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#3378479 How come a lot getting into retro games skip Atari?

Posted by ledzep on Thu Nov 26, 2015 9:46 PM

I was born in the '60s so I grew up with the old Atari 2600.  Now, that obviously makes me biased towards it since nostalgia comes into play but I also experienced the Odyssey 2 (HATE that fucking thing), the Intellivision (best friend owned it, played almost all of its games, never got into it because of the graphics style and I HATE that disc controller thingy), the Colecovision (not bad but for some reason never got into it) and the Vectrex (magnificent, basically perfect, including the analog stick with 4 buttons, at the time I felt the screen was too small - I was wrong of course).  It was always the 2600 for me.  And, later, the 5200 (I owned an Atari 800, same friend with the Intellivision had the 5200).  I didn't really get into anything after that (NES, SNES, Sega, etc.) because of the type of games they had and I was getting a bit overloaded with console games.  Now games are really user-driven movies, not interested in that, either.


I also went to arcades.  A lot.  Those are still my absolute favorite games (only 5200 Star Raiders rises to that level).  I agree with those who point out an arcade shooter/high score mindset fits with 2600 games vs. story completion for later systems.  I don't give a shit about running around a world and solving the story on a game console.  I had paper & pencil role-playing games for that (Traveller, AD&D, Tunnels & Trolls).  The 2600 was great for that arcade mindset.  The graphics are shit, I agree, but in a sense that was an advantage.  Not really, obviously shit is shit, but I think not being able to hide a poor/boring game behind great graphics forced programmers to make games that were very playable (of course there were still many garbage games made, as with all consoles).  That is key to me and it has its roots in arcade games as well.  My favorite games all-time are straight-forward ones like Tempest, Red Baron, Xevious, Star Trek: SOS, Space Wars, Armor..Attack, Star Castle, Warlords, Missile Command, Robotron, Space Firebird, Rally-X, Qix, Space Duel, Centipede, Wizard Of Wor, etc.  So many great games.


Controllers matter.  Fuck d-pads!  Goddamn, I hate those things so so so much.  I grew up with dedicated arcade controls and only the early 8-bit consoles even tried to reproduce that experience.  That means joysticks, of course, but that also includes analog sticks.  Also, paddles & spinners (they are not the same!), trak-balls, steering wheels/pedals, and combinations of those.  You never held the controllers in your hands, they were mounted.  I liked having the Atari joystick sitting on a table (or in my hand, but still), having the trak-ball on a table (2600 and 5200), all the different options.  Any gamer who claims that a paddle/spinner/trak-ball/steering wheel/button game plays just as good/the same with a d-pad or joystick is retarded and needs to stop calling himself a gamer.  They are different!  Sometimes subtly, but significantly.  I cannot stand playing Centipede or Missile Command with a joystick, same goes for Breakout and Tempest, Pole Position and even Asteroids.  I'll tolerate the joystick for buttons swap (digital to digital), but the rest are terrible.


As for "blaming" Atari for the crash, I suppose that that's partly due to Atari being the face of that gaming generation and the one-two punch of E.T. and Pac-Man.  E.T. is a horrible game.  It's not the worst, no, but it's maybe the worst compared to the hype.  Same with Pac-Man.  You can find worse Atari games but did they have the same "Oh shit, I cannot wait for Pac-Man for the Atari!!" expectation?  And disappointment?  I'd say no.  In a way it's how I feel about Ralph Nader.  He isn't the only reason that muscle cars died in the early '70s but he's a big reason.  I will smile when he's gone.  That's how much I love muscle cars.  In the same way I can understand a hatred for the games that are commonly accepted as destroying the best era of video games.  I still miss those arcade experiences.  Not what arcades turned into (a bunch of driving pods, FPS cabs and ticket redemption bullshit) but seeing Tempest for the first time with a crowd around it so big I couldn't even see what was going on for a good half hour until I got closer in line to play.  I remember spending 10 dollars one weekend playing basically only Xevious when it came out (the arcade had a good deal, 7 tokens per dollar, even more if you got 5 bucks at once).  Tried so hard to beat that game.  The 2600 maintained that vibe even if the graphics could not possibly hold up for most arcade ports.


