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Nathan Strum

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Everything posted by Nathan Strum

  1. Artie's Index has been brought up-to-date.
  2. "Secret"? I thought it was pretty obvious. James and Tanya (and Atari) - you have my heartfelt condolences. Pets are family members, and it's never easy to say goodbye to one. You have great memories though, with many of them captured forever on video and in the wonderful photos you shared with us. Thanks for sharing Pixel with all of us for these past few years. - Nathan
  3. In case you're wondering where the inspiration for the recent return of Artie the Atari came from... As I've posted before, I collect Super Impulse's Tiny Arcade series of arcade games. While they haven't released any new arcade cabinets this year, they did release something else recently – a Tiny Atari 2600! It even comes packaged in an authentic 70's living room! Unfortunately, to get everything out, you have to basically destroy the packaging. So much for the wood paneling and shag carpet. They did a nice job capturing the look of a four-switch 2600 and vintage console TV. And this really lives up to its "Tiny" moniker - the 2600 is only 1 3/4" wide! The red "cartridge" is actually the Power On/Reset button (the 2600's "switches" are so tiny they'd just break). The details are pretty nicely done. There's even a non-functional switchbox on the cord. Even though the wires aren't entering/exiting where they should, it's a nice detail to include. Clearly, someone was paying attention. The joystick, proportionately, is comically huge. But if it were scaled down to match the console, it would be unusably small. One minor quibble: the ring on the joystick is painted white (not orange). With the work they put into the rest of this, I don't know why they missed that. Still, the joystick actually works pretty well. It's not something you'd want to play Track & Field with, but it does the job here. The little handle at the bottom of the TV screen lets you angle the screen a little for better viewing. It's really a smart idea, since you tend to look down at it from above (and all of their arcade cabinet screens are tilted by design). But I usually leave it closed flat when not playing it since it looks better. So... how about the games? Well, you can find YouTube videos out there showing them, so I'll leave it to you to dig those up. But here's what's included on the console: Asteroids Breakout (misspelled "Breakouts" in the menu) Centipede Combat Pong Millipede Missile Command Tempest Warlords Pac-Man (listed on the packaging as a "bonus" game) Only Combat and Pac-Man are "2600" versions. The rest are all "arcade" versions. Note that none of these are original arcade or 2600 ROMs. This isn't an emulator. These are re-creations running on system-on-a-chip hardware. You can't dump these and play them in Stella or MAME. Even though this is supposed to be a 2600, I can see why Super Impulse used the arcade versions of these games. At this scale and price point ($19.99 at Target), there's no pretense that this is anything other than a cute toy, and any semi-functional version of these games would've been acceptable to the casual impulse buyer (pun intended). They already had most of these games in their Micro Arcade series, so repurposing them saved the expense of creating 2600 versions, and certainly Atari wouldn't care as long as they got paid licensing fees. Plus Super Impulse can repurpose them for their Tiny Arcade series, and sell them all over again in dedicated cabinets. I'd buy 'em! Of course, the downside of using the arcade versions is that it really hurts the authenticity of this for us actual Atari 2600 fans (especially with the vertically-oriented TV screen). I wish they'd used 2600 adaptations here instead (except Tempest because the 2600 version is awful). And of course the 2600 library is so vast there are countless other titles they could have tried licensing, but given the price point of this, that seems incredibly unlikely. Again, it's a novelty and should be taken in that context. If the lack of more 2600-ish re-creations is a deal-breaker for you, save your 20 bucks for pizza. So... how do the games actually play? Once turned on, the games are accessed through an onscreen menu. A few have game options, and Tempest and Millipede even include the starting level select. The fire button on the joystick starts the game. Pressing the red "cartridge" on the console resets back to the menu. There's no volume control, which is unfortunate given that they included knobs on the TV. Some games save High Scores. As is typical with Tiny Arcade, playability varies depending on the game. But here's a quick breakdown: Asteroids - Plays pretty well. The auto-fire really helps. Although you're using a mini-2600 joystick rather than a proper 5-button layout, so expect accidental hyperspacings. Breakout - It has options for speed and paddle size which are welcomed, but the whole game feels sluggish and I have yet to be able to change the angle the ball bounces off the paddle even once. Centipede - Quite playable, although the tiny graphics are pushing the limits of what's practical on such a tiny screen. The 2600 version would have looked just fine. Maybe better. Combat - Needs better contrast in the Simple and Open mazes, but the Complex maze looks good. They included a number of gameplay options and a dumb-as-a-post AI opponent. The 2600-ish graphics lend themselves well to the tiny TV though. The "piano" sound effects of the shots bouncing around the maze are pretty funny, if inaccurate. Pong - Also sluggish like Breakout, but unlike Breakout, you can change the direction of the ball. The AI is as dumb as Combat's. (I have to keep reminding myself this is more of a novelty than something that should be taken seriously as a polished game.) Millipede - Plays about as well as Centipede, but most of the insects become indistinguishable from each other at that size. The reduced resolution of the 2600 version would have fared better here. Missile Command - This plays remarkably well, despite the lack of a Trak-Ball. Controls are smooth, graphics look good (again, the 2600 version would've been just fine here). "The End" is missing from the end of the game though. Bummer! Tempest - Well... I suppose it's admirable to attempt it. Actually, on the surface it looks pretty good. The controls are acceptable, although because of the control scheme (where "down" is the Superzapper), you'll trigger a lot of accidental Superzappings. This would work a lot better in a dedicated cabinet with two buttons. The fire rate of your player is half of what it should be, and a lot of iconic sounds are absent. But it's still better than the actual 2600 version. So there's that. Warlords - This actually plays really well. You can only play as the lower left Warlord, but the controls work well and multiple fireballs and fireball capturing are both included. This is one of the standouts in this collection of games. The AI isn't brilliant here either, but with three enemies vs. one, at least you have some more work to do. Pac-Man - This is the other 2600-ish game, and somehow they managed to make it worse than the original. The game feels sluggish and they went to great pains to make it flicker as badly as the original. On a screen this small, with colors that don't contrast well to begin with, you often can't tell when the power pellets wear off, or even where the ghosts are at. But it feels the most authentic of the group, 2600-wise. As with the rest of the Tiny Arcade line, the Tiny Arcade 2600 is a collectible, more than it is a serious game. It's a novelty that you can turn on and play games with. It's a cute, fun, desktop conversation piece and accoutrement, and a nice nod to the 2600. If you take it for what it is, it's worth the 20 bucks.
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  5. I haven't tried firing up my Vectrex in a long time. I have two of Richard's multicarts: an previous-generation VecMulti that has never worked in my Vectrex (I have a fussy Vectrex), and a VecFlash, which I can't use because of a lack of Mac software. Richard has a newer VecMulti that seems to do better with fussy Vectrexes (Vectri?), but I can't use it with the Mac because of software. Richard wrote: He was going to think about if there might be a solution, but that was April 2020, and I haven't wanted to press him on it.
  6. Will 2021 be the first year without an Artie the Atari comic strip? Will it?! WILL IT?!!


