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PROOF That Ms. Pac-Man Should've Been The 7800 Pack-In!


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#21 Lost Dragon

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 01:20 PM

It really shouldn't of been THAT difficult for Atari to figure out was was needed to sell a GAMES CONSOLE...Erm...KILLER GAMES?

 

Sega used the Coin-Op connection to get the message across prior to Sonic, that and things like Alex Kid were good examples of what the Master system was all about here in UK, for early MS games...

 

 

Atari really seemed oblivious that the Press were already asking just what kind of message Atari was sending out via the 7800...was it supposed to be seen as an upgraded 2600/5200....as it had the same titles in many cases...or a dumbed down Atari 8bit computer?

 

When i look at games released on it, i'm sat there thinking wouldn't it of been better to keep some Killer apps back for the 7800?

 

 

Then again your talking a company that thought the UK wouldn't want the 520STFM...

 

Didn't think A8 owners in the UK would of been interested in Airball..took Micro Discount to see the cart released in UK...

 

 

Thought having the XEGS-7800 and 2600 all competing for same market share here in UK was a good idea.

 

Had 7800 Paperboy finished, delivered and now seemingly lost forever...


Edited by Lost Dragon, 13 May 2017 - 01:34 PM.

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#22 Clint Thompson

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:33 AM

After seeing the list of games available as pack-in (though I"m kind of confused since all the games seem to be listed as released in 1987) Ms. Pac-Man definitely would have been the title to go with. I was going to say Xenophobe too but realized that was also released in 1987, though maybe just due to the launch time of the 7800 itself, I don't know. I played Pole Position II once... and it was awful. ;-) but really, once you play Rad Racer on the NES, nothing compares and you quickly equate the gameplay of still stuck in the earlier 80s. It's no surprise Nintendo become the giant it did. 

 

Punch Out

Marble Madness

Mario Bros x 3

Rad Racer

Tetris

Off Road

 

I see MotorPsycho and shame Atari for their attempt to re-use Pole Position and turn it into a motorcycle game. 

 

One can't help but wonder what Nintendo would've been capable of producing for the 7800 if they owned the hardware. Then I'm just reminded about just how crippled the 7800 was.... released 3-years too late, forced to be backwards compatible with 2600, no amazing Pokey chip included on the unit itself. You have to be kind of amazed that it even got released at all by that time. Clearly shows that Jack didn't understand the value of fun games over amazing hardware. 


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#23 nosweargamer

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 06:53 AM

After seeing the list of games available as pack-in (though I"m kind of confused since all the games seem to be listed as released in 1987) Ms. Pac-Man definitely would have been the title to go with. I was going to say Xenophobe too but realized that was also released in 1987, though maybe just due to the launch time of the 7800 itself, I don't know. 

 

One can't help but wonder what Nintendo would've been capable of producing for the 7800 if they owned the hardware. Then I'm just reminded about just how crippled the 7800 was.... released 3-years too late, forced to be backwards compatible with 2600, no amazing Pokey chip included on the unit itself. You have to be kind of amazed that it even got released at all by that time. Clearly shows that Jack didn't understand the value of fun games over amazing hardware. 

 

Ms. Pac-Man was actually released in 1984 for the limited run launch and then again in 1986. However, you can find labels that say 1987, since every year the made more cartridges, they printed the new year on the label.

 

Xenophobe was released in the arcade in 1987, but didn't come to the 7800 until 1989, the same year the Sega Genesis came out  :o

 

I too wish they had a Pokey sound chip on the 7800, but that decision was not Jack's fault, since it was made and released before he bought the company. I do wish he worked out a way to have released the 7800 sooner, but at least he eventually did. Being a computer guy, there was always a chance he could've only used the Atari name for computers only.


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#24 Lost Dragon

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 01:37 PM

Even bearing in mind the 7800 hardware being set in stone, Atari could of done far more to showcase that it's system could take on the NES and the Master System, yes it would of meant pumping money into it, but once you made the decision to enter the fight with Sega and Nintendo, you had to bring your very biggest guns.