I also hate cute games.  Centipede and Dig Dug are 2 of only a handful of exceptions that I like to play.  Those later NES/SNES/Sega consoles seemed to gravitate towards cartoony characters and veer away from shoot everything that moves games.  I don't care about cheering for a character in a video game, I'm used to steering a vehicle or aiming pip in order to waste something, usually many somethings.  Even when there is a character, like in Wizard Of Wor or Black Widow, the character is faceless, not cute.  But if you grew up with that sort of video game then the older games will tend to be more anonymous, no "hero" to latch onto.

#3321519 New Forza Motorsport 6 commercial with old arcade racing games

Posted by ledzep on Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:52 PM

I like how this commercial references and re-imagines old arcade racing games.  I like the Atari Gran Trak and Pole Position moments the best -



and I wish they'd included Hard Drivin'.

#3300890 21 Games Everyone Should Play Before They Die

Posted by ledzep on Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:31 PM

With all emulations, ports, and SuperGun things (or just gettong a Neo Geo AES) what make you say that going to an arcade con would make one a "real" gamer?

Every one can have his definition of a gamer.


Sure, have that emulation argument with purists (I'm not saying I agree with them, just that it is an easy argument to get into).  Simulate driving a sports car, same as driving an actual sports car, right?  Or drive a kit car version of a Lamborghini, now you can tell people you actually drove a Lamborghini.  Uh, no.  You have an idea what it's like, but no.  Some things have to be done for real, not simulated or emulated.  You haven't skied the Alps unless you ski the Alps (I haven't).


I bring up the convention as the easiest (though not least expensive) way to get to loads of games (and pinball machines) like back in the glory days of arcades every 2 blocks.  If you have an arcade nearby then that's far easier (though there will of course be far less variety to choose from).  This is also in terms of "before you die", meaning this is something that needs to be done unlike that arbitrary list of 21 average video games that can easily be swapped for better games.  If you're a gamer you need to play real arcade games once (hopefully more than once).  You don't have to like them or own them, but if you haven't played any yet (or classic 8-bit game consoles) then you aren't yet a gamer.  You don't have to play them all, either, but get your feet wet.  It's not that goddamn hard.

#3284400 Venture for the Atari 5200

Posted by ledzep on Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:31 PM


Which one did you play at the expo? The arcade version or the Atari 8bit version?




Oh, the arcade version.  I'm not sure if there was something wrong with the joystick (my Venture-loving friend seemed to think it was off, too) but that was a very hard game to figure out, we had a lot of fun dying and trying again and again - "No way, one more time, I'm going to clear that room!"


It's just a function of growing up during the heyday of arcade games, I always assumed they'd always be around and that all arcade games would be cool.  Not true.  First, as games got more modern (late '80s and beyond) they got worse (looked a little better, played like crap).  And then arcade games in general fell out of favor as PCs and consoles got more powerful.  I can't really get into any game newer than around 1984 or so.  But that meant that I ignored a lot of games that I just assumed I could get to later.  I suppose that makes going to things like the Arcade Expo and California Extreme even more fun, playing an old game like it just showed up, new to me and a challenge to play vs. knowing instantly how to play every game in the room.  I mean, it's not like people are programming new arcade games to run on real hardware (though they should, goddammit!).

#3279286 Night Driver Thoughts?

Posted by ledzep on Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:43 PM

It's a primitive looking game on a primitive system.  Still, I grew up with the 2600 when it was new, I remember thinking it was a cool game to play, maybe because it was like the arcade game yet had a little more to offer?  No idea.


