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New Syzygy 3200 Console!

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The folks from Syzygy have announced they will be releasing a new console that will be fully 2600 and 7800 compatible called the Syzygy 3200.  I thought I'd share this here after seeing some details posted over at Atari Age.
 

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About the Console:

Engineered to bring back the excitement, fun and thrills of owning a system that everyone loved and wanted.   With Atari* 2600/7800 compatibility to allow the system to be able to play real 2600 & 7800 game cartridges.

Yes, this is a REAL game system that uses REAL cartridges.   Something to own, to hold in your hand and to know its always yours...

Designed into an all new sleek case design that was a prototype for an unreleased console called the 3200.   Now everyone gets to own this elusive prototype design, including all new combo controllers.

Both joystick AND paddle controller built into one, with a sleek low profile design, this brings a whole new dimension to game players.

Its like getting that system you had always wished for back in the 80's and 90's and finally it has arrived.  Thanks to so many contributors in the hobbyist community, there is now a brand new system to use with original and many of the newest released 2600 & 7800 games.

Learn more at:  https://syzygy3200.com/

 

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It's an interesting design that Atari abandoned.  I like that the same controller works as joystick and paddle (like the controllers on the Gemini) but the side buttons can give you cramps.  Hopefully they are soft enough to depress.

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I'm interested but wary. Who is this company? What do we know about them? Have they delivered successful products to market in the past?

It's  Curt Vendel....made the 2600 on a chip for the Flashback 2. Also the XM module. He has had issues in past shipping product timely due to health issues but otherwise.........

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He has had issues in past shipping product timely due to health issues but otherwise.........

 

That XM was originally supposed to ship in November 2010. 100-200 were pre-ordered back then.  The last promised ship date was last January (9 months ago), but he already has a new website up for what's basically a new 7800 console?  Damn, what arrogance. 

Edited by Scott Stilphen

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That XM was originally supposed to ship in December 2010. 100-200 were pre-ordered back then.  The last promised ship date was last January (9 months ago), but he already has a new website up for what's basically a new 7800 console?  Damn, what arrogance. 

Right, I was  not clear on the details. I had seen someone post over on AA saying until all the XM's ship and are delivered he will avoid any other products announced, seems wise. 

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The XM has been making progress, so hopefully it sees release soon and then they move onto the 3200.  I do wonder if they plan to integrate the XM components into this new system also.  It would make sense for them to do so.

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I had seen someone post over on AA saying until all the XM's ship and are delivered he will avoid any other products announced, seems wise. 

 

Looks like more than a few agree the XM should be finished before anything else.  But instead he wants to make a new 7800 - something nobody is even demanding?  And on top of it, use other people's money (crowdfunding) for it?  The guy can't even handle shipping out joysticks on time, let alone design one properly, and his previous efforts at designing consoles (Flashback 1 and 2) were riddled with issues.  FB1 was nothing more than a NOAC, and the FB2's VCS-OAC certainly never lived up to that claim, even after multiple revisions:

 

http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/articles/flashback2/flashback2.html

http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/reviews/flashbacks/flashbacks.html

 

IMO, the XM doesn't look any closer to being completed now than it did 8 years ago.  How many revisions has this thing gone through - none of which ever fully worked?  Unreal.  It's long past time for him to refund everyone and move on.

Edited by Scott Stilphen

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Part of the issue with the XM debacle is that due to how long the development on it has been, they run into hardware issues with availability of the components they wish to use. So for instance they spec it out and do initial testing with a type or IC on it, and then find issues and then for some reason it sits for ever and then when they get back to it, that component isn't avail and a replacement to be found, which causes changes in the design and more testing again. 

 

A never ending cycle. 

 

Even if the XM gets completed soon, there is still a HUGE unknown with it. And that is the same issue that plagued the Concerto SD cart solution that Batari was working on. That being that 7800s are not created equal and what works on some ends up not working on others. So I really hope the XM has a good compatibility base out of the gate. If not, there could be a larger storm that brews from it not to mention loss on both customer and Curt's side of things.

 

But yeah, I still have #100 of his original high score 7800 carts and it has never worked. It does work to save scores but only as long as the console is left on. Turn it off and it makes me customize the cart all over again and no saved scores and yes the battery has been replaced and even the battery holder multiple times to no avail. I even sent it to another engineer and he was lost on how it was designed in the first place and was surprised that any of them work.

