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New Astrocades Ship with Incredible Wizard 2017!

Astrocade NOS New Old Stock Bally Arcade

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#1 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 1, 2017 11:54 AM

Tim Duarte, of the Atari 2600 website (http://www.2600connection.com/), gave me a bit of news a few days ago concerning new Astrocades.  Technically they are not new, but NOS (New Old Stock).  When I read how much these systems were selling for, and (even better) what they were shipping with, I was pretty doubtful about this information (seeing what time of year that it is right now).  I spent a few days following-up on this information, and to my delight and surprise, I discovered that Tim is absolutely right!  Here's the information as Tim sent it to me originally:

Astrocade Resurfaces and Releases the Astrocade with Pack-In Game The Incredible Wizard 2017

A recent Topeka, Kansas warehouse find of over 10,000 new-still-sealed-and-in-the-box Bally Astrocade video game systems has led to the restructure and start-up of a new company who has taken on the name of Astrocade to sell these systems to the general public.  These systems are prone to overheating, so you are taking a chance if you purchase one.  After all, all this hardware has been in a box just sitting there in a warehouse for over 35 years!  The retail price of each system will be $45.99.  Shipping rates will vary.  Astrocade has stated they will ship internationally, so our international Bally Astrocade fans are all set (of course, all these units are NTSC-- no PAL Astrocade systems were ever made).

So, the bad news is that you may end up with an Astrocade system that does not work, or works but overheats after a short period of time.  There will be no refunds, but at this price... even a non-working NOS Astrocade seems like a fair deal.  The newly-setup company, run by just two men, have done some spot checking of the units.  They said that they're sure at least 90% of units work.

The good news is that the package includes a new version of the Wizard of Wor game, entitled The Incredible Wizard 2017.

It looks like it is the programming assembly language code from the 1982 game release from what can be determined from the screen shots, but that is okay.  This is a great game and I am just happy to report that the Astrocade system is back!  Take a look at the game box and packaging!  It is just awesome!

Wizard_2017.jpg

Wizard 2017 (Screenshot).png

That's all the news that Tim sent to me.  He promises to follow-up on it when he gets more information.  As I said, since this news seemed so, you know, not quite right, I followed-up on this news using information that Tim sent to me.  I contacted Astrocade to see if I could pre-order a couple of the Astrocade consoles.  I was so happy when the man I spoke to recognized my name (from my http://www.ballyalley.com/ website).  He decided to send me a new Astrocade free of charge.  I'm supposed to get it at the beginning of this coming week.  I already have the package's tracking number.  I just check and the system is half-way here already.  Now, was that nice of the guy or what?!?  I can't wait to open up the box and let out some of that 1980s' air.  Hooray for Astrocade!  Hooray for us all!

Adam



#2 no attack OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 1, 2017 12:51 PM

Wow, pretty incredible news!

 

So are these actually available to order anywhere yet?



#3 iesposta OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 1, 2017 12:58 PM


You are ballyalley.

If this is an April Fool's joke, shame on you!
You're the maintainer of all info Bally / Astrocade.

If true, I eagerly await more info.

#4 128Kgames OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 1, 2017 2:59 PM

That's great news Adam!

 

Too bad they didn't find more of the plug and play Astrocades, the ones shaped like the Astrocade controller, with all the games built in?  Hands down that has to the be the best plug and play system ever made, much better than any of the Atari ones!

 

I was only ever able to pick one of them up when they were available, but I always wanted a second one for my collection (yes, I opened and played with the only one I had!). 

 

I tried reaching out the company that made them, but soon after they released it, they were gone, almost like they never existed...



#5 moonlight23 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 1, 2017 3:03 PM

I sense an April fool's joke here ..
😇

Glen
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#6 atarilovesyou OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 1, 2017 8:37 PM

Man, I fell for this HARD :D

 

Standing in line at Walmart as you do, I don't even have an inkling for this machine!  But I talked myself into buying one in about all of five minutes :D 

 

Were this the real deal, I'd be all over it :D 

 

Sometimes you just gotta hate 4/1 :D



#7 timdu OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 2, 2017 5:09 AM

Gotcha!

 

The idea came to me when I realized that the part # of the game was the same as this year!

 

In case you missed it, this was 2016's gag:

 

http://atariage.com/...arker-brothers/

 

 

Tim



#8 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 3, 2017 9:41 AM

You are ballyalley.