I have a special love for all those early games - Space War, Air-Sea Battle, Indy 500, Street Racer, Combat, etc., I remember playing Star Ship at someone's house and not knowing what the fuck was going on but still loving it.  Surround was an early favorite, too.  Even the weird ones I never owned or really played, like Outlaw and Slot Racers I intend to buy eventually because they represent that early time in my gaming life when I thought videogames like those were amazing, how little did I know what was coming, even on the weak 2600.  Later games like Canyon Bomber and Defender and Missile Command and Adventure made those early games look like animated LEGOs.  It is a unique experience to go through those games from the beginning, I'm not sure how modern young fans of the 2600 can tolerate them compared to the much better games that came out later for it.

#3269709 Best version of Star Raiders

Posted by ledzep on Thu Jul 2, 2015 6:45 PM

5200 is my favorite, bugs were fixed from the 8-bit version and better steering control, turn slow or fast turning!


Agreed, the analog joystick helps (like a real plane/jet/spaceship) and having all the controls in the keypad makes everything quicker.  But that makes the 5200 easier to play.  I liked that the Atari 800 version used the real keyboard (pretend it's a ship's controls) and that it was so hard to win it all with the hardest setting.

#3227487 Games that you think play best with the Analog Controller

Posted by ledzep on Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:19 AM


There shall be no talk of cannibalizing a holy Trak-Ball Controller, Sir!


Hahaha, I know that subject is verboten.  Ok, then beating on one of those aftermarket Wico sticks with the Y-cable.  It's digital already so that would hopefully make the button conversion simpler.  I just hate that made it in metal shop look to some homebrew controllers.

#3227215 Games that you think play best with the Analog Controller

Posted by ledzep on Tue Apr 28, 2015 12:42 AM

You do know Indy 500 on the 2600 had the "Driving Controller" which was a spinner in the standard Paddle body, right?   :)

Yes, I do. But Indy 500 wasn't made for the 5200 (and it's analog joysticks). Also, Indy 500 is a top-down perspective game. That controller isn't a steering wheel, it's a directional controller so it can spin forever so long as you want the car to keep spinning in that direction (which is what locking a steering wheel, or paddle, hard left or right would do in the first-person perspective).

As for button controllers, there was apparently an in-house button controller for 5200 Asteroids built at Atari Inc. I'm sure the pic has been posted to various discussion threads on AA already. Can't remember if it's on the Atari Museum's website. No, wait, it's on Atari Protos….


I would prefer a controller that didn't look like a prop from a Flash Gordon serial.  I suppose it wouldn't be hard to cannibalize a trak-ball controller, replace the ball with 5 buttons (and fill in that center section) for games like Asteroids and Space Invaders.  Something like the Starplex for the 2600.

#3201707 Which VCS game invokes the most nostalgia in you?

Posted by ledzep on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:40 PM

Surround - I remember the bland color scheme and that echoey sound when you crashed.


Target Fun - We had the Sears Tele-Games console so that was a first game for us.


Adventure - After playing the game to the point of memorization we would challenge ourselves to win the game by ending up with everything (including the bat and possibly the dead dragons) locked in the yellow castle.  Either by pushing in the key or by dragging in the key to see inside the castle with everything in there.  With everything inside the colors would cycle around like crazy.

#3189553 Games that you think play best with the Analog Controller

Posted by ledzep on Mon Mar 2, 2015 2:34 PM

Get a modded controller with a paddle for Kaboom!, Pole Position and Super Breakout, you won't be sorry.  Far better than a trak-ball or joystick (analog or digital).

#3183054 What did you like about the arcade environment back-in-the-day?

Posted by ledzep on Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:56 PM

I loved the amount of games and the variety.  It was cool to walk into a new arcade and more or less instantly know all the games and where they were simply from the sound effects.  I bought those Arcade Ambiance CDs just to relive that feeling from time to time.  Unlike some here I don't think that home consoles ever caught up to arcade cabinets.  Yes, in terms of CPU speed and raster displays but no home unit, except maybe the Vectrex, has ever equaled the vector displays from the classic arcade games, and no console has the array of controllers (with their custom layouts) that arcade games had as a whole.  I miss that the most, I think.


