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Commodore Loadstar 81

Just got my first Atari 8-bit computer. Super stoked, but I have questions.

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So after looking around for a good long while, I finally came across an Atari 8-bit machine at a Goodwill today. It's a 130XE, which is great, but I do have a few questions about compatibility.

 

- How well does 400/800 software run on an XE? I've heard that it requires some kind of compatibility disk that loads the old 400/800 OS first.

 

- To what extent can an 8-bit computer replace an Atari 5200? Are there "conversions" of 5200 games out there made for the 8-bit? (I remember hearing rumors about a multi-cart that has them, called something like the "5200 Blast" or some such.) If they exist, I'd assume that most of the games are converted to work with digital input from a standard CX-40 joystick, but are there games (like Centipede etc.) that would use the trackball too?

 

- Possibly a silly question, but does the XEGS's light gun work on other XE computers?

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An XE is mostly 8-bit compatible. Programs requiring the Atari 400/800's third or fourth joystick port probably won't work. Not too many of those.

 

Badly written programs using fixed jump points into the Atari 400/800 OS probably won't work on the XE (or an XL). There are a few of those, but again, not too many. There is a Translator disk that loads the Atari 400/800 OS into an XL or XE which solves most of these problems.

 

The light gun works on every model of Atari -- 400/800/XL/XE. It also works on the Amiga.

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An XE is mostly 8-bit compatible. Programs requiring the Atari 400/800's third or fourth joystick port probably won't work. Not too many of those.

 

Badly written programs using fixed jump points into the Atari 400/800 OS probably won't work on the XE (or an XL). There are a few of those, but again, not too many. There is a Translator disk that loads the Atari 400/800 OS into an XL or XE which solves most of these problems.

 

The light gun works on every model of Atari -- 400/800/XL/XE. It also works on the Amiga.

 

Thanks very much! Is there a list or FAQ out there that mentions which games are incompatible on the XL/XE without the translator disk?

 

You should get an original 800 and add the incognito board....

 

Uh, while I appreciate that such a setup would probably give me the best compatibility, I prefer to work with what I find "in the wild" (as collectors sometimes phrase it).

 

Also, the XE machines look really freaking cool. :)

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Anyway...

 

To address my main question, now that I have a 130XE, can I basically ditch my 5200 (and all its attendant joystick woes)? Or are there any must-play games that came out on the 5200 but not on the 8-bit platform?

Edited by Commodore Loadstar 81

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Oh, and one thing more (which has me a little nervous). I just tried to run the self test program, and while it goes to the self test screen when I hold "option" and power up, I can't get any of the tests to work -- the computer doesn't seem to recognize when I hit the "start" button. Any troubleshooting advice? Do I have a bad start key?

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Update (since, apparently, I can't edit the post): After mashing the start button a while, I finally got the keyboard test to run, and, indeed, it seems that my start button is worn out to the point where it almost doesn't work (maybe one press in fifty connects). So I'll revise my last question: how do I go about fixing one of the function keys on an XE machine?

 

EDIT: Aaaaand it's okay again. I opened up the keyboard to examine the mylar, and sure enough, the contacts and traces under the start and option keys were a little dirty. I buffed them with a q-tip and now they're right as rain. And if this fix doesn't stick, I can always get a new mylar from Best Electronics. It's all groovy now.

 

--

 

So, yeah, just the one question: is there any reason in the world to keep a 5200 around if one despises those analog joysticks and has a 130XE?

Edited by Commodore Loadstar 81

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With very few exceptions (ie a few modern day homebrews) anything on the 5200 is also available on the computer, albeit with gameplay differences in some cases due to analog vs digital control.

 

Sell it off or swap / finance some of the upgrades available for the computer.

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- How well does 400/800 software run on an XE? I've heard that it requires some kind of compatibility disk that loads the old 400/800 OS first.

 

 

If you are looking at wanting the most compatible functionality with the computer you got, look at the 32in1 OS upgrade from AtariMax. It enables you to switch the OS of the computer to whatever you want, including the 800 OS for those games/programs that don't play well with the XL/XE OS. There are also other available upgrades/mods that give you multiple OS options for the XE. Any of them are a better option than having to use a translator disk plus you get other enhancements!!

 

APE Warp+ OS 32-in-1 Switchless Upgrade for XL/XE Computers

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If you are looking at wanting the most compatible functionality with the computer you got, look at the 32in1 OS upgrade from AtariMax. It enables you to switch the OS of the computer to whatever you want, including the 800 OS for those games/programs that don't play well with the XL/XE OS. There are also other available upgrades/mods that give you multiple OS options for the XE. Any of them are a better option than having to use a translator disk plus you get other enhancements!!

 

APE Warp+ OS 32-in-1 Switchless Upgrade for XL/XE Computers

Another board I'd recommend getting is the Ultimate1MB board for your XE. It basically lets you switch (via menu that comes up when you boot with the fuji key held down) between 4 different OSs (like say the 800's OS-A or OS-B, and the XL/XE's Stock OS, or even some custom OSs that're pretty cool), you can select up to 1meg ram, a real time clock card, there's a SpartaDOS X cart built in, and you can enable or disable the built in Basic cart (8k basic+8k missle command, like the XEGS).

 

It's like getting a 400/800, XL, XE, XEGS all in one.

 

Pair that with a SIDE2 cart which lets you use a Compact Flash cart like an Atari HD. It'll also load files right off the cart from the U1MB menu without having to boot the Atari.

 

If you hear people talking about the Incognito for the Atari 800, the U1MB+SIDE2 is the same thing, but the later works in XL/XE/XEGS. The Incognito is only for the 800 (and is in limited production).

 

I wouldn't worry about OS compatibility at this time, most programs will run fine on your stock system. I would recommend getting an SIO2PC, it lets you connect your A8 to a PC via serial cable (there's a USB version, but I recommend the serial if you have a PC with a serial port) then you can try out whatever .atr disks you can find here and there.

 

Oh and you can trust Lotharek, he's an upstanding guy.

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You shouldn't keep your 5200. Not at all. It's wretched. If you give it to me, I'll dispose of it for you. Even if the joysticks are broken.

 

Heh.

 

If you really don't like the 5200, then you can probably lose it. I have an XEGS and a 5200, and use them as a "proper" computer and a game console respectively. I think you miss something by gaming on the XEs rather than the 5200, but that's purely personal taste. The ability to play the games isn't too bad on the 8-bits really.

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