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Which of the first generation pong systems are the best one to own?


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#1 Nutsy Doodleheimer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:00 PM

As I figured that this is the perfect section of the forums to ask.  I just recently bought an Atari Video Pinball dedicated system and really enjoy it, as well as it's the first system I got in the first generation. I like to get one more (primarily a pong system) to add in my game room/library. 

 

Of the sysyems as there are multiple Odyssey (100-500 and 2000-4000), APF TV Fun, Telstar, Atari Pong, etc. Which one of these is a good one to own and at an affordable price. As I am searching around on ebay, I am also looking for opinions and experiences that members on here have had whether it's growing up with one or own. Give me any insights on some of the good ones and not so good ones.

 

Thanks!! :)



#2 chas10e OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:58 PM

I'm not sure about what is "best to own" but I do enjoy these dedicated consoles and collect them as well.

 

I get 'em for as cheap as I can find 'em. so I am prone to miss a lot of bids :P

 

I like the Atari/Sears consoles,  when surfing ebay look to see if a power adapter is in the pic, it's a 6v (six volt)  "battery eliminator" with an 1/8" mono jack, a NIB one can be purchased @ Best electronics for I think $20.oo+shipping

 

I like the first model of these like Atari C-100 or Sears 625796 sears_tele-games-pong_3.jpg

the players have to sit RIGHT next to each other , the speaker inside the unit allows you to feel a ball hit & does sort of transpose that vibration though the paddle knob to the screen

 

I don't think any Atari/Sears ones have a lght gun though if your looking for that as well

 

Coleco Telstar gun seems pretty solid  Radio Shack gun seems pretty flimsy IMO DON'T walk into a bank with either of these ones though !!!!

 

I don't have any Magnavox pongs , I think the earlier models you have to manually keep score with a slider.



#3 sramirez2008 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:33 PM

I'm not sure about what is "best to own" but I do enjoy these dedicated consoles and collect them as well.

 

I get 'em for as cheap as I can find 'em. so I am prone to miss a lot of bids :P

 

I like the Atari/Sears consoles,  when surfing ebay look to see if a power adapter is in the pic, it's a 6v (six volt)  "battery eliminator" with an 1/8" mono jack, a NIB one can be purchased @ Best electronics for I think $20.oo+shipping

 

I like the first model of these like Atari C-100 or Sears 625796 sears_tele-games-pong_3.jpg

the players have to sit RIGHT next to each other , the speaker inside the unit allows you to feel a ball hit & does sort of transpose that vibration though the paddle knob to the screen

 

I don't think any Atari/Sears ones have a lght gun though if your looking for that as well

 

Coleco Telstar gun seems pretty solid  Radio Shack gun seems pretty flimsy IMO DON'T walk into a bank with either of these ones though !!!!

 

I don't have any Magnavox pongs , I think the earlier models you have to manually keep score with a slider.

 

This one looks awesome.  Haven't played one in years, but now I'm thinking of picking one up.  Will have to keep an eye out for a similar model. 

 

Don't remember the vibration, but that certainly sounds cool.

 

Thanks for posting! :)



#4 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:43 AM

The Odyssey 500 is definitely an interesting one. Not only has color graphics(!), but actual graphics--tennis, hockey, and soccer/handball players are represented by graphic sprites(!!) for perhaps the first time ever. The 500 also retained that 3-dial "etch-a-sketch" Odyssey control system from the 100, 200, and 400 (and technically the Odyssey 1), which has to be played to be appreciated. It also has a stylish simulated wood stripe down the middle. :-D At heart it's really the same machine as the Odyssey 400 but with the visual upgrades superimposed over it. It's still an analog system so you have X-Y control of your player, plus you can steer the ball after you hit it (hence the three dials per player), and the center line and ball speed must be manually set with little dials on the front. (I did a more extensive write-up on the Odyssey 500 somewhere on here some time ago; I'll have to dig that up and paste it here when I have time--lots of interesting stuff about this system!)