 

Still I wish the best for Curt and his projects as he is at least trying. But part of me thinks that this new 3200 is a way for him to start from scratch with an ultimate 7800 console that uses predictable hardware and works the same for everyone. Far as I know it has been stated that the 3200 will NOT have XM stuff in it and will basically be just a completely redesigned 7800 with the original capabilities of the 7800. Although a Pokey replacement to embed in it is being looked at as I understand it.

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I just thought of something on this. I have to assume that Curt has somehow secured the rights for this from Atari? I know Atari probably only owns the copyrights and trademarks to the logo characters for the original Atari IPs, but I wonder what Atari's take would be here? Curt is planning to make a 7800 that is a modern 7800 with the same capabilities that is updated to current hardware standards. You would think Atari would possibly have issue with that given their close relationship with AtGames?

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I just thought of something on this. I have to assume that Curt has somehow secured the rights for this from Atari? I know Atari probably only owns the copyrights and trademarks to the logo characters for the original Atari IPs, but I wonder what Atari's take would be here? Curt is planning to make a 7800 that is a modern 7800 with the same capabilities that is updated to current hardware standards. You would think Atari would possibly have issue with that given their close relationship with AtGames?

 

As long as they don't use the Atari name or logo, they should be fine. Clone systems, like the Gemini, sold in the past and today with have the Retron77.

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Part of the issue with the XM debacle is that due to how long the development on it has been, they run into hardware issues with availability of the components they wish to use....

 

The main issue is, there was never a clear idea of what this thing was supposed to be.  How many times have the specs changed?  How many times has the board been revised?  Originally it had 16K and a POKEY, along with the High Score cart hardware built-in.  Then when someone mentioned the Xboard - which has128K RAM and a POKEY chip - the spec changed to 128K RAM.  Then the POKEY was supplemented by a Yamaha chip (well, if he didn't order several hundred POKEY chips back then, they currently cost about $30 each these days, so that's another huge expense he'll have to eat...).

 

You mention the compatibility problem inherent with the 7800 console, and that's always been a huge problem with the console.  Look at how many different hardware variations there are of it, and all the various VCS carts that have problems because of it:

 

http://www.ataricompendium.com/faq/faq.html#software16

 

Add-on devices always sound like a good idea on paper, but they've never been successful enough in practice to justify themselves, and ultimately they're viewed as a stop-gap for a next-gen system (Starpath Supercharger and Sega 32X to name 2 examples).  Same with all the different keyboard devices that were mentioned (VCS, 5200, 7800).  By the time they became a reality, home computers became cheap (due to Tramiel's price war).  There were plans to turn the 7800 into a computer early on, which is something Vendel originally wanted to do as far back as 2001:

 

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/370-7800-computer-add-on/ - 2001 got specs on programming 7800 computer

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/80490-  Dec 2005 – back to work on 7800 computer “finally”

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/145566- June 2009 - back to work again on 7800 computer (that project was 8 years old at this point at well), but decides to start up the XM project…

 

History has shown the correct approach is to include such hardware enhancement upgrades in the cartridges themselves.  All the major companies at the time did that with their VCS carts:

 

http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/articles/longevity/longevity.html

 

The Xboard was basically that for the 7800, except it was a mod:

 

http://www.x-game.se/products/xboard.htm

 

But it was superior spec-wise to the original XM design.  Someone else basically recreated that in cart form, which allowed for games up to 256K in size.  So the correct solutions have been available for years.  But the majority of owners preferred having a huge plug-in device - reason being, all the cost would be upfront with the module, except... I never saw a thread that discussed what the XM carts would cost!  With the Supercharger, the games were like $12-$15 each, so you'd start saving money after a few purchases (the Supercharger was $70 when released, but less than a year later, it was $45).  Maybe it's me, but I can't see AA selling XM carts for $15.

 

As for the XM, here's some threads I found detailing the first 6 years:

 

June 2009 - XM announced in conjunction with a 7800 computer.  Original specs – high score cart, 16K RAM, and POKEY chip.:
 
He asks if anything else should be added, and the first reply mentions the Xboard.
 
