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32 bit gamer

Is the Atari 2600 worth it/ should I get one?

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I have always liked old games (nes, dreamcast, snes, n64, etc.) but I always liked the atari 2600. I usually play an atari 2600 game on a plug in play console called the "flashback". I am wondering if the atari 2600 is worth it and is better than other consoles I might get instead (snes dreamcast or genisis). I want to know soon because my parents are letting me have another game console when we go to the game store in 3 days( I'm only 13 :) )

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Both the Genesis and SNES are great consoles, but games for either of those systems usually cost more than they do for the 2600. The Dreamcast is cool too, but can be a bit more finicky, because it uses discs instead of cartridges.

 

Your flashback games are pretty much the same as the actual cartridges for use with a real 2600. If you REALLY like those flashback games, then getting a real 2600 will let you play other games for that console (games you don't already have built-in to the flashback). There are many fun ones, and it could cost less if you want to buy lots of new games.

 

Games on the Genesis and SNES (and also the Dreamcast) tend to be deeper and more involving and prettier with better graphics and better music, but also more expensive, depending on which games you want. There ARE some low cost games for most any console, though.

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If I was 13 today I would probably think the 2600 is really boring, like fiddlepaddle said if you REALLY like your Atari Flashback and wanna start collecting the "real thing" then yeah go for it.

 

Otherwise at your age I'd probably say either the Genesis if you want something more retro or the Dreamcast if you want something with more modern style games.

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Good on you for playing Atari 2600 dude.

 

Probably 99% of the forum here owns at least one Atari 2600 (most of us have more than one console, I'd wager) and this is a pretty huge community. Now is a great time to be a 2600 gamer as there are lots of great home-brews coming out and most of the good Atari 2600 games are cheap and easily available on here and on places like eBay, where it is easy to purchase a lot of 30+ games to get an instant huge collection.

That said, these are ~old~ consoles and the cartridges are OLD. There is a certain level of maintenance required in making sure everything runs properly from simple cleanings to buying various parts to make sure the games run on newer televisions. This can range from cheap (a simple adaptor that can be used on an older analog television) to expensive (a video mod that gives you composite or s-video inputs). It'd be a shame if you bought a 2600 and then realized you couldn't actually hook it up because your televisions are to new to work with the 2600's older technology (remember, this thing came out in 1977...technology has changed A LOT). If you have a limited supply of money and/or purchasing things you need via the internet is not possible or practical, the 2600 might not be the best retro console to get.

 

IMO the two cheapest/easiest retro consoles to go with that still have a high level of quality are the Sega Genesis and PlayStation 2. The Genesis has a ton of action and platforming style games, so you won't need to worry about dead battery backups, and the PS2 is new enough that all the hardware generally still works. Games for both are cheap and plentiful, particularly if you aren't overly concerned with having the box and manual.

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IMO the two cheapest/easiest retro consoles to go with that still have a high level of quality are the Sega Genesis and PlayStation 2. The Genesis has a ton of action and platforming style games, so you won't need to worry about dead battery backups, and the PS2 is new enough that all the hardware generally still works. Games for both are cheap and plentiful, particularly if you aren't overly concerned with having the box and manual.

 

Oh yeah, $10 goes a bit further with a Genesis than with a SNES or Dreamcast.

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Try before you buy, with emulation.

 

Personally I think if you are into quick arcade/action games the 2600 is great, but that's just MHO.

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Well, I already own a ps2 and a nomad, and I have a coaxial imput on my tv, so I think I'm turning towards the atari 2600. If I do get one, are there any cleaning procedures, tips on collecting, or etc?

Edited by 32 bit gamer

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I think the main thing going for the 2600 is that it's gaming is completely different from the NES world on up. 2600 games were meant to stand on their own like a board game. You don't finish an Atari 2600 game: you just get better over time.

 

The other shocker is that you can make real 2600 and 7800 games right now. It's not just for techie heads.

http://atariage.com/forums/forum/65-batari-basic/

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/222638-7800basic-beta-the-release-thread/

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Step 1. Obtain Atari 2600

Step 2. Obtain Harmony cartridge

Step 3. Hook up Atari 2600

Step 4. Load these roms onto Harmony cartridge

Step 5. Insert Harmony cartridge into Atari 2600

Step 6. Lose Track of Time

Edited by mipaol
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I just recently got a couple of flashback units , I wasn't impressed with the mini 7800 unit (thinking flashback 1)

 

however the flashback 2, I was really impressed with , I'm not one for modding consoles but understand the flashback 2 will accept a cartridge slot so you can play atari carts on it.

not so with the newer models though (flashback 3 & 4)

 

which is yours ?

 

as far as an original atari 2600 I would say it's very well worth it.

