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Question about later Activision games

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I was curious why the later Activision games, such as Ghostbusters, Skateboarding, and Rampage don't seem to have the typical Activision graphics. What would be the exact reason for this? To me, the graphics are still good, but they don't remind me of earlier color styles employed by the company. In the case of Skateboarding, I think that was done by Absolute and may have been distributed by Activision...was David Crane not allowed to make that game look like an Activision title, would it violate a trademark?

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I would assume because it was much later (post "crash") and they were trying to freshen things up -- they never had licensed games in the early days either. For what it's worth I prefer the old colorful style.

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As far as Ghostbusters, not sure what you mean? The Busters themselves looked just like Pitfall Harry (with a proton pack on his back). I also think it goes down as another game where Activision crammed more in that many probably thought possible.

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I was curious why the later Activision games, such as Ghostbusters, Skateboarding, and Rampage don't seem to have the typical Activision graphics. What would be the exact reason for this? To me, the graphics are still good, but they don't remind me of earlier color styles employed by the company. In the case of Skateboarding, I think that was done by Absolute and may have been distributed by Activision...was David Crane not allowed to make that game look like an Activision title, would it violate a trademark?

 

Styles change. The Activision 2600 look was innovative in 1981, but if they keep doing the same thing forever it will start to look dated

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Styles change. The Activision 2600 look was innovative in 1981, but if they keep doing the same thing forever it will start to look dated

 

BRING BACK NUMBERED CARTRIDGES WITHOUT PICTURES

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Thanks for all the replies.

 

Matt, that is a good point on Ghostbusters. It definitely is a good game, and perhaps I overstated my premise on that. I think the thing that sticks out at me mostly is the ghost-mobile and the map...they seem like Atari itself created the graphics. Also, the Stay-Puft poltergeist at the end just comes off as not-like Activision. I suppose, though, that since it was a licensed title, as Flo mentioned, it may have sort of dictated a different way of doing things. If we think of that character at the end as a boss-like entity, we might also consider that, to my knowledge, I don't think Activision ever had that type of character on any of its other games, so that may have affected my thinking as well (if you get what I mean).

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Resources, I would imagine. The later games were always in the 'this probably shouldn't have been attempted on a 2600' category. Programming time/space were spent on actually getting the whole game in there and less on Activision 'flair'. The games that had that signature look were usually much less ambitious in scope.

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Resources, I would imagine. The later games were always in the 'this probably shouldn't have been attempted on a 2600' category. Programming time/space were spent on actually getting the whole game in there and less on Activision 'flair'. The games that had that signature look were usually much less ambitious in scope.

 

This. Part of the reason the pre-crash Activision titles looked so phenomenal are because none of them were licensed properties... each game was designed specifically for the 2600, keeping in mind what the system did well, and what it didn't. Licensed games had to do certain things, regardless of how well the system could actually do them... and so that's what we ended up with in the later, licensed Activision games.

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I was curious why the later Activision games, such as Ghostbusters, Skateboarding, and Rampage don't seem to have the typical Activision graphics. What would be the exact reason for this? To me, the graphics are still good, but they don't remind me of earlier color styles employed by the company. In the case of Skateboarding, I think that was done by Absolute and may have been distributed by Activision...was David Crane not allowed to make that game look like an Activision title, would it violate a trademark?

It wouldn't be a trademark violation but everytime David Crane leaves a company he has to leave any programs (atari 2600 kernels) behind. Otherwise it's a copyright violation. Other factors is that by the late 1980s the 2600 market had changed and they weren't going to sell millions of high priced cartridges, so they weren't giving these projects the same attention they did in the early 1980s. Also, unlike the early 1980s, some of these games were designed on other systems first and later coverted to the 2600. Crane created ghostbusters on the c-64, which actually has fewer colours than the 2600. The 2600 version was programmed by Dan Kitchen. Skate Boardin was programmed by Crane, published by Absolute.
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It wouldn't be a trademark violation but everytime David Crane leaves a company he has to leave any programs (atari 2600 kernels) behind. Otherwise it's a copyright violation. Other factors is that by the late 1980s the 2600 market had changed and they weren't going to sell millions of high priced cartridges, so they weren't giving these projects the same attention they did in the early 1980s. Also, unlike the early 1980s, some of these games were designed on other systems first and later coverted to the 2600. Crane created ghostbusters on the c-64, which actually has fewer colours than the 2600. The 2600 version was programmed by Dan Kitchen. Skate Boardin was programmed by Crane, published by Absolute.

 

Thanks for that info. I didn't realize Crane started the game on the Commodore. I'm not a programmer - when a game starts on a system like the 64 and then goes to 2600, does the process involve starting from scratch or can the assembly listing be rolled over and essentially fixed here and there? I never understood all of that, although I think Crane once said in an interview that Pitfall II was converted for the 800 and 64 via both methods (leading to the ability to create the extra adventure) so perhaps there is always a choice? Either way, what you say above seems to explain more of the situation...

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Having to try and cram licensed games onto a system rather than writing to its strengths is part of it, but also late-era Activision was decidedly more cash-strapped than in its heyday. As such they may simply just not have had as much development time to really fine tune these games in the first place.

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