Jump to content

Unreleased Atari Super XE Game System


Justin
 Share

Recommended Posts

Another Atari console on the horizon for 1989. Just what everybody was asking for:

 

 

Just so we're clear for 1989:

  • Atari 2600
  • Atari 7800
  • Atari Lynx
  • Atari XEGS
  • Atari XE Computers
  • Atari ST Computers
  • Atari Portfolio
  • and now the Atari Mirai / Super XE

All taking space on store shelves at the same time. Atari should’ve focused their efforts on ONE game console to kill the NES. In my opinion Atari Corp. should have refined the Atari 7800 slightly with an improved "Atari 7800 Mk.II" before re-releasing the game system in 1986. Add more memory and a POKEY or Yamaha sound chip on board, and bundle in two of the 7800 D-Pad Controllers that were released in Europe. The Atari 7800 Keyboard should have been released with an ANTIC Chip, SIO and cartridge slots that would add reverse compatibility to the 7800 for the Atari 8-Bit Computers and Atari 5200. Release awesome games, advertise effectively, treat people right and pay vendors, problem solved.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After 1982 or so, Atari was a company that made terrible design decisions.  There should have never been a 5200 as it was released.  At that point, it was using 5 year old technology in a gigantic package with bad controllers.  Would the XEGS been a better system in it's place?  My gut says yes.  Even though the hardware was identical, it had better controllers and more games immediately available.  Still, they should have come up with something new.  Like the 7800. 

The 7800 could have been awesome, but even it had issues.  Those controllers, for example.  The lack of an improved sound chip also. 

As you imply, the company was doomed with the cheapo Tramiels in charge.  Such a shame. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In terms of the home market, I think that the Atari of 1989 should have stuck with the 7800; enhancing games through the carts and releasing the game pad that was available in Europe to U.S. customers.  Splitting their marketing and development dollars between the 2600 Jr., 7800 and XEGS made little sense. Outside of sound, the 7800 was superior to the A8 and held it's own compared to the NES and SMS. 

In 1989, the A8 tech was more than a decade old.  It was not something that should have been invested in. In terms of the XEGS - while that would have been great in 1982 - by the time they released it and the budget XE line - it wasn't compelling.  And I say this as a kid who got one at 10 years old and has a lot of love for the system. Had Atari Corps been savvy, they might have consolized the ST and beat Sega and Nintendo to 16-bit; complete with a library of incredible games. That's something I could get behind. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Atari made a pile of bad decisions once Warner took over.  In regards to the home market, after the 8-bit computers were released in 1979, Atari didn't release any new hardware under Warner, which is truly shameful considering all the time and money that was spend on developing new hardware internally.  On top of it, they turned to GCC to design their next game console.  Quite simply, under Ray Kassar, Atari was brain dead.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, RickR said:

After 1982 or so, Atari was a company that made terrible design decisions.  There should have never been a 5200 as it was released.  At that point, it was using 5 year old technology in a gigantic package with bad controllers.  Would the XEGS been a better system in it's place?  My gut says yes.  Even though the hardware was identical, it had better controllers and more games immediately available.  Still, they should have come up with something new.  Like the 7800. 

The 7800 could have been awesome, but even it had issues.  Those controllers, for example.  The lack of an improved sound chip also. 

As you imply, the company was doomed with the cheapo Tramiels in charge.  Such a shame. 

To it's defense, the 7800 does not get the credit it very well deserves.  Any game console that can handle 100 sprites without breaking a sweat is amazing on its own.  Have you every played Ballblazer on the 7800?  By adding POKEY to the game cartridge the sounds got boosted from 2 channels to 6 channels.  GCC was working on a 7800 specific sound processor but the sale of Atari from Warner to Jack caused that project to be cancelled.  Nevertheless, don't underestimate that little 7800.  It's capable of a lot more magic than anyone has yet to see.  It's only limitations are the amount of experience one has programming it, how much more they are willing to learn, and how much time and patients they are willing to spend on it. 

