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is the 7800 necessary?

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22 minutes ago, Asaki said:

Well, like someone else was starting to say, 7800 would've been a lot more impressive if it hadn't been released two years late.

Well in the other thread about "What did Atari do wrong with 7800" that's been more of the discussion.  Prior to Rikki & Vikki, we've not had "special cart hardware" on the system the way the NES did for most of its run, and the Master System to some degree.  Whether that proceeds is another story, because as it's creator has said, he made little on the 7800 release.  When it comes to the other Atari systems, the 2600 homebrew scene has progressed with larger ROM sizes but beyond that most games will run without costly hardware.  5200 can somewhat be the same with bank switching, though again, doesn't make much sense beyond releasing in rom form. 

 

3 hours ago, RevEng said:

I marked your comment as confusing because you criticised the 7800 for a lack of innovation, which has nothing to do with the old retail library, and everything to do with homebrew.

 

Several of the upcoming homebrews are breaking new ground. TailChao is developing new cart formats, 2 flash carts have been announced, we have all kinds of new controllers being supported. The fact that you feel innovation is limited to the 2600, 5200, and A8 scenes, honestly just tells me that you're either not paying attention, or more than a little confused.

I've been waiting for idk, 6, 7, 8 years for a 7800 flash cart.  Meanwhile the XM is on year what of it's voyage?  I'm not sure we can point to either innovation as all that promising, given the extreme and perhaps homebrew-record setting delays.  TailChao's work has been David Crane level brilliant, but as I said above, it doesn't work very well fiscally so you have to wonder if that's a dead end as well?  Perhaps if it could be coded in a flash cart in some way as DRM? 

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39 minutes ago, Greg2600 said:

I've been waiting for idk, 6, 7, 8 years for a 7800 flash cart.  Meanwhile the XM is on year what of it's voyage?  I'm not sure we can point to either innovation as all that promising, given the extreme and perhaps homebrew-record setting delays.  TailChao's work has been David Crane level brilliant, but as I said above, it doesn't work very well fiscally so you have to wonder if that's a dead end as well?  Perhaps if it could be coded in a flash cart in some way as DRM? 

I never mentioned the XM at all in my list of innovations. The dev unit I'm working with is amazing, but given the history, it didn't seem fair to even mention it.

 

During your wait period we had the Mateos flash cart, the MCP dev cart, and the Concerto pre-redesign release all come and go. batari has advised in the forums he's still working on the Concerto redesign. SainT has said his 7800 cart is in the works. Both of these guys have a track record of doing what they say, so I'm not that worried.

 

There are new game designs that are now leveraging sprites-as-tiles, something which we didn't see back in the day. This is also one reason why Rikki&Vikki, Milly&Molly, and Arkanoid, are so visually impressive. They use the 7800's strength (it's a sprite beast) to shore up it's shortcomings (tiles... not so much beast-mode) I recently invented a new interrupt-free way of doing vertical scrolling. I came up with a new high-res smooth paddle routine that reads them in 40 scanlines, vs the whole screen. There's innovation happening, and it's not all R&V.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Stephen said:

Where have you been the last ten years?  XM all the way!

 

Given the XM's trouble in getting to market and lack of any real promotion outside a tiny group explains why I've not picked up on it.

Edited by Keatah
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Ignore Keatah.  It's good for your blood pressure.

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Posted (edited)

They don't seem to be able to do that. They keep coming back for more. Always the same bunch too. Ahhhhh!!!

Edited by Keatah
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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, RevEng said:

I never mentioned the XM at all in my list of innovations. The dev unit I'm working with is amazing, but given the history, it didn't seem fair to even mention it.

 

During your wait period we had the Mateos flash cart, the MCP dev cart, and the Concerto pre-redesign release all come and go. batari has advised in the forums he's still working on the Concerto redesign. SainT has said his 7800 cart is in the works. Both of these guys have a track record of doing what they say, so I'm not that worried.

