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2016 Flashback speculation thread


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#1 toiletunes OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:21 AM

Bill has dropped hints that this year's models will be a bit different, but the info is scattered in unrelated threads. Here is a place to gather clues and speculations...



#2 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 18, 2016 3:18 PM

From what Bill has said, it sounds like we can count on 2 Sega Genesis products, and 2 Atari VCS products in 2016. 
 
So far, we have seen various versions of:
 
1. Sega Genesis TV console, with onboard games, composite AV, IR wireless controllers, support for wired original Genesis controls and original Genesis cartridges. 40 Genesis games and 40 spam games. No SD card support but you can buy their flash card and add your own ROMs. No state saving. Bad sound.
 
2. Sega Genesis handheld. Same software as the TV console, but with an SD slot for adding your own ROMs, composite AV out. Some knockoff versions have a 2nd player option, to my knowledge, the AtGames units do not. No state saving. Bad sound. 
 
3. Atari Flashback TV console, composite AV, with many games onboard, different retro-style controls depending on package, sometimes IR wireless, sometimes wired. Wired paddle controls are compatible too. No SD slot. No cartridge support since the Atari Flashback 2 put the solder points on the board (that was not an AtGames product). 
 
They've been available for US$40, often going on sale for far less. Don't look at the depressing Amazon prices for the handheld!
 
The obvious hole in the lineup is an Atari handheld. I'd like an Atari handheld. I'd like it even better if it were included inside an improved Sega Genesis handheld. Maybe give us the option for a sleek black Genesis style case, or a funky wood grained and chrome Atari style case, but with each one containing the same stuff. Don't make it so we have to buy two to get everything (like with Coleco/Intellivision), make it so compelling that EVERYONE will want to buy the ONE GOOD THING you're making in two different cases. That would make 4 products in all. 
 
Features that I'd like to see:
 
Improved screen
SD card support for adding your own ROM files, with both Atari and Sega games supported
State saving (especially for Sega RPGs)
Better Sega sound
 
That's all I ask, I think it's totally feasible. The last versions of the Genesis handheld weren't bad, they just need an update, which they haven't had for 8 years. :-)  
I'd pay more than the usual $40 for a slightly nicer thing. 
 
As for the TV console, I think I'm done with those, personally -- but I remain open to being pleasantly surprised and have already bought a lot of this stupid stuff!
 
I'm quite sure the product spec is already set and we will get what we will get, but it's fun to guess and wish.

#3 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:20 PM

I'm quite sure the product spec is already set and we will get what we will get, but it's fun to guess and wish. 

 

All reasonable, although not quite everything you say will happen for this year unfortunately due to certain technical limitations that may be eliminated at some point in the future with a potential next gen hardware base. I've only tested one of the Atari products so far and they've implemented feedback that I think will make it a must-own for most Atari fans, but yes, everything is already well under way as you speculate since we have to hit very specific retailer deadlines (and yes, I can say "we" as my role/input has expanded dramatically with them across all businesses this year). Details when I can reveal them, but it's going to be a big year for AtGames in both hardware and software. I'd love to reveal the latter, but that's a surprise worth waiting for, with again, great things to also look forward to in the coming years. While I don't think all of it will please the most die-hard classic gaming fans (but what does?), hopefully some of those individuals will start to see a logical roadmap unfold and see the greater good/halo effect that such initiatives may help empower, not only from AtGames, but also from other companies with classic gaming agendas. /vagueness



#4 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:34 PM

Baby steps. That's the way to go!



#5 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:38 PM

Thanks for teasing us, Bill! I'm glad you're working with them and sharing a bit with us.

Prior Flashback products from AtGames came out in September or October. Can you say whether you're on track for a similar release schedule in 2016?

#6 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:09 PM

Prior Flashback products from AtGames came out in September or October. Can you say whether you're on track for a similar release schedule in 2016?

 

Yep, the schedule is the same. I don't see that changing year in and year out, since that's set by the retailers. Basically there's a window from September to November, and that's it.



#7 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:07 AM

 

All reasonable, although not quite everything you say will happen for this year unfortunately due to certain technical limitations that may be eliminated at some point in the future with a potential next gen hardware base. I've only tested one of the Atari products so far and they've implemented feedback that I think will make it a must-own for most Atari fans, but yes, everything is already well under way as you speculate since we have to hit very specific retailer deadlines (and yes, I can say "we" as my role/input has expanded dramatically with them across all businesses this year). Details when I can reveal them, but it's going to be a big year for AtGames in both hardware and software. I'd love to reveal the latter, but that's a surprise worth waiting for, with again, great things to also look forward to in the coming years. While I don't think all of it will please the most die-hard classic gaming fans (but what does?), hopefully some of those individuals will start to see a logical roadmap unfold and see the greater good/halo effect that such initiatives may help empower, not only from AtGames, but also from other companies with classic gaming agendas. /vagueness

 

I think most of the people actively on this board would be satisfied if future Flashbacks brought back Curt's chip to run the games from, had the solder points restored, and used AtGames' ARM to run the menus and everything else. I'm going to say that would add $3 - $5 to the manufacturing cost but the MSRP always seems to start out [very] high and then drops like a rock after Christmas. 

