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7800 Memories


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#1 kamakazi20012

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 08:43 AM

I am hoping I've not bored anyone yet with my memory stories.  Atari made up my child and teenage years for the most part and I really have not had anyone to share these stories with until recently.  I almost missed the 7800 completely.  Here is that memory.

 

It seems that every Christmas holiday that came around I ended up with video games or a new game console.  Being an only child did have its advantages I must say, but it also seemed like I was being spoiled because of what happened to my Dad.  Often times I didn't have to ask...just say I found this or that and either my mother or my grandmother (my dad's mom) would pick it up later.  

 

Well, it was close to Christmas again in 1990 and my weekend to spend with my grandmother.  Waking up on Saturday morning started with neither one of us feeling good.  We had plans to travel with my Aunt and Uncle to Springfield, Missouri to get some ideas for gifts while they did their holiday shopping.  Of course I wanted nothing more than video games...that was my hobby so that was what I was always after.  We almost didn't go but my Aunt said getting out might help us feel better.  So, we got dressed and headed out.

 

Once we arrived we visited the Battlefield Mall first.  This place was (and still is) huge compared to anything that home had (and has).  My grandmother was blind so I got the job of pushing her in a wheelchair.  I asked her what she wanted but she kept saying she didn't want anything.  So off to the stores I wanted to visit.  First stop was Circus World.

 

For those that missed out, Circus World in Battlefield Mall was a toy store that had, for most of its inventory, liquidated toys.  They had a rather large space inside the mall, and I was lucky when I found a few NES games I had been wanting for a decent price a few times.  This visit, however, would stun me.

 

Once we arrived at the store entrance, there were a few round metal bins piled high with things the store must have either ran out of space for or, which was not unusual, could not get rid of for any price.  So, we looked in there first just to see what we could find.  A few teddy bears, puzzles, coloring books, Atari game.  

 

Atari game?!?  I had not seen a new Atari game in quite some time so this caught my interest.  The game I had in my hand was Asteroids...but it wasn't for any of the Atari systems I had heard of before.  The box said "7800".  So I started searching the store, pushing my Grandmother with me of course.  

 

The one place I didn't look was the first place we passed upon entering the store.  Down one isle were some other video games for Nintendo and Atari.  But we didn't see any systems there.  Low and behold if I would have just looked up to the very top shelves, almost touching the ceiling, behind the checkout were hundreds of 7800 systems.  Of course my asking if I could see one made an employee hunt down a ladder so she could climb up to the shelf, grab a box, and bring it back down for me to see.  

 

It looked fun, it looked "Atari", and I seen lots of games for literally a buck a piece.  The black and silver design, and the controller design as well, reminded me of the 5200 immediately.  The graphics of the games shown on the box looked good.  And it worked with 2600 games and accessories as well.  Wow.  Then I seen the price tag.  "This!"  I told my Grandmother, "If you don't get me anything else, this is what I would like to see under the tree."  Of course we didn't get it then so that poor employee had to climb all the way back up that ladder.  

 

It was Christmas Eve, and my usual routine was spending the day or two before Christmas with my Grandmother on my Dad's side, opening up gifts from her on Christmas Eve night once Mom arrived to pick me up.  The next morning was Christmas with Mom and then we traveled, weather permitting, to my other Grandparents' house to have the remainder of Christmas there.  I had to wait for my Aunt to arrive because she had something for me, too.  

 

I had a few gifts under the tree to unwrap from Grandma.  I got a new sweatsuit outfit which I loved those things.  Then I started to unwrap what looked like another clothing item of some kind when my Aunt said, "Not that one yet."  And took it away from me.  Mom was asked to hand me another package.  A large box which I unwrapped.  There was the 7800 I seen in the mall...and I had actually forgot all about it between our visit to the mall and the unwrapping.  I was really excited about it.

 

Then my Aunt handed me the box she took back.  Inside that box was Asteroids, Galaga, and Centipede.  My Aunt handed me the box she brought up...it had two more games inside it; Dig Dug and Food Fight.  I was a very lucky person.  Mom snatched the Centipede up as soon as I showed it to her and said, "We are playing this as soon as we get home."  That was her favorite game...and the reason we got an Atari 5200 in the first place years before.  We packed everything up and headed home.