 

There are new game designs that are now leveraging sprites-as-tiles, something which we didn't see back in the day. This is also one reason why Rikki&Vikki, Milly&Molly, and Arkanoid, are so visually impressive. They use the 7800's strength (it's a sprite beast) to shore up it's shortcomings (tiles... not so much beast-mode) I recently invented a new interrupt-free way of doing vertical scrolling. I came up with a new high-res smooth paddle routine that reads them in 40 scanlines, vs the whole screen. There's innovation happening, and it's not all R&V.

I gave up on the XM revolutionizing homebrew years ago.  If it shows up and does, then I'd consider it a pleasant surprise.  I'm not worried about the flash carts either, but they could easily be a mid-2021 or later scenario, and I wasn't able to even have the choice to buy the Concerto originally (warts and all).  I'd also prefer not buying a flash cart which cannot do POKEY audio, so that could be a longer wait.

 

Anyway, great to hear about the programming technique advances!  Similar to when Batari Basic arrived for the 2600, I just figured that 7800basic would do the same in making developing that much easier.  I will say, in an attempt to stay on topic again (ha ha), I personally prefer to "invest" in 7800 homebrew hardware over say the Colecovision which seems to never stop getting new HW.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the 2nd generation stuff as well, but my childhood was all about 3rd gen followed by 4th during my teen years.  I spent a ton RGB modding my NES with expansion audio, a bunch on SMS adding expansion audio, too. 

 

Come to think of it, is there any possible way of installing a custom board for POKEY (or other additional FM synth) like I did with viletim's NES or SMS expansion boards?  Would be great if that was doable along with an RGB mod all in one!

Edited by Greg2600

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Greg2600 said:

I gave up on the XM revolutionizing homebrew years ago. 

10 years is a long time. Maybe it will come back?

 

Quote

If it shows up and does, then I'd consider it a pleasant surprise.  I'm not worried about the flash carts either, but they could easily be a mid-2021 or later scenario, and I wasn't able to even have the choice to buy the Concerto originally (warts and all).  I'd also prefer not buying a flash cart which cannot do POKEY audio, so that could be a longer wait.

 

Anyway, great to hear about the programming technique advances!  Similar to when Batari Basic arrived for the 2600, I just figured that 7800basic would do the same in making developing that much easier.  I will say, in an attempt to stay on topic again (ha ha), I personally prefer to "invest" in 7800 homebrew hardware over say the Colecovision which seems to never stop getting new HW.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the 2nd generation stuff as well, but my childhood was all about 3rd gen followed by 4th during my teen years.  I spent a ton RGB modding my NES with expansion audio, a bunch on SMS adding expansion audio, too. 

 

Come to think of it, is there any possible way of installing a custom board for POKEY (or other additional FM synth) like I did with viletim's NES or SMS expansion boards?  Would be great if that was doable along with an RGB mod all in one!

The whole XM should be re-done to be internal, with a video mod, extra sound chip, and SD slot added in. Granted it wouldn't fit the philosophy of doing it like back then. But otherwise what's the point if you want to move forward?

 

With today's development tools not being a barrier its only an issue of time and effort. As is typical with these styles of projects FPGAs would be used to glue everything together. Another boasting point for those that worship that tech. Biggest advantage of being internal is you wouldn't get a wobbly stack with intermittent connectivity. Those configurations just suck.

 

What also needs to happen is to have only one or two expansion projects that don't keep stretching the game developers so thin. Preferably just one. The 2600 arena is doing well with the Melody boards. The 2600 is a good solid well-defined playground in which to have fun. The stuff is developed to the point where it feels like real tools. Real extensions that help you do what you want to do.

 

As far as today's state-of-Colecovision goes. I don't know what to make of that.

 

Edited by Keatah
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Posted (edited)

I always knew the system was impressive for it's time and the more i have been messing around with the 7800 programming side of things im realizing how incredible it really is. If there was no NES and the system came out when first anticipated, along with the pokey chip integrated within the system it would have been the goto console.

 

As for software the retail releases were great however the system had so much more potential that was never unlocked. The CPU is fast and Maria is more then capable of anything the NES could do. ATM the pro system is continuously putting a smile on my face

Edited by TwentySixHundred

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The NES always felt slow and felt like it had a lot of unnecessary stuff going on internally. But for whatever reason it became #1.