I love the side art for the games (those games where you could see their sides, at least) and the dimly-lit rooms the games were in.  As someone else mentioned, the blast from sunlight when I left was cool in a painful way (you can do that now if you spend all night in a 24-hour strip club in Vegas, haahahaa).  The scene in "Tron" at Flynn's is a fantastic representation of the overall arcade vibe.  I agree that once arcade games became nothing but 1st-person shooter games and 1st-person racing games I stopped giving a shit.  I liked that nervous feeling you could get when trying a new game, others watching you to see if you sucked or not.  It was fun, sometimes, to just watch a real pro go at a game and kick its ass, too, it was like nerd ballet.


The worst thing that happened to arcade games, from my point of view, was that the resolution got a little better.  When games were 8-bit based you had to fill in a lot of blanks for what the game claimed you were looking at (vectors most of all).  The ships, the enemies, the locations, they were all approximations, very abstract.  I think Xevious was probably the best of the "worst" looking of the era in terms of detail.  But after that, games got more detailed sprites and graphics.  But they were still far far away from today's "photoreal" games.  Yet they were detailed enough for you to notice how bad the representations were.  Meaning now the crudely-shaded and shadowed ships and enemies were no longer abstractions but instead really shitty versions of the actual things they claimed to be.  That turned me off completely.  I guess I'm biased because I was around for when Space Invaders and Galaxian were new but I always preferred the LEGO block designs of early sprites and ships and enemies (and vector wireframe versions).  But looking at something try to look real, and really failing at it (a lot of those Mortal Kombat style side-view fighting games), that was miserable to me, particularly when the game was trying to represent people.  Spaceships and vehicles were more tolerable at that resolution and detail.  But games makers started focusing on the visuals (how realistic they could make the various elements) and not the gameplay.


Lots of games in the late '80s and beyond devolved down to 1 joystick and 2 buttons, very boring and repetitive.  My favorite games usually had odd control set-ups (Tempest, Star Trek: SOS, Centipede, Lunar Lander, etc.) so that was something I remember fondly as well.

#3143469 Legal Conjecture on Atari Flashback IP rights

Posted by ledzep on Wed Dec 31, 2014 4:35 PM

In Canada, such a mechanism does exist to deal with the situation when the copyright holder is unknown/unlocatable. The person wishing to use the material can apply to the Copyright Board of Canada, which will determine the fee and grant a license. The money is then held for several years, should the true owner of the copyright surface.


As far as I know, it has never been applied to video games. I suppose that someone could try... 



There you go, sanity in copyrights.  Leave it to the Canadians to figure this out, as they have figured out so many other things.  Of course they're not perfect, Justin Bieber is the lesbian anti-Christ that must be destroyed and Canada must be punished for that.  But still.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out that we don't have a similar mechanism for such an eventuality because regulations = anti-freedom or whatever around here.

#3142992 Legal Conjecture on Atari Flashback IP rights

Posted by ledzep on Wed Dec 31, 2014 4:06 AM

I really wish someone could explain this fantasy of "damage" with IP rights when dealing with old games like these.  Specifically, how allowing a re-release of an old Atari 2600 version of a known game for a Flashback console could in any way affect the profits or sales of the company that currently holds the rights.


