Thursday, August 30, 2012
The Roots of Activision
These days, although one of the most prolific game developers and publishers around, Activision is probably best known as the company behind the Call of Duty series. Starting as an entry into the WWII-shooter sweepstakes that was all the rage in the early 2000's, the games moved into a more modern setting with, yes, the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games that have become a license to print money in recent years. A lot of people now deride Activision as simply resting on its laurels, content to spin money from what are essentially the same games released year after year with each new incarnation of the Modern Warfare series.
The company had a much more nobel and creative beginning. Founded in 1979 by former Atari programmers who wrote some of the first games for that illustrious company, its raison d'être was to give creative license and proper accreditation to those the founders thought the most important to the success of any game platform: the people creating the games. That, and to make some of the very best games for what was then the leading console, the Atari VCS/2600.
Throwing the astounding creativity of those early days into sharp relief compared to the moribund Activision of today is the Activision Anthology, a collection of wondrous 8-bit games now released for IOS devices. The seemingly made-for-touch-devices Kaboom! is included free, with 45 other gems such as Pitfall!, Barnstorming and Enduro available as an in-app purchase for $6.99. Another purchase tier lets you buy the games in 11 game bundles, each for $2.99. They feature multiple control schemes, to help you acclimatize from rubber Atari joystick to touch screen. There is also a lot of historical documentation included, such as original artwork, manuals and tips from the original programmers.
Those longing for the days when creativity was the watchword of the video game industry instead of a fossilized memory can gorge themselves on the best of the best with the Activision Anthology. For more information on the company and the games that helped build the foundation of the industry, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.