Free Retro Gaming for iOS - Activision’s Kaboom!

When I hear the word ‘nostalgia’ I tend to think of a stylize version of an event in the past, and the event doesn’t have to be from my past, or even real. For instance, ask me about fond memories from my childhood and I may regale you with the adventures I had whilst tramping through the woods in Gwynns Falls Park in East Baltimore.

I may tell you about the 20 foot albino water moccasin I encountered (likely no more than 6 feet, and it was black) or the giant rotten egg I found (it was small, but it smelled enormous), or the bag of money from a bank robbery I found (it was several twenties and not in a bag, just scattered, and it was from a local store robbery. I returned the money).

Free on iTunes

Time has a way of distorting our memories. Good events become reasons to celebrate and the recollection of bad times become insufferable though we’ve somehow survived them. Nostalgia, however, tends to lean towards our more pleasant memories, and it is so when I recall the fun I had with my Atari 2600.

I was captain of Chopper Command, super bad at Boxing, an ace at Atlantis, and kicked major butt in Kaboom! No one could beat me when I was in The Zone. I must have worn out hundreds of joysticks and game dials. Even wore out some of my game cartridges. All those game were from a company called Activision and they had some of the best games ever.

I’m sure I was only OK at those and other games, and truth be told, some of those games were not that great, but I sure recall many of them being a lot more fun than some of the stuff that passes for arcade games these days. Luckily for me I have an iPad and a free app called Activision Anthology.


Let me warn you up front that this app only gives you one free game, the rest you have to pay for. The freebie game, however, is a blast (if you’ll pardon the pun). It’s Kaboom! We’ll get to the game in a moment.


Activision Anthology is how I think vendors of nostalgia games should make their apps. The main screen shows a TV set circa 1970s, complete with rabbit ears, and in front of it is a rendition of the Atari 2600 game console and the venerable black Atari joystick. Menus are on the right of the screen, but the left side is far more interesting.

There you’ll find 45 Activision games that you can scroll through. Stop on a game and the TV screen shows the gaming action (such as it was back then). Tap the TV screen and you’ll see a closer view of the box and a description of the game. But if you really want a treat, tap the Extras menu.

There you’ll see the box again, but here you can pinch and zoom to get a closer, through somewhat pixelated view. You can turn the box around to see it from all sides. While the app does let you read the text on the back panel, it’s a shame that the boxes are so pixelated. It would have fun to read the text directly from the box. This is especially frustrating for those with retina display iPads.

ActivisionKaboom! box and cartridge in all their pixelated glory

But that’s not all. Tap the ‘Open’ button in the lower right of the screen and you’ll a view of the cartridge too.

Now, the game. Playing Kaboom! on an iPad is actually pretty good. If you’ll recall, this is a game where a nefarious villain, The Mad Bomber, unleashes a stream of bombs and you have to catch them in a three tiered bucket. Each round gets faster until it becomes impossible to not miss a bomb, and when you do you lose a bucket. Lose all three and the game ends.

ActivisionKaboom! in all its pixelated glory!

This game used a knob controller. On the iPad you have a choice of having the bucket follow your finger, tilt, or use a simulated controller. I like the ‘follow touch’ option.

As I mentioned earlier, 44 other games can be had either in 11 game lots for US$2.99 for all 11 games, or the entire 44-game collection for $6.99. No a bad deal I suppose, but I would have liked maybe one other game to play with before deciding to open my wallet.

Still, if you’re cheap, have a nostalgic longing for 2600 games, and love Kaboom! then Activision Anthology is a must have.

And that’s a wrap for this week. More freebie goodness next week.