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Comparing the NES and 7800 on a technical level

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I used to wonder why Ikari Warriors wasn't as good as Jackal and Heavy Barrel.

 

It's because it was ported by Micronics. Although their NES port of Twin Cobra is pretty good.

Yeah, Micronics is one the more infamous Japanese developers who couldn’t code or program for shit. I believe their lousy ports of mid-80s arcade games was what caused companies like Capcom and Konami and SNK do their own porting instead of relying on third party contractors to port hit arcade games to the Famicom/NES.

 

I imagine if SNK had done Ikari Warriors or had handed it off to Natsume, Ikari Warriors would have stood toe to toe with the 7800 version.

 

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Edited by empsolo

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I dunno. At the time when I bought the 7800, I was pretty impressed with Pole Position II as were people I showed it too. it *LOOKED* really good and was a big step up from the 2600 I had before. My NES owning friend thought it looked in the same visual league as his games.

 

The biggest issue for me with the game was it only had four tracks.

That was the game's biggest selling point, the original Pole Position only had one track. And Pole Position's original selling point was- well we had never seen a game quite like it. They seem dated now, but they were exciting and groundbreaking at the time.

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That was the game's biggest selling point, the original Pole Position only had one track. And Pole Position's original selling point was- well we had never seen a game quite like it. They seem dated now, but they were exciting and groundbreaking at the time.

 

Pole Position II on the Atari 7800 wasn't exciting for the time nor did it really show off the system. It was released the same year as Rad Racer.

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Pole Position II on the Atari 7800 wasn't exciting for the time nor did it really show off the system. It was released the same year as Rad Racer.

The catch is Pole Position ii was supposed to be released in 1984 on the Atari 7800 and that is before Rad Racer came out.

 

Pole Position II was one of the planned Atari 7800 Launch games that was dated by the time the Atari 7800 came out in 1986 instead of 1984. Racing games in 1984 were not as advanced as they were going to be in 1986 and 1987.

Edited by 8th lutz
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The catch is Pole Position ii was supposed to be released in 1984 on the Atari 7800 and that is before Rad Racer came out.

 

Pole Position II was one of the planned Atari 7800 Launch games that was dated by the time the Atari 7800 came out in 1986 instead of 1984. Racing games in 1984 were not as advanced as they were going to be in 1986 and 1987.

 

This is a good point. It would have been fine for 1984, but was bland and unimpressive for a pack-in title in 1987, IMO.

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But it was also a major failure because of the lack of backwards compatibility and the joysticks. Had the 5200 been backwards compatible and better joysticks, it probably would have been every bit a successful as the 2600 was.

 

The 5200 was not going to every bit the success the 2600 was if the 5200 been backwards compatible and better joysticks. You have backwards compatibility and better joysticks, but it the game library even from the start matters. What a system has for games is a key factor if a consumer is going to buy the system or not.

 

Atari screwed up the Atari 5200 launch from a game standpoint and had other game issues with the 5200. Atari deciding on Super Breakout as a Pack-in game for the Atari 5200 was a terrible move compare to Colecovision had Donkey Kong.

 

Super Breakout by 1982 was not acceptable as a pack-in title. The problem is Super Breakout was old news by 1982 and it already was released on the Atari 2600 before the 5200 was launch. Colecovision had an edge on the 5200 for a pack-in- title because Donkey Kong was a hug arcade hit in 1981 compare to Super Breakout being a 1978 arcade game.

 

Atari also made the mistake of releasing Berzerk, Defender, Missile command, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Star Raiders for the Atari 5200 during its lifetime with a huge problem to the eye of consumers. All the games I mentioned were released for the Atari 2600 before the 5200 was released anywhere from a couple months to over 2 years depending on the game in question. The reason I mentioned this is people who seen the 5200 version of the games I mentioned could've thought in their heads didn't I bought this game for the Atari 2600 already.

 

Atari also made the mistake of Atari 2600 releasing the same new games as the Atari 5200 even after system was launched and the 5200 didn't get a lot of exclusive game titles a lot. From a consumer standpoint, what Atari did was a mistake because they gave no reason for a consumer to buy their newer game console outside of better graphics and sound.

