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King Atari

What is the "most compatible" 2600?

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I've been wondering about this for awhile, and a recent post (or at least a post I saw recently; might have been during a search) stating that the four-switch woodgrain model plays all games has spurred me to finally ask: what IS the most compatible 2600?

 

From how I understand it, heavy sixers have trouble playing some (?) games that use bank switching, later Atari Corp. shells can be a tight fit in six-switchers, 7800's (revision depending) can be finicky running a handful of games, as well as also fitting some 3rd party carts.

 

So, is there a model of the 2600 that can handle anything you throw at it, programming-wise or cart-size-wise? Is there a "100%" 2600?

 

(For the record, aside from Atari Corp. shells fitting snugly in a light sixer, I've never really encountered any compatibility issues; certainly nothing that kept me from playing a game. My one 7800 could get a little cranky with my Missing in Action repro, but even then it wasn't all of the time. That's really the only issue I can think of.)

Edited by King Atari

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Nobody? Must I resolve myself to realizing that there just isn't a "100%" 2600?

Edited by King Atari

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of course my experience is largely anecdotal, but its been my experience the light sixer has the most 'general' compatibility with stuff. i'm sure it's not technically founded in any way, tho lol

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Speaking only from my personal experience, I've never seen any compatibility problems with Atari hardware and any working cartridge. I would avoid Coleco or other clones, but I'll bet even those work fine except with the edgiest of edge cases. Seems to me that anyone into buying lots of homebrew probably has at least one spare 2600 for testing.

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Four switch seems to handle odd switch schemes in modern homebrews. Most compatibility issues are physical rather than digital, like I bet the super charger would work fine, as xonox carts, on the 7800 if they physically fit the slot.

 

There are some game issues, like one of my 7800 is fine, while the other trips balls on Kool-Aid man.

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Four switch seems to handle odd switch schemes in modern homebrews. Most compatibility issues are physical rather than digital, like I bet the super charger would work fine, as xonox carts, on the 7800 if they physically fit the slot.

 

There are some game issues, like one of my 7800 is fine, while the other trips balls on Kool-Aid man.

 

I would agree that the 4 switch units I don't hear about any compatibility issues with them. And as far as I can tell, the 4 switchers fit all the 2600 cartridge types with ease.

 

But Video, on that 7800 that "trips" on Kool-Aid man, you did confirm the difficulty switches were in the right position right? On my 7800s, one of them will cause the game to start in a Paused state until I flip it back and then yes, it works like a Pause if I flip it again during game play. The other switch I don't think does anything.

 

But having said that, Kool-Aid Man will "trip" and have issues with newer revisions of the TIA chip in 2600s. Therefore, the 7800s and 2600jrs are most prone to this issue being they were newer made Atari consoles that used the TIA in them. Swapping the TIA out will fix Kool-Aid Man in these instances.

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Is there any difference between a four-switch woodgrain and a Vader beyond cosmetics? Could there by TIA issues such as noted above? Has anyone had trouble with carts not fitting in a Vader? (I've had my Vader since childhood, and I can't recall any physical problems with loading a cartridge.)

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I have never had any issues with compatibility with any 2600 or games. The only issue I have had is with the 7800 and some carts not fitting correctly.

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I have never had any issues with compatibility with any 2600 or games. The only issue I have had is with the 7800 and some carts not fitting correctly.

Some Heavy sixers will make it a tight fit for some carts. I've seen first party silver label carts get the top labels scratched from plugging them into and back out of an heavy sixer.

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I've got a vader, and never an issue. I think it's only a cosmetic thing without woodgrain painted on. Granted, Atari always used what's on hand to make their consoles, so there's likely different boards in them not necessarily determined by it being a vader.

 

As for Kool-Aid man, the one that has issues, the game immediately starts and he bounces around the screen erratically. When I get my 7800 out again, I'll have to check, but I don't think it does that crash through the wall intro thing.

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Is there any difference between a four-switch woodgrain and a Vader beyond cosmetics? Could there by TIA issues such as noted above? Has anyone had trouble with carts not fitting in a Vader? (I've had my Vader since childhood, and I can't recall any physical problems with loading a cartridge.)

I've heard the Vaders have the chips soldered in on the inside, rather then just being socketed in.

 

Other then that i've really never heard of any other differences other then cosmetics.

Edited by Pink

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I have an NTSC 2600 Jr. that has graphical issues with Spider Fighter. I found a post here where this was corroborated by others and someone made a fix patch for the PAL version (but not NTSC unfortunately). I believe the issue was related to a later version of the TIA. There were a few other problematic games listed in the thread as well, if I remember correctly.

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My 1981 four switch has a ton of interference with Pitfall II, Stay Frosty II and won't play Stella's stocking title screen, music resets over and over. It is unmodified. Searching threads this has been reported before but not nailed down to any revision or reason.

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I have several 2600 PAL machines, and the only incompatibility I found is that both my 2600 Jr systems wont play Fatal Run, which is a late Atari game known to have issues.

Other than that, all systems play all carts

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To echo what basically everyone else has already said, the only "incompatibilities" I've encountered are:

 

Six-switch systems (heavy or light doesn't matter; they have the same cartridge interface): Certain third-party cartridges and "fat" Atari Corp. cartridges fit very tightly, but they run.

 

7800*: In rare instances, 2600 games basically work but exhibit some incorrect behavior that can cripple their playability (ex: Mario gets stuck on ceiling border in Princess Rescue, making the game impassable at a certain point); Tigervision and possibly a few other 3rd party 2600 cartridges don't fit.