The Odyssey 300 is worth grabbing; it's far and away the most common Odyssey so it should be cheap, so why not? It was one of the first AY-3-8500 "pong on a chip" systems, along with the Coleco Telstar, so it plays more like a standard pong game than the 100, 200, 400, or 500, and is admittedly more approachable. Looks like those other systems but has only one dial per player and it's frickin' yellow. Yes!

The Odyssey 100 and 200 are worth looking at more for how unusual they are compared to today's systems, and even other systems of the '70s. You may notice they have these big sliding markers on the front; those are for keeping score since these systems don't even have onscreen scoring. Well, the 200 has these little block markers that move across the screen when you score, but no digits to indicate score; the 100 has nothing at all--two paddles, one ball, one center line, and that's it. The 200 also has a toggle switch for double paddles (Atari would later call this "Super Pong")--the 200 is often erroneously called a 4-Player system because of this. The 100 has only two games (still one more than Pong--take THAT, Atari!), the 200 has three. Both have the 3-dial controls like the 500. Both have also probably gotten a bit expensive in recent years, what with eBay speculators shitting on the party.

There were also other Odyssey systems beyond the 500 but I don't find them very interesting. The 2000 and 3000 were AY-3-8500 systems but with four games instead of three, so the games are exactly identical to the 300's (as well as the Telstar's, TV Fun's, TV Scoreboard's, etc); the 3000 went to a new case design with handheld controllers. Meh. The 4000 had a color display (but no graphic sprites like the 500), more than half a dozen games, and analog Odyssey 2-style joysticks--neat if you can find one for a good price, but hardly essential since by now we also have the Odyssey 2. :P

Moving on from Odyssey systems, you need to have at least some flavor of Atari Pong. Pong, Super Pong/Ten/Pro-Am, whatever. It's the definitive Pong, for starters. Color graphics, digital scoring (get with it, Odyssey 100/200!), and a psychedelic "game over" screen that's almost as fun to stare at as it is to actually play the game(s). I like the Super Pong Pro-Am Ten because it's the most fully-featured of the Pong-Super Pong series, and it was also the very first Pong console I ever encountered, buried under a mountain of dust and old MAD magazine's at my aunt and uncle's cottage in the late '90s. The handheld controllers and ability to play a one-player game are nice as well. Sears versions of all of these systems tend to be quite a bit cheaper than the Atari-branded ones.

Ultra Pong is cool too, of course--gameplay is pretty much the same but now has more game variations (naturally) and the color is in the background now instead of the paddles; the game objects silhouetted against the colorful trippy background is a pretty unique look. It's also a pretty cheap unit.

The thing about the Atari Pongs (except Ultra) is that they're all fundamentally the same system with different features (or combinations of them) incrementally tacked on with each iteration. Regular Pong on the Super Pong Pro-Am Ten--the last of the Super Pong line--is identical to the one and only game on the original Pong unit, only you can increase the ball speed and add/remove controllers to include anywhere from 2-4 players (or even just one if you want to just shoot the ball into space :P ).

An interesting sideshow in the Atari/Sears lineage is the Hockey Pong system, which as best as I can tell is an AY-3-8500 system in an Atari pedestal-style Pong case. Weird that they'd make and sell a clone of their own system.

Moving past Atari now, we're pretty much left with AY-3-8500 systems, which all play different numbers and combinations of the exact same games. They are literally identical except for cases, and some will have four games instead of three, and some add gun/target games. Of these, I like the handheld Radio Shack TV Scoreboard with pistol (there was another handheld TV Scoreboard sans gun, as well as "console" versions, but those are just white noise unless you're a diehard Radio Shack/Tandy collector). There's also a Color TV Scoreboard, which is *not* based on the AY-3-8500 and which seems pretty cool (check out the gun with different barrels and stocks you can add on!) but I haven't been able to test mine very much yet. Back to the AY, I'm also partial to the APF TV Fun--yeah, it plays the exact same games as a hundred other systems, but the case has some pretty deluxe appointments that I like: butter-smooth paddles, big brushed chrome switches and control panel (probably aluminum actually :P), and some cool-looking simulated walnut.