July 2010 - XM going into production:
 
One month later, and already proposing 2 different designs:
 
Next month, pre-orders start.  Late Nov ship date announced:
 
Here's some photos of some parts and a fake box:
 
Ship date slips to December 10th.  Still a lot to be done yet:
 
Back from vacation (?).  2 months past original ship date.  Finally get a detailed account of the status fo everything, and the only thing 'done' is the manual:
 
This thread goes for 50 pages over 2 years.  More shipping dates are announced and delayed.  More specs are added (SIO port, keyboard, etc). Talk about batch #1 being assembled.  Needs to check which carts won't fit the new cart guides (!?)
 
Sept 2011 (nearly 1 year past original XM ship date) he talks about wanting to make a new 2600/7800 system (AKA 3200):
 
Oct 2012 - People are rightfully angry with all the excuses and delays.  Others chime in to talk about problems with his new joysticks.  Vendel finally replies 2 months later to explain why he changed his company name from Legacy to Szygy, and threatens no more projects after the XM, and to throw all the XM materials in a wood chipper:
 
May 2013 - He's thrilled he fixed a test unit:
 
June 2013 - Sent a broken XM to programmer Bob C.:
 
March 2014 - Hoping to keep things "under the radar" and ship them out on the anniversary, but the "natives are restless, so there you go".  Thread get's locked after 13 pages:
 
 
There's more threads, but you get the idea.  Basically, the XM is talked up, there's delays, there's changes, and then there's silence.  People start speaking up, Vendel goes on the attack, and disappears or the thread gets locked.  A year goes by, and it starts all over again.  When you stand back and look at the whole picture, it has all the earmarks of a scam.  It's eerily similar to what I've seen on the Pinside forums with various, independent pinball "companies" popping up to announce a new pinball game and taking thousands of dollars in pre-orders, only to have photos of designs and artwork and various parts.... and not one order fulfilled, and not even one complete prototype in sight.  Only difference is, most of those cases don't go for 8 years before someone ends up in court.  There were plans to initially sell 300 XMs, and there were anywhere from 150-250 pre-orders (I've seen different numbers thrown around), so we're talking anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 that people paid.  This project is now over 8 years old (same as the 7800 Computer project prior to the XM).  If anybody still feels this XM is 'legit', and don't see a problem that the person behind it would rather announce yet another new project, and create a new website for it, complete with mockup photos, and talk about taking pre-orders for it... then as the saying goes, 'a fool and his money are soon parted.'
Edited by Scott Stilphen

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I'm interested but wary. Who is this company? What do we know about them? Have they delivered successful products to market in the past?

 

The company is one guy working out of his house.  As for delivering successful products... well, he sometimes delivers products, but I don't know of anything he's been involved with that haven't had problems (some serious).  He's tried to start several businesses (Legacy Engineering, Syzygy Company, Awecades, Bidiots, etc), none of which that have been successful.  He's also an ex-felon with the state of NY who served time in the mid-1990s for grand larceny and bail jumping.  

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As long as they don't use the Atari name or logo, they should be fine. Clone systems, like the Gemini, sold in the past and today with have the Retron77.

 

Coleco paid Atari royalties for the sales of the Gemin, after Atari sued them over their VCS Expansion Module, since Coleco illegally cloned the TIA chip.  From Michael Current's website:

 

https://mcurrent.name/atarihistory/wci_games.html#1982

 

December 8th, 1982 - Atari announced that it had filed suit in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division against Coleco Industries, charging patent infringement and unfair competition under State and Federal law. Atari's lawsuit sought a preliminary and permanent injunction against the manufacture and sale of Coleco's Expansion Module No. 1 which was intended to allow Atari's VCS compatible cartridges to be played on the Colecovision home video game unit. Atari claimed that the Coleco cartridge adapter infringed two basic video game patents held by Atari--U.S. Patent No. 4,112,422 covering motion objects commonly referred to as players, missiles or sprites and U.S. Patent No. 4,314,236 relating to digital generation of sound and noise especially suitable to video games. Coleco said it would file a counterclaim charging violations of antitrust law by Atari.

 

March 11th, 1983 - Atari Inc. and Coleco Industries announced they had settled their December 1982 lawsuits against each other. Under their settlement, the companies said Coleco could continue making and selling its ColecoVision Expansion Module No. 1 and also could ship its planned Atari 2600-compatible Gemini Video Game System. However, Coleco would do so as a licensee of Atari's patents, and would pay a royalty to Atari.