 

 

Even putting MS Pac-Man in as the in-pack game would only generate the inital momentum sales, you had to build up a good head of steam in order to maintain consumer confidence and Atari failed to even stoke the boilers in my eyes.

 

Pokey produced far better audio in my experiences than the standard MS sound chip, so it needed to be rolled out on all the flagship 7800 titles and a lot made of how 7800 games (using it) sounded compared to Master system games.

 

Nintendo and Sega between them had the cream of software developers tied up, but Atari did make a key players in form of:

 

 

Sculptured Software, Tynesoft, Tiertex, Imagitec, but even here they fumbled oh so badly.

 

Why on earth have your key developers doing things like Commando on platforms that are competing with each other? considering A8 Commando never saw a release, all that coding/play testing time? wasted.

 

Why buy into imagitec Design's claims they could handle multiple 7800 projects at once? why even bother trying to convert Pitfighter to 7800? hardware isn't geared up to sprite scale large, digitised sprites, just have they finish 7800 Rampart, see how they perform before giving them future projects? at least by going the 1 game only route, you have something to give consumers...

 

If you cannot get Gradius or Star Solider, yet Tynesoft have 2 showcase clones in the making...Sirius and Plutos, fund the damn things, ensure developer has your full support....every tool etc they need.

 

 

Decide just what kind of games you want to provide...

 

So you've Pole Position II, yet wait MS has Hang-On, but your not going to do a straight clone you want your title to appear edgy, more teen market (yet your telling Press the 7800 as a replacement for aging 2600, is aimed at Under 10's....) so you bring out Motor Psycho....NES has Road Blasters...so you have Fatal Run..again, with that p*ss poor attempt to have a more dangerous title...

 

How about you ensure both bloody games use the hardware well, have decent controls, enjoyable gameplay?

 

Ninja Golf worked..not due to it's title, but by being fun and something you couldn't find on other systems...though it was rumoured to be coming to other Atari platforms i believe?

 

But the biggest bloody fool mistake i felt Atari made once they committed themselves to the 7800 was releasing the XEGS...utter brillance Atari...your 5200 bombed, so you roll out not 1, but 2 follow on replacements.Want stores to stock both, you feel you've a machine for every user, consumer thinks WTF? and you've not the developer support to churn out Triple A titles in numbers needed for a single format, let alone dual 8 bit consoles.


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#25 Lost Dragon

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:13 PM

Side note:Had Atari let Atari UK/Germany etc handle the ST side of things and accept defeat in the USA and instead poured US resources in the 7800 as clearly market was strong there for it...

 

Write off your unsold stocks of A8 games-DO NOT release the XEGS, ANYWHERE..you've the 2600 selling well still for kids market here in UK, keep doing the buisness deal with retailers, 'free' 2600 with every ST they buy (if claims are true)....

 

It might, just might of put them in a far better position to plan properly for entry into the 16bit console market.

 

But again here they mess up, big style.

 

The whole concept of the ST Based console..bad one...ST hardware didn't sell as a micro in USA, it's not going to cut the mustard as a console.

 

Apparently it wasn't even planned for UK, probably as Atari knew damn well that's what majority of 520 STFM's were sold on basis for, Gaming :)

 

The Panther, given proper resources (ie enough Ram not to cripple it, far better architecture design than what was planned), released to go up agains't the Genesis, rather than the planned SNES beater Atari were claiming (it was never going to be such a thing).. i honestly don't know.

 

 

Would the STE hardware of made for a good 16 bit console rather than a too little/too late home micro?

 

4096 Colours compared to Genesis 512, but only 16 in 320X200

 

PCM Soundchip

 

Blitter...

 

Or maybe the Lynx concept should of been signed to Atari, but then Atari pour money into further developing it into a home console, rather than a hand held?

 

Beef up the CPU, Screen Resolution  to TV resolution rather than Low Res LCD screens, have no battery life concerns etc?

 

 

I guess what i'm really saying is whilst debating the best possible in-pack game for 7800, i'm left wondering if wouldn't of been far better for Atari not to release the damn thing at all outside of North America.

