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Who had one of these back when they were new?

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The Atari 7800 is a marvelous system indeed. It is filled with great versions of existing games (mainly arcade titles), like Food Fight, Xevious, and One-on-One. It is a worthy successor to the phenomenal 2600 indeed. Only problem, it was released way too late. Had this system fully launched in 1984 as it was supposed to, we might be singing a different tune, but as it is Nintendo ended up being the undisputed king of the 3rd console generation with its Entertainment System.

The poor ProSystem was shoved to the side not only by Nintendo but also Sega and its Master System. The 7800 was too little too late, that's for sure. It's great arcade ports, which would have blown minds in 1984, looked long in the tooth and obsolete by the time the system saw a wide release in 1986. By that time, Nintendo had ushered in a new era of video games with Super Mario Brothers in 1985 and Metroid and Zelda in 1986 (in Japan on the Famicom Disk System, that is). What's more, soundtracks in video games were becoming normalized and were something the 7800's TIA chip could not easily reproduce. Sadly, the Atari 7800 and its amazing library were left in the dust, forgotten by future generations of gamers. The Atari 7800 became a mere footnote in video game history when it could have easily revitalized the industry like Nintendo did.

But that isn't fair. The Atari 7800 is a fabulous system indeed, maybe even eclipsing the NES in greatness with its backwards compatibility with 2600 games (maybe). It definitely deserves more recognition than it gets. It's a little funny, honestly. I grew up with an NES and played even more of it emulated on my Wii. Now that I own the 7800 as well, I don't know which one to side with! They're both great systems worth owning, but whenever I talk about the 7800 I have to bring up the NES, and I can't not sound like I'm hating on it.

 

Anyways, as many of you know, I wasn't around when the 7800 was on store shelves. I can only experience this system in retrospect. However, I do know that the 7800 wasn't nearly as popular as the NES. Not many people had this system. I do know that a few of you (@nosweargamer and @Atari 5200 Guy in particular) did have this system back in the day, and I was wondering if any more people did too. I'd love to hear your stories about the system. Were you happy with the system or were you jealous of NES owners? What were some of your favorite games and best memories with the system? If you want to, you can share your 7800 experiences here. Thanks! :atari_7800:

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I didn't have one.  I was an avid gamer and loved Atari.  I had no idea the system existed.  By the time of it's release, the video game magazines had all gone out of business due to the crash.  I don't recall ever seeing one at Toys R Us or Kay Bee or any store really.  I did know of the Lynx.  And when the Jaguar came out later, I heard of that one.  

One more piece of the puzzle for you Harry.  The NES floundered at first.  It wasn't until Super Mario Bros was released that the system took off like a rocket.  It is entirely possible that the NES, SMS, and 7800 could have all been duds or minor hits without SMB.  

So when people play the "what if" game with the 7800, it is my opinion that the system would have never been a hit due to the lack of innovative software.  

 

 

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I got it when I was in college, in 1986 or 87.  I can't quite remember which year it was.  I loved having the system because I could also played my most favorite 2600 games on it.  I didn't care that I played using a 5" black and white TV screen!  In fact, here is a picture of the TV I used to play it on back then!

 

tV.jpg

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I also received my first A2600 in 1982. My mother bought it from her sister for about $130.00 in 1982 dollar figures. It's gone now, probably stolen, but I have an A2600 Jr Short Rainbow that still works. It's a lot of fun even to this very day.

Edited by DegasElite

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Wow, I turn around to go see @James Campbell Jr.'s Spider Fighter stream and this thread is blowing up!

@TrekMD That's a cool TV. I've never seen one like that before. Both of my 12 inch CRTs have spent time in UW Stevens Point.

@DegasElite sorry about your stolen 2600. A2600Jr. is either really ugly or super cool to me, depending on my mood. I am a Vader fan, personally.

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Yeah. I used to have an A2600 Darth Vader as well. I don't remember what happened to that system. But, that is gone, too. Unfortunately. Here are the A2600 systems I want to find:

Heavy Sixer

Light Sixer

Darth Vader

A2600 Jr Long Rainbow

Those variations of that system would be happy campers in my Atari collection. Let me tell you. :O)

They only redesigned the A2600 as the Junior to make it look like the A5200 and A7800. That's what I noticed anyway and it seems pretty obvious.

