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Posted on May 17th 2010 at 03:21:30 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Game Boy Advance

There's no surprise that the Game Boy Advance is generally loved by retro gamer enthusiasts. Indeed it was a platform that saw many great and classic games ported, remade, demade and re-imagined. It also offered many carts that contained multiple old school games that could please us so-called Cheap Ass Gamers. With this in mind -- and keeping up with the recent series of Game Boy Player Land blog posts focusing on arcade-stick friendly titles -- let us investigate the world of GBA Retro Compilations.

Activision Anthology is by far one of the most impressive retro compilations released for the Game Boy Advance. The cart contains almost fifty Atari 2600 games including classics like Pitfall, Keystone Kapers, and Atlantis. Unsurprisingly, each game is emulated quite well considering the vastly superior GBA hardware.

The real real pleasant surprise is the amount of extra that went into the GBA cartridge, both in presentation as well as extras. The menu screens display a virtual room and allow you to browse through racks of virtual 2600 cartridges. You can even inspect zoomed-in versions of the game labels or read histories of the games. Activision even went as far as to include a nice handful of homebrew 2600 games -- something not present on the home console versions of the anthology! What's even better for Game Boy Player fans is the ability to use a GBA as a 2nd player controller, and play cooperatively using a single screen. This cart is highly recommended.

Atari Anniversary Advance is a nice collection of six Atari arcade games: Asteroid, Battlezone, Centipede, Missile Command, Super Breakout, and Tempest. The games are faithful emulations of the original arcade titles, so fans of the early days of arcade should be pleased. The cartridge also contains a bonus Atari trivia game and offers up a single-cart, single-GBA 2Player option -- again, rather perfect for the Game Boy Player.

Capcom Classic Mini Mix is a great little compilation of three Capcom NES games: Bionic Commando, Mighty Final Fight, and Strider. Each game is emulated pretty perfectly from the NES. Bionic Commando is generally the draw-in here, as the NES version is pretty well remembered. On the other hand, the NES version of Strider is extremely different from the arcade or Genesis versions that most of us probably remember. Likewise, Mighty Final Fight is a demake of the arcade version of Final Fight that looks and plays far closer to River City Ransom. I personally recommend this collection for Mighty Final Fight alone. Though sadly Capcom really didn't add much to this cart in the way of extras -- not even a save feature.

The rather cumbersomely titled Komani Collector's Series Arcade Advanced is a nice collection of six Konami Arcade classics: Frogger, Gyruss, Rush'n Attack, Scramble, Time Pilot, and Yie Ar Kung-Fu. Like most of these sorts of early arcade collections, the GBA has little problem emulating the games. There is a nice single-cart 2Player option available, as well as some optional modernized versions of the games. In keeping up with the nostalgia, Konami was also thoughtful enough to offer up some extras by way of the famous Konami Code.

Namco Museum is pretty much a necessity for GBA retro enthusiasts. Admittedly, I'm a bit biased as Galaga is one of my personal all-time favorite games. That being said, the other three games included -- Dig Dug, Ms. Pac-Man and Pole Position are all certainly classics in their own right. The games all play great though my biggest complaint is the lack of a high-score save feature like the one found on the other home console releases of Namco Museum. There's apparently also a 50th Anniversary addition GBA cart that adds Rally-X and the original Pac-Man but sacrifices Pole Position.

The Sega Arcade Gallery is a great collection of four Sega arcade ports: After Burner, Out Run, Space Harrier, and Super Hang On. The games all play quite well, with the possible exception of a so-so After Burner. On the other hand Space Harrier is rather impressive given its original complicated presentation. If I had to come up with any complaint at all, it would be that THQ decided to include two racing games which can come off a bit redundant. Though I certainly can't complain that Out Run is included. Unfortunately extras are non-existent and there is no high-score save feature.

Sega Smashpack is another bare-bones compilation of three Sega games: Ecco The Dolphin, Golden Axe, and Sonic Spinball. The compilation is definitely a mixed bag. The port of Ecco The Dolphin is quite impressive. However the port of Golden Axe is rather poor in execution and lacks the co-op mode that it is most known for. Sonic Spinball is a fine port, though an actual Sonic The Hedgehog title would have been preferred in its place.

Having said all that, each of these collections is generally worth seeking out for one game or another. As I've said in other recent arcade-related posts, playing a game like Galaga or Ms. Pac-man using an arcade stick is especially awesome. Now what retro collections am I missing out on?

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I just picked up Sega Smash Pack, might check into a few others, thx for getting me looking for more compilations Smiley
Hm.  I never knew there was an Activision Anthology for GBA.  That is really cool.
I am looking for these now
@bombatomba: the Activision Anthology is incredible.
The Activision Anthology looks pretty impressive.  I'm surprised they put so much effort into it.  Nice blog!  Smiley
Nice writeup. I saw Capcom Classic Mini Mix at a store not that long ago but didn't pick it up. Maybe I should've. Smiley
@bombatomba: The whole Reason I purchased Activision Anthology was for Pitfall II. I already owned it for the 2600 and 5200, but I wanted to have a portable copy. AA is by far my favorite compilation for the GBA.
@blcklblskt: Incredible indeed. Which is your favorite title on the cart? My top 3 is Pitfall II, Spider Fighter & River Raid.
@noiseredux: Oops. I meant to click on you for the Incredible posting.
@atari_wizard: for me, a lot of it is playing the games that I played the hell out of on the 2600 when I was a little kid... strangely Boxing is way up there. I don't know why, but I loved it back then. haha.
I wish there could be a more comprehensive Atari 2600 compilation available for handhelds.  I would love to be able to play Blueprint and Demon Attack on the go someday.

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