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Thread: Atari 7800

  1. #1

    Atari 7800

    While I wouldn't classify the 7800 among the great consoles of gaming history, I do find its background interesting. It did have some quality games too.

    The development of this system began in 1983, less than a year after the release of the Atari 5200. Atari hired General Computer Corporation(GCC) to develop the system. I will give a bit of background on them -

    GCC was founded in 1981 by Doug Macrae, Kevin Curran, and John Tylko. Their first project was an enhancement kit that modified Atari's arcade game Missile Command to make it faster. They called it Super Missile Attack. Atari sued over it and as part of the settlement GCC was contracted by Atari to make games for them.

    GCC already had another mod kit under development at the time called Crazy Otto. It was for Pac-Man, the arcade game Bally Midway has licensed from Namco. GCC improved upon Namco's design and the finished product became Ms. Pac-Man.


    GCC did many excellent arcade conversions for the 2600 and 5200 throughout 1982-1984 as well as making original arcade games for Atari such as Quantum and Food Fight.





    Back to the 7800 -



    It featured better graphics capabilities than Atari's previous consoles and it offered backwards compatibility with the 2600 without any adapter needed.

    The system was test marketed in California in June 1984 but Atari decided against giving it a mass release at the time. The Tramiels were now in control of the company and they wanted to shift it more towards the growing personal computer market and away from the declining console market.

    Atari did change their minds and the 7800 was finally released across North America in 1986. The 7800 wasn't looking as technologically impressive anymore though. The NES was already out and most of its games had better graphics(although the 7800 could display more colours than it). The SMS appeared domestically around the same time and it was quite a bit more powerful.

    I don't think it was so much the technology that was the problem though; it was that many of the 7800's games were from the previous era in terms of design philosophy. Games like Dig Dug and Ms. Pac-Man are classics but they weren't the "in thing" in the mid-late '80s. Gamers wanted the newer experiences that Nintendo, Sega, home computers and arcades were offering, and the Atari name was now bad for business. The 7800 did get some more advanced games but they couldn't keep up with the quantity the competition had.

    I don't want to sound too harsh on the system though as I do like it. Here are some good games for it:


    Alien Brigade
    This is my favourite gun game on the system. The action is intense and the animations are well done.


    The 7800's gun games were compatible with Atari's XEGS gun and the G1 Light Gun. Sega Light Phasers can plug into the system too but they won't work unless you do some rewiring.



    Asteroids
    While I love the original arcade game, I never got into the 2600 port. This version, though, is awesome and super smooth. Even with arcade emulation available today, I recommend getting this version too if you're a fan. It's also built into the PAL 7800.


    Ballblazer
    Originally a Lucasfilm Games computer game, this is sort of like a first-person soccer. It has held up better than I expected it to.


    Basketbrawl
    Punch guys and shoot hoops. This is one of my favourite 8-bit sports games. Impressive physics.


    Centipede


    Commando
    Ported by Sculptured Software, this was arguably the best home port of Capcom's arcade game at the time.


    Crossbow
    A port of Exidy's arcade gun game. You need to protect your friends by shooting objects coming towards them.


    Dig Dug
    Great version and a bit faster than the arcade game.


    Donkey Kong Jr.
    I don't care too much for the ports of Nintendo games on the system because superior versions are available on other systems but this is still pretty cool.


    Food Fight
    An exclusive home port of the aforementioned arcade game. Throw food at enemies while making your way to the dessert. It's simple and addictive.


    Galaga


    Ikari Warriors


    Joust


    Midnight Mutants
    The arcade-oriented 7800 was lacking in action-adventure games but this exclusive was quite good. It was developed by Radioactive Software.


    Ms. Pac-Man


    Ninja Golf
    Possibly the coolest theme ever for a game. The gameplay itself is decent. Make your way across the course while fighting enemies. It was developed by Blue Sky Software, the company went on to make games such as Genesis Shadowrun and Vectorman.


    Summer Games
    Not as good as the Epyx's C64 original but still well made.


    Tower Toppler
    This Hewson platformer was released for most home systems back in the day under different names(Nebulus, Castelian). It looks better in motion as it has a pseudo-3d effect of the tower rotating as you move. I think the colours are off in this emulated pic though.