 

It's often claimed it was as powerful as the Sega MS, somethoing the 7800 GPU Designer himself has stated simply isn't true

 

 

It made so little impact here in UK and conversions of things like Black Lamp (out on ST and A8), Eliminator (ST, C64 etc etc), Technocop (ST, various 8bit systems).

 

The 7800, XE GS, 5200, Lynx and Jaguar, ALL sadly proved Atari simply couldn't 'DO' Consoles properly after the 2600.

 

Poorly supported, marketed etc and we the consumer were always the ones left high and dry.

 

 

Changing the in-pack game would of been like giving a 1 legged man a 10 minute head start in a Marathon race.



#26 Lost Dragon

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 03:22 PM

And i will close on the following: It soon became very clear The tramiel's had nothing but utter disregard for the 7800.. Jack, describing it as 'Pollution' when it was presented to him, sayoing Atari made computers from now on and didn't want this 'garbage'...wasn't until NES proved there was a massive desire in USA for consoles still Jack became interested, even then, he was content to just throw the damn thing out there.

 

 

He wasn't going to risk scarce resources on things like big marketing campains, securing essential software support, let alone pour resources into add-on's like laser disc players, high score carts, keyboards etc or greenlight flagship new software for it's re-launch. Leonard seemed to think the 7800 was little more the a revised 2600, only the 7800 was doing in hardware what 2600 had to do in software....

 

 The hardware was BOTCHED, sorry but it really was...No Pokey on board the console was a critical mistake, 1 i believe even GCC's Tom Westberg now admits... Steve Golson has gone on record ( RetroGamer Magazine Vol 2/Issue 2) saying whilst the 7800 was PROBABLY a bit better, Graphically than the NES, it was not quite upto the standard of the Sega Master system.

 

 

 7800 could implement a coin-op conversion better than NES, but Nintendo didn't do Donkey kong..over and over, instead it did Mario Platform Games. what did the 7800 give us? Platform wise?

 

 DK+Mario Bros...

 

 Tower Toppler and Impossible Mission..niether exclusives, nor best versions... 

 

Scrapyard Dog..... 

 

Did it ever really stand a chance under Tramiel's Atari?


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#27 RickR

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 10:27 PM

The talk of POKEY has always been an odd one to me.  POKEY was already 7 years old when the 7800 came out.  How expensive could it have been to not just throw one in?  Pound foolish, penny wise.  Furthermore, Commodore set the standard with the SID chip after POKEY came out, so it begs the question of why didn't they try making something even better than that?  Aim higher.  That was OLD Atari's mantra.  Bigger, better!

 

It's kind of fun to play these "What if" games...but a lot of this stuff just makes you shake your head sadly. 


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#28 Video 61

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:15 AM

As some of you know, I believe that Pole Position II was a poor choice to be the pack-in for the 7800. It was an okay game, but it didn't have the mass appeal like Super Mario on the NES did. I believe Ms. Pac-Man was the obvious choice from the early titles. It's a great port and was one of the most popular arcade games of all time.

 

Some may disagree, but now I have PROOF!!!!

 

This is from issue 85 of EGM with a cover date of August, 1996:

 

attachicon.gifCCI05112017.jpg

 

Did you read that? It says that Ms. Pac-Man was a top 20 title on the Sega Genesis in sales  :o

And because of it's popularity, they where porting Ms. Pac-Man to the SNES  :o  :o

And this was at a time when the Playstation, Saturn and N64 were battling  :o  :o  :o

 

So basically, a decade after the 7800 came out, Ms. Pac-Man was showing it's strength on the Genesis and SNES.

 

Can you name any other classic title that was doing that? I didn't find any articles about PP II racing away on the Genesis and bringing in the sales.

 

I'm not saying it would've made the 7800 anywhere near the level of the NES, but I wouldn't be surprised if it would've double 7800 system sales potentially leading to more games being made for the system and possibly a longer life.

 

Case closed  :D

 they should have done that for sure. when the tramiels took over, they told me in one warehouse alone, there was five million new in the box atari 7800 ms. pacmans.