For example, the old Superman game.  I don't care for it, I remember hating it as a kid.  So what, it would be cool for a Flashback to have that (completists rejoice).  But DC Comics would never, right?  Why?  What would happen?  Would current existing or planned PC or console games based on the Superman franchise be affected in any way?  No.  There is no way that someone who was interested in buying a PlayStation 4 Superman game would now not buy it or like it less simply because some blocky, slow Atari 2600 game that already existed would be available new, again, on a console that he had no intention of purchasing (because he isn't into retro consoles) and probably wasn't even aware was for sale.  Or, worse, that person would abandon his PlayStation in order to buy a Flashback 6 with the Superman game on it.  DC Comics could simply say go ahead, release it again, just pay us what you would pay any other rights holder (or negotiate something lower if possible).  What would DC Comics care?  "Shit, we want to release our new Batman vs. Superman movie, but, but, the old Atari 2600 Superman game is available at Walmart!  How could we have been so stupid and short-sighted?!  Now our box-office take will plummet!!"  They wouldn't have to spend dime one on packaging or advertising.


Same for a game like Indy 500.  Again, the game already exists, was already sold back in the day.  Who cares if the game was re-released again, in the same form that wasn't an issue before, on a new retro console?  I can understand if the rights holders to the Indy name considered the original 2600 game an abomination that had to be physically stomped out of existence.  But they don't care who acquires a copy of the game from eBay and plays it on his original 2600 console so why care if the game is being played on a Flashback?  Sure, pay them some license fee per Flashback but otherwise, why this convoluted legal maze to navigate over shit that already exists?  Who cares?  I mean who is saying "Oh no, that game could be sold again!"?  Who?  I have never understood that and nobody, no body, has ever been able to explain the negative impact of such a move.  Meaning "Well, if that game appears on the Flashback then [fill in catastrophe] will occur and they really wouldn't like that and Atari couldn't afford to fix that."  Why resist or deny allowing a game that was already for sale back in the day to be included in something like a Flashback retro console?  For some fair cut of the profits?  Nothing over the top, just some modern update to whatever the licensing at the time probably was.  Back then both sides thought it was a decent result, right?  Pole Position, Crazy Climber, E.T., who cares?  Pay the license fee, everybody wins.


I can understand if Activision, against all reason, still holds some rivalry hatred for Atari and won't allow their games to appear on the Flashbacks unless they're paid 100x what the licensing is worth because fuck you Atari.  Childish, but ok.  Otherwise, why not accept some zero-effort free profit from allowing ancient ROMs to be included on the Flashbacks for a reasonable cut?  Would they rather have 100% of nothing in terms of new Atari Flashback sales or 4% (or whatever) of new Atari Flashback sales?  All with no effort, they need to do nothing but approve.  Can't the rights for games from Imagic or whoever is completely out of business revert to public domain?  Ever?  Or can't there be some legal decision to what would be a fair, industry-standard licensing fee and put that in Escrow from each Flashback sale for whoever might win the copyright cage match to ultimately be declared new/current holder of ancient Imagic or Apollo or Data Age games rights?  Here's you cut?  I mean those companies (whichever ones did) went out of business for a reason.


I've never seen a graph or chart where someone could say "And right here, that's when that old 8-bit version of Defender was available again and it caused sales of the XBox version of Defender to lose 30% of its profit generation until the rights holders successfully got the courts to stop them from selling any more copies.  See?  Right here, where the profits rise again?  That same week."  It doesn't exist.  Neither is there any evidence for a dip in popularity for a modern version of a game due to it's primitive ancestor being part of a Flashback or limited run release.  I wonder how sales of the Atari 5200 version of Tempest (with Trak-Ball support, no less!!) through AtariAge has hurt sales of any more modern Tempest 2000/3000/Xtreme versions.  I will guess that it hasn't done shit to any sales of any newer versions since it wasn't possible for it to be a direct competitor to any of those versions since it's only available on the 5200 and those others are not.  Otherwise, it would be expected that someone at one of the companies selling the newer versions would have known - "Hey, what the fuck?  How come our sales of Tempest Ultimate 3D+ are lagging?  It's been our best seller for 6 months now, yet... oh shit, oh no no no.  Check the forums!  I think someone might have started selling a homebrew of the original Tempest on an old system that isn't available new and doesn't compete with us in any way!  We're doomed if we don't stop him right now!!  If he manages to sell more than 30 CIB versions... oh my god, what will I tell my children?  How will they live with no food?!  Lord, not again, I'm gonna be sick...  This is just like what happened to our run of Photoreal Pac-Man Empire games."