 

there are a few models to choose from ... http://atariage.com/2600/archives/consoles.html

 

this is a good guide to cleaning system should it need it , usually the paddle controllers need the cleaning the most

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/184296-slowcoders-guide-to-cleaning-up-your-2600/?p=2316144

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Get a Dreamcast. I love mine. Lots of great games. You can always check out Atari games in an emulator.

 

Personally, if I'm gonna say "use an emulator", it's for Genesis/SNES. They've been damn-near perfect for so many years now - hell they're console-perfect on DC emulation from nearly 15 years ago. Stella is fantastic, don't get me wrong, but it just doesn't have the same "feel" as playing on a real 2600. Something to do with having to hit all those big clunky switches maybe, or just using an honest-to-god joystick, or really awesome/bad audio consisting mostly of explosions.. I dunno, I just never really liked emulated 2600. It never comes close enough to the real thing for my tastes.

 

But it's certainly a good way to check out if you even like playing the games. As someone said, you don't "beat" an Atari game. You just play the same thing over and over and try to get a higher score. Us old farts love that style of gameplay, and a lot of younger do too - but it's not for everyone. But if you do like it?

 

People are talking about cost. Maybe it's just me, but unless someone wants to stock up on sports games, the 2600 is probably the cheapest console to get a pretty big collection for. The top 20-30 most common games can be had for like 50 cents each without even trying - just check out the AA Marketplace forum. You can buy huge lots on Ebay of 50-100 games that will average about a buck a piece, and include a fair number of less common games. Doing that with any other console will net you about 20 copies of Madden and NHL '94 on Genesis, plus some MLB and NBA carts. Oh and a dozen Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt combo carts. I just don't see a cheaper system, for someone who wants in the 20-50 game range. I suppose a Dreamcast is cheaper if you spend the time with the proper burning software and don't have a bandwidth cap. It's been a LOOONG time since I was into that scene so maybe it's gotten a bit easier, but I remember spending weeks at a time getting and burning games with Discjuggler. And original DC games are anything but cheap.

 

And yes, a Harmony is absolutely the best way to go if you're playing more than collecting.

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The other option of course (and I'll probably be ostracised by my peers for mentioning it) is emulation. Try looking at the "Stella" emulator http://stella.sourceforge.net/ and then download the 12MB file linked by mipaol above.

 

This will give you pretty much every game you're likely to find in the wild (eBay, Garage sales, thrift stores, etc.). Use a USB joystick and you'll have pretty much the same experience as you would buying a Woody or Junior.

 

Unless you're looking into collecting VCS carts with a view to making money from said collection in the future, you'll save money and (via emulation) probably not miss much by not owning the original hardware.

 

Like myself, a lot of forum users here collect retro systems for nostalgic reasons. I'm over 4 times your age and grew up with this old hardware so for me, collecting satisfies my need for re-living the past.

 

You're already playing Atari via emulation by using the Flashback, so using a computer with a USB joystick would be extending what you're already used to.

 

If you really want to buy a 2600, try looking for a Junior. It's more compact than the earlier VCS consoles and runs all of the same cartridges. Being a later model also means the electronics have aged less, so it may last you longer.

 

*EDIT* I typed this as freeweed posted his reply (above) so mine is no longer the first mention of emulation.

Edited by UKRetrogamer

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If it doesn't count towards your new system limit, see if your game store has a plug-and-play paddle. They typically cost around $5. http://www.thevintagegamers.com/2012/11/jakks-pacific-atari-2600-paddle-plug-n-play/

 

That will give you the one part of the 2600 experience that I don't think emulators with joysticks or mice can quite reproduce.

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My 11 year old is playing Pitfall II on our 6 switch 2600 right now...

 

And loving it.

 

If you decide to get a 2600 I'd put the games below on your short list. :)

 

Pitfall

Pitfall II

Asteroids

Super Breakout

E.T.

Yars Revenge

Defender

Mega Mania

Phoenix

Warlords

frogger

Raiders of the Lost Ark

 

last shop I walked into I bought a boxed copy of frogger for 2600 and the guy came out with a bin full of 2600 games including a complete working system, joysticks, and paddles.

 

He told me to take it all.

 

:)

Edited by dashv
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If you really enjoyed the Flashback, then I'm going to advise you this: I know at 13 years of age it can be difficult to do this kind of collecting -- after all, what kind of income can a 13-year-old have to actually buy these games?...but if you can swing it, try to somehow get an Atari 7800. It will play most 2600 games (or so far in my case, ALL 2600 games!) plus the 7800's small but excellent library of games.

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Hmmm. Interesting. When I was 13, Nintendo was still King of gaming, SNES was all the rave, and anything Atari branded was considered junk.