 

 it would have been a good way to get rid of them. by the end of the line of the 7800, they still had five million unsold various 7800 games, including a large amount of ms. pacmans, they offered them to me in the early 1990's, i turned them down, to many for me to warehouse. they ended up in a liquidator's cave system in i think it was kansas, name escapes me now, it was o'shay that's it.

 

 

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#29 Video 61

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:36 AM

Even bearing in mind the 7800 hardware being set in stone, Atari could of done far more to showcase that it's system could take on the NES and the Master System, yes it would of meant pumping money into it, but once you made the decision to enter the fight with Sega and Nintendo, you had to bring your very biggest guns.

 

 

Even putting MS Pac-Man in as the in-pack game would only generate the inital momentum sales, you had to build up a good head of steam in order to maintain consumer confidence and Atari failed to even stoke the boilers in my eyes.

 

Pokey produced far better audio in my experiences than the standard MS sound chip, so it needed to be rolled out on all the flagship 7800 titles and a lot made of how 7800 games (using it) sounded compared to Master system games.

 

Nintendo and Sega between them had the cream of software developers tied up, but Atari did make a key players in form of:

 

 

Sculptured Software, Tynesoft, Tiertex, Imagitec, but even here they fumbled oh so badly.

 

Why on earth have your key developers doing things like Commando on platforms that are competing with each other? considering A8 Commando never saw a release, all that coding/play testing time? wasted.

 

Why buy into imagitec Design's claims they could handle multiple 7800 projects at once? why even bother trying to convert Pitfighter to 7800? hardware isn't geared up to sprite scale large, digitised sprites, just have they finish 7800 Rampart, see how they perform before giving them future projects? at least by going the 1 game only route, you have something to give consumers...

 

If you cannot get Gradius or Star Solider, yet Tynesoft have 2 showcase clones in the making...Sirius and Plutos, fund the damn things, ensure developer has your full support....every tool etc they need.

 

 

Decide just what kind of games you want to provide...

 

So you've Pole Position II, yet wait MS has Hang-On, but your not going to do a straight clone you want your title to appear edgy, more teen market (yet your telling Press the 7800 as a replacement for aging 2600, is aimed at Under 10's....) so you bring out Motor Psycho....NES has Road Blasters...so you have Fatal Run..again, with that p*ss poor attempt to have a more dangerous title...

 

How about you ensure both bloody games use the hardware well, have decent controls, enjoyable gameplay?

 

Ninja Golf worked..not due to it's title, but by being fun and something you couldn't find on other systems...though it was rumoured to be coming to other Atari platforms i believe?

 

But the biggest bloody fool mistake i felt Atari made once they committed themselves to the 7800 was releasing the XEGS...utter brillance Atari...your 5200 bombed, so you roll out not 1, but 2 follow on replacements.Want stores to stock both, you feel you've a machine for every user, consumer thinks WTF? and you've not the developer support to churn out Triple A titles in numbers needed for a single format, let alone dual 8 bit consoles.

 ninja golf was done for the XEGM. one of my fellow dealers has one. i have never found one in my stuff however. atari should have finished rampart, as well as G.A.T.O.

 because of activision and the spinoff company, there was already f-18, and tomcat, atari had super huey, and ace of aces, so it was already getting to be known for its arcade/simulator type of games.

 back in 1986, or perhaps 1987, i and what was left of atari's distributors and dealers, received a letter from atari, they had promised 25 new 7800 games, i never saved the letter, so i do not remember every title, but one that stood out, that should have become the pack in as soon as it was available, was california games.

 i chided them when they never delivered california games, it would have been the best choice for goosing sales of the 7800 as a pack in. when i chided them they said just buy the 2600 version, i told them it was good, but the 7800 was far more capable to deliver better graphics and game play. they were so out of touch, with what the customers wanted, let alone what was needed to be done to attract customers to their products.

 

 

 

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#30 Lost Dragon

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 02:21 AM

It was imagitec who should have finished Rampart for Atari..but looking at their track record..it's honestly no small wonder it never appeared.

