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If I have a 2600... why get a 7800?


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#1 JohnnyRockets OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 1:31 PM

Hi!

I am a super newbie, so please be gentle with your answers, my intention is not to offend anyone with this question.


From a "fun" factor and a "I'd like to program it" standpoint, why would one buy an Atari 7800 if the already had the 2600 (I just bought a 2600 recently)?



Thanks!




JR

#2 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 1:48 PM

I have found the reverse question: If you have a 7800 that can play 7800 and 2600 games, why get a 2600?

Well, the fact is, the 7800 can play about 99.7% of the 2600 games with no problem so I have a 7800 when playing either.

But then if you have a 5200 with a fan made 7800 adaptor, you don't need either a 7800 or 2600 anymore. ;)

#3 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 1:50 PM

To play 7800 games, of course!

Long answer: the 7800 was made backward-compatible with the 2600 so it could play old 2600 games, but it can also play 7800 games which make use of its more advanced graphics. See here for a list of the games that were released for the 7800, and here for a series of reviews published by The Video Game Critic. The 7800 has a lot more to offer than 2600 compatibility, including some excellent arcade ports and (especially with the upcoming 7800XM) some great homebrew games!

And yes, I tend to use the 7800 for playing both 2600 and 7800 games; I haven't had any of my 2600s hooked up for quite some time. There are a few 2600 titles that aren't compatible with the 7800 (Robot Tank comes to mind), but I've had no issues otherwise.

#4 JohnnyRockets OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 1:58 PM

Awesome! Thanks, I'm really tempted to buy a 7800.

Is it hard to program for versus the 2600 does anyone know?


JR

#5 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 2:18 PM

Well, "hard to program" is a relative term. With a few exceptions, programming for both consoles has traditionally been done in assembly language. But the 2600 now has batari Basic, a popular choice among new homebrew developers, while the 7800 has seen an increasing number of homebrews developed in C (see the 7800XM page I linked to earlier for some recent examples). Which console you choose really depends on your present level of programming experience and what types of games you're interested in creating. Personally, I think the 7800 has more to offer in terms of power and flexibility, and I prefer to use a standard language like C as opposed to a proprietary (or fixed-purpose) language like batari Basic. The 7800 is going to become an even more attractive platform for homebrewing with some of the tools currently under development, including the aforementioned 7800XM.

#6 JohnnyRockets OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 2:41 PM

jaybird3rd (and others),

VERY interesting! I did not know this about the 7800 and the C language. I do think ASM is pretty cool, but it can be challenging (at least for me), I do like the BASIC language a lot (such an old favorite) but programming in C is a nice "in-between" of these extremes, if you will.

This is all very good information and I appreciate your expertise.

I will DEFINITELY be checking out the aforementioned 7800XM info.


Thanks A LOT!

#7 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 2:41 PM

Good answers from jaybird3rd. And my 7800 happens to run all of my 100+ 2600 games, Robot Tank included. Some models of 7800 are pickier than others, but all 7800s will run 99.5% of the VCS library from what I've read.

#8 JohnnyRockets OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 3:38 PM

Most programming for the 7800 is done currently in ASM?

#9 GroovyBee OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 3:45 PM

I did not know this about the 7800 and the C language. I do think ASM is pretty cool, but it can be challenging (at least for me), I do like the BASIC language a lot (such an old favorite) but programming in C is a nice "in-between" of these extremes, if you will.


Although I develop in "C" (and assembler) it also helps if you have an understanding of 6502 assembler for when "C" doesn't quite have enough speed or the compiler generates weird code. I often look at the assembler produced by the CC65 "C" compiler and think "why did it do that?" because the code produced is inefficient or not what I expected. Often times you can approach the problem from a different angle and the compiler makes better choices. If the routine isn't called often I might just leave it and move on to more pressing problems in the project or go back and replace it with some assembly language and be done with it ;).


#10 JohnnyRockets OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 3:50 PM

Oh! Can you point me to the "C Tools" that I would need for programming the 7800?

Also once you have written a game, how do you run it? Harmony? Or something else?

Thanks, sorry the questions are so basic, still a major newbie!

#11 GroovyBee OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 4:07 PM

Most programming for the 7800 is done currently in ASM?


At the moment 6502 assembler is the only option until I can clear the decks of some of my XM projects and free some time. I use the CC65 "C" compiler that I targeted at the 7800. Game logic and AI can be written in "C" (where speed mostly isn't an issue in most games) and then link against a custom library (in 6502) that handles 7800 sprites, joystick, colours, music, effects and the XM. Plus some helper functions for getting stuff on the screen in text and BCD format. There are also a selection of tools for converting graphics (amongst other things). However, I still need to document the game development library, tidy up the tools and work on some tutorials for it too. As well as set aside a chunk of time supporting people in their projects should they wish to use it.

Oh! Can you point me to the "C Tools" that I would need for programming the 7800?


"C" isn't an option at the moment but you can use the assembler in the CC65 package or DASM.

Also once you have written a game, how do you run it? Harmony? Or something else?


Its a multicart called Cuttle Cart 2 or CC2 for short. They haven't been made in years so can be difficult and expensive to get hold of. There is a project called H2 by batari and team which is a Harmony equivalent for the 7800. There is no fixed date for its release yet.

Thanks, sorry the questions are so basic, still a major newbie!


No worries.

#12 JohnnyRockets OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 4:11 PM

Cool, thanks! Great stuff to look forward to!

Really appreciate it!

#13 GroovyBee OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 4:17 PM

You could always develop a game in 6502 while you are waiting ;). You still need to know about MARIA's Display List List (DLL) and Display List (DL) headers to make use of the game library. Although I do have plans to try and make that step a bit simpler. Have a look at the pinned threads in the 7800 programming because there is quite a bit of information in there.

#14 JohnnyRockets OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 4:20 PM

Would you say that the 7800 is harder to program for than the 2600?

#15 GroovyBee OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 4:28 PM

Would you say that the 7800 is harder to program for than the 2600?


It depends on your backround because everybody is fifferent. Once you get to grips with how MARIA handles its graphics and you can see ways to divide your project's playfield up into "zones" split vertically you are well on your way to gettinf things done.

#16 Austin OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 4:37 PM

"If I have a 2600.. why get a 7800?"


Um.. To play the 7800 games.

#17 VectorGamer ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 6:22 PM

We need more peeps programming for the 7800. I wouldn't put it passed Bobby D to translate the entire Golden Age of Arcade Video Games for the 7800 all by himself.

Why you should get a 7800: to buy all of the PacManPlus games!

#18 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 6:50 PM

To play 7800 games, of course!


This is really the best answer I can think of. There's some great arcade ports on the 7800 that are worth the price of admission. The best games are cheap and easy to find. Just try to find an alternative to the proline if you can whether it be a euro gamepad or a converted NES pad or the like.

#19 8th lutz OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2012 7:22 PM

I actually owned a Atari 2600 Jr. before I got a 7800 for Christmas in 1989. The Atari 7800 for me offered me games like Food Fight, and BallBlazer as examples that the 2600 didn't have.

I have three reasons for you getting a 7800 despite being a 2600 owner.

The first reason is Atari 7800 has good games that Atari 2600 don't have such as Ballblazer. The 2nd reason is Atari 7800 is more capable of having arcade ports closer to the arcade than the 2600 is capable of. The 3rd reason is it is a great time being a 7800 owner due to what has happening for the system.

The Atari 7800 right now is getting very good homebrew games and a upcoming expansion module.

Edited by 8th lutz, Thu May 10, 2012 7:33 PM.





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