And yet everyone just kind of accepts that, you know, of course this game or that game can't be included because IP.  I mean, the IP would, um, it would, there's just too much, the uh, right?  It's too bad, really.

#3101281 Consoles you just can't get excited about

Posted by ledzep on Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:39 PM

And you're fooling yourself thinking that one copy on laser-based support is a backup.

They can be damaged, either by external causes, misshandling, improper storage, and, for most home burned supports, reflective layer degradation.

A safe backup is "simple". Multiple copies. On multiple supports. On anything, even Zip discs, cassette tapes, etc...


Hard drives are the best you can come up with. We have almost 50 years of experience with magnetic metal spinning discs, and for your standard, home IDE/SCSI/SATA 3" 1/2 HDD, over 25 years of experience.


Those things hardly fail. And, if we're talking about retro games, even a "small" 40 Gigs HDD found in the electronic recycling bin can carry hundred of games. And you can get lots of them for nothing!


I have other 20 HDD I found for free in the electronic bin of my town recycling center. Only one of them was not working (and one is an odd mix with Molex power plug and SATA data, but heh.)

Sure they are 40, 80, or 120 go HDD, and I found even two 450 Mo and 250Mo drives, but that's still lots of games. Bad sector? If they are backups, you don't fire them everyday. And with so much storage room, you can make two, three, four copies on the same drive and on another drive as well.


Still thinking it's not safe enough? Store one of those drive back-up at your parent's home, or at a family home, or something. And if you want to be more safe, get online storage.


The odds that you lose data from the online storage, your own hard drives AND your externally stored drives are very shallow... and for games that you can found with a 15 seconds search on Google (for most), it's much pain for not so much results.

But at th end, you're right. No storage way is eternal - nothing is. But heh, that's life.


Who said anything about "one copy"?


Look around at what large companies use for backups, it's tape or something else that's physical and static (doesn't need to be powered up).  Yes, everything degrades and everything can be burned to ash or liquid.  From what I've seen over the years no IT department uses stacks of hard drives for backups.  They use RAID arrays to keep their accessible data relatively safe and they use rotating tapes to back all that up and they use offline tape storage for the older stuff that nobody currently needs to use (but may have to, though that threat hardly ever materializes).  Those guys are cheap (meaning they don't pay extra for bling or having the coolest shit on the block) and they are paranoid (meaning they don't go for cutting-edge tech that isn't proven or reliable) and they don't believe for a second that hard drives = backups.  Since nothing lasts forever they do consistent backups and they do multiple backups and that adds up quick, they'd be retards if they were filling warehouse up with hard drives full of copied data.  Tapes and RAID, that's how they protect themselves against losing a week's worth of work that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and their reputation as a reliable service.  Make the backups, check them, if they look good then store them.  Done, repeat.  Later, if they don't need them they get erased or shredded and they didn't spend loads of cash for extra hard drives.


Now, no individual with a couple computers in his house is going to be able to afford or have room for a tape robot so it's either some magnetic tapes in a box or blu-rays on a shelf.  Fry's always has RW blu-ray packs on sale, 30 for $15 or whatever, and I've only gone through one of them to back up my modest data. But having a bunch of easily-corruptible flash drives or hard drives as "backups" is nuts.  They're more expensive than optical discs, anyway, except in your trash recycling case.  Good for you but most people don't do that or have that option.


Online storage helps but as far as security goes it's shit and out of your control.  It's an extra level, not the only level.

#3099528 New Star Wars Arcade Game for 2015!

Posted by ledzep on Sun Oct 26, 2014 4:23 AM

If the plot centers on saving the franchise from the George Lucas boss then it should be a monster hit.