Company constantly promising what it couldn't deliver.

Your info is superb my friend just superb.

#31 Video 61

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 01:06 PM

It was imagitec who should have finished Rampart for Atari..but looking at their track record..it's honestly no small wonder it never appeared.

Company constantly promising what it couldn't deliver.

Your info is superb my friend just superb.

 yea, jacks atari was never the type that got other businesses to excited, a track record of not paying, or driving down the costs, after a contract had been signed.

 

 people simply no longer trusted jack. he left a trail of bad feelings all over asia. besides what he did here in america.

 

thanks, yours is top notch also:)

 

 

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#32 Clint Thompson

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:40 AM

The talk of POKEY has always been an odd one to me.  POKEY was already 7 years old when the 7800 came out.  How expensive could it have been to not just throw one in?  Pound foolish, penny wise.  Furthermore, Commodore set the standard with the SID chip after POKEY came out, so it begs the question of why didn't they try making something even better than that?  Aim higher.  That was OLD Atari's mantra.  Bigger, better!

 

It's kind of fun to play these "What if" games...but a lot of this stuff just makes you shake your head sadly. 

 

Even so, the Pokey is that to Atarians as the SID was to the Commodorians.... even to this day I still find the sound produced from the POKEY to be very warming and desirable to listen to, it simply was an amazing chip and honestly, Atari didn't need to go above and beyond to create an entirely new chip. They just needed to implement the one they already had and was proven to deliver amazing results.

 

Crazy to think about that Atari, the creators of all this amazing hardware (even if they did get it wrong at times) at such a lower price point than their competition, you really would've thought developers would have flocked to their systems for that reason as well but then again, once you realize the potential and installed user base of the NES, it's hard to look anywhere else but where the gold is. Everything beyond that was done for probably a quick buck with little care because they knew it was a dying platform or just out of pure love for Atari and the system, which nothing really seems to shine from that as an example in 3rd party form at all sadly. 


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#33 Lost Dragon

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 08:03 AM

The interview Steve Golson gave to Peter Latimer for RetroGamer Magazine (Volume 2, Issue 2) all those years ago, basically sets in stone the 7800 saga...

 

The 7800 was simply something Warner Communicatons had 'wanted' and it would be warner that would be convincing Atari that it was great hardware.

 

Warner had simply asked for a '2600 with more players' (Player/Missile Graphics), according to the quote from Steve, along with 2600 compatibility...

 

So the only real hands tied aspect was the decision to use a 6502 CPU, although a different CPU given task of emulating the 6502 was considered, but it was soon cast aside.

 

Steve didn't think the 6502 was too much of a limitation, given what other CPU's were avaiable at the time, espically as it was running at a faster clock speed in 7800 mode, they just had to slow it down for 2600 mode.

 

 

Tom Westberg is quoted as saying that when they used the old 2600 graphics chip for sound as well as backwards compatibility, in order to save costs..that was probably a mistake.

 

 

Steve talks of the design work on the Maria chip going from nothing to 'tapeout' in about 12 weeks, but at that stage, the chip design wasn't quite enough, you could display lots of objects, but it required too much CPU time from the 6502...so they started working on Maria II.

 

 

The original Maria chip design had display lists of graphical objects, which were automatically displayed on each scan line by the DMA hardware, that copied the graphics data into the line Ram.

 

Every  scan line  required the processor to update the display list info.

 

 

Maria II simply added display list lists!, so Maria II could basically take care of updating the display lists after every scan line, thus freeing up essential CPU time.

 

 

The reason i mention this breakdown...I'm NOT a tech guy, but had heard so much hype over the years on other forums from Atari fanboys about this mythical Maria chip in the 7800 and the supposed 'unlimited sprites' it allowed the hardware to process, i thought it important to bring the reality of just what the chip was, at grass roots into the cold light of day.

 

 

And, as i've stated time and time before, Steve himself doesn't think the 7800 graphically matched the Sega Master System..so the 7800 doesn't appear to be quite the mythical hardware some UK writers have often claimed over the years.