 

*The thing about 7800s is that they're kinda all over the map, with numerous minor hardware tweaks and revisions that can affect compatibility. Not all Atari 7800s are created equal. FWIW, I have two 7800s--one earlier one with the expansion port and a later one without; the one with the expansion port is the one that has some weirdness with a few games (even some 7800 ones!), while the other one hasn't presented me with any compatibility problems (so far).

 

 

Some Heavy sixers will make it a tight fit for some carts. I've seen first party silver label carts get the top labels scratched from plugging them into and back out of an heavy sixer.

 

If I had to guess, those silver label carts were probably actually Atari Corp. gray-label carts.

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I've got a vader, and never an issue. I think it's only a cosmetic thing without woodgrain painted on. Granted, Atari always used what's on hand to make their consoles, so there's likely different boards in them not necessarily determined by it being a vader.

 

Right, and that's something I've been wondering about: is this is just a "rule of thumb" thing? That most versions of a certain model will be fine, but not necessarily ALL of them? It may be impossible to know with 100% certainty.

 

My 1981 four switch has a ton of interference with Pitfall II, Stay Frosty II and won't play Stella's stocking title screen, music resets over and over. It is unmodified. Searching threads this has been reported before but not nailed down to any revision or reason.

 

Maybe there is no 100% compatible 2600 then. It was seeming like the four-switch woody was the closest, but after hearing this, who knows. I can sort of understand the homebrews, but Pitfall II acting wonky is particularly troubling to me.

 

To echo what basically everyone else has already said, the only "incompatibilities" I've encountered are:

 

Six-switch systems (heavy or light doesn't matter; they have the same cartridge interface): Certain third-party cartridges and "fat" Atari Corp. cartridges fit very tightly, but they run.

 

7800*: In rare instances, 2600 games basically work but exhibit some incorrect behavior that can cripple their playability (ex: Mario gets stuck on ceiling border in Princess Rescue, making the game impassable at a certain point); Tigervision and possibly a few other 3rd party 2600 cartridges don't fit.

 

*The thing about 7800s is that they're kinda all over the map, with numerous minor hardware tweaks and revisions that can affect compatibility. Not all Atari 7800s are created equal. FWIW, I have two 7800s--one earlier one with the expansion port and a later one without; the one with the expansion port is the one that has some weirdness with a few games (even some 7800 ones!), while the other one hasn't presented me with any compatibility problems (so far).

 

Yep, as I said before, the only real issue I ever had was getting Atari Corp. shells into a light six-switcher; they played, but it was tough getting them loaded and unloaded. Don't think I damaged any labels, but there may have been some scuffs on the back of the shells, don't remember for sure.

 

As for the 7800, it seems like there were certain revisions to look for, but I don't know, it's kinda like you can just never tell with that console.

 

Can anyone explain the heavy sixers having problems with some games? I saw a comment about it while doing a search recently, I thought it mentioned that it was with certain games that used bank switching. Is there a list of games that prove problematic with heavy sixers? (And, I'd guess there's not a whole lot of variation between those models, since they were only around for about a year, but are there differing revisions? Maybe between the Sunnyvale models and the less-common ones manufactured in Taiwan?)

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I use a light sixer... And it runs everything... Almost.

 

There is a compatibility with River Raid II (and possibly a few other very late Activision-ish games) that got me stuck.

 

It was discussed in the thread below...

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/275905-help-me-fix-a-flaky-river-raid-ii/

 

I did the mod linked in the thread. Happy to say that it worked, and I've experienced no adverse results with any other games thus far. That includes a Supercharger, many unusual games, and lots of homebrews.

 

So I'd say if you have a 6-switch and you do this mod you are pretty much 100%. Fat red label Atari brand carts need to be massaged into the slot, but that's the only gripe I have.

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I've got 2 heavy sixers and 1 light. Only incompatibility I've ever come across was with Stella's Stocking - it works on the heavies, but won't get past the title screen on the light.

(if anyone happens to know exactly why that is, I'd be interested in reading the explanation. I don't just mean something like "a different version of the TIA chip"...i mean like exactly what the technical difference is between the 2 chips. Just curious.)

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I currently have a Jr hooked up and never had any problems playing carts. I have also used a 4 switch and grew up playing on Gemini, and again, have never had any problems.

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I currently have a Jr hooked up and never had any problems playing carts. I have also used a 4 switch and grew up playing on Gemini, and again, have never had any problems.

The Junior will absolutely not run a "Kool Aid Man" cartridge because of the version of the TIA chip used.

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The Junior will absolutely not run a "Kool Aid Man" cartridge because of the version of the TIA chip used.

 

My Kool Aid Man cart works fine in my Jr.

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My Kool Aid Man cart works fine in my Jr.

Apparently most but not all of the TIA chips found in Atari Jr.s cause a timing issue with "Kool Aid Man" that affects collision detention in the game making it unplayable. If you have a Jr that does play it consider yourself lucky.

 

Check out this thread from 2003:

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/14625-kool-aid-man-questions/

 

Also this article about the various revisions of the TIA chips found in different model 2600s :

http://www.ataricompendium.com/faq/vcs_tia/vcs_tia.html

Edited by SS

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Apparently most but not all of the TIA chips found in Atari Jr.s cause a timing issue with "Kool Aid Man" that affects collision detention in the game making it unplayable. If you have a Jr that does play it consider yourself lucky.

 

Check out this thread from 2003:

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/14625-kool-aid-man-questions/

 

Also this article about the various revisions of the TIA chips found in different model 2600s :

http://www.ataricompendium.com/faq/vcs_tia/vcs_tia.html

 

Fascinating stuff! Thank you!

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