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If the 7800 was released at that same time instead of the 5200, the Japanese may have never even broken into the western market. They never got a computer into the market.

 

Sorry, the Japanese was going enter the western market as game console makers even if the 7800 was released in 1982.

 

The first problem is Atari would've missed up the game launch for the 7800 in 1982 like they Atari 5200. A lot of the Atari 7800 planned launch titles in 1984 were not possible in 1982 and Atari would've released games like Super Breakout instead :roll:. The only Atari 7800 launch titles planned in 1984 could've been released in 1982 for certain is Asteroids, and Centipede. Ms. Pac-Man is debatable because Atari released Pac-Man for the 2600 in 1981, but they released it on their 8 bit computer in 1982 Dessert Falcon was not going to happen because that game was influenced by Zaxxon and Zaxxon came out in 1982.

 

Atari 7800 was not going to have Galaga as a launch title in 1982 because Galaxian was not released on a Atari system yet. Robotron 2084, Dig Dug, Joust, and Xevious were released in the arcades in 1982 and it was not possible for having them on a game console that year and had to wait for 1983 at the earliest. Food Fight, Pole Position ii, Track and Field, Ballblazer, and Rescue on Fractalus were games that not possible to be a game console before 1984.

 

The 2nd problem would've been Atari releasing the same new title for the 7800 and 2600 during the Atari 5200's Lifetime under Warner. What I mentioned would've a repeat of the 7800 because a lot of the 7800 titles were on the 2600.

 

The 3rd problem would've been while the 7800 could 48k cartridges before bankswitching, the cost of doing 32k or 48k cartridge in 1982 was going to be an issue due to Atari had to wait around 1984 to do a 32k game cartridge. I mentioned Cartridge size because it could really show the capabilities of a 7800 right away.

 

The final problem is the potential price of Atari 7800 games in 1982 and 1983 due to the system not having the amount of ram of a 5200 and needing a Pokey sound chip built in a game cartridge.

Edited by 8th lutz
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Atari also made the mistake of releasing Berzerk, Defender, Missile command, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Star Raiders for the Atari 5200 during its lifetime with a huge problem to the eye of consumers. All the games I mentioned were released for the Atari 2600 before the 5200 was released anywhere from a couple months to over 2 years depending on the game in question. The reason I mentioned this is people who seen the 5200 version of the games I mentioned could've thought in their heads didn't I bought this game for the Atari 2600 already.

 

Atari also made the mistake of Atari 2600 releasing the same new games as the Atari 5200 even after system was launched and the 5200 didn't get a lot of exclusive game titles a lot. From a consumer standpoint, what Atari did was a mistake because they gave no reason for a consumer to buy their newer game console outside of better graphics and sound.

 

I remember around 87 or 88 I nearly owned an "Atari XE" game console, however at that time, an older cousin of mine had given me all of his Atari 2600 collection. When I went to the "Toy R Us" store to get a 2600 system for the game I saw the XE on display over there, but when I looked at the cartridge slot I saw how small it was. I reasoned that I couldn't play the 2600 games on that thing so I wind up getting the newly released 2600 Jr so you're right about what you're saying.

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Apparently a lot of Atari's programmers refused to work on the 5200; they wanted the more lucrative royalties from the more popular 2600.

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Apparently a lot of Atari's programmers refused to work on the 5200; they wanted the more lucrative royalties from the more popular 2600.

That would surprise me. Normally developers get a set salary and work on what they’re assigned to work on

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I read the article linked earlier regarding the lawsuit. In it: "Nintendo attorney John Kirby"

Soo00, did this have anything to do with the Poke'mon named Kirby?

LOL

 

220px-Kirby.png

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I read the article linked earlier regarding the lawsuit. In it: "Nintendo attorney John Kirby"

 

Soo00, did this have anything to do with the Poke'mon named Kirby?

 

LOL

 

220px-Kirby.png

 

Kirby may look like a Pokemon but he's not a Pokemon.

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I read the article linked earlier regarding the lawsuit. In it: "Nintendo attorney John Kirby"

 

Soo00, did this have anything to do with the Poke'mon named Kirby?

