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LambdaCalculus379

Is it worth picking up an Atari Flashback Portable?

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I've seen Atari Flashback Portables at my local Target dropping to as low as $40. I've been a little curious as to how they are, but is it worth picking one up? Are there any caveats I should be aware of? How is game compatibility? How is hardware emulation?

 

The only Flashback I've ever had was the Flashback 2 (I have two of those), but the Portable seems interesting.

Edited by LambdaCalculus379

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You posted in the right area of forum so check out the various threads on the portable should answer almost all your questions

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The d-pad is atrocious. Hopefully that's an area that AtGames eventually focuses on since it ruins many games and myself and many others around here won't buy a revision until it's addressed. But there's still a lot of fun to be had with it despite such a serious flaw.

 

And compatibility is weak out of the box, but thanks to AtariAge and scores of modifications to old classics to get them working correctly with the inaccurate emulator, the chances are high that the games you want to play on it work correctly or at least reasonably well enough to enjoy. Just be sure to explore around here. I can understand not wanting to read through 100 pages of material in various threads, but at least give Flojomojo's faq a look.

 

The device seems well built, feels good, and the battery life is excellent (I've owned mine for almost two years now and only have recharged it twice). Outside of the horrible d-pad and the weak emulator, I've had only a few complaints and they're mostly nitpicks.

 

  • The screen quality is lackluster and doesn't seem as if it was intended to be used in a horizontal orientation like AtGames has done, but it's still serviceable.
  • I've had a button (reset, I think) not work well after the system sat idle for a few months, but a little bit of exercise made it work fine again.
  • The on-screen difficulty switch notifications when you select the hard setting doesn't disappear after a second or two. I think this may already have been fixed for the 2017 revision?
  • Color switch only changes to black & white when the button is physically depressed, so you can't play something like Missile Command in b&w. Would be a handy feature since the LCD display AtGames went with makes things hard to see with certain color combinations in a few games that have b&w modes.

 

And tv/out doesn't work correctly for me. I bought the recommended cable suggested around here and get a picture, but there's discoloration. Odd to describe and I've been meaning to get a picture of it, but never get around to it. A second cable I didn't realize I already owned (Unsure why I even had it) shows the same behavior. This isn't a design fault but rather is fault with my unit, since it works for others. I bet it's the 3.5 mm jack on the system.

 

You wouldn't want to use this on a tv anyways.

Edited by Atariboy

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It's fun for some 2600 games. I've played a lot of Enduro for example, the base shooters work great, etc.

 

Games with precise diagonal control requirements or 4 way directional inputs fair poorly though, which admittedly is a huge chunk of the 2600's joystick-compatible library. But myself and it seems like a fair amount of AtariAge users that have been active in threads on this topic have still gotten a good amount of use and entertainment out of the system despite the flaws.

 

It was a decent start. Hopefully AtGames evolves it one of these days and improves upon it with the Stella emulator, a good d-pad, a better screen, etc. My advice would be to wait for these improvements to happen, which I believe with all the product enhancements AtGames is undertaking these days is likely to happen in a year or two.

Edited by Atariboy

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Tell ya what: go buy one and try it for 90 days. No like? Take it back for a refund.

 

Because the only person qualified to make that decision is you.

 

Me? I wouldn't touch the thing with a ten foot pole. But then, that's just me. Sure, I could tell you why I feel that way, but nobody cares and chances are you are going to do what you want anyways.

 

Godspeed!

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look to ebay and social selling apps like offerup, letgo, mercari, etc, and you can find them much cheaper. I see a listing for one for $15 shipped

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I used to own one and bought it to play on my TV and used an SD card with it and the games were awesome.......on the TV.

 

But there are many major issues in which is why I sold mine just weeks after obtaining her last year and then the 2600 adapter for my 5200 and the Harmony Encore multicart.

 

1. control with the onboard directional pad is atrocious. especially with games like Pac-Man (any version of it) and a few others, although the fire buttons were great and the a/v jack worked to a T, the picture was great.

 

2. the onboard display was too small and that made it hard to see (I am over 50 years old) especially with games involving a ton of flickering (like Pac-Man).

 

and

 

3. the sound of it, while great, was about a note or two off-pitch (-1 to -2 steps on the note scale, more like a "B" or even an "A" where it should be a "C" on the note scale) when compared to the 2600 or my VCS adapter I use on my 5200.

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I think it's really neat, something I would have really loved had it come out a long time ago. If you can find it cheap (I've seen them for $24 at Micro Center), I think it's totally worth it. The standard price is closer to $40, which I think is fair as well.

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Seems a problem with asking after these things is there’s no marketed differentiation other than game counts, but I pick up the 80-game 2018 edition, so what am I looking at far as usability and modification?

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The screen and dpad is slightly better on the older one, but the newer one has a nicer, slimmer case. There are some complaints about both on here. It looks like poo compared to a fancy smartphone but if you put yourself into a 1983 state of mind, it's glorious.

 

I guess you could hack in a bigger speaker or something, but the main draw is the SDcard slot that allows you to add many more games. The chip is not reprogrammable as far as I know.

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The real problem (at least the 2017 version) is the horrible quality of the d-pad. It renders any game that requires movement beyond left and right almost unplayable. Ironically, this includes the Pac-Man advertised on the cover. You can't play it properly because you can't control him in the maze.

 

What that said, games like Space Invaders, Phoenix, Demon Attack are perfectly playable.

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