Out of all of the consoles Atari released the 7800 is by far the only one with the largest amount of flexibility.  Not even the mighty NES can do half the things the 7800 can.  The only reason the NES became such a success was because of the games it received.  That and Nintendo's exclusive contract that block other consoles from getting similar games.  If done right the 7800 can blow the NES out of the water.  Jaguar could have been a huge success as well but it's 2 MB of total system memory bottlenecked the system.  2 MB is not much when you are working with JPEG and PNG images combined with music using sound samples.  2 MB goes quick with game resources alone.  For an example consider Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM.  On PC those games took at least 2 MB just to install (DOOM took 4 MB).  You had to have at least a PC with 2 MB of RAM just to play them.  Jag's Wolf 3D was tailored just for the Jaguar while the Jag port of DOOM was the exact PC port.  Music was missing because the extra system RAM needed was missing in the Jaguar.  If they would have doubled up on Jaguar's RAM it would have been capable of a LOT more.  As it stands, and I stand behind what I say, the 7800 is the only Atari console without the limitations of other game consoles.

As for the XEGS...it should have came between the 2600 and the 7800 as much as I hate to go against the 5200.  I never had issues with my 5200 when I was growing up with it only because it got played everyday which kept it from having a chance to fail.  But for the XEGS to have been a larger success it would have had to offer a different controller option besides the standard 2600 joysticks/controllers.  It would also have needed games that stepped away from the usual games that console and computer gamers might have already played.  All of Atari's consoles up to the 16-bit era lacked games people want to play.  Only the 2600 got the games that were really different while being fun.  Lynx did OK...Jaguar had a few but nothing on the scale it should have.  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 7800 gets underestimated because of the sound.  The console was originally designed for expansion of its capabilities.  It is unfortruante that the Tramiels didn't see the console as such and delayed the launch and never pursued any of the expansion capabilities of the system.  

🖖 Going to the final frontier, gaming...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After watching the video, a Super XEGS had some impressive specs.  I'm not entirely sure that it would have made much of a difference considering how poorly Jack supported his hardware.  I don't think he quite understood that hardware doesn't sell itself, it's all about the software.  It's always been about the software.  Space Invaders sold the 2600 when it came out.  Pac-Man sold the 2600.  Super Mario sold the NES.  Sonic sold the Genesis and Dreamcast.  Halo sold the XBOX.  The proof is there that solid software sells hardware.

It would have been interesting to see this Super XEGS in action but it might have been unnoticed in the crowded consoles already on the market and fixing to come out.  But it almost looks like it had a 32-bit system bus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would had been possible to combine the Atari 8 bit chips onto a single chip, they were attempting it already when Tramiel took over and canceled the project. Think it was CGIA, they probably could had put Maria in there with a register to switch between them. 

I agree they should had done a 7800 mark 2, include Pokey and fill the first 16k with RAM minus the locations used for chip register areas. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been down the 8-Bit XE/XEGS rabbit hole lately. Not sure why really but it landed me here (it's been a while!)

Sadly the video is gone so I'm missing a bit of context as to what this is all really about but seeing that the Atari Mirai casing is most like the SuperXE Game Console is fascinating to me. Personally...and quite honestly, I've always found the pastel colored buttons to be hideous. Outside of that, I owned an XEGS once when I was a teenager. Had a dream about this game machine and tons of carts at a thrift store, went a few days later and sure enough there was this most bizarre XE game console with about a dozen carts for all of $20. Of course I bought it.

Not sure why I got rid of it but looking back now after researching it all again, some newly discovered (non-closed minded) things about it are starting to stand out.

1. You have to truly appreciate that Atari got the composite video output right on this one! I still can't believe it wasn't offered out of the box on the Jaguar in 1993 but was included on a repackaged Atari XE system in 1987.

2. 99% of most 8bit Atari computer games at the time didn't need a keyboard. This was a nice consolized version of a great computer. One that I couldn't love though because the pastel Easter egg color buttons just screamed wonk to me. However.... I've got a solution for that now... and now I want an XEGS again.

3. Something seems amiss. It's 1986.... Atari releases the 7800 in the U.S. and includes the Pro-Line joysticks. They would later release the XEGS and Euro or PAL version of the 7800 in 1987. The same year they included the supposedly coined CX78 joypads for the inclusion with the 7800. Sure, many claim it was in response to the NES but.... why only the PAL version and not in the U.S.?

