office for the day…

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z Flashback: 3D Tic-Tac-Toe

One of my favourite things about working on this series is how I come across interesting bits of trivia during my research.

Did you know, for example, that today’s game, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, was the work of Carol Shaw, an immensely talented programmer perhaps best known for one of my favourite games of all time: River Raid?

It’s not really all that surprising that someone who is good at programming worked on more than one thing in their career, I guess, but, hey, found it interesting. And 3D Tic-Tac-Toe is a lot harder than it looks!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z: Zone Ranger

We’ve made it to Z again, folks! And today’s a real stonker of a game that I used to really love playing back in the day. And still do today, in fact.

Zone Ranger was released in 1984 by Activision, back when they still made good games, and was the work of one Dan Thompson. Drawing loose inspiration from Asteroids and Sinistar, two favourite games of Thompson, Zone Ranger tasks you with shooting down a bunch of space junk because… why not?

It’s the quintessential mid-’80s arcade blaster in many ways: easy to learn, hard to master and very, very addictive.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z: Pastfinder

Ah, Activision. What a wonderfully creative variety of games you put out in the 8-bit era. What a hollow shell of yourself you are today.

Ahem, sorry, got a bit nostalgic there for a moment. Anyway, here’s Pastfinder, one of my favourite shoot ’em ups on Atari 8-bit, and one of the most peculiarly interesting ones to boot. You take on control of a little jumping bug of a spacecraft as you attempt to track down alien antiquities.

Better be careful, though; the whole planet is irradiated, so time is of the essence if you want to keep all your hair and/or internal organs intact to enjoy your loot.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z: Master of the Lamps

Once upon a time, Activision was not the bloated mess of a money-hungry corporate behemoth it is now. Well, it was slightly less of one, anyway.

The key difference between the Activision of now and the Activision of then is that the latter was much more willing to take significant risks on games that were as much a work of art as they were a piece of interactive entertainment.

One of the best examples of this practice — and one of Activision’s best games, full stop — is Master of the Lamps, one of the earliest ever music games and a spectacular example of what the Atari 8-bit was capable of in the hands of talented programmers.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.