If this is an April Fool's joke, shame on you!
You're the maintainer of all info Bally / Astrocade.

If true, I eagerly await more info.

 

As Tim revealed yesterday, indeed, this was an April Fool's joke.

 

I do appreciate the trust that you put in me, but, honestly, it wasn't my idea... I just went along for the ride.  Tim came up with this joke back in 2016.  I may wish more than anyone else that this tall tale was true!

 

Adam



#9 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 3, 2017 9:53 AM

Too bad they didn't find more of the plug and play Astrocades, the ones shaped like the Astrocade controller, with all the games built in?  Hands down that has to the be the best plug and play system ever made, much better than any of the Atari ones!

 

For those not aware, Michael is referring to this 11-year-old article:

 

Bally Arcade "Retro Astro" Handheld Unit by ToyMax!
By Adam Trionfo (April 1, 2006)

This week has been a busy one for me!  I've obtained a production model of the "Bally Arcade" from Toymax, the company that is finally putting the Bally Arcade back into the hands of consumers.  By the end of May, if you live in the U.S., you should be able to get your hands on one of these little babies at plenty of places (including Walmart!).  Let me tell you, from my use of the production model, I think that all fans of the Bally Arcade will be pleased.  There are a couple of nitpicky things that I have about it, but I'll get to those later.

The name of this new little monster is "Retro Astro."  Personally, I think that, while the name is clever, they could have gone with something else.  The name appeals to people who are already familiar with the Bally Arcade (aka Astrocade)-- and how many people is that?  Not more than a handful in terms of the potential buying crowd.  I haven't actually seen a production box (or any box, for that matter), but, while I hate to admit it, I hope that it is colorful and aimed at small children.  It is the grandparents of these kids that are going to pick this videogame unit up for $19.95, sight unseen (not having a clue about what they are buying for their grandkid's birthday).  Without tapping this potential market, who would buy this?  The system is about thirty years old.  Sure, there are the Atari versions of this little box (for instance, Atari Classics 10 In 1 TV Games-- also by Toymax), but these products are sold by name-brand loyalty and nostalgia-- both of which are in very short supply for this system.

Let me get to the function of this system.  First off, the system all fits in a joystick, but it looks nothing like the original Bally controller.  This one is obviously meant for smaller hands, and there is no "trigger" button.  Am I sad to see the gun-style joystick go?  Not at all!  While that controller had its pluses, it also got uncomfortable after you used it for a while.  This new joystick looks similar to the Atari 2600 controller, except that the joystick itself spins like a paddle.  I'm not sure how they could have gotten away without the paddle feature, for it is used by the on-board menu and many games to select features (game number, lives, number of bullets, etc).  I was worried at first that the controller was going to take some getting used to, and it did, but not nearly as long as I expected.  After a couple of hours, I was using the controller like a pro.  My biggest problem with the controller is that since the whole joystick-top spins like a paddle sometimes that interferes with the normal left-right-up-down motion of the joystick, but with a little patience, you'll get used to that too.

The "Retro Astro" plugs into your television using the standard audio-video cables that all the little hand-held units use nowadays.  So, say goodbye to all the RF Interference!  This opens up the possibility of getting decent screenshots of the included game using my computer's video card.

The biggest problem that I have with the "Retro Astro" is that it runs on batteries.  Now, I know that quite a few of the handhelds do run on batteries, but it would have been nice to have a way to at least also plug the unit into a wall wart or something, but no such feature exists.  On the plus side, the batteries do last for about eight hours.

There are twenty games included with the "Retro Astro."  I can only guess that somehow Toymax now has the rights to these Bally games.  You'll find your old favorites here like Wizard of Wor (you have to play one-player, so that takes half the fun away).  You'll also find some real stinkers to, like Biorhythm
(it's not even Y2K compatible, come on!).  The complete list of games is:

1) Amazing Maze
2) Astro Battle (Yes, they still didn't use the Space Invaders name)
3) Bally Arcade Demo (Not a game, but neat once or twice)
4) BASIC Demo (Again, not a game, but neat once or twice)
5) Baseball (Actually, the included paddle games are much better)
6) Biorhythm (even if it was Y2K compatible... Why?)
7) Black Jack / Acey Deucy / Poker (Pretty fun!)
8) Brickyard / Clowns (Classic-- great use of the paddle controller)
9) Calculator (Um, it's there in the ROM, but there is no keypad!)
10) Checkmate (Not the same without more than one player)
11) Cosmic Raiders
12) Galactic Invasion (Another gem)
13) Grand Prix / Demolition Derby
14) Gun Fight (Built into ROM)
15) Pirates Chase
16) Red Baron / Panzer Attack
17) Scribbling
18) Space Fortress (Great game)
19) Treasure Cove
20) Wizard of Wor (Another classic, but... only one player!?!)