 

LOL

 

220px-Kirby.png

 

You calling Kirby a Pokemon just made me puke in my mouth a little :woozy:

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Sorry, the Japanese was going enter the western market as game console makers even if the 7800 was released in 1982.

 

The first problem is Atari would've missed up the game launch for the 7800 in 1982 like they Atari 5200. A lot of the Atari 7800 planned launch titles in 1984 were not possible in 1982 and Atari would've released games like Super Breakout instead :roll:. The only Atari 7800 launch titles planned in 1984 could've been released in 1982 for certain is Asteroids, and Centipede. Ms. Pac-Man is debatable because Atari released Pac-Man for the 2600 in 1981, but they released it on their 8 bit computer in 1982 Dessert Falcon was not going to happen because that game was influenced by Zaxxon and Zaxxon came out in 1982.

 

Atari 7800 was not going to have Galaga as a launch title in 1982 because Galaxian was not released on a Atari system yet. Robotron 2084, Dig Dug, Joust, and Xevious were released in the arcades in 1982 and it was not possible for having them on a game console that year and had to wait for 1983 at the earliest. Food Fight, Pole Position ii, Track and Field, Ballblazer, and Rescue on Fractalus were games that not possible to be a game console before 1984.

 

The 2nd problem would've been Atari releasing the same new title for the 7800 and 2600 during the Atari 5200's Lifetime under Warner. What I mentioned would've a repeat of the 7800 because a lot of the 7800 titles were on the 2600.

 

The 3rd problem would've been while the 7800 could 48k cartridges before bankswitching, the cost of doing 32k or 48k cartridge in 1982 was going to be an issue due to Atari had to wait around 1984 to do a 32k game cartridge. I mentioned Cartridge size because it could really show the capabilities of a 7800 right away.

 

The final problem is the potential price of Atari 7800 games in 1982 and 1983 due to the system not having the amount of ram of a 5200 and needing a Pokey sound chip built in a game cartridge.

 

Not including the POKEY (or some other sound chip besides the TIA) was a bad design choice, I agree with that. If they thought POKEY was cheap enough to include on a cartridge, they certainly could have put it in the machine without needing to raise the price.

 

Getting the 7800 onto the market that much earlier would have helped a great deal and I disagree about having more than 1 copy of the game. After all, people had the choice between Centipede on the 2600 or the Coleco, it's not like the games were the same. It doesn't really matter when the games came out, it would still have been long before the NES was in the US. The 7800 prevented the release of 3rd party shit games that were flooding the market for the 2600 and Colecovision. Re-releasing old games (with few exceptions) wasn't a great idea, but that doesn't mean going forward that you can't release a 2600 version and a 7800 version that looks and plays much better than the 2600 version. These games would have been coming out at the same time, not mere re-issues of older games.

 

Developers would have been far less less likely to sign exclusive rights with Nintendo if the 7800 was already out with a large installed base. This is mostly how Nintendo completely controller the 8bit console games in the late 80s. Much how Nintendo fended off the superior SMS, Atari could have fended off the superior NES, or, at bare minimum, been far more competitive than Sega (or the 7800) was.

 

I think you might be underestimating the backwards compatibility angle. The ability to keep your old games and have them just work without any hokey adapters or extra joysticks was a big plus. A lot of people were really angry that they couldn't play their old games on the new 5200 system. They came out with that klunky converter exactly for that reason. With the 7800, you didn't need to think about what system your game was for, just plug it in like any other game.

 

The 7800 versions would command a premium, certainly enough to cover larger ROMS. They didn't need to start with large ROMS either. 1982/83 arcade games were still such that you really wouldn't even need the large ROMS that came later. Atarisoft released a bunch of pretty good games for the C64 that are 16k or less. The idea is that the 7800 has a large installed base by the time Nintendo is ready to launch in America. Whatever ROM limitations were there by that time would have been faced by Nintendo as well.

 

It's hard to know what could have been done with the 7800 technically. We are seeing things on the 2600 nobody thought was possible. Hell, we were seeing things back then nobody thought was possible. If the NES had flopped, we might be looking back at games that never showed what the NES was truly capable of.