 

In my room I already had started collecting video games but didn't realize it at the time.  A Christmas before Mom had got me a 19" TV so that I could have my games and she could have her TV back.  Yea...I didn't play games very much did I?  Then during the summer my Grandmother got herself a new console TV and game me her old one; a 24" RCA with keypad controls.  Nice but I didn't use it for anything at the time.  So, the NES and Master System got the 19" TV and all this was sitting on top of the 24".  So guess who got the 24" TV?

 

After hooking up the 7800, and making sure I got it by trying Pole Position II, I called Mom into the room.  I put Centipede in and we had a little two-player tourney before going to bed.  Mom brought some hot cocoa with her for both of us, too.  Well...we played from about 10 PM until 1 AM...nothing but Centipede.  The other games would have to wait.  I got awaken the next morning by Mom sitting in my floor playing more Centipede.  Nothing like waking up to Centipede marching across the screen, spiders jumping like they have a caffeine rush, and the sound when the player touches something they shouldn't.  Sometimes I wonder who the real "kid" was then.

 

I ended up getting a few more games for the 7800 from Mom that year.  This was one of the consoles that got sold off to help get Mom her meds.  Sometimes I regret doing it now because I would have never thought that these older consoles would gain the popularity they didn't get when they were brand spanking new.  What you could find at yard sales for $5, and that's a system with a few games at least, can go for hundreds of dollars on Ebay...which I find very crazy.

 

The 7800 is, in my opinion, the end of an 8-bit race.  It wasn't as popular as the NES in my area but I would put it on par with the Master System.  I don't really have a particular 7800 favorite because they were all good games for the most part even if they were also tired games.  However, I tend to favor Asteroids on this system because it is good for a laugh if you can get another player involved and just start flying around like a bunch of drunk idiots turned loose with a space ship.  See...who said you have to play by the rules?  Ballblazer easily takes a number two spot.  The 7800 did fill in a gap that the NES was missing...and for good reason.

 

To end this, if I haven't bored you already, I remember the system selling for $39.98.  The tag was still on the box when I unwrapped it.  The games Mom picked up were Ms. Pac-Man, Joust, and Ballblazer.  We went back a couple of months later only to discover that the store had left.  We never seen anything more about the 7800.  I never seen the system in yard sales or used gaming stores when those started up but I would occasionally find 7800 games with 2600 games on racks.  I am glad to have one in my home again.  It really is a good console.    


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#2 nosweargamer

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 09:05 AM

Can I share this on an upcoming episode of the Atari 7800 Game by Game podcast?


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#3 kamakazi20012

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 09:25 AM

Can I share this on an upcoming episode of the Atari 7800 Game by Game podcast?

 

Sure.


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#4 RickR

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 12:51 PM

Great story! Thanks for sharing with us.

#5 Dan Iacovelli

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 02:04 PM

good story reminds me of my christmas


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#6 Bakerman

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 09:34 PM

Good story. So, did you ever get any of the non-classic games (at the time of the 7800/NES/Sega MS era), like Commando, Ikari Warriors, Karateka, Kung-fu Master, Impossible Mission, Xenophobe and Xevious, etc.? Those are all FANTASTIC versions on the 7800, easily as good or or better than the NES/MS versions (arguably). If not, I highly recommend you get them. Look them up on Youtube.

 

I sold my 7800 (with an audio/video mod I did to it and European 7800 NES-like controller pads) about 10 years ago. I desperately miss it and am planning on getting it back soon. Especially with all the new home-brew games coming out for it and the XM expansion module that is coming for it (currently still in development).


Edited by Bakerman, 03 December 2015 - 09:39 PM.

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"Slugs, he created slugs?...Is this not the work of a complete incompetent? I would have started with Lasers, 8 o'clock, day one."-Evil (Time Bandits)
"...burn the land and boil the sea, but you can't take the sky from me..."-theme song (Firefly)
"I try to respect him, I really, really do, but he's just such a Smeg-head."-Lister (about Rimmer, Red Dwarf)

#7 kamakazi20012

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 10:54 PM

Good story. So, did you ever get any of the non-classic games (at the time of the 7800/NES/Sega MS era), like Commando, Ikari Warriors, Karateka, Kung-fu Master, Impossible Mission, Xenophobe and Xevious, etc.? Those are all FANTASTIC versions on the 7800, easily as good or or better than the NES/MS versions (arguably). If not, I highly recommend you get them. Look them up on Youtube.