 

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Re. the OP:

 

I really think it's merely a matter of preference and feel.  Preference:  type of games you enjoy playing/type of interface you prefer.  Feel:  this is kind of an abstract concept, and I couldn't think of another word to describe it. . . impressions and effects from playing games at particular moments in your life in certain environments.  These are very arbitrary things.

 

For me, I psychologically lean toward the 5200.  Preference:  I actually like the controllers (as far as design goes, implementation was sheer rubbish). . . once I became proficient toward maintaining and refurbishing them; pause is right there on the controller. . . everything is right there on the controller except POWER.  The non-centering aspect of the controllers forced me to be more involved with whatever game I was playing; it added a layer complexity and challenge that I actually enjoyed.  I felt like a 'serious' gamer (I wasn't really).  I actually liked the switch-box setup. .  nice, just one cable to trip over.  Feel:  The keypad overlays gave you that feeling of gaming luxury; silly, I know, but that's how it felt.  Also, at the time the trak-ball was just friggin' cool. . . playing Centipede with that was a real novel experience.   Playing Star Raiders with those keypad controllers had that starship-bridge aspect.  And let's face it, chrome-on-black is always classy; none of that cheesy wood-grain stuff.  I never had one in my youth, but one of my best friends did, and for me, it was a wow-ing experience playing Ms. Pac-Man and Defender with those peculiar, sophisticated controllers. . . with PAUSE at the touch of a finger.  It was an incredible step up from my VCS gaming experience at the time.  For me, there was a true arcade-quality to it; and when you lived out in Pentecostal nowhere, that meant something, because going to the arcades was often an all too infrequent opportunity.  I promised myself that one day, I was going to have one of these things, even in the age of PS2-PS3.   It takes me back to going to the arcades, thick with cigarette and pot smog, neon everywhere, stepping on chewing gum, sticky/greasy joysticks and buttons, Def Leppard, high-tops, Sony Walkmans, vector-graphics, gaming machines scarred with cigarette burns, meeting cool people, and, of course, playing the games themselves.

 

The 7800 didn't affect me that way; I got it for my birthday I think, or maybe one of those 'just because' occasions, I don't remember.  I think I was a junior in high-school by this time, and the arcade phenomenon at this time was becoming. . .  something else.  So, I actually started collecting titles for the 7800 first.  I wasn't much on Ikari Warriors or Commando.  Xevious was okay. . . so was Double Dragon and Rampage, but I felt like these last two titles were not very good ports at all.  I did however like playing Xenophobe at the arcade because it was multiplayer, and you got to meet new people that way.  The classics like Joust and Centipede looked better, but sounded the same, and no trak-ball for Centipede. . . didn't have the same. . . feel.  But, contemporary arcade titles like Ikari Warriors, Commando, Xevious, and Xenophobe actually play and look really good; I seem to remember that sprites on the 7800 didn't flicker at all, that the games had a solid presentation, like on the Colecovision.  I played Ikari Warriors on the NES, and I remember it not looking as good.  Now that I think about it, the NES had crazy sprite-flicker, which is weird.  Anyway, there are some really good arcade-ports for this console, it's just that, for me, the arcade experience became something else, and I didn't enjoy arcade titles contemporary with the 7800 as much, except Xenophobe. . . I really liked playing that.

 

The 7800 didn't wow me, nor did the Jag, and neither did the NES or any of its successors.  I wasn't really moved to buy another console until the PS1 was released, which had a similar effect on me as the 5200; I liked the interface very much, all functions were on the controller, nice presentation, and an eclectic and entertaining library of titles, including some fantastic arcade ports.