 

Of course, all of this is dependent on Atari not being mismanaged.

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Not including the POKEY (or some other sound chip besides the TIA) was a bad design choice, I agree with that. If they thought POKEY was cheap enough to include on a cartridge, they certainly could have put it in the machine without needing to raise the price.

 

You know, this is something I'd really like to know the answer to: when Warner sold off the IP, assets and name "Atari" for home consoles and computers to Jack's "Atari Corp.", and turned the arcade business into "Atari Games," who ended up with the IP and manufacturing contracts for POKEY chips and the copyrights/design patents for the underlying chip fabrication films and dies? For years, I supposed that the each division likely had a large stock of existing chips and just used them up over time. However, when I built a 1088XEL this past winter, the two POKEYs I purchased have date codes of week 38 in 1989! So at least one chip fab (AMI in my case) was still making POKEYs for years after the split-up. So that got me curious and I examined the innards of my 130XE. Sure enough, it also has an AMI-made POKEY, dated the first week of 1985.

 

So the only conclusion I can make is, Jack's Atari Corp. still had rights to continued POKEY production - they were just too cheap to buy enough of them to incorporate in any games beyond BB and Commando.

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You know, this is something I'd really like to know the answer to: when Warner sold off the IP, assets and name "Atari" for home consoles and computers to Jack's "Atari Corp.", and turned the arcade business into "Atari Games," who ended up with the IP and manufacturing contracts for POKEY chips and the copyrights/design patents for the underlying chip fabrication films and dies? For years, I supposed that the each division likely had a large stock of existing chips and just used them up over time. However, when I built a 1088XEL this past winter, the two POKEYs I purchased have date codes of week 38 in 1989! So at least one chip fab (AMI in my case) was still making POKEYs for years after the split-up. So that got me curious and I examined the innards of my 130XE. Sure enough, it also has an AMI-made POKEY, dated the first week of 1985.

 

So the only conclusion I can make is, Jack's Atari Corp. still had rights to continued POKEY production - they were just too cheap to buy enough of them to incorporate in any games beyond BB and Commando.

But weren't there a number of Atari arcade machines that used the POKEY chips?

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But weren't there a number of Atari arcade machines that used the POKEY chips?

 

That's exactly the point of my post - "Atari" was split up into separate entities. Warner Communications owned Atari, Inc. In July 1984, Jack's Tramiel Technologies holding company bought most of the buildings and physical assets of Atari, Inc. along with the home computer and home game console business lines. Those assets were then turned into "Atari Corp." The arcade business and assets were turned into "Atari Games," a completely separate business entity.

 

I would like to know definitely which of those entities obtained the ownership of POKEY - the design patents, the copyrighted design materials, spec sheet, production specification, films used to lithograph the chip dies, etc. Based on the post-summer '84 date codes on at least 3 POKEY chips I own personally, I think there's evidence Jack's Atari Corp. owned those rights and thus were simply too cheap to make the chips widely available cheaply enough to include in more games.

Edited by DrVenkman
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That's exactly the point of my post - "Atari" was split up into separate entities. Warner Communications owned Atari, Inc. In July 1984, Jack's Tramiel Technologies holding company bought most of the buildings and physical assets of Atari, Inc. along with the home computer and home game console business lines. Those assets were then turned into "Atari Corp." The arcade business and assets were turned into "Atari Games," a completely separate business entity.

 

I would like to know definitely which of those entities obtained the ownership of POKEY - the design patents, the copyrighted design materials, spec sheet, production specification, films used to lithograph the chip dies, etc. Based on the post-summer '84 date codes on at least 3 POKEY chips I own personally, I think there's evidence Jack's Atari Corp. owned those rights and thus were simply too cheap to make the chips widely available cheaply enough to include in more games.

 

Why wouldn't either one (the one that actually had the rights) just sell chips to the other?

 

My guess is it wasn't the Tramiel side unless the multiple POKEYs on a chip predates the breakup.

 

Was it ever even Atari manufacturing the chips?

 

I know Commodore owned MOS and that helped Jack drive down costs in the early days of Commodore, but I have no idea if Atari fabbed its own chips. But I do get your point.Thanks.