 

 

The 7800 was practically non-existent in my area at the time.  I found another one shortly before Mom passed away at a Salvation Army with a hand full of games.  Xevious was in there and the rest were what I already had.  The console, however, did power on but the RF Modulator had went bad.  At the time, and not knowing that I could obtain parts for it, I simply tossed it and traded the games in for more games.  Something I know now I should not have done but that wasn't how I was seeing Atari stuff at the time.  

 

I have those games on my to-get list with commons taking a top priority before those all dry up (LOL).  It's too bad we can't plant one game and make more.  I believe Atari already tried that one...it didn't work.

 

I am curious as to why, other than Nintendo's exclusive contracts being in the way, other developers that were not in that contract didn't try to make games for the 7800.  Activision was giving the 7800 games the NES got and developers could have put together teams, under different names, to publish games for the 7800.  Sega and Atari could have pulled forces together; Sega games on the 7800 and Atari putting games on the Master System.  Fantasy Zone, Astro Warrior, Hang-On, Safari Hunt...If the SMS could have done what it did the 7800 should have been able too as well.  It's a shame that the system was put in its grave before it was even born.

 

Any other 7800 games I should be on the look-out for? 


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#8 Bakerman

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 08:21 PM

The 7800 was practically non-existent in my area at the time.  I found another one shortly before Mom passed away at a Salvation Army with a hand full of games.  Xevious was in there and the rest were what I already had.  The console, however, did power on but the RF Modulator had went bad.  At the time, and not knowing that I could obtain parts for it, I simply tossed it and traded the games in for more games.  Something I know now I should not have done but that wasn't how I was seeing Atari stuff at the time.  

 

I have those games on my to-get list with commons taking a top priority before those all dry up (LOL).  It's too bad we can't plant one game and make more.  I believe Atari already tried that one...it didn't work.

 

I am curious as to why, other than Nintendo's exclusive contracts being in the way, other developers that were not in that contract didn't try to make games for the 7800.  Activision was giving the 7800 games the NES got and developers could have put together teams, under different names, to publish games for the 7800.  Sega and Atari could have pulled forces together; Sega games on the 7800 and Atari putting games on the Master System.  Fantasy Zone, Astro Warrior, Hang-On, Safari Hunt...If the SMS could have done what it did the 7800 should have been able too as well.  It's a shame that the system was put in its grave before it was even born.

 

Any other 7800 games I should be on the look-out for? 

The problem with getting more 3rd party developer/publishers on the 7800 was one word: Tramiels. They used underhanded tactics in the industry, burned too many bridges and hardly anyone trusted them to come through. They never properly supported their consoles or put money into advertising and development themselves, so why should anyone else? The Atari we all knew from the 2600, 5200 and 400/800/XL computers died in 1984. Of course I didn't realize what a bad name the Tramiels had in the industry and also didn't know how little support they gave their systems back then either. I didn't even become a true Atari fan until after the Tramiels took over, but besides the Jag and Lynx, the systems that made me a fan were all tech from before the Tramiels took the helm, and I was a bigger fan of the 8-bit computer line back then, and most of my gaming money went to it, not the 7800.

 

I only got 7800 games that didn't come to the 8-bit computer line, like Commando, Ikari Warriors, Impossible mission, Xenophobe, Xevious, etc. Many of those games are available for the 8-bit Atari computers today, they were made back then when the 7800 versions were, but Atari never published them, and they finally surfaced post-Atari when they were "found" in stuff Atari liquidated in '96. The 8-bits still had lots of support in the latter half of the 80's from 3rd parties, and Atari themselves with the advent of the XEGS game system that was 100% compatible with Atari 8-bit computers (not as much as the C64, but a lot more than the 7800, Lynx and Jag ever got, from third parties publishers).

 

But I didn't have any trouble finding the titles that did come out for the 7800 in the 80's as the Toys-R-Us near me carried the 7800 and games.

