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Keatah

What is the one thing about the VCS that's surprising to you?

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Emulator Stella is a (dare I say the) key tool in the development of many modern VCS games. Without it we wouldn't be pushing the envelope as hard as we do. Ask any programmer.

Emulation is instrumental for modern day development but "discovering quirks of real hardware" is not one of those things it does well, for obvious reasons.

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What is the one or more things about the VCS that's surprised you the most over the years. Or just recently?

 

When I joined AtariAge, that there were still people out there who not only remembered it, but were still passionate enough about it to regularly post about it, buy new games for it, and especially spend their free time developing new games for it. And that was 16 years ago.

 

Most recently though are people who create new ways to push the system to new levels: Melody boards, DPC+, CDF, BUS stuffing, the AtariVox, Trak-Ball hacks, and a joystick multi-tap. It's amazing when someone says, "Hey... I think the 2600 can do that!" and then actually does it.

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Emulator Stella is a (dare I say the) key tool in the development of many modern VCS games. Without it we wouldn't be pushing the envelope as hard as we do. Ask any programmer.

 

Emulators tend to break when we push the envelope but doing so can help to improve it by finding the edge cases emulation will miss.

 

imo it's best to use classic hardware as the yardstick when pushing the envelope but emulation is great for quick testing.

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Getting my original 81 Taiwan light sixer composite modded and having games Ive played for decades suddenly in stereo. So cool!

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Later arcade ports, like Double Dragon, Rampage, Xenophobe, and KLAX.

Edited by toiletunes
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Got to pile on what was said earlier about durability. The 2600 is the TANK of gaming consoles! I really wonder how long if properly cared for will this console last before finally crapping out? I'm sure that many of you saw the video that was posted about the copy of Asteroids that came from the landfill in New Mexico. He actually opened up the bag and got the chip out gave it a good cleaning and the son of a bitch still worked! Years ago when you could pick up 2600 consoles/games at yard sales for a few bucks I bought them whenever I saw them. I also can't really recall ever picking up one that wouldn't work. A had one that had power switch issues but it still powered up most of the time. It's a BEAST!!!

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for me it's the longevity of the system and the mechanics of games themselves (well, some of them).

 

I was born in 78 so i don't have the benefit of being old enough to really remember the Atari 2600 in its prime. it still amazes me, though, that a console I'm sure Atari didn't envision would last much more than 3-5 years at most to capture a fad is still going strong 40 years later. Some folks have mentioned durability of the console itself and it is built like a TANK.

 

On the games, there are a fair number of turkeys out there in my opinion but it's largely subjective. I think, though, the vast majority of the games are well-thought out mechanically.

 

The solid games I do find myself coming back to over and over have kind of a ritual i guess- you physically put the cart in the console, you turn the console on, the image flashes up, and for the most part you just *know* what you need to do to play the game. There are always exceptions, of course, but if I throw in Missile Command or River Raid, it's pretty obvious to me what to do. Actually being *good* at the games? That's another story! lol

 

A little rambly, I guess, lol.

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The fact that ATARI was working on a computer addon for the console in 1983, called the graduate, that you plugged into the cartridge port and had a functional keyboard and Atari Basic. Too bad they didn't make it; it sounded like a mad scientist experiment for the 2600!

 

However, Spectravideo did make the Compumate, their own version of this, but every time you boot it up it plays "twinkle twinkle little star". This may be entertaining for some people, but I can imagine hearing that every time you boot up your VCS would drive you mad. It also came with a music composer,graphics program, and Microsoft BASIC. I might pick one up one day, just so that I can mess around with it.

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The thing that impresses me most is that they managed to do it all with just three chips, two of which were just off the shelf, and in 1977.

 

The amount of functionality that was crammed into the TIA was simply astounding.

 

Compare and contrast that with the Apple II, a machine from the same period that's also lauded for its elegant simplicity, but uses literally dozens of chips.

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..that the VCS' address lines were castrated by the analog PCB design/layout team. They apparently just nixed some stuff that didn't look important. This is what limited games to 8K without bankswitching.