 

That chip had to be pretty cheap if GCC, presumably with Atari's permission, designed the 7800 to have a POKEY chip on any cartridge that needed one. I honestly cannot think of any reason whatever to make such a design decision. Though I know absolutely nothing about designing hardware, it seems to me that it would have been fairly trivial to put the POKEY in the machine, even if it was on the cartridge bus for compatibility reasons. It's not like it was a specialized chip that did some weird thing most games wouldn't need and they simply left the option open. It's a damn sound chip and a pretty good one for the time. Didn't the system slow down to access the TIA as well?

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Why wouldn't either one (the one that actually had the rights) just sell chips to the other?

 

My guess is it wasn't the Tramiel side unless the multiple POKEYs on a chip predates the breakup.

 

Was it ever even Atari manufacturing the chips?

 

I know Commodore owned MOS and that helped Jack drive down costs in the early days of Commodore, but I have no idea if Atari fabbed its own chips. But I do get your point.Thanks.

 

That chip had to be pretty cheap if GCC, presumably with Atari's permission, designed the 7800 to have a POKEY chip on any cartridge that needed one. I honestly cannot think of any reason whatever to make such a design decision. Though I know absolutely nothing about designing hardware, it seems to me that it would have been fairly trivial to put the POKEY in the machine, even if it was on the cartridge bus for compatibility reasons. It's not like it was a specialized chip that did some weird thing most games wouldn't need and they simply left the option open. It's a damn sound chip and a pretty good one for the time. Didn't the system slow down to access the TIA as well?

 

Well see - again - there was no "both sides." They were two completely, utterly independent and unrelated businesses after early July 1984. From that point on, the only things they had in common were the prefix "Atari." Whichever entity (Atari Corp. or Atari Games) had the rights to POKEY might have licensed those rights to the other, or perhaps Warner's sale of assets to Jack included keeping a perpetual license to the underlying patents for POKEY, or some other unknown arrangement. Or perhaps conversely it was exactly the opposite. Perhaps the independent Atari Games entity got to keep the rights to POKEY and was the one selling chips back to Atari Corp. for use in consoles and computers. BUT WE JUST DON'T KNOW. Hell, maybe I'm the only one who cares about this stuff, I dunno. I spent the better part of 6 months last year analyzing thousands of contracts for assignability and transfer provisions so maybe I'm just wondering about stuff only weird legal geeks care about.

 

As to the next point, Atari didn't own their own chip fabs, but they did create and own their own custom LSI chips - TIA, CTIA, GTIA, ANTIC and POKEY were all internal Atari (Warner-era Atari, Inc.) designs, created in-house and built by several overseas fabs - Syntertek, AMI, Rockwell and National Semiconductor all made chips under license for Atari. A quick scan through some of my photos indicates most of my machines have POKEYs fab'd by AMI, but I have at least one or two National Semiconductor POKEY's as well. But again, these were custom chip designs, created by Warner-era Atari, Inc. The sale of assets to Jack's company had to have had some kind of details about POKEY, especially given that Atari's arcade machines had been using them for years (and yes, that includes multi-POKEY games), and that the new Atari Games company would both need to keep servicing older machines with parts and keep creating new games.

 

And for the last point, read back through this thread. GCC didn't design the 7800 so that carts could have POKEY's, necessarily. They designed it so that their (GCC's) own new low-cost GUMBY (*) sound chip could be used in carts, giving GCC an on-going revenue stream from either sale of chips or licensing fees to have them made and included in carts. But the post-July 1984 kerfuffle between Warner, Jack's new Atari Corp. and GCC over who owed whom money for the 7800 work, and how much was owed, led to GCC pressing "pause" on further GUMBY work while the dust settled, and once the details were worked out, the folks behind GUMBY had either left GCC or Jack wasn't interested in paying GCC any more money for GUMBY when they hoped their own new AMY soundchip would replace POKEY "soon" for computer and thus make POKEY's available for games, or else just didn't care about game consoles all that much (**)

 

(*) GUMBY is, as far as is known, complete vaporware. No schematics, chip layouts or prototypes were ever known to have been made.