 

I didn't even get into Atari collecting until 2012, long after I collected all the Nintendo systems. I completely fell in love with the thriving homebrew scene as well. Thing is, you likely don't have much disposable income, and Atari games are very, very cheap right now compared to SNES and others. One key diffence though, many later games have a lot of depth. You could play some of them for hours across multiple game sessions assuming the battery still works. Replacing a dead battery can be done but it is not trivial.

 

Atari goes way back to video gaming's arcade roots. Typically, you would sink a quarter or two into an arcade machine, then the game would be over rather quick, and you deposite another quarter. Being quick, I feel Atari games are bet enjoyed playing a stack of games in rapid succession. In this way, Atari satisfies my Adult ADD in ways that Nintendo can't.

 

Nintendo and later games offer deeper gameplay where you tend to keep the game cart in the system for a while. In this way, a small handfull of pricier SNES games can be just as satisfying to play through as stacks and stacks of the cheaper Atari carts.

 

So factoring in budget and availability, you need to ask yourself if you want to play lots of cheap arcade-style games that end very quickly or play fewer premium immersive 16-bit or higher games over longer periods of time.

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Sorry I haven't been online in a while, so let me answer to some of this.

 

Hmmm. Interesting. When I was 13, Nintendo was still King of gaming, SNES was all the rave, and anything Atari branded was considered junk.

I didn't even get into Atari collecting until 2012, long after I collected all the Nintendo systems. I completely fell in love with the thriving homebrew scene as well. Thing is, you likely don't have much disposable income, and Atari games are very, very cheap right now compared to SNES and others. One key diffence though, many later games have a lot of depth. You could play some of them for hours across multiple game sessions assuming the battery still works. Replacing a dead battery can be done but it is not trivial.

Atari goes way back to video gaming's arcade roots. Typically, you would sink a quarter or two into an arcade machine, then the game would be over rather quick, and you deposite another quarter. Being quick, I feel Atari games are bet enjoyed playing a stack of games in rapid succession. In this way, Atari satisfies my Adult ADD in ways that Nintendo can't.

Nintendo and later games offer deeper gameplay where you tend to keep the game cart in the system for a while. In this way, a small handfull of pricier SNES games can be just as satisfying to play through as stacks and stacks of the cheaper Atari carts.

So factoring in budget and availability, you need to ask yourself if you want to play lots of cheap arcade-style games that end very quickly or play fewer premium immersive 16-bit or higher games over longer periods of time.

The thing is, I own lots of later games (ps2, n64, xbox360 , also found an nes in a dumpster that still works) and I love them. But not only is atari cheap, but it's classic. I always liked watching the old commercials and news about it. And if I don't get it, whatever. But at this point I might even wait a little because my uncle said he would give me his atari. If not, then I'll get one when I'm older.

 

The other option of course (and I'll probably be ostracised by my peers for mentioning it) is emulation. Try looking at the "Stella" emulator http://stella.sourceforge.net/ and then download the 12MB file linked by mipaol above.

 

This will give you pretty much every game you're likely to find in the wild (eBay, Garage sales, thrift stores, etc.). Use a USB joystick and you'll have pretty much the same experience as you would buying a Woody or Junior.

 

Unless you're looking into collecting VCS carts with a view to making money from said collection in the future, you'll save money and (via emulation) probably not miss much by not owning the original hardware.

 

Like myself, a lot of forum users here collect retro systems for nostalgic reasons. I'm over 4 times your age and grew up with this old hardware so for me, collecting satisfies my need for re-living the past.

 

You're already playing Atari via emulation by using the Flashback, so using a computer with a USB joystick would be extending what you're already used to.

 

If you really want to buy a 2600, try looking for a Junior. It's more compact than the earlier VCS consoles and runs all of the same cartridges. Being a later model also means the electronics have aged less, so it may last you longer.

 

*EDIT* I typed this as freeweed posted his reply (above) so mine is no longer the first mention of emulation.

I might even consider that. I should try more of the games as an emulator maybe.

 

 

Personally, if I'm gonna say "use an emulator", it's for Genesis/SNES. They've been damn-near perfect for so many years now - hell they're console-perfect on DC emulation from nearly 15 years ago. Stella is fantastic, don't get me wrong, but it just doesn't have the same "feel" as playing on a real 2600. Something to do with having to hit all those big clunky switches maybe, or just using an honest-to-god joystick, or really awesome/bad audio consisting mostly of explosions.. I dunno, I just never really liked emulated 2600. It never comes close enough to the real thing for my tastes.

 

But it's certainly a good way to check out if you even like playing the games. As someone said, you don't "beat" an Atari game. You just play the same thing over and over and try to get a higher score. Us old farts love that style of gameplay, and a lot of younger do too - but it's not for everyone. But if you do like it?