Since the games are all the same with the AY-3-8500 systems, a lot of it comes down to what you like about the physical aspects of the console. :)

If you're still with me here, I appreciate it. I didn't mean to write this much when I started to reply, but then I kept thinking of pong systems I like! To answer the original question of which are best to own, the TLDR version is: one analog Odyssey system, one Atari/Sears Super Pong, one system with a lightgun (cuz lightgun games! In the 70s!), and some other AY-3-8500 system of your choice. My personal lineup would be the Odyssey 500, Atari Super Pong Pro-Am Ten, TV Scoreboard, and either the Odyssey 300 or APF TV Fun. :)


Edited by BassGuitari, Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:06 PM.


#5 onmode-ky OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:16 AM

I have no intention of getting any Pong systems, but that was a really good read, BassGuitari. Almost unwittingly, I read all the way to the end. Thanks!

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#6 jhd ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 29, 2016 4:35 PM

Since the differences in gameplay are so very minimal as between systems, go with whatever is the cheapest.

 

I have a Radio Shack model (CIB) and an earlier Venture TV Sports model. I paid Cdn$1 (US$0.76) for each of them at local rummage sales (albeit more than 20 years ago now).

 

I would not pay much more for a Pong system, unless it was an Odyssey or Atari-branded model. 



#7 Nutsy Doodleheimer OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 29, 2016 6:22 PM