If you check the list, you'll notice that one "game," Calculator isn't even usable-- but it does count toward the total of twenty games.  Another two "games," BASIC Demo and The Bally Arcade Demo are also not games, but they counts toward the overall total.  Also, the on-board ROM games count toward the twenty too (but, I guess that's okay as they are games).  Noticeably missing are Artillery Duel and Dog Patch, but they are both two-player only games.  There is one third-party game included, and that is Treasure Trove, which is now in the public domain.

The way that you choose a game is by picking it from a menu using the joystick and then pressing the fire button.  Once you do that, it's like the system restarts by with the typical on-board menu that we're all used to. For instance, if you choose Space Fortress from the first menu, then you get the regular menu with Space Fortress as choice number one, which you then choose by turning the paddle (just as you would on the regular Bally Arcade).  If you choose any one of the four on-board ROM games, then you just see the menu as if no cartridge were plugged in at all.  This menu system is probably the best way that ToyMax could have gone.

The Astrocade really is emulated here (for the first time!) and after playing these games for most of the week to get a grip on this little item, I can't find anything wrong with the emulation.  So, as far as emulation goes, Toymax did a first rate job.  Now, let me get back to a few of the Nit-picky things that I talked about in the beginning of this article.  Now, for $19.95 I shouldn't expect everything, but here is a list of what is missing and I wish had been included:

1)  A little console like the Atari Flashback with a built-in keypad and "Astro BASIC."
2)  A Cartridge slot (yea, I know, even the Flashback doesn't have that).
3)  A second controller so that two-player only games could be played.
4)  A selection of third-party games.

I know that the above list is asking a lot, but why not put it out there in case there is a "Retro Astro 2?"

So, in the end, this unit will allow us to play on a system that isn't going to overheat, and if nothing else, then that is great!

BTW: I'll be taking pictures of the unit and posting them in the next couple of days.


Note: This article was originally posting number 2934 on the Bally Alley Yahoo discussion group.  It is an April Fool's joke; none of it is true (but wouldn't it be neat if it was?).


Edited by ballyalley, Mon Apr 3, 2017 9:53 AM.


#10 iesposta OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 4, 2017 2:39 AM

 
As Tim revealed yesterday, indeed, this was an April Fool's joke.
 
I do appreciate the trust that you put in me, but, honestly, it wasn't my idea... I just went along for the ride.  Tim came up with this joke back in 2016.  I may wish more than anyone else that this tall tale was true!
 
Adam


It's all good.

What made it believable was starting with "a few days ago" making me think it was unrelated to April 1.
What wasn't believable was the part about the carts appeared to be the same assembly code? Meaning they were new?

NOS systems would have NOS Incredible Wizard if the console would be sold with a game.

I knew of one planned spectacular joke, but it kinda died last October. Maybe next year?

One other thing I disagree is stating Bally Professional Arcade is more prone to failure.
I don't disagree that's a false statement, but rather if any version that worked and didn't quickly die, and the original owners spent lots of money on extra controllers and more games than the amount that can fit into the top slots, like mine, and you can see it was used quite a bit and for quite some time, it is as solid as any other working well system.
Apart from aging caps and regulators like any old tech, a good working unit should be refurbished as preventive maintenance to keep the functioning unit running. My large capacitor on the front right was a bit leaky / crusty, and changing a few caps and the regulators (that I could understand) made the RF output (no switch box) even better. Though now it has an S-Video swapped in.
Proper heat sinks, I believe, are a must. Especially on the most failed custom data chip. It is the known part that fails due to heat, so why not add what should have been added instead of that kluge of an ingot attached to the shield?

I sawed open a 2600 adapter and replaced those caps.
That's a future Bally project as those hot wall transformers have to be hell on any capacitors sealed up in it.





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