    Winter Games


    So, what are your thoughts on the Atari 7800 or anything related to it?

  2. I chose the 7800 over the NES/SMS back when I was young and stupid (I quickly corrected that by buying the NES/SMS a few months later). I remember the inital launch lineup was okay, but some games took too long to come out (I waited and waited for Xevious, but that was an awesome port).

    I really enjoy the system even though the library was pretty limited. There were 2 decent flight sim/shooters, F-18 Hornet and F14 Tomcat that are worth a mention. That and Tower Toppler.

  3. Interesting. GCC also developed the Vectrex, I think. Or is that GCE?
    Last edited by Frogacuda; 05 Nov 2006 at 07:36 PM.

  4. I was glad the 7800 was backwards compatible to the 2600. I owned all three ... 2600, 5200, and 7800. I liked my 5200 for one word ... Tempest. But the 7800 was a good system that was one year too late, by the time it was released. It made no sense to make a 7800, when the 5200 was just out. Alot of people knew it was bound to die. A year later I bought a SMS.

    Also companies need to bring back the paddle.
    MechDeus - Nick is the Bruce Wayne to Yoshi's Jean-Paul Valley.
    Quote Originally Posted by MechDeus View Post
    You just don't comprehend how well he's (FE26/Buttcheeks) comprehending. He's understanding you saying things you never said, that's how good he is.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by Advocate View Post
    I was glad the 7800 was backwards compatible to the 2600. I owned all three ... 2600, 5200, and 7800. I liked my 5200 for one word ... Tempest. But the 7800 was a good system that was one year too late, by the time it was released. It made no sense to make a 7800, when the 5200 was just out. Alot of people knew it was bound to die. A year later I bought a SMS.

    Also companies need to bring back the paddle.
    Tempest wasn't released for the 5200 - unless you're talking the prototypes that are floating around.

  6. Any console with ports of Food Fight and Crossbow gets my love.

    And the Tramiels had the touch of death. I've never heard of a group of people so totally lacking in business sense. God they were bad.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by haohmaru View Post
    Tempest wasn't released for the 5200 - unless you're talking the prototypes that are floating around.
    edit: Hmm odd I could have sworn. Oh well. Guess I was wrong. shit.
    Last edited by Advocate; 05 Nov 2006 at 07:44 PM.
    MechDeus - Nick is the Bruce Wayne to Yoshi's Jean-Paul Valley.
    Quote Originally Posted by MechDeus View Post
    You just don't comprehend how well he's (FE26/Buttcheeks) comprehending. He's understanding you saying things you never said, that's how good he is.

  8. #8
    General Consumer Electric (GCE) did the Vectrex. Well, Smith Engineering developed it, but GCE released it. GCC is still around, actually. They make printers for Mac.

    Ninja Golf is my favourite game on the system. Just about everything else is better elsewhere, but Ninja Golf alone makes the 7800 worthwhile.

    Tower Toppler was released as Castelian on NES. I prefer that port to the 7800 version. It also was released as Nebulus on C64 and showed up on that recent C64 DTV joystick. I highly recommend that port.

  9. <3 Ninja Golf, Food Fight and Ball Blazer
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    K3V is awesome!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Melf View Post
    Any console with ports of Food Fight and Crossbow gets my love.

    And the Tramiels had the touch of death. I've never heard of a group of people so totally lacking in business sense. God they were bad.
    No wonder Commodore did so well once the Tramiels left. Once they came to Atari, not even the XL/XE line fared too well any longer. I'm sure the 7800 would've had a better selection of arcade titles if Jack & Co. didn't come along to ruin it. Atari Games/Tengen would've lent some of their stuff to the 7800. Then we probably would've seen Victory Road after Ikari Warriors. Some dead-before-arrival games like Tempest (IINM, there was also a 7800 one being worked on!) would've likely shown up. Xevious looks about even with the NES version, and in some places actually better.

    It's a shame some of the older titles weren't put together in a compilation (i.e. a 64K-128K cart with Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and one or two others).

    Missing the chance to get a 1 year headstart on the NES was a fatal mistake.

    "Your vaunted ninja skills are just cheap show."
    Finished in 2017: 22 games (AC: 3, PC: 15, PS4: 4)

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