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Well I've actually been very neutral on the whole XM thing because I never invested into it in the first place. At the time of it being announced, I wasn't in a financial situation to put that kind of money into something like it. Still not really but the point is, I was always planning to wait until it was released before deciding to get one or not.

 

The only other times I've spent money on a product that didn't happen..was for the WM release of Paprium and a Genesis music cart that I paid in advance for about 2 years ago now that doesn't seem like it will ever happen either. But with the exception of Paprium, I haven't lost a ton on anything here. And I've still got hope that Paprium will get released eventually as the same thing happened when I ordered Pier Solar from WM on its initial run. Paid for it up front and forgot about it, and then it shows up on my door step like 4 or 5 years later.

 

Anyway, I'm of the opinion that we don't really need a replacement console. We have the 7800 already and as was stated, it has the ability to add stuff the games themselves as needed for better sound etc. So all the XM is going to do is put an expensive add-on to the 7800 that will only benefit from a few games. Assuming those even get released since some of the initial XM only games like Teps DK XM/PK hack and Bentley Bear were eventually made and released on standalone carts to work on standard 7800s anyway. 

 

I can see only one thing that appeals to me on this 3200 system. And it is the fact it is supposed to support native HDMI and have at least the HSC incorporated into it. 

 

But I think it would be better to invest that development into an actual HDMI solution we can install into our current consoles and perhaps make the HSC available again and offer to fix the older ones that do not work such as my own.

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If you honestly believe that nobody is demanding this, then you're not following what's been going on. I know because I WAS ONE OF THE ONES WHO WAS DEMANDING SOMETHING LIKE THIS. But then again, nothing will change your mind in your personal vendetta against Curt.

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I think there is a lot of demand for something like this. 

But I think there is plenty of evidence for some skepticism.  95% compatibility with games is a requirement we all can agree on.  Do that, and I'd be in.

 

I have a modded Flashback 2, and I think it's really cool.  But there are problems with a lot of games.  That makes it more of a "niche" product and not my go-to Atari 2600 as it should have been.  Will this 3200 use a "real" TIA, or this new re-created one (from the FB2) that has issues?  Same for MARIA (and 7800 compatibility).  The 7800 library is so small that any compatibility issues would be a killer IMO. 

 

I see no reason to put down money up-front without more information at least.

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I like the idea of real hardware taking real cartridges. I like playing classic games on original Atari consoles and I wish the current owners of "Atari" would have done more with this. Lots of criticism for the new "Atari VCS" that they've been showing off this year. I'd be much more excited if it played real 2600 and 7800 cartridges and took original controllers. I don't mind downloads or Flashbacks or mini consoles, but what earns my respect is real hardware, real cartridges, real joysticks.

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I like the idea of real hardware taking real cartridges. I like playing classic games on original Atari consoles and I wish the current owners of "Atari" would have done more with this. Lots of criticism for the new "Atari VCS" that they've been showing off this year. I'd be much more excited if it played real 2600 and 7800 cartridges and took original controllers. I don't mind downloads or Flashbacks or mini consoles, but what earns my respect is real hardware, real cartridges, real joysticks.

YES!  It's really that simple.  Put out a new console that simply plays old games on modern TV's and it would sell like nuts.  They could even re-release cartridges and make more money that way.  That' Flashback 77 is the closest thing, and I think that thing is pretty cool. 

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YES!  It's really that simple.  Put out a new console that simply plays old games on modern TV's and it would sell like nuts.  They could even re-release cartridges and make more money that way.  That' Flashback 77 is the closest thing, and I think that thing is pretty cool. 

 

 

Exactly! For example a "Pong" cartridge with a great collection of Paddle games (Pong, Super Breakout, Warlords) all on one cartridge. Comes packed with a set of Paddle Controllers. I'd love that!

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It almost sells itself.  Think of all the possibilities for packaging stuff together...

"Space Games"
"Arcade Classics"
"Sports Games Collection"
"Rarities Re-release"

The only thing they'd have to do is make sure it's high quality.  Don't skimp.  99% compatible.  Use the old controller and console designs as much as possible. 

 

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