 

But, hey, if you like playing the 7800 titles, go for it.  It has some very interesting titles, like Crossbow, Fatal Run, and Midnight Mutants.  I played Tower Toppler very often; that was an incredibly nice looking and fun-to-play game.  I liked Impossible Mission, but was annoyed by the fact that it actually is. . . impossible due to some bug.  Ace of Aces is also pretty good.   The console itself is also seemed sturdy and well-built; it doesn't groan and creak like its predecessor which was a gangster bloat-mobile.  The stock controllers are pretty decent, and it appears they're easy to maintain; I never had to repair them, the left trigger button was becoming less springy.  It's a nice looking console. . . backwards compatibility for 2600 titles, except some oddballs like Space Shuttle.  I seem to remember that the cartridge slot was a little overly snug with some 2600 cartridges. . . really had to shove them in there. . . was it those Imagic games. . . I don't remember.  Sound. . . eh, not so hot, no Gumby chip, but Ballblazer and Commando were modded with Pokey. . . kinda cool.  Commando actually has some really impressive sound and music in it.  I also played Commando on my best friend's NES; he had rented it from Movie Warehouse or something. . . really bad port, looked awful (LOTS of flicker), amazingly bad.  There are some cool light-gun games like Crossbow and Meltdown; Meltdown was probably one of the best light-gun games ever made.  F-18 Hornet was a really impressive flight-sim game for the time.

 

Also, like I said, the contemporary arcade ports for this system are very good; and if you liked these titles, the 7800 is really nice to have.  And to be honest, for a product that was held in marketing/inventory purgatory for over two years, there were some signature titles produced for this system.

 

 

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I'll agree with those who say yes to the 7800 for mostly the same reasons.  I think I have others in my head but they won't make a lot of sense to a normal person.  For one thing I see a lot of potential in the 7800 that may not have been utilized back in the day;  And like I say,  I can't begin to argue that as any kind of selling point, nor even explain it to anyone to where it makes sense.  It's kind of like my reasons for Always and completely preferring the old Battlestar Galactica to the lame one SeeFee tried to thrust upon us some years back, where they ruined the actual universe for it right off the bat,  But that is another topic (that I'd be smart to avoid).  The homebrew scene feels like vindication in many ways for the system, and the games are not arcade accurate but still feel like the home versions, if that makes sense.   There's something a bit endearing to me about that.  For example,  I bought Astro Blaster and it was way better than the 2600 could have Ever done, but still felt different than the arcade game (with it's multi color sprites),  then I bought Dungeon Stalker because I already have Dark Cavern on 2600 and I love it,  Then I bought Armor Attack II because it Never existed in the arcades, but probably should have, and Rikki & Vikki is Awesome as an NES-Like game, but native to the Atari 7800...I also recommend getting either an Edladdin controller,  or getting an NES type pad for 7800 (Either a Europad or converted NES type off eBay, etc.).   Plus, back to original retail,  I personally really liked the game Jinks (Yeah, it was me, YMMV), because it felt like an advanced Atari 2600 game.  It was weird, quirky, original and had different color palettes for different levels, plus its own artistic style, much like an old 2600 game might have.  In fact, that might be it;  When all is said and done, playing an Atari 7800 still feels like I'm playing an Atari.  It has its own feel compared to, say, an NES, which generally has smaller sprites and uses tiles*...

 

I'm glad you bought one.  I hope you like it!  I'll always have a huge soft spot for the 7800!   :)

 

 

*I'm not a programmer, so take my off the cuff comments as observations, not something where I'm actually comparing the machines...

 

Cheers!

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7 hours ago, Keatah said:

The same one you're in? No thanks.

Blow me. You're one of the biggest self-centered killjoys this forum has ever seen. You contribute absolutely nothing to this forum in the way of meaningful discussion or contributions to the hobby, treating it as your own personal opinion board. You are a complete waste of bandwidth here, and the fact that you need to jump into the 7800 forum just to shit on the system proves it. Now go away and let the adults talk.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Keatah said:

You wasted that time typing all that?

 

It's a tiny fraction of the bandwidth that you've wasted here, and you need to be called out. Actually, you just need to disappear.

 

 

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BTW, my apologies to everyone else for the interruption in the topic. If you want to minimize distractions in any thread that Keatah posts in, just put him on ignore. Your overall forum experience will be much better for it.

