I saw one of these on sale at Wal-Mart today (I picked a Centipede / Yars' Revenge unit like the one in the picture), and although my hopes weren't high, I figured I'd at least give it a shot. In the forty-five seconds I actually used it, I noticed the following:
- The picture shows a battery holder with a blue Atari logo on it (there was no logo on mine, just black plastic). This holds the three AAA cells and the A/V cables, which wrap around the holder and plug into the joystick through a little jack. Not the most elegant setup, especially for something advertised as a "keychain game." I guess you're supposed to carry around the spool of wire in your back pocket. The power switch was apparently broken right out of the package, too; I had to squeeze it to get the unit to power up.
- The joystick was so incredibly flimsy that I was afraid I would break it, and it tended to get stuck if I pushed it up or down. I can't imagine it surviving on a keychain for more than a few hours, and I can't imagine it being very easy to keep in one's pocket either. It would have been a lot more comfortable to carry around if they had shortened the joystick handle to about half its original height, which also would have made it easier to control with the right thumb. I thought it might at least be useful as some sort of hobby hardware project, but at $15 it isn't worth it. It isn't even worth it for $1.
- Contrary to the claims on the package, the games are ***NOT*** "just like the real Atari originals." They're actually just like the nasty NOAC monstrosities in the Flashback 1 (who knows, maybe those were the "Atari originals" the package referred to). At a time when the original 2600 chipset has been reduced to a battery-powered glop-top, there's just no excuse for this anymore. How hard could it have been to take the Flashback 2 chipset and bundle it with two authentic 2600 binaries instead? If they just had to be cheapskates and use the same old NOAC, they could have at least put in a little effort and modified the original software for it (as Digital Eclipse did with the Jakks Atari 13-in-1 Paddle) instead of recycling their old crappy counterfeits. There was nothing on the package or the splash screens that indicated who did the games, but they look like the work of Techno Source to me.
- The empty black space on the front of the joystick in the picture, to the left of the key chain and under the Atari logo, is actually a square red "menu" button (although you wouldn't know this without using it because it isn't even labeled). I'm sure it was left out of the picture to help improve the appearance of the joystick. I successfully used this button during Yars' Revenge to get back to the main menu, but it didn't work at all in Centipede; when I tried it, the screen just flashed a garish bright pink and reset the game. I had to switch the unit off and on again to get out of it.
- A minor complaint (but one that shows they couldn't even get the small things right): after all the splash screens, my unit showed a main menu containing the Centipede and Yars' Revenge "arcade marquees," one on top of the other, and allowed me to move the joystick up or down and press the trigger to select my game. The problem is, the menu only indicates selection using alternate colors, which is totally non-intuitive in a two-option menu because moving the joystick just toggles the colors. As a first-time user, I ended up having to "guess" which one was selected. It turned out that red meant "selected" and blue meant "non-selected," but I didn't learn this until after I pressed the trigger. Very bad usability. An arrow or some other indicator would have been better.
Edited by jaybird3rd, Sat Sep 9, 2006 8:51 AM.