The Odyssey 500 is definitely an interesting one. Not only has color graphics(!), but actual graphics--tennis, hockey, and soccer/handball players are represented by graphic sprites(!!) for perhaps the first time ever. The 500 also retained that 3-dial "etch-a-sketch" Odyssey control system from the 100, 200, and 400 (and technically the Odyssey 1), which has to be played to be appreciated. It also has a stylish simulated wood stripe down the middle. :-D At heart it's really the same machine as the Odyssey 400 but with the visual upgrades superimposed over it. It's still an analog system so you have X-Y control of your player, plus you can steer the ball after you hit it (hence the three dials per player), and the center line and ball speed must be manually set with little dials on the front. (I did a more extensive write-up on the Odyssey 500 somewhere on here some time ago; I'll have to dig that up and paste it here when I have time--lots of interesting stuff about this system!)
The Odyssey 300 is worth grabbing; it's far and away the most common Odyssey so it should be cheap, so why not? It was one of the first AY-3-8500 "pong on a chip" systems, along with the Coleco Telstar, so it plays more like a standard pong game than the 100, 200, 400, or 500, and is admittedly more approachable. Looks like those other systems but has only one dial per player and it's frickin' yellow. Yes!
The Odyssey 100 and 200 are worth looking at more for how unusual they are compared to today's systems, and even other systems of the '70s. You may notice they have these big sliding markers on the front; those are for keeping score since these systems don't even have onscreen scoring. Well, the 200 has these little block markers that move across the screen when you score, but no digits to indicate score; the 100 has nothing at all--two paddles, one ball, one center line, and that's it. The 200 also has a toggle switch for double paddles (Atari would later call this "Super Pong")--the 200 is often erroneously called a 4-Player system because of this. The 100 has only two games (still one more than Pong--take THAT, Atari!), the 200 has three. Both have the 3-dial controls like the 500. Both have also probably gotten a bit expensive in recent years, what with eBay speculators shitting on the party.
There were also other Odyssey systems beyond the 500 but I don't find them very interesting. The 2000 and 3000 were AY-3-8500 systems but with four games instead of three, so the games are exactly identical to the 300's (as well as the Telstar's, TV Fun's, TV Scoreboard's, etc); the 3000 went to a new case design with handheld controllers. Meh. The 4000 had a color display (but no graphic sprites like the 500), more than half a dozen games, and analog Odyssey 2-style joysticks--neat if you can find one for a good price, but hardly essential since by now we also have the Odyssey 2. :P
Moving on from Odyssey systems, you need to have at least some flavor of Atari Pong. Pong, Super Pong/Ten/Pro-Am, whatever. It's the definitive Pong, for starters. Color graphics, digital scoring (get with it, Odyssey 100/200!), and a psychedelic "game over" screen that's almost as fun to stare at as it is to actually play the game(s). I like the Super Pong Pro-Am Ten because it's the most fully-featured of the Pong-Super Pong series, and it was also the very first Pong console I ever encountered, buried under a mountain of dust and old MAD magazine's at my aunt and uncle's cottage in the late '90s. The handheld controllers and ability to play a one-player game are nice as well. Sears versions of all of these systems tend to be quite a bit cheaper than the Atari-branded ones.
Ultra Pong is cool too, of course--gameplay is pretty much the same but now has more game variations (naturally) and the color is in the background now instead of the paddles; the game objects silhouetted against the colorful trippy background is a pretty unique look. It's also a pretty cheap unit.
The thing about the Atari Pongs (except Ultra) is that they're all fundamentally the same system with different features (or combinations of them) incrementally tacked on with each iteration. Regular Pong on the Super Pong Pro-Am Ten--the last of the Super Pong line--is identical to the one and only game on the original Pong unit, only you can increase the ball speed and add/remove controllers to include anywhere from 2-4 players (or even just one if you want to just shoot the ball into space :P ).
An interesting sideshow in the Atari/Sears lineage is the Hockey Pong system, which as best as I can tell is an AY-3-8500 system in an Atari pedestal-style Pong case. Weird that they'd make and sell a clone of their own system.
Moving past Atari now, we're pretty much left with AY-3-8500 systems, which all play different numbers and combinations of the exact same games. They are literally identical except for cases, and some will have four games instead of three, and some add gun/target games. Of these, I like the handheld Radio Shack TV Scoreboard with pistol (there was another handheld TV Scoreboard sans gun, as well as "console" versions, but those are just white noise unless you're a diehard Radio Shack/Tandy collector). There's also a Color TV Scoreboard, which is *not* based on the AY-3-8500 and which seems pretty cool (check out the gun with different barrels and stocks you can add on!) but I haven't been able to test mine very much yet. Back to the AY, I'm also partial to the APF TV Fun--yeah, it plays the exact same games as a hundred other systems, but the case has some pretty deluxe appointments that I like: butter-smooth paddles, big brushed chrome switches and control panel (probably aluminum actually :P), and some cool-looking simulated walnut.
Since the games are all the same with the AY-3-8500 systems, a lot of it comes down to what you like about the physical aspects of the console. :)
If you're still with me here, I appreciate it. I didn't mean to write this much when I started to reply, but then I kept thinking of pong systems I like! To answer the original question of which are best to own, the TLDR version is: one analog Odyssey system, one Atari/Sears Super Pong, one system with a lightgun (cuz lightgun games! In the 70s!), and some other AY-3-8500 system of your choice. My personal lineup would be the Odyssey 500, Atari Super Pong Pro-Am Ten, TV Scoreboard, and either the Odyssey 300 or APF TV Fun. :)


Thank you very much for the insight and all of the schooling on the first generation systems. I definetley read from start to finish. Very informative and a great read. I may go for the Odyssey 300 as I think it's one of the better ones and like the yellow jacket color scheme on the system or the Atari Super Pong. I'm really glad you chimed in as you have a monster collection. Thank you very much!! :)

#8 StephenJ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 1, 2016 10:14 AM

I asked a similar question here on AA and, based on the helpful suggestions I recieved, I decided to go with the Radio Shack TV Scoreboard (the model shown below) and I'm glad I did.

It works very well and I like the retro design...looks great on my retro video game shelves. 

90_12_s.jpg

Good luck with your decision.

 

StephenJ



#9 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 1, 2016 11:01 AM

I'm really glad you chimed in as you have a monster collection. Thank you very much!! :)

It's not so much that as I just have no life. :P :-D Glad to assist.