 

 

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34 minutes ago, GoldLeader said:

I'll agree with those who say yes to the 7800 for mostly the same reasons.  I think I have others in my head but they won't make a lot of sense to a normal person.  For one thing I see a lot of potential in the 7800 that may not have been utilized back in the day;  And like I say,  I can't begin to argue that as any kind of selling point, nor even explain it to anyone to where it makes sense.

There was/is potential in the system. Some say the NES overshadowed it. Others say licensing deals overshadowed it. I believe it was timing in the market. Timing has proved over and over again to make or break a system.

 

34 minutes ago, GoldLeader said:

The homebrew scene feels like vindication in many ways for the system, and the games are not arcade accurate but still feel like the home versions, if that makes sense. There's something a bit endearing to me about that.  For example,  I bought Astro Blaster and it was way better than the 2600 could have Ever done, but still felt different than the arcade game (with it's multi color sprites),  then I bought Dungeon Stalker because I already have Dark Cavern on 2600 and I love it,  Then I bought Armor Attack II because it Never existed in the arcades, but probably should have, and Rikki & Vikki is Awesome as an NES-Like game, but native to the Atari 7800...

That a system is arcade accurate was important back in the day. We were constantly comparing our consoles against the gold standards of the coin-ops. And it was a big advertising point for the 5200 and ColecoVision.

 

Today not so much. Its about flavor and diversity. Everyone can have MAME and arcade accuracy over and over again. But it is also about homebrew variations and perhaps extensions. New levels. Maybe new gameplay with old favorite characters.

 

What would be interesting and nice to see is an expanded Zaxxon. Not a modernized one. But one with different asteroids and a less restricted motion of your ship. Something other than flying left to right for the whole game. All I know of are the two arcade versions.

 

34 minutes ago, GoldLeader said:

When all is said and done, playing an Atari 7800 still feels like I'm playing an Atari.  It has its own feel compared to, say, an NES, which generally has smaller sprites and uses tiles*...

 

I'm glad you bought one.  I hope you like it!  I'll always have a huge soft spot for the 7800!   :)

 

 

*I'm not a programmer, so take my off the cuff comments as observations, not something where I'm actually comparing the machines...

 

Cheers!

 

Tiles are rather meh. They just feel sluggish somehow. Collision detections seems off. You have a box around your ship. Something invades the box, boom, you're dead. With sprites it seems as if something has to touch your ship - better enabling one to sneak through narrow spaces. Felt that way back in the early days of PC 3D graphics and the tile-based Power-VR 2 add-on card. I'll even extend that to the Colecovision and Ti-99/4A. But back then we didn't care or even know about it. We just played.

 

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2 hours ago, Keatah said:

What would be interesting and nice to see is an expanded Zaxxon. Not a modernized one. But one with different asteroids and a less restricted motion of your ship. Something other than flying left to right for the whole game. All I know of are the two arcade versions.

The 7800 already has that, it's called Desert Falcon, and it's a much better game IMO. Some people don't like it (isn't that the case with every game?), but to me it's one of the major reasons to keep the system. I'd say Desert Falcon is my favorite original release. 

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Posted (edited)

 

7800 v 5200 isn't that cut and dried a decision. It's a very good question.

 

The 7800 got excellent ports of Asteroids and Centipede - really good games featuring some enjoyable 2 player simultaneous and co-op modes. Got a really solid port of Joust as well.

 

Food Fight is an excellent game and Pacman Collection is a great homebrew.

 

The PAL region controllers are quite nice too - not as good as the NES pad but a decent enough controller.

 

It looks like it's going to be getting a lot of support from the homebrew community but you will probably have to buy an expansion module to get the best of that now. It incorporates the sound chip but the most interesting addition (for me) is the high score cartridge functionality.  Not sure how successful all that is going to be though - I certainly wouldn't be investing in a 7800 purely on the strength of that.

 

The library of genuinely worthwhile games is small. If you didn't have a 2600 to hand it can be a good stand-in due to the backwards compatibility - but I doubt it would replace a 5200 with a good sized library. It's very much a niche thing and always will be.

 

The Asteroids port is the main reason I still have mine - I still play it despite owning a genuine Deluxe cabinet. That's how good that port is.

Edited by davyK
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