 

But I was still a fan of the 7800 and later systems, and hoped Atari would "get it together" as they promised, with each new system. Strangely enough, the 7800 got more support in the early '90s than in the late '80s, with a slew of titles coming out from Atari in 1990-92, such as Ninja Golf, Motor Psycho, Fatal Run, Alien Brigade, Basket Brawl, Sentinel, Sirius, Plutos, Planet Smashers, Midnight Mutants, Dark Chambers, Klax and several others that hit late in the 7800's life cycle. Many of those are really good and use much more of the hardware to it's potential. Plus there is a slew of recent home-brew titles to check out, most published through the Atariage store. Any of those late titles match NES and Master system games graphically.

 

Of course these 90's 7800 titles were non-existent in most stores and areas, even Toys-R-Us. A handful of mom&pop Atari dealers carried them, if you had those dealers in your area, otherwise the only way to get them was direct from Atari and you had to actually call Atari to even find out they had them until the Internet came into existance, then you could order online through GoAtari.com. The only other place to find them was, believe it or not, Radio Shack. But RS didn't carry them in-store, you had to order them in-store through their catalog! I only found this out because I was browsing a Radio Shack one day in '95, and they had a few Atari Jaguar accessories, and I asked why they only had these cables and controllers, and nothing else (like actual systems and games) and the salesman said they could order them through the catalog and gave one to me to browse, and low-and-behold, you could order Lynx, 2600 and 7800 games and systems too! A "great" marketing strategy to keep Atari in the lime-light, huh? :P  :rofl:


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"Slugs, he created slugs?...Is this not the work of a complete incompetent? I would have started with Lasers, 8 o'clock, day one."-Evil (Time Bandits)
"...burn the land and boil the sea, but you can't take the sky from me..."-theme song (Firefly)
"I try to respect him, I really, really do, but he's just such a Smeg-head."-Lister (about Rimmer, Red Dwarf)

#9 nosweargamer

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 09:05 PM

By the time the 7800 was resurrected, most decent developers were tied up by Nintendo.

Besides, the Tramiel way was to licenses games themselves to make the profit.

Yes, they were cheap and hard to deal with, BUT at least they eventually brought us the 7800, Lynx and Jag.

There was always a chance Warner could've sold Atari to someone who would have mothballed all the consumer products.

 

In my last podcast, I got some answers from a producer from Activision who told me Activision's decision to produce games for the Atari 7800 was in part to break open Nintendo's grip on third party developers. Activsion wanted to make games for everyone, not just Big N.

 

Activision & Absolute (who had ties to Activision) are the only thrid party companies that produced games on the 7800, SMS and NES in the US.


Edited by nosweargamer, 04 December 2015 - 09:56 PM.

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#10 Bakerman

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 09:53 PM

By the way, all the games I mentioned can be viewed on Youtube, and also, Sirius and Plutos, while developed in 1990, never got released then, but copies seem to be surfacing these days, there are a couple for sale on eBay. I'm not sure if these are home-brew releases or like B&C Computervisions and Video61 sometimes produce cartridges of originally unreleased games, etc., but they are out there...


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"Slugs, he created slugs?...Is this not the work of a complete incompetent? I would have started with Lasers, 8 o'clock, day one."-Evil (Time Bandits)
"...burn the land and boil the sea, but you can't take the sky from me..."-theme song (Firefly)
"I try to respect him, I really, really do, but he's just such a Smeg-head."-Lister (about Rimmer, Red Dwarf)

#11 StormSurge

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 11:11 PM

Thanks for sharing another great story!
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#12 kamakazi20012

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 05:48 AM

Of course these 90's 7800 titles were non-existent in most stores and areas, even Toys-R-Us. A handful of mom&pop Atari dealers carried them, if you had those dealers in your area, otherwise the only way to get them was direct from Atari and you had to actually call Atari to even find out they had them until the Internet came into existance, then you could order online through GoAtari.com. The only other place to find them was, believe it or not, Radio Shack. But RS didn't carry them in-store, you had to order them in-store through their catalog! I only found this out because I was browsing a Radio Shack one day in '95, and they had a few Atari Jaguar accessories, and I asked why they only had these cables and controllers, and nothing else (like actual systems and games) and the salesman said they could order them through the catalog and gave one to me to browse, and low-and-behold, you could order Lynx, 2600 and 7800 games and systems too! A "great" marketing strategy to keep Atari in the lime-light, huh? :P  :rofl:

 

You actually discovered the Jaguar the same way I did, through Radio Shack.  Although my first knowledge of the system came in the mail with a fold-out advertisement of the system from Go Atari.  I'll be writing a Jaguar Memory post soon so I will save the rest for that.  But, I agree, not the best marketing strategy.  Then again why would you want to advertise products from a company that almost killed off its own industry?  For the most part, that is how the public seen it, including businesses that dealt with Atari.  It's almost as if they were anti-Atari.  

 

 

By the time the 7800 was resurrected, most decent developers were tied up by Nintendo.

Besides, the Tramiel way was to licenses games themselves to make the profit.

Yes, they were cheap and hard to deal with, BUT at least they eventually brought us the 7800, Lynx and Jag.

There was always a chance Warner could've sold Atari to someone who would have mothballed all the consumer products.

 

In my last podcast, I got some answers from a producer from Activision who told me Activision's decision to produce games for the Atari 7800 was in part to break open Nintendo's grip on third party developers. Activsion wanted to make games for everyone, not just Big N.

 

Activision & Absolute (who had ties to Activision) are the only thrid party companies that produced games on the 7800, SMS and NES in the US.

 

I remember having the NES, SMS, and 7800 together at the same time.  I have Galaxy 5000 on the NES, Bomber Raid on the SMS, and no Activision games on the 7800.  The other two were hard to come across in my area and Atari games in general never made it across the boarder except for the reselling of the 2600.  It makes sense considering that the 2600 was the Atari that was most popular in my hometown.  Everyone had one at some point before the crash.  After that the Atari was dead and everyone seemed to be wanting to get rid of them at yard sales or simply throwing them out.

 

 

By the way, all the games I mentioned can be viewed on Youtube, and also, Sirius and Plutos, while developed in 1990, never got released then, but copies seem to be surfacing these days, there are a couple for sale on eBay. I'm not sure if these are home-brew releases or like B&C Computervisions and Video61 sometimes produce cartridges of originally unreleased games, etc., but they are out there...

 

I watched Alien Brigade and I would really enjoy trying that game out.  I will get to try them out eventually, hopefully, before all these Atari games are no longer available.  

 

Thanks for sharing another great story!

 

You are welcome. . . and I hope I haven't bored anyone with them yet.  It's hard for me to look at an Atari machine and not think about how it came to be.  While others see a machine I see sweat, blood, imagination, late hours, and the labor and love that went into these systems just so we can sit here, today, and talk about them.  Sometimes I imagine little people running around in there flipping switches to control the games (haha...I'm not crazy).  Each console I have from Atari, except one, has connections to family members no longer with me.  If heaven had a phone number I think I would be calling it all the time and asking Mom if she would like to play a game of Centipede with me.  


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#13 Bakerman

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 10:11 AM

You actually discovered the Jaguar the same way I did, through Radio Shack.  Although my first knowledge of the system came in the mail with a fold-out advertisement of the system from Go Atari.  I'll be writing a Jaguar Memory post soon so I will save the rest for that.  But, I agree, not the best marketing strategy.  Then again why would you want to advertise products from a company that almost killed off its own industry?  For the most part, that is how the public seen it, including businesses that dealt with Atari.  It's almost as if they were anti-Atari.  

I knew about the Jaguar being developed as early as '92 as I was an avid reader of Atari specific magazines, some with a very small circulation. And later in general video game magazines in '93. I only discovered that Atari products could be ordered through Radio Shack's catalog at a Radio Shack store.


"Slugs, he created slugs?...Is this not the work of a complete incompetent? I would have started with Lasers, 8 o'clock, day one."-Evil (Time Bandits)
"...burn the land and boil the sea, but you can't take the sky from me..."-theme song (Firefly)
"I try to respect him, I really, really do, but he's just such a Smeg-head."-Lister (about Rimmer, Red Dwarf)




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