 

I asked a similar question here on AA and, based on the helpful suggestions I received, I decided to go with the Radio Shack TV Scoreboard (the model shown below) and I'm glad I did.

It works very well and I like the retro design...looks great on my retro video game shelves. 

:thumbsup:  I've got a TV Scoreboard like that except mine has these big levers on the controllers instead of dials. I probably would have passed on it but it was CIB, it was $10, and I like Radio Shack systems (big TRS-80/Color Computer/Model 100 fan here...they had some really cool VFD tabletop games too), so what the hell. :-D

The funny thing about all the TV Scoreboard systems is they all looks like old radio gear or something. The handheld models look like heavy-duty walkie talkies or field telephones from Vietnam.



#10 Mingy Jongo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:20 PM

My favorite is the Odyssey 3000 because of its unique case and controllers.

#11 slydc OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:19 AM

I agree with BassGuitari for the Odyssey 500 and the Atari Super Pong as the Odyseey 500 is very unique (it's a discrete game console with it's own graphic sprites and especially in color) and the Atari Super Pong since the Atari Pong has only one game and this game is available in the Super Pong. Also, any Ultra Pong from Atari is worth owning one as it has at least 16 built-in games.

 

As for the common Pong consoles (either a AY-3-8500-1 or a TMS1955NL as both these chips are identical), they are worth between $10 to $40 depending how many games it has, compete (or not), condition, etc. There is one system that is worth to have but is now expensive, it's the Coleco Telstar Arcade.

 

But what better to see how the games feels and looks like, so here's two links to Youtube:

 

https://www.youtube....CdkDL6QR9ofuNPM

(discrete game consoles)

 

https://www.youtube....mlc7sqYEC1XBkZc

(dedicated game consoles/systems)



#12 Nutsy Doodleheimer OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 1, 2017 4:51 PM

Wanted to bump this thread after a few months. I so far have aquired three first gen pong systems since posting. I got the Magnavox Odyssey 500 in October. It works great but has one minor issue. It keeps score and automatically serves the ball back when yellow scores, but no score tallied and the ball never serves back when blue scores. 

 

I got the Odyssey 3000 in November. A great pong on a chip AY-3-8500. No problems at all. And a couple weeks ago I scored an untested Atari Super Pong really cheap and it works perfect! Only one more to go for me and I am hoping for the Odyssey 100 as it's the second or third console ever made. Thanks for all the info and help.

 

Slydc: I have actually seen your videos before your post here as I was looking at Odyssey 500 videos and remembered seeing yours. I love the AV mod jobs you have done on these systems. 

 

20170301_163730_zpslwqdmfbl.jpg?w=480&h=

 

20170301_163744_zpstavzdf41.jpg?w=480&h=



#13 Zonie OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:43 AM

I have this one. (Not mine in the pic) But I think this one looks the best.
2016.014.001c-d-e-564x384.jpg



#14 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:03 PM

I have this one. (Not mine in the pic) But I think this one looks the best.

 

That was the first Pong I ever got and even after acquiring and selling lots of others, it's still my favorite (and the only one I kept after the Great Pong Purge of 2010).



#15 mckafka99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:32 PM

For those who would like even more 'Pong' back ground, check out - http://www.pong-story.com/



#16 Zonie OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:56 AM

The one I really want is the Telestar Arcade.
358px-Coleco-Telstar-Arcade-Pongside-L.j


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#17 FOX2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:56 PM

I like the original Coleco Telstar, APF TV FUN, Sears Video Pinball, National Semiconductor's Adversary, and of course, the Wonder Wizard.

I'll admit it, I absolutely love wood grain <3 :-D

#18 PhileasJWhoopie OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:28 PM

I like the Atari Video Pinball machine.