Edited by DegasElite

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2 minutes ago, DegasElite said:

They only redesigned the A2600 as the Junior to make it look like the A5200 and A7800. That's what I noticed anyway and it seems pretty obvious.

It is quite apparent. It looks more like the 7800 than the 5200 to me (probably because they were being marketed simultaneously). Personally the Junior looks a bit too flat to me and it looks a bit strange compared to the other two with its switches. I didn't know there were multiple variations of the Junior.

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3 hours ago, RickR said:

One more piece of the puzzle for you Harry.  The NES floundered at first.  It wasn't until Super Mario Bros was released that the system took off like a rocket.  It is entirely possible that the NES, SMS, and 7800 could have all been duds or minor hits without SMB.

Wasn't SMB a launch title? Even at the test launch in New York I am pretty sure it showed up. I am almost 100% positive it was at the nationwide launch of the system in. Either that or it showed up very, very, very soon after the test launch and still in 1985. Or are you referring to how the NES struggled to find places that were willing to sell it? That is true; the NES had to market itself as a toy and include a freaking robot to get on store shelves.

I suppose that the 7800 could have also had a hard time finding a place on store shelves as well, though it might have gotten there easier as it was a year earlier than the NES and the switch to gaming on home computers was only starting and was in a lesser effect than what it was later. I don't know and didn't do any research on this, so I'm kind of talking out of my butt right now.

What I'm trying to say is, maybe the 7800 would have had an easier time in 1984 than the NES did in 1985.

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I thought SMB didn't come out until 1986 in the USA.  I know it wasn't the pack-in game until later.  I could be wrong -- everyone knows my memory is faulty sometimes.  

Nintendo had to get creative to get the NES in toy stores.  As you mention, Atari probably would have had a difficult time too -- especially with all the bridges they had burned in the past.  It is possible the 7800 would have some success if released in 84, but they really needed a killer game to become a phenomenon like the NES did.  Just my opinion, of course.  It's a complete unknown what kind of software would have come out had the cheapo Tramiels not killed any chance of momentum.  

It also can't be overstated how much better the NES controllers were.  Think about it...that simple little gamepad became the basis for every single controller we've seen since.  

 

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Back in the day, I only knew about the 4-switch woodgrain 2600, 4 port 5200, and later the Lynx. I hadn't known about the various 2600 models, 7800 nor Jaguar until recent years.

I'm still very new to Atari consoles, and have spent most of my time this year with 2600 games and some 5200 and very little 7800 games. I love the 2600 and 5200 games, but to be honest, the games from the 7800 era, including NES, haven't grown on me yet. The graphics and color palette just seem a little foreign to me. I think it's probably just a matter of spending more time with the games. The first time I played 7800 Xevious several months ago, I was very turned off by the flat graphics and color, but playing it recently, I have a much better appreciation for it. And the story is the same with 7800 Asteroids.

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You may be right, @HDN.  I had forgotten there were two NES releases.  It was the national release that they had the three different bundles, right?  And one or two of them had SMB.  

In any case, great game.  Such a fascinating history in it's creation.  

 

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@RickR You're right, it wasn't a pack-in at the test launch, but I'm pretty sure it was there. Unless Jeremy Parish hath deceived me. He's been covering some early 7800 titles recently. You should check him out if you haven't already.

And you're also right about the NES controller. I personally enjoy the ProLine, but it just isn't as good and doesn't work well for as many styles of games.

"Killer game for 1984..." I'm not sure. Maybe Food Fight or Robotron 2084.

@socrates63 there are some really good games in the third generation console libraries, like Super Mario Brothers 2, Yo Noid, Food Fight, Master System Sonic 1, the list goes on. I think if you got into it, you'd find a lot you would enjoy. There are lots of titles that suit the tastes of second-gen gamers like yourself, too, besides the more adventurey ones like Zelda and Metroid.

Curse the Tramiels!!!

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11 hours ago, socrates63 said:

😧 This is the reason why I don't have complete love and nostalgia for the XE and ST line to this day although I owned them back in 80s.

Ah, yes, you're the Atari computer guy. I forgot for a moment. My mom used to have an 800. The XE-era computers might have the title of most obscure Atari systems that were actually released. The XE Food Fight port looks terrible! 

11 hours ago, DegasElite said:

My sentiments exactly.

Yup. Glad to see everyone here agrees.

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