Friday, September 3, 2010

Anyone Remember the Atari 7800?

Radio Shack and I just hooked up an Atari 7800 to play some 'One-on-One Dr. J vs. Larry Bird' (being from Chicago, I do prefer Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird but I digress). While I have to jiggle the power supply a little each time before I turn it on, it does still work after nearly 25 years.

I always felt sorry for the Atari 7800, it got screwed. If released when it was supposed to in 1984, it would have had a shot but Atari was sold and the 7800 was shelved for two more years where it then had to be in direct competition with the NES and Master System. On top of that, the 5200 sucked and pretty much everyone knew it so some were hesitant to give the 7800 a chance. And, to add insult to injury, Nintendo, being the control freak/being smart businessmen and women, required all their third-party software developers sign a contract not allowing them to make third-party titles for any other system. The 7800 had no shot.

I always wondered what would have happened if the 7800 had been released and given full support in 1984. That would have been a year before the NES and two years before the Sega Master System. Would gamers of the 80's who had purchased a 7800 be willing to snag an NES too? Would the increased third-party support have made better titles that appealed to the masses? Oh well, I guess we will never know. While by no means as good as either of NES or Sega, it did have some ok games. 'Food Fight' stands out, 'Pole Position II' was pretty good, and its rendition of 'Double Dragon' was ok. Plus, it was compatible with all 2600 games that people had sitting around in boxes from the late 70's. Poor, poor 7800.

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