 

I'm not knocking AtGames here. I'm praising their menus and other graphical enhancements. But actual gameplay was obviously better with the Flashback 2 and 2+ and the allure of being able to add a cartridge slot definitely appeals to the crowds here whether or not they ultimately mod them.

 

Their wireless controllers seem to do the worst for their reputation. Hopefully, that'll improve or perhaps they should just drop that element.



#8 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:15 AM

RF wireless in lieu of the infrared wireless controllers we've been seeing would be a nice improvement, but would drive up manufacturing costs as well.

I think it's helpful to think of these as seasonal toys, as opposed to collectible computers.

#9 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:26 AM

 

I think most of the people actively on this board would be satisfied if future Flashbacks brought back Curt's chip to run the games from, had the solder points restored, and used AtGames' ARM to run the menus and everything else. I'm going to say that would add $3 - $5 to the manufacturing cost but the MSRP always seems to start out [very] high and then drops like a rock after Christmas. 

 

I'm not knocking AtGames here. I'm praising their menus and other graphical enhancements. But actual gameplay was obviously better with the Flashback 2 and 2+ and the allure of being able to add a cartridge slot definitely appeals to the crowds here whether or not they ultimately mod them.

 

Their wireless controllers seem to do the worst for their reputation. Hopefully, that'll improve or perhaps they should just drop that element.

 

Curt's design is his own. AtGames has their own emulation guru who designs the emulators for the custom chips AtGames uses. That's how the economics work and that's not going to change. With that said, at least on the one hardware item I've tested that's based around Atari 2600 emulation, there should be no issues.

 

They have no plans to drop the wireless controllers on their console-based products, but they still include the option to use wired controllers. For the primary target audience, the wireless controllers are not a major issue, but I do understand the practical issues the technology that they use has.



#10 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:28 AM

RF wireless in lieu of the infrared wireless controllers we've been seeing would be a nice improvement, but would drive up manufacturing costs as well.

I think it's helpful to think of these as seasonal toys, as opposed to collectible computers.

 

Yes. They need to be toy priced, otherwise they won't get carried. And they are considered seasonal products. Again, without beating the point into the ground, I do think at least one product from AtGames this year will provide the type of fan service that should make a lot more of the core Atari fans happy. We'll see.



#11 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:31 AM

... I do think at least one product from AtGames this year will provide the type of fan service that should make a lot more of the core Atari fans happy. We'll see.


I'll speculate inclusion of paddles (non deluxe kit only) or Atari version of Space Invaders this time?

The deluxe version of the Atari FB is ever elusive in stores!

#12 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:48 AM

... or Atari version of Space Invaders this time?

 

Sadly, that's unlikely to ever change. In fact, there's a new major third party game we're adding this year that fortunately doesn't need a non-Atari 2600 version, but does need its music stripped and replaced with something else. It's amazing that a 35 year old game can lose its rights to its legendary music, but I guess it's not too surprising that copyright gotchas are starting to crop up considering how things are these days.



#13 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:28 AM

I'd love to see someone just put all the third-party VCS games on there and see what happens. Would Namco et al really chase after the scraps? 

 

The "right way" would be to include an SD card slot so we can load up our own stuff. I think I have a teeny tiny one, like 16MB, that would be plenty of space for the entire catalog!



#14 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:38 AM

Sadly, that's unlikely to ever change. In fact, there's a new major third party game we're adding this year that fortunately doesn't need a non-Atari 2600 version, but does need its music stripped and replaced with something else. It's amazing that a 35 year old game can lose its rights to its legendary music, but I guess it's not too surprising that copyright gotchas are starting to crop up considering how things are these days.

Frogger? That's always getting re-scored. Jeez.



#15 onmode-ky OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:53 PM

Frogger? That's always getting re-scored. Jeez.


Well, modern recreations of Frogger will always have the music replaced, because the original arcade game lifted its tunes from various TV anime opening titles. I'm pretty sure it was without permission, since the shows were from different animation studios and broadcasters. The main gameplay tune came from [the first 75 seconds of] this show (Araiguma Rascal (Rascal the Raccoon)). Google searches reveal that this tune was not one of the two tunes in the Parker Brothers 2600 port, but the Supercharger Frogger does include it.

onmode-ky

#16 Raticon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:15 PM

 

[...]I've only tested one of the Atari products so far and they've implemented feedback that I think will make it a must-own for most Atari fans [...]

For me this must mean it's a handheld, it's got a cart port or SD card slot since that is basically what Atari fans have been shouting about since the beginning of time and matter itself.
I would be pleasantly surprised if it's a combo of the first 2 like the Sega handheld even though i'm really not that into handhelds. I crave big screens.

With retro gaming so hot these days, i'd imagine most licence holders tightening their grip on their properties these days compared to 10-ish years ago. It's getting harder to slip such stuff under the radar with all the attention that part of gaming has now.



#17 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:28 PM

With retro gaming so hot these days, i'd imagine most licence holders tightening their grip on their properties these days compared to 10-ish years ago. It's getting harder to slip such stuff under the radar with all the attention that part of gaming has now.