Which brings me to another very seemingly non-coincidental design choice.... that the XEGS was supposed to include or use the XE joypads. From a design standpoint, it makes 100% sense:

xe.jpg.847b01403a9c89e253edc7673389a3fb.jpg

So here you have the triangled XE system in the left corner... and XE text on the top right. I was thinking, wait a minute. That looks STRIKINGLY SIMILAR to something else....

Well... well... well... what else has a sharp triangle cut corner and big bold buttons? The CX78 *ahem* Atari XEGS Joypad:

cx.jpg.3012a8426a4c0d7b3af2934677d1830f.jpg

Even the backside of the CX78 joypad shares the top lines of the XEGS....

cxbottom.jpg.27bc9af2f76f6e7f98779a7cc05e19f0.jpg

So are those red buttons supposed to be pastel and ugly colored too or is red the way to go? Either way, I now feel like that the XEGS joypads were ditched in favor of being released with the 7800 in a too little, too late attempt. Though why not include it with the XEGS in the first place if that actually were the case? The CX78 joypads certainly flows more with the design aesthetics of the XEGS than the 7800, just as the Jaguar joypads flowed more with the lines of the unreleased Panther than it does with the Jaguar (since they actually were Panther joypads repurposed for the Jaguar after all). We have data design disks that confirm that, stating Panther controller drawings and sure enough, it's the Jaguar joypad.

Does anyone have the Atari 7800 action set poster or a picture of it handy? I did a quick google search but came up empty handed.

Tell me the CX78 isn't a repurposed XEGS joypad. Change my mind.

xegsblack.jpg.9dc521dc6b47918156256431d0fe3017.jpg

Edited by Clint Thompson

7800 - 130XE - Lynx - Jaguar - ISO: Atari Falcon030 | Atari XEGS

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, Clint Thompson said:

3. Something seems amiss. It's 1986.... Atari releases the 7800 in the U.S. and includes the Pro-Line joysticks. They would later release the XEGS and Euro or PAL version of the 7800 in 1987. The same year they included the supposedly coined CX78 joypads for the inclusion with the 7800. Sure, many claim it was in response to the NES but.... why only the PAL version and not in the U.S.?

EXCELLENT question. I asked this directly of Atari at the time and they had no answer.

 

17 minutes ago, Clint Thompson said:

I now feel like that the XEGS joypads were ditched in favor of being released with the 7800 in a too little, too late attempt.

We didn't even get the pleasure of having the Control Pads packaged with newer 7800 systems or officially released in the United States. I used to call Atari all the time and ask if these were available, either retail or directly from Atari. (Always spoke with my girl at the front desk, Geraldine). The answer was always "NO". I had to import them from Europe and became one of the first to do so from what I've been told.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, RickR said:

I have an XEGS around here somewhere that had been spray painted black.  I'll have to find it and post a pic.  It looks pretty cool that way.

And I think you are on to something with that gamepad connection.  Unmistakable resemblance. 

That would be cool to see! I've got to find an XEGS now 😄

Even though the buttons are small, they still share that round, smooth bubbly button look from the XE. It's so painfully obvious that I can't un-see it now.

6 minutes ago, Justin said:

EXCELLENT question. I asked this directly of Atari at the time and they had no answer.

We didn't even get the pleasure of having the Control Pads packaged with newer 7800 systems or officially released in the United States. I used to call Atari all the time and ask if these were available, either retail or directly from Atari. (Always spoke with my girl at the front desk, Geraldine). The answer was always "NO". I had to import them from Europe and became one of the first to do so from what I've been told.

That's so bizarre. I've never heard confirmation as to why and it's always been one of those things that never made any sense to me as to why. Maybe a legality thing but that doesn't seem to add up either since surely it would extend to Europe if true. The fact that a U.S. company would do this is not only confusing but also kind of infuriating. Though I've heard from others stating their dislike for the joypads. Given the option to the pro-lines though?

What's this about you having a go to Atari girl named Geraldine? Wowzah! 😉

Edited by Clint Thompson

7800 - 130XE - Lynx - Jaguar - ISO: Atari Falcon030 | Atari XEGS

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Join the Atari Party! :donkey_kong_big:

    How lucky are you that you've finally found this place?
    It's time to join the best kept secret in classic gaming.
    Membership is limited, so let's get started! :wreck-it-ralph:

     

×
×
  • Create New...