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Entertainment Earth

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Retro Gaming Nerds Presents - The Atari 7800


Released in the US May 1986, and the EU in 1987. The Atari 7800 was originally going to be released two years prior as a direct successor to the failed Atari 5200 that was discontinued in 1984. Due to the video game market crash of 1985, the 7800 was delayed. An additional contributing factor to the delayed release is the sale of Atari to Jack Tramiel. How the 7800 was handled under Tramiel has been under heavy discussion amongst fan groups for years.

The Atari 7800 was the console to redeem Atari in the eyes of their fans. The 6502C processor was significantly more powerful than those found in any console at the time the system was being developed by General Computer Corporation (GCC). It was backwards compatible right out of the box with no alterations, or peripherals. It also had the graphics power to bring home the arcade games faithfully, unlike any other console prior to it.

The Atari 7800 was plagued with issues, however. First off, the sound was the weakest aspect of the system. The system motherboard had the 2600 hardware onboard for backwards compatibility. This eliminated the ability to add a better sound chip.  For example, Dig Dug for the VCS/2600, and the 7800 both had identical sound effects and music. GCC worked around this by allowing the cartridges to have the POKEY sound chip included. No games included this chip, except for BallBlazer and Commando.

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