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Annex 001 - Robotron 2084 Controller for Atari 7800

atarilbc

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Welcome to the first "annex" entry into the gaming notebook.  I'll post reviews of homebrews, community projects, and other goodies here. First up, my review of the Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 by Mike @RetroGameBoyz
 
I ordered my controller last week after reading about it on the forums and received it on Friday.  It was shipped in a plastic mailer with plenty of bubble-wrap for protection.    

As many of you know, the Atari 7800 version of Robotron can be played with either one or two controllers.  With one controller, you can only shoot in the direction in which you are moving.  Using a two controller configuration, the first controls the direction of movement and the second controls the direction of fire.  Honestly, this is the best way to play Robotron 2084 and closely mirrors the experience of the arcade version.  That said, as you can imagine, without a coupler, using two unsecured joysticks or gamepads can be difficult. This is where Mike's gamepad comes in.  
 
Using a 3D printed gamepad, modern style pad holder, dual d-pads and two 9-pin cables, the RetroGameBoyz Robotron 2084 controller allows you to play the game in the way that it's meant to be played.  

First impressions:

The game pad itself is just about the size of an NES pad.  In the optional holder, it's just a little larger than a Dual Shock 4 and is pretty comfortable.  At first, I was worried that the square-ish shape of the holder would feel clunky.  I'm happy to report that it actually feels quite nice and I don't anticipate taking the pad out of the holder.  

The parts have that "ridged" look that is typical of things made with a 3D printer. However, this isn't to say that it doesn't feel substantial.  The build quality is legit and the controller responds nicely in all directions.  I really like the custom sticker; it's a nice finishing touch.  
 
The two 9-pin cables are extra long, measuring 9 feet!  No extension cables needed! 

Let's see how it plays: 

I really love the 7800 version of Robotron 2084, although I'm not that great at it.  On the default "intermediate" setting, I can generally get up to wave 8 before giving up the ghost.  Playing with one controller requires you to play in a defensive way.  With the dual pad, I was able to get to wave 12 and score over 170,000 points.  Being able to have independent directional control over both movement and fire allows you to play much more aggressively.  Simply put, it's an entirely different - and better - game.  
 
The controller also includes independent fire buttons for use in other 7800 games.  Its important to note, this works with the left pad only; the right pad isn't used outside of Robotron.  I played Xevious, Choplifter, Centipede, Ms. PacMan and Food Fight to put the controller though its paces. I found it to be light, comfortable and responsive. The buttons seem to work correctly.  The d-pads hit all of the directions accurately.  After a solid two hours of gameplay, I didn't feel the least bit of fatigue in my hands.  Compared to the Atari 7800 europad, this controller was at least as good if not better in most every respect.  
 
Final thoughts:
 
The dual-pad Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 is a winner.  It looks cool, plays great, can be used for more than just Robotron and - for $49 - is just about the best damn controller you can get for the 7800.  I really like it and can see this becoming my goto for the 7800, 2600 and A8 although Mike has a single pad variant on offer via eBay. 
 
If you want more information on this controller, check out the original thread or visit Mike's eBay link: https://www.ebay.com/sch/retrogameboyz/m.html 
 
 
 

 

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Wow thank you! I really don't now what else to say. I greatly appreciate your review and thoroughness. 

I am working on a new variant with a micro-switch that will allow you to switch button modes - so both buttons when pressed will act like port 2 button fire 1 - so you can use it to play spy hunter,  star gate and raiders of the lost ark - etc. there is an updated video here to show the example:

Thanks again

 

 

 

Edited by RetroGameBoyz

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