 

280px-AtariVideoPinballVer1.jpg

 

It has a set of games using the two distinct controllers - the flippers on the side, and the paddle.  Its named for the pinball games (and a cross of pinball and pong), but it also has Breakout.  The paddle controller, when clean, works very well.  Its quite fun, and in color.   The oddball game is a form of basketball crossed with paddleball, where you bounce a ball and shoot into into a set of lines representing a basket.   I've enjoyed mine quite a lot, and they are inexpensive still.   They come in white and woodgrain, but I think the unit inside is functionally the same.

 

I also enjoy the lightgun games of several systems using the GI Pong on a Chip design.  Not only do the all black lightguns look cool (and very 70s - no orange tip here), but its a fun game for everyone in the family. 

 

While I have no experience with them, there is the PC-50x family of consoles.   These are also first generation in that while they have cartridges, each cartridge has a new chip in it, not a ROM chip.



#19 AtariLeaf ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:35 PM

I like the Atari Video Pinball machine.

 

280px-AtariVideoPinballVer1.jpg

 

It has a set of games using the two distinct controllers - the flippers on the side, and the paddle.  Its named for the pinball games (and a cross of pinball and pong), but it also has Breakout.  The paddle controller, when clean, works very well.  Its quite fun, and in color.   The oddball game is a form of basketball crossed with paddleball, where you bounce a ball and shoot into into a set of lines representing a basket.   I've enjoyed mine quite a lot, and they are inexpensive still.   They come in white and woodgrain, but I think the unit inside is functionally the same.

 

I also enjoy the lightgun games of several systems using the GI Pong on a Chip design.  Not only do the all black lightguns look cool (and very 70s - no orange tip here), but its a fun game for everyone in the family. 

 

While I have no experience with them, there is the PC-50x family of consoles.   These are also first generation in that while they have cartridges, each cartridge has a new chip in it, not a ROM chip.

 

I have both this Sears unit and the Atari branded unit (not working) and I love them. These games actually play really well and are a lot of fun. The only thing I notice is the paddle leaves a little trail as it moves, a graphical glitch of some kind that I assume would be corrected with a good cleaning.



#20 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 12, 2017 3:12 PM

There is a difference between the woodgrain and white versions. IIRC the woodgrain version has two Breakout variants and one Rebound/Basketball variant, and the white one is the opposite.



#21 AtariLeaf ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:47 PM

There is a difference between the woodgrain and white versions. IIRC the woodgrain version has two Breakout variants and one Rebound/Basketball variant, and the white one is the opposite.

 

Interesting, I didn't know that I thought it was just a brand difference. I'll have to get my Atari branded one working soon.



#22 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:12 PM

 

Interesting, I didn't know that I thought it was just a brand difference. I'll have to get my Atari branded one working soon.

Just to add little more clarification for anyone else reading, there were two versions of the Atari Video Pinball: the woodgrain and white. These have the slightly different game lineups I mentioned. The Sears Pinball Breakaway is the same as the woodgrain Atari one; there is no Sears equivalent to the white Atari.

I'm not actually clear on whether the woody or the white version came first, but the white version has two Rebound/Basketball games (one with three baskets, another with only one) and one version of Breakout (the standard Breakout game). The woodgrain version has one Rebound/Basketball game (three baskets) and two versions of Breakout (the standard one, and another missing the middle row of bricks). Chances are the second version of Breakout is going to be more interesting to most players than an even harder version of the already incredibly difficult Rebound, but neither are must-plays anyway. The woodgrain version is probably the better one to have overall (two Breakout games instead of one...why not?), but you can't really go wrong with either one.


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#23 bradhig1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:56 PM

What about color pong systems using the ay-3-8500 ,ay-3-8600 , or ay-3-8610  chips?   Was it just the ay-8610 systems that have color? Which ones are the best?


Edited by bradhig1, Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:59 PM.


#24 bradhig1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:30 PM

Does anyone know which of the AY-3-8500 systems have the hidden game handicap?



#25 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:31 AM

Does anyone know which of the AY-3-8500 systems have the hidden game handicap?

If I understand correctly, they all should, since it's the same chip. The "hidden" game is generally found by moving the console's game select switch between two of the games.






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