 

 

But back to the sound aspect....

 

What Tom considers a 'probable' mistake, i think it's fair to say greater % of the Atari community considers a KEY mistake.

 

Atari had a proven, capable soundchip in form of Pokey, fantastic for sound effects (superior i find in this area often to the SID) and capable in right hands of giving the SID a run for it's money in terms of music.

 

The 2600 chip? ok for your basic in-game sound effects, but only wanting to include it on specific games, you have created a 2-tier system for your flagship hardware's software, right from the off.

 

 

But, going back to Warner Comms original design requirements, it seems clear SOUND was NEVER something given any real consideration..this might be a marketing angle? after all you'd be selling your software based on Magazine images..still shots...sound still an often vastly overlooked aspect to games to this day.

 

 

So, unlike the god awful AY soundchip decision used in the ST, i cannot personally lay the real blame at Atari for the decision not to use Pokey as standard in the 7800 hardware.

 

Eyes more on Warner...


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#34 Lost Dragon

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 08:47 AM

Steve also went onto describe the 7800 Games software development process...

 

Generally:Small teams..1 or 2 people per game...some general development tasks shared by all...lots of work done converting arcade machines...once games reached playable stage...an official 'test squad' playtested them.

 

 

The thing here is, these supposed fabulous 11 were something of an odd bunch...

 

I'm told the NES version of Galaga is more colourful, has more detailed sprites and runs faster than the 7800 version?, plus 7800 version has a different difficulty curve from the coin-op?

 

 

7800 Asteriods proved the 7800 could do enhanced versions of coin-ops..., the Asteriods now solid, detailed objects, game had a simultaneous 2player mode...but at the end of the day Asteriods itself was hardly seen as cutting edge gaming at this point.

 

 

Plus this was originally known as 3-D Asteriods was it not?.

 

Also maybe due to hardware limitations the Asteriods are far more like spheres (so small moons or planetiods maybe?)...

 

 

Same could be applied to Dig Dug, Centipede etc, let alone Pole Postion II.

 

Throwing in Pole Position II with the 7800 (and Asteriods being built in with UK 7800 Hardware) did little to showcase the 7800 hardware...sure you could now race on 4 tracks, visuals upgraded but animation seems jerky, game detail quite spartan...wasn't Maria supposed to be this sprite shifting wonder chip? so where are the detailed trackside visuals etc? (something Motor Psycho also lacked..where was all the trackside scenary?) ....a few Atari signs at side of the road just weren't going to cut it.

 

Sky looked nice, espically with the clouds etc, but looking at say Track 3:Seaside...might as well called it Track 3:GENERIC...

 

Merely changing Skylines and terrain colour per track did little to convince me this was a worthy in-game pack.

 

Atari thinking updating 'Classic Coin Ops' with a smattering of original, titles being enough to shift/establish the 7800 when up agains't the NES, was never going to play out...

 

 

As for Atari using Imagitec Design to handle conversions of something as advanced, Coin-Op hardware wise as Pitfighter...bloody hell...talk about looking no further than who could promise to deliver it cheapest....

 

Visuals look bloody awful, even the appalling Sega Master System versions sprites were better defined.

 

 

Reading the internal Atari UK mails Scott St.kindly sent me, you can sense the real frustration Atari are experincing with Imagitec Design missing yet more Milestone delivery points and Atari basically feeling Imagitec are over-streched/bitten off more than they can chew trying to develop 2 7800 titles at once...and how right those concerns proved to be....



#35 Lost Dragon

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 12:21 PM

Thought this scan from C64 Magazine Zzap64 would be of some interest as not only is Pole position II on the C64 praised, but it's made clear Ms Pac-Man was never a hit here in the UK...

 

 

And the C+VG feature and talk of how sinister the UK Arcade's were, simply HAD to go in, enjoy :)

 

 

Food for thought...perhaps?.

Attached Thumbnails

  • zzap050046.jpg
  • cvg0900073.jpg

Edited by Lost Dragon, 29 May 2017 - 04:27 PM.





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