 

People are talking about cost. Maybe it's just me, but unless someone wants to stock up on sports games, the 2600 is probably the cheapest console to get a pretty big collection for. The top 20-30 most common games can be had for like 50 cents each without even trying - just check out the AA Marketplace forum. You can buy huge lots on Ebay of 50-100 games that will average about a buck a piece, and include a fair number of less common games. Doing that with any other console will net you about 20 copies of Madden and NHL '94 on Genesis, plus some MLB and NBA carts. Oh and a dozen Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt combo carts. I just don't see a cheaper system, for someone who wants in the 20-50 game range. I suppose a Dreamcast is cheaper if you spend the time with the proper burning software and don't have a bandwidth cap. It's been a LOOONG time since I was into that scene so maybe it's gotten a bit easier, but I remember spending weeks at a time getting and burning games with Discjuggler. And original DC games are anything but cheap.

 

And yes, a Harmony is absolutely the best way to go if you're playing more than collecting.

I might also try that.

 

I just recently got a couple of flashback units , I wasn't impressed with the mini 7800 unit (thinking flashback 1)

 

however the flashback 2, I was really impressed with , I'm not one for modding consoles but understand the flashback 2 will accept a cartridge slot so you can play atari carts on it.

not so with the newer models though (flashback 3 & 4)

 

which is yours ?

 

as far as an original atari 2600 I would say it's very well worth it.

 

there are a few models to choose from ... http://atariage.com/2600/archives/consoles.html

 

this is a good guide to cleaning system should it need it , usually the paddle controllers need the cleaning the most

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/184296-slowcoders-guide-to-cleaning-up-your-2600/?p=2316144

I have the flashbak 4. It didn't even have any activision games.

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Sorry. I tried to quote people, but It didn't work. I'll just say this. I might use an emulator for an atari or snes, and since my uncle might even get his out and give it to me, And I DO own old and new consoles respectively (Ps2, n64, sega master system from another uncle, xbox 360 that I dont use anymore, but then again who does? And an nes out of a dumpster) so I THOUGHT that getting an atari would be the answer, but if I have to wait a bit for my uncle to pull his atari out of his friends house (told me yesterday I could have it. Coolest uncle ever), then I can wait, I guess.

EDIT: also have a sega nomad and game gear.

Edited by 32 bit gamer
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Dude, that's a pretty legit collection right there. If your parents are chill with ordering on the intrawebs, get yourself a Turbografx-16 and a flash cart. The sticker price is high but since you can just load all the games ever onto the cart in one go you are all set. I guarantee your buddies haven't even heard of this awesome console, much less played it, but it is AWESOME.

 

If you're mainly down for just playing the games as well, you could look into getting an HTPC or an Intel NUC or something. Get yourself a BT or USB controller and load that baby up with all the ROMs and emulators you can scrounge up. It's super easy to plug these puppies into a TV these days with a couple of controllers and they're small enough that you could even take them with you.

 

But don't get caught up in just buying the consoles. I was like that forever. I amassed a HUGE collection of systems and only had 3-4 games for each one, now I've got a pile of consoles I rarely play. Don't forget its about the games dude. But if you are into retro, 2600 is pretty unique and different from even NES/Sega Master System era titles.

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but if you can swing it, try to somehow get an Atari 7800. It will play most 2600 games (or so far in my case, ALL 2600 games!) plus the 7800's small but excellent library of games.

 

This. Don't limit yourself to the 2600.

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Part of the fun in collecting for the 2600 is the hunt for all the weird cartridge designs. Pretty much all carts after the 2600 era look the same for each system, but not on the Atari. So many weird, fun-looking cart designs; every company had its own.

 

You also asked about tips. Yes, cleaning is important. The contacts of older game carts need to be cleaned with alcohol from time to time - to avoid getting the grime into the system. A dust cover for the console is also important - the Atari is one of the few machines that has no lid over the cart slot.

 

Also: Someone said it earlier: there is one other thing you have to experience with the real hardware - paddle controllers.

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I'd say if you've enjoyed the Atari so far, then stick with it, obviously emulation will save you big money and I'm sure you know all about it so I'll skip that aspect.

 

If you do get a VCS/2600, sure there are some expensive games, and a few of them are even WORTH the price game play wise; but even if you put those aside and say they are out of your price range than then you can easily hit eBay, or if you're in a major urban area, a thrift/second hand/flea market and grab at least one major great with couch cushion change.

Asteroids, Defender, Missile Command, Berzerk, Enduro, Keystone Kapers, Pitfall!, River Raid, Starmaster, Venture...

That's 10 games I bet you could get for ~$10 total.

 

Hell, if you do get one I got some games I could donate you!

I think my Asteroids carts have starting breeding... every time I go through that box of dupe carts, there's more in there, I'm sure of it.

Edited by Torr
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