 

Well, the good news is that AtGames only does stuff above board, so it's always only with full permission from the license holders. Save for a few big-name holdouts, most are quite receptive to getting their brands out there. 2016 is shaping up to be more or less the usual partners with only a handful of new additions, but that should definitely expand in 2017 if things hold.

 

While in discussions with some of these license holders it's clear they're aware of the homebrew scene, I have no reason to believe that anyone we spoke with has any interest in cracking down on anyone. Honestly, I think the most aggressive of those companies is probably Nintendo, but that's not exactly a surprise and they don't work with anyone in this space anyway.



#18 garyd97 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 5:29 PM

 

Sadly, that's unlikely to ever change. In fact, there's a new major third party game we're adding this year that fortunately doesn't need a non-Atari 2600 version, but does need its music stripped and replaced with something else. It's amazing that a 35 year old game can lose its rights to its legendary music, but I guess it's not too surprising that copyright gotchas are starting to crop up considering how things are these days.

Any chance Battlezone licensing can be put back in play?  These units should go with the standard wired controllers. Wireless is not a "flashback".



#19 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:36 PM

Any chance Battlezone licensing can be put back in play? These units should go with the standard wired controllers. Wireless is not a "flashback".

 

No. As you know, Atari no longer has the rights. AtGames may attempt to do a separate negotiation, but that won't happen for this year.

 

As for the wireless controllers, you need to make convenience concessions for the target audience. A core or otherwise dedicated player can easily hook up wired controllers should they be so motivated.



#20 Raticon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:28 AM

Yeah, i had almost no issues with the wireless controllers so i'm cool with those. I didn't use them much anyway, bought a microswitched 2600 joystick off the internet and just plugged it in, and i have used a 9-pin Competition Pro with it too.

2600 joysticks, or any other compatible 9-pin joystick of preference can be bought for small sums by people who want to "step it up a level" anyway, and we who already stepped up that level usually have joysticks littering every single nook and cranny in the house anyway so we should make it ;).
 



#21 Emehr OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:47 AM

Wireless is not a "flashback".

 

Sure it is!

 

con_AtariRemoteControllers.jpg



#22 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:46 AM

Well, modern recreations of Frogger will always have the music replaced, because the original arcade game lifted its tunes from various TV anime opening titles. I'm pretty sure it was without permission, since the shows were from different animation studios and broadcasters. The main gameplay tune came from [the first 75 seconds of] this show (Araiguma Rascal (Rascal the Raccoon)). Google searches reveal that this tune was not one of the two tunes in the Parker Brothers 2600 port, but the Supercharger Frogger does include it.

onmode-ky

 

Wow.  That is some cool trivia.  :D



#23 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:53 AM

 

Sure it is!

 

attachicon.gifcon_AtariRemoteControllers.jpg

 

Those things had quite a range!   I had one hooked up to my Atari 800 and a term program where I assigned the joystick movement print a character.  I would walk like five steps and hit the controller.  I estimated counting the characters that I made it clear out to the second row of parking in front of my apartment before the signal got too weak.

 

Anyway, so how about wireless Paddles for the Flashback at some point?



#24 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:00 AM

Anyway, so how about wireless Paddles for the Flashback at some point?

 

That would be neat, but it's not going to happen. The wired joystick controllers should be more widely available this year, though, along with an extra feature for them. 

 

Not that it will make a difference for this year, but I will continue to suggest a move away from IR wireless controllers to something more robust, like Bluetooth.



#25 retro82 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:31 PM

I find these consoles to be great. I own the Atari Flashback Five Classic Home Video Game Console and the IntelliVision Flashback Classic Home Video Game Console so far. I'm also planning on getting the ColecoVision Flashback Classic Home Video Game Console early next month. Not to mention the Sega Genesis Flashback Classic Home Video Game Console once I see it available locally again or can arrange to order it online. As some have said these will never be able to replace the original consoles. Of course they are one of the next best things for those who don't get the opportunity to acquire the original consoles. So far my experience with them has been outstanding. The graphics, sound, and game play abilities are identical to those of the original games. With the exception of being on dedicated systems of course. In the early-mid nineties I had two step brothers who had an original of each of the consoles along with quite a few others so I can easily say that the differences between them and the flashback consoles are either not there or so minimal as to be negligible. Of course an emulation is just running an older program/game on a platform which has been made to work as though it  believes, (at least in the sense that a computer could be said to believe), that it is the original platform for the older program. At least that's one way of putting it. It was also pointed out to me by friends in the community that the hardware must be true to the original console's hardware. Despite being only about one third the size of the original consoles. The explanation was that unlike in a PC emulation a console emulation won't seem authentic, or at least it won't seem authentic enough, if the hardware presented is not as true to the original as possible. Makes sense to me. Either way I certainly hope that no other retro gamer/s would look down on myself or any other who owns any of these consoles instead of an original console. Owning an original console is great I'm sure for those who manage to. For those who don't/can't thank all goodness for AtGames working with the original parent companies of these wonderful retro gaming consoles to bring us one of the next best things we might find.






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