 

..that there are only 8 stars visible at one time in StarMaster at any given time. Though someone once pointed out there were 9.

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Building on what's been said so far: the number of modern home video gaming concepts that were either created on or refined by the 2600 into a form that can still recognisably trace their lineage back to it.

 

I'm definitely not saying that it was responsible for every concept out there, or that other consoles didn't contribute (either before or after it), but the 2600 was instrumental in bringing a lot of concepts into forms that many, many others have drawn from over the decades.

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For me, it boils down to this: the more technology advances, the more I appreciate the simpler, basic games.

Seems that way to me, too. Just played a few games on the Xbox one ... Tempest 4000 and Tekken 7, just like in 1995, albeit with wireless controls and an HD 16:9 screen.

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It's had planned stereo sound (easy enough to mod it back in even) and it was changed close enough to launch that most the first wave games actually have stereo sound.

 

Also, that the controller port is also a com port. Allowing for things like the save key, and if someone had the desire, they could technically put feedback into a controller.

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... if someone had the desire, they could technically put feedback into a controller.

Meaning what? Haptic feedback like "Rumble pack?" That would be neat. 2600 Pac-Man with rumble and some aromatherapy would be the complete sensory experience.

 

I think the appropriate scent would be fresh fertilizer.

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LOL, yeah like rumble, or maybe resistance feedback for a driving controller.

 

I don't know how complex it's communication is, but Atari games are so small, potentially a link style cable might could be made. Cooperative adventure plz :D

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I always buy another one. I try so hard, but they look at me on ebay and want me to buy them. Especially the variations I’ve never owned before.

Edited by adamchevy
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Meaning what? Haptic feedback like "Rumble pack?" That would be neat. 2600 Pac-Man with rumble and some aromatherapy would be the complete sensory experience.

 

I think the appropriate scent would be fresh fertilizer.

 

A smelly vibrating CX40 |:) ... Dangerous! :evil:

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While we are impressed, today, with how far the hardware has been pushed.. the same thing applied to the developers of the day. They were repeatedly surprised that something deemed impossible soon became possible.

 

Remember, the VCS was to be no more than a Tank & Pong game. Nothing more. And instead of having the two programs in the unit and selected with a switch, it was (somehow) decided to use cartridges to facilitate program changes.

Edited by Keatah

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I'm not so much surprised by 'it' rather what the incredible skills of modern programmers can do. The quality and innovation is just continually pushed and just when you think that plateau has been reached...BOOM there is something even more spectacular.

 

As i am sure is the same for most people here i love, play and collect for many systems and they all vie for my time, but the Atari just cannot be beaten for quick, fluid, fun.

 

The 2600 is like a warm fuzzy pixel hug.

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I'm not so much surprised by 'it' rather what the incredible skills of modern programmers can do. The quality and innovation is just continually pushed and just when you think that plateau has been reached...BOOM there is something even more spectacular.

 

As i am sure is the same for most people here i love, play and collect for many systems and they all vie for my time, but the Atari just cannot be beaten for quick, fluid, fun.

 

The 2600 is like a warm fuzzy pixel hug.

 

Along the same lines: it's a computer which can be understood - in very great depth and intimate detail - by a single person.

 

Granted, that doesn't mean that one person will unlock every secret of the machine. That'll never happen. But it allows such a depth of understanding that one person can do amazing things with - and others as well but in different ways.

 

Yes, there are other machines that this can be said about, but the 2600 is one that's particularly enduring (and endearing) in that regard.

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That NES games need to be blown into to work... not that it does anything but if you don't go through the ritual, it doesn't work, kind of like plugging a USB plug on the 3rd try.

 

The VCS on the other hand not only tend to work on first try, but most of the cartridges come with antiblowing mechanisms!!

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LOL, games back then had more self respect. Now they just hang out all loose. Put some damned clothes on you young whippersnapper :P

 

Combine the carts shamelessness with humans desire to deposit their DNA into any old hole and...uh.....yeah.

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