(**) Based on the fact that POKEYs were still being fabricated as late as 3rd or 4th quarter 1989, I'm going with "just didn't care too much about game consoles."

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Well see - again - there was no "both sides." They were two completely, utterly independent and unrelated businesses after early July 1984. From that point on, the only things they had in common were the prefix "Atari." Whichever entity (Atari Corp. or Atari Games) had the rights to POKEY might have licensed those rights to the other, or perhaps Warner's sale of assets to Jack included keeping a perpetual license to the underlying patents for POKEY, or some other unknown arrangement. Or perhaps conversely it was exactly the opposite. Perhaps the independent Atari Games entity got to keep the rights to POKEY and was the one selling chips back to Atari Corp. for use in consoles and computers. BUT WE JUST DON'T KNOW. Hell, maybe I'm the only one who cares about this stuff, I dunno. I spent the better part of 6 months last year analyzing thousands of contracts for assignability and transfer provisions so maybe I'm just wondering about stuff only weird legal geeks care about.

 

As to the next point, Atari didn't own their own chip fabs, but they did create and own their own custom LSI chips - TIA, CTIA, GTIA, ANTIC and POKEY were all internal Atari (Warner-era Atari, Inc.) designs, created in-house and built by several overseas fabs - Syntertek, AMI, Rockwell and National Semiconductor all made chips under license for Atari. A quick scan through some of my photos indicates most of my machines have POKEYs fab'd by AMI, but I have at least one or two National Semiconductor POKEY's as well. But again, these were custom chip designs, created by Warner-era Atari, Inc. The sale of assets to Jack's company had to have had some kind of details about POKEY, especially given that Atari's arcade machines had been using them for years (and yes, that includes multi-POKEY games), and that the new Atari Games company would both need to keep servicing older machines with parts and keep creating new games.

 

And for the last point, read back through this thread. GCC didn't design the 7800 so that carts could have POKEY's, necessarily. They designed it so that their (GCC's) own new low-cost GUMBY (*) sound chip could be used in carts, giving GCC an on-going revenue stream from either sale of chips or licensing fees to have them made and included in carts. But the post-July 1984 kerfuffle between Warner, Jack's new Atari Corp. and GCC over who owed whom money for the 7800 work, and how much was owed, led to GCC pressing "pause" on further GUMBY work while the dust settled, and once the details were worked out, the folks behind GUMBY had either left GCC or Jack wasn't interested in paying GCC any more money for GUMBY when they hoped their own new AMY soundchip would replace POKEY "soon" for computer and thus make POKEY's available for games, or else just didn't care about game consoles all that much (**)

 

(*) GUMBY is, as far as is known, complete vaporware. No schematics, chip layouts or prototypes were ever known to have been made.

(**) Based on the fact that POKEYs were still being fabricated as late as 3rd or 4th quarter 1989, I'm going with "just didn't care too much about game consoles."

 

I didn't think there were sides to it, I was thinking that since they were not in competition with each other with one being an arcade machine manufacturer and the other being a home computer and software company, that as long as either company was interested in using POKEY chips, whoever owned the rights to them would just sell chips to the other.

 

You jarred my memory about the GCC chip. It still does seem a weird design decision.

I would agree that Tramiel just didn't care much about succeeding in the game console market and probably just wanted to raise cash.

 

Thanks for the detailed response.

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I'm not familiar with the 7800 at all - haven't seen one running myself to gauge how good is it? But it's the familiar pattern with any new hardware at the time - that in the first two years you normally don't see anything outstanding that does put the hardware to it's limits. That it does take time for the programmers to understand how the hardware works and then start doing things which weren't thought of?

There should be examples in the current library - which you can point out - that this game is using more sprites than any other - and is not showing signs of flicker? Or more colours on screen than any other? Or 3 layer parallax and so on. Even pointing out which is the fastest and smoothest - indicating it is running at full frame rate.