    Tune into the strip tomorrow to find out!


    Wait... I just gave it away.


    Anyway, new strip coming tomorrow. Clearly I'm out-of-practice with the PR stuff.

    1. Kiwi


      Will Garfield make an appearance in it?

    2. carlsson


      Yeah, a new Atari console with the custom chips Garfield & Odie. Do the math!

    3. Cobra Kai

      Cobra Kai

      Have Alf appear and eat Garfield

    4. Show next comments  3 more
  7. I'm going to be modding a 7800 for John Champeau soon-ish. I may be PM'ing you about one of those boards.
  8. ...because baseball players apparently don't already get paid enough money for hitting a ball with a stick.

    1. Max_Chatsworth




      *Manage?!*  Well ladida....look at you over here managing people!  ;)

    2. desiv


      Yeah, either they thought I'd be good at helping the techs progress and direct some technology projects, or they were thinking "OMG, what can we do to get him to never touch our servers anymore!!!!"
      I'm still not sure which... ;-)

    3. GoldLeader




      Now I fully admit watching you manage an IT group or whatever might be just as interesting as baseball (probably moreso), but ...You guys serve beer and nachos?   Nope?    Yeah...I think ya see where I was going with that...

    4. Show next comments  3 more
  9. Q*bert is being remade, but I don't think Q*bert's Qubes is being worked on.
  10. Had no idea those existed. Looks like I managed to pick up a few of them over the years.
  11. Very impressive! I used to be able to solve the first two layers of a Rubik's cube, but couldn't wrap my head around the third without looking up the moves.
  12. Very cool photos. But you should let them know they have some broken traces on the floor. - Nathan
  13. This is all very cool. Hope you can turn it into a fully working version of Qb.
  14. It was at the time I was testing mods (which was years ago). I haven't tested any other S-Video mods since, because I haven't had a reason to. I've been perfectly happy with it. However, I do have a system I'll be adding a UAV mod to at some point, so I'll be able to do a direct comparison. I'd still use a CyberTech if I could get one.
  15. Back to the actual topic at hand... mine is my original factory refurb'd heavy sixer inna light sixer Telegames shell (with CyberTech S-Video mod):
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