Middle-aged gamer's collection #36-#42 - The rest of the Atari 7800 games

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Tower Toppler (Atari 7800)Tower Toppler (Atari 7800)#36 - #42 - The rest of my 7800 collection

While the old 7800 is connected up I may as well cover the other games I have, including a homebrew effort.

Donkey Kong While this isn't a favourite 7800 game this version isn't bad at all. I really enjoyed playing for this post and found it hard to put the controller down. The sound is the main problem (the music is horrible) and the graphics look at bit squashed - maybe that's a PAL issue. The gameplay remains compulsive however and is testament to the designer who I understand has gone on to bigger and better things :)

Control is responsive and while the options are basic - difficulty levels and straight 1 or 2 players, its a game worth getting but only if you don't have the NES version. Its missing the conveyor belt level as most other versions do.

Planet Smashers This is a shmup I reviewed in the old AA site. Here's the link. http://www.armchairarcade.com/aamain/forum_viewtopic.php?7.21797

It starts of quite slow but does warm up once you get powered up and make some progress. There are enough features to make it worthwhile picking up but the sounds and "music" will have you reaching for the volume control.

Ball Blazer A so-called "super" game which has the POKEY chip in the cartridge for better sounds. Not a favourite of mine this but then I haven't tried it in 2 player which is the way it should be played. A 2 player split screen futuristic sports game with basic but clean graphics and 9 selectable CPU levels.

Dig Dug I like the arcade game but this version leaves me cold. The play area seems very small - no doubt made worse by non-PAL optimisation and it just doesn't appeal to me. The big ugly score/lives display puts me off too. The sound is OK and control is fine and the game seems to have all the features of the original.

Galaga There is much debate online about this version compared to the NES version. Its OK but you have to play it at expert level to get the feel of the original - lower levels are just too slow. Sounds are OK but tunes are horrible. Basic difficulty levels and a 1 or 2 player game is on offer.

Tower Toppler A triumph of looks over gameplay. The idea isn't bad but its a very frustrating game due to the high level of difficulty. You have to ascend a tower by climbing up the outside - following an upward spiralling path. The tower rotation effect is very well done but some effort on the difficulty curve wouldn't have gone amiss. You can skip levels by using the diff A/B switches on the console though.

Pacman Collection A very impressive homebrew effort. Lots of versions of Pacman squeezed onto one cartridge including some bootleg arcade versions. Plays very well and is beautifully presented. Loads of options and an original "plus" mode is available for each mode. Don't be fooled by the "random maze" mode - it doesn't generate random mazes - instead it picks mazes from all the versions on the cartridge. An excellent game well worth picking up. It is very addictive and those extra modes keep you playing. Excellent sound effects too.

Now that I'm in the footage capture groove here's another video of the games playing on my PAL 7800...

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Matt Barton
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That Tower Toppler game looks

That Tower Toppler game looks very familiar; I seem to remember something like it on the C-64. Is it a clone or are there clones of it?

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Bill Loguidice
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TT
Matt Barton wrote:

That Tower Toppler game looks very familiar; I seem to remember something like it on the C-64. Is it a clone or are there clones of it?

Tower Toppler made its way onto many, many platforms back in the day and went by several different names, including Nebulus and Castelian. It was mostly known for the slick tower rotation animation. Otherwise the gameplay was pretty much take it or leave it kind of stuff.

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Mark Vergeer
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Love the games!

I very much like the 7800, a shame the PAL machine won't play NTSC carts as the NTSC library of games is more extensive then the PAL library but still here in PAL country we got a fair share of games.

The pacman collection is one of my favorite carts for the system! I am glad they decided to create a PAL release of that.

Great video!

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Bill Loguidice
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I always liked the 7800 too

I always liked the 7800 too and I'm happy to have one with a video mod. It's very versatile. It's just a shame POKEY's didn't find their way into more cartridges, or, better yet, they just put a POKEY onboard. The Atari 2600 sound always bugged me. It was great at moving lots of objects onscreen, though. I wasn't a fan of the joystick version of the controller that we got for most things, but the gamepad that Europe got is OK. Atari only had a few really good home controllers suprisingly. The two top of my head are the Atari 2600 joystick and the Jaguar Pro Controller. I'd probably put the 7800 gamepad a distant third if I had to rank those three. Obviously the various keypads, paddles and spinner were pretty good too, though the original paddle from Commodore was much more precise.

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Rowdy Rob
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No POKEY = ear torture!
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I always liked the 7800 too and I'm happy to have one with a video mod. It's very versatile. It's just a shame POKEY's didn't find their way into more cartridges, or, better yet, they just put a POKEY onboard. The Atari 2600 sound always bugged me.

The lack of an onboard POKEY chip appears to have had DEVASTATING consequences on the quality of the games presented in davyk's videos! The sound in most of the games is just atrocious, and seriously makes the games seem like last-generation tech, and is very difficult to get past.

The "PacMan Collection" looks like a very good selection, and sounds just fine, though. Did it have an onboard POKEY? Obviously "Ball Blazer" had the Pokey, since it sounds exactly like the Atari 8-bit version.

As for Tower Toppler, I've only played a homebrew remake for modern machines, but I always thought that it was a standout game for the C-64, visually! The tower effect is still mesmerizing! It appears that the video for the 7800 version demonstrated here seems severely corrupted, though. Surely it didn't actually look like that during gameplay?

davyK
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As far as I'm aware, Pacman

As far as I'm aware, Pacman Collection has no POKEY on-board. The sound is just well designed. The developer used 32K to play with on the cart so presumably that left room for more music/sound data.

The videos are pretty much as they appear on screen. The Tower Toppler footage does seem to have a dark verticle line near centre-screen which looks like effects brought on by a combo of the different steps I had to use to capture the footage and whatever processing youtube applies to an uploaded video. Actual gameplay on a TV does look a bit better in this case. Click on the image Bill was kind enough to attach to the article and you will see the video isn't that far off.

Rowdy Rob
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Sound chips and Tower Toppler
davyK wrote:

As far as I'm aware, Pacman Collection has no POKEY on-board. The sound is just well designed. The developer used 32K to play with on the cart so presumably that left room for more music/sound data.

I recall reading that Atari was developing a super-duper sound chip called the "Amy" back in the day, but development of the chip was cut short before the chip was mass-produced. It's a shame the 7800 couldn't have benefited from such a chip. If I recall, the specs were superior to the Amiga's and the Apple IIGS's sound capabilities!

davyK wrote:

The videos are pretty much as they appear on screen.

Well, the graphics look..... strange to me. They're oddly monochromatic, and the C64 version looks leagues better! Yes, the 7800 looked so odd to me that I thought there was something wrong with the video!

klaxer
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Matt Barton wrote: That Tower
Matt Barton wrote:

That Tower Toppler game looks very familiar; I seem to remember something like it on the C-64. Is it a clone or are there clones of it?

Original (european) version called "Nebulus". And this title special was wrote for C-64 by John M. Phillips in 1987 and released by Hewson. "Tower Toppler" - US-version was distributed by U.S. Gold for other platforms.

You can watch longplay of C-64's "Nebulus" here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acp9ixaKFZk

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