 

If you're familiar with the 8-bit Ataris - you'll know there's been all kinds of exploration into various areas - not only graphics, but music/sound - 3D like graphics and so on. And this is for a system that pre-dates the 7800 - though you can say there's little in common between them? A serious omission for the 7800 is the missing Pokey sound chip - that should have been on the console - instead of being on the game cart itself. How much did Atari save on this decision - and how much did it cost them in the end for being so frugal - that players have to put up with sub-standard sound for certain titles?

 

Those developing 7800 titles today - can choose? to either develop something that is exactly like how it was back in the day --- or go the other route - and that is to show how far can it's hardware be stretched? Showing it's 2018 vintage by using a banked cartridge scheme (going beyond 32k or whatever) enabling more graphic animations to be made use of. Exactly how much can be animated within a 7800 game? What is the best example of this so far?

 

With the NES - they added as many memory chips as necessary to make bigger/better games. There were far more programmers working for this system - so you can say that far more resources/programmers were at work - which resulted in some great games made for it.

Had the same kind of resources were put into making 7800 games - what kind of games could have been produced? We can never know the answer to that question.

 

But with the 7800 homebrew scene - is there anyone wanting to go where few have gone before? Has there been any 7800 demos which tries to demonstrate anything new and innovative? Or borrow techniques used on other systems - to see how they'll look on the 7800?

 

As far as bring Prince of Persia onto the 7800 - perhaps someone who may know what is involved with that - is someone who was doing it for the 8-bit Ataris - a few years ago - it appears he got a test program up and running - but then dropped it due to real life work commitments. He may not be interested in porting it to the 7800 - but knows of the work involved with it.

 

Harvey

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That chip had to be pretty cheap if GCC, presumably with Atari's permission, designed the 7800 to have a POKEY chip on any cartridge that needed one. I honestly cannot think of any reason whatever to make such a design decision. Though I know absolutely nothing about designing hardware, it seems to me that it would have been fairly trivial to put the POKEY in the machine, even if it was on the cartridge bus for compatibility reasons. It's not like it was a specialized chip that did some weird thing most games wouldn't need and they simply left the option open. It's a damn sound chip and a pretty good one for the time. Didn't the system slow down to access the TIA as well?

 

There are a few reasons that have been tossed around throughout the years.

 

1. It absolutely, positively 100% was a design goal to make the 7800 backward compatible with the 2600 because the 5200 had taken heat for not having been. The TIA was used in the 7800's design for backwards compatibility with the 2600.

 

2. GCC always intended for the 7800 to be able to include sound chips in the cartridge to go over and above what the TIA could offer. This wasn't an afterthought of "Oh crap, it's behind, let's just do something". The idea was always there and Ballblazer (an intended launch title) was the proof of concept to show it. However, the cartridge design was not limited to POKEY and the plan was to create a low cost POKEY successor (GUMBY) that could be commonly used. If anything, POKEY was the proof of concept but GUMBY was was the expected execution of the vision.

 

It's discussed at length here, in the 7800's history, in the MP3

 

http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/7800/7800-20th/

 

 

3. There was definitely some speculation as to whether POKEY was excluded because of cost/space reasons and also it was speculated that GCC would "sell" Atari chips, but not sure what their royalty agreements were surrounding this. Definitely makes sense from GCCs perspective.

 

Regardless, the 7800 got released, GCC got paid off and the vision that the 7800 realized under the Tramiels was very different than the vision dreamed up by GCC.

Edited by DracIsBack
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I'm not familiar with the 7800 at all - haven't seen one running myself to gauge how good is it? But it's the familiar pattern with any new hardware at the time - that in the first two years you normally don't see anything outstanding that does put the hardware to it's limits. That it does take time for the programmers to understand how the hardware works and then start doing things which weren't thought of?

There should be examples in the current library - which you can point out - that this game is using more sprites than any other - and is not showing signs of flicker? Or more colours on screen than any other? Or 3 layer parallax and so on. Even pointing out which is the fastest and smoothest - indicating it is running at full frame rate.

Something like this?

 

 

Don't know about sprites, but there's parallax scrolling & a neat 3D effect. (Yes, this game was also available on 8-bit computers.)

 

Does the 7800 use sprites? I thought graphics were split up into blocks which could be background elements, player characters, enemies, etc.

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