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Atari 7800 Difficulty Switches Guide

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Attached is a list of 7800 games, including original releases, homebrews, and prototypes, that are impacted by the difficulty switches on the front of the console. The four possible configurations are noted along with a short description of their effect to the game.

 

The below will be updated, as new games are developed that utilize the difficulty switches, and of course for any corrections or additions from the current library of games:

 

post-18-0-54446800-1552920665_thumb.png

 

Atari 7800 Difficulty Switches Guide (Rev 06).xls

 

There are at least 11 original, 3 prototype, and 12 homebrew games that utilize the difficulty switches:

 

Armor Attack II
Astro Blaster
Beef Drop
Bentley Bear's Crystal Quest
Crazy Brix
F-18 Hornet
Fail Safe
Froggie
Ikari Warriors
Jr. Pac-Man
Karateka
Missing In Action
Motor Psycho
Ninja Golf
Pac-Man 320
Pac-Man Collection
Plutos
Rikki & Vikki
Sentinel
Sirius
Super Circus AtariAge
Super Skateboardin'
Tomcat - The F14 Fighter Simulator
Touchdown Football
Tower Toppler
Xevious
The above 26 games have been documented in the attachments. Please feel free to add updates, corrections, etc., to this thread.
Edited by Trebor
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I had thought the dificulty switches only affected 2600 games. This is good to know, it explains some things. Thanks!!

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Another classic case of not RTFM first?

 

In many cases reading the manual first can help. However, some just pick up or purchased a cart only, unaware of the effect the difficulty switches can have on a particular title, or/and as xucaen mentioned, believe they are only tied to 2600 games.
Respecting the three prototypes highlighted, it becomes even more of an issue of the unlikelihood of having a manual off the bat. For some other games, the manual makes no mention of the switches impact on background music.
Regardless, having the info consolidated in this thread, makes it perhaps easier to reference, and hopefully will help others be aware of the effect the switches have on some games.
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I think for Beef Drop , I made the music defaults to on for both player regardless of the switch position. To turn music off you flip the switch to the opposite it was when the system was powered on. Not sure how hard that would be to indicate in the guide though. This was done to help prevent people think their game was broke if they didn't hear the music because they had the switch in the wrong position.

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Thanks, Ken! I definitely see that now with the TIA music. POKEY music though may still behave as previously described, as I couldn't get it to behave the same. Still, updated the listing to state it as more of a general toggle, rather than describing the exact specifics. A minor grammatical update was made to another cell as well:

 

post-18-0-25335900-1425727396_thumb.png

 

Atari 7800 Difficulty Switches Guide (Rev 01).xls

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b*nQ kind of uses the right difficulty switch :) (not really something for the guide though probably)

 

Hold pause when powering on and let go when the AtariAge logo appears.
Start a game.
When it comes time to move, flip the right difficulty switch. The game will reset and something will change.

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The MCP devcart BIOS also uses difficulty switches, this is not documented, because I didn't want people to fry their carts. If both difficulty switches are set to the left and you power on, you will hear the X-Files music, instead of the cart cycling through the 14 POKEY tunes. In this mode, when the console is turned on and pause is held down, the MCP cart goes into BIOS flashing mode (WARNING! DO NOT PLAY WITH IT!) and the screen will turn red. If the cart gets write commands in this mode, the BIOS part of the cart is written to and not the user ROM area.

 

:cool:

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I've gotten two button mode to work on Xevious on my Atari 7800 console, but the emulators apparently don't recognize it for some reason.

 

It works perfectly under MESS.

 

-Press the 'tab' key while Atari 7800 emulation is running.

-Use the up/down arrow keys to navigate to 'Dip Switches' and press Enter.

-Use up/down arrow keys to switch between Left Difficulty Switch and Right Difficulty Switch.

-Use right/left arrow keys to switch between A/B positions. [For separate fire controls you want the 'B' position]

-Press 'tab' key to exit menu.

 

If you're using the ProSystem emulator, difficulty switches do not behave properly. They act like a temporary toggle that resets back to its previous position once released.

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Added the info from here, respecting Pac-Man Collection (Thanks for the refresher, Bob ;) )...

 

"In a two player game, if the right difficulty switch is slid to the right, the opposite player from the one who is playing has control of blinky only in 'chase' mode ('scared' and 'scatter' mode still do the same thing)."

 

post-18-0-60215900-1431053942_thumb.png

 

Atari 7800 Difficulty Switches Guide (Rev 03).xls

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Nice list! Xevious caught my eye. Combining both weapons to both fire buttons allows 2600 sticks such as a Wico or EPYX joystik. :D

 

Suggest just updating the PNG and XLS files in the OP and removing all the updates in the Replies to avoid confusion as to which is the latest version. Many might only download what is in the OP.

Edited by CRTGAMER
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Nice list! Xevious caught my eye. Combining both weapons to both fire buttons allows 2600 sticks such as a Wico or EPYX joystik. :D

 

Suggest just updating the PNG and XLS files in the OP and removing all the updates in the Replies to avoid confusion as to which is the latest version. Many might only download what is in the OP.

 

Would love to do that...Problem is the edit disappeared after a period of time for the OP.

 

Perhaps, CPUWIZ or Al can make this pinned and permanently edit enable the OP, similar to the post here for hacks and homebrews. Thread could also use a cleanup then, removing the already posted follow up files and redirect to the OP.

:ponder:

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I'm surprised there was nothing mentioned for Pole Position II. The manual says the right button brakes, but both buttons just accelerate. I've tried the difficulty switches too.

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this is fantastoc - thanks for doing this. I had no idea the switches did anything other than difficulty. I'm going to experiment now. (Yes I don't RTFM!)

 

Added the info from here, respecting Pac-Man Collection (Thanks for the refresher, Bob ;) )...

 

"In a two player game, if the right difficulty switch is slid to the right, the opposite player from the one who is playing has control of blinky only in 'chase' mode ('scared' and 'scatter' mode still do the same thing)."

 

attachicon.gifAtari 7800 Difficulty Switches Guide (Rev 03).png

 

attachicon.gifAtari 7800 Difficulty Switches Guide (Rev 03).xls

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Nice guide. Thanks for creating and sharing.

 

If you can find a way to squeeze it in cleanly, you might also list the differences between using a one-button joystick and a two-button joystick, for the few games that were programmed to detect that. I know Asteroids and Xevious are -- Asteroids uses either the second button or down for hyperspace, and Xevious fires both bombs and bullets with a single-button controller regardless of the difficulty switches -- and there may be one or two others as well. I seem to recall Pole Position II did something different with one-button joysticks, but I can't remember what.

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If you can find a way to squeeze it in cleanly, you might also list the differences between using a one-button joystick and a two-button joystick, for the few games that were programmed to detect that. I know Asteroids and Xevious are -- Asteroids uses either the second button or down for hyperspace, and Xevious fires both bombs and bullets with a single-button controller regardless of the difficulty switches -- and there may be one or two others as well. I seem to recall Pole Position II did something different with one-button joysticks, but I can't remember what.

 

Sounds similar to what was covered in the Atari 7800 Game Controls List. :)

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