flashback

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Is the retrogaming community too entitled?

Intellivision FlashbackIntellivision FlashbackAfter spending quite a bit of time recently on various discussion forums on AtariAge and Facebook, it has really struck me more than usual how incredibly demanding our retrogaming community (and gaming community at large) is, and how entitled, as the title of this blog post states, some people come off as. This is of course nothing new, going back to the days in the late 1990s when MAME developers would get criticized or even threatened when someone's favorite game wasn't properly emulated, as if the monumental task of emulating what is now thousands of arcade machines, for free, wasn't stressful enough, or otherwise rewarding for the end user. It was the one game that was the deal breaker among the countless other games and the incredible accomplishment in and of itself.

Of course, this kind of criticism has continued since. In my reviews over the past few years of the Atari Flashbacks 3 and 4, Sega Classic Console, and other similar devices, the negativity around those releases from viewers was often frequent and loud. Whether it wasn't getting the sound quite right in the Sega stuff, or missing a personal favorite game in the Atari stuff, the vitriol flew fast and furious. This included statements like, "No game x? It's a fail," or "The sound isn't quite right so I couldn't possibly use it." That's fine - individually we can dislike things for any reason we so choose - but then going on to state that people are idiots for buying it, or why would anyone want it, etc., and then going on what seems like a personal crusade to criticize said device at every possible opportunity (and, as we know, the Internet provides lots of opportunities) shows a remarkable lack of perspective. Take the examples in this paragraph. You're talking devices with say, 80 built-in games and original style controllers that typically retail for just $40. Can't we consider that maybe it might be OK to accept a few trade offs for something so low cost that offers relatively so much? Not for some, because apparently that one missing game is a personal affront or that tinny sound makes it completely worthless. [Read more]

Bill Loguidice's picture

Sega Arcade Classic and Arcade Ultimate Portable Review - Part 2: An Armchair Arcade Exclusive Video Review

In this video, I continue (part 1) my exclusive early look at the Sega Arcade Classic wireless game console and Sega Arcade Ultimate Portable handheld player from AtGames, both of which will be released in the US in time for the holidays. The new wired six button controller is also discussed.

Download the video here (has center watermark due to needing to compress file for download).

Bill Loguidice's picture

Atari Flashback 4 Review - Part 2: An Armchair Arcade Exclusive Video Review

In this video, I continue (part one) my exclusive early look at the Atari Flashback 4 from AtGames, which will be released in the US in time for the holidays. Look for part 2 of Armchair Arcade's other exclusive video review, coming soon, on several new Sega-related products from AtGames, which will also be released in time for the US holiday season.

EDIT: I mistakenly said 80 games with the Flashback 4. It's 75 games. The YouTube video has been updated with an annotation.

Download the video here (no annotation).

Bill Loguidice's picture

Sega Arcade Classic and Arcade Ultimate Portable Review: An Armchair Arcade Exclusive Video Review

In this video, I take an exclusive early look at the Sega Arcade Classic wireless game console and Sega Arcade Ultimate Portable handheld player from AtGames, both of which will be released in the US in time for the holidays. This is part 1. Part 2, which will be released a week or so after, will feature more live footage to get an even better sense of the quality of the systems and their capabilities.

Download the video here.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Atari Flashback 4 Review: An Armchair Arcade Exclusive Video Review

In this video, I take an exclusive early look at the Atari Flashback 4 from AtGames, which will be released in the US in time for the holidays. This is part 1. Part 2, which will be released a week or so after, will feature more live footage to get an even better sense of the quality of the system and its capabilities. Look for part 1 of 2 of Armchair Arcade's next exclusive video review, coming soon, on several new Sega-related products from AtGames, which will also be released in time for the US holiday season.

Download the video here.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Atari Flashback 3 Review and Video

NOTE: This is now the audio-fixed version of the video review, with much quieter in-game audio.

(Download the mp4)

Today I'll be taking a look at Atari's new Flashback 3, which, despite the name, is actually the fourth major Flashback system released. I reviewed the first Atari Flashback way back in 2004, when it was first released. Unfortunately, Legacy Engineering Group (LEG) was apparently only given 10 weeks to create the system from scratch and therefore had no choice but to rely on a NES-On-A-Chip (NOAC) to power the product. Since the goal of the Flashback was to deliver both a plug-and-play Atari 2600 and 7800 experience, this was definitely too tall of an order for what amounted to a Nintendo Entertainment System clone, particularly given the limited time to optimize the game simulations.

While the first Flashback clearly disappointed anyone remotely familiar with any of the 20 first party 2600 and 7800 games it clumsily simulated, the upside was that it sold enough for Atari to order production of a Flashback 2. This time LEG did have the time to do it right, and, while they dropped all efforts to replicate the 7800 experience, they ended up developing what amounted to an "Atari 2600-on-a-chip," whose high accuracy more than made up for the omission. Released in 2005, the Flashback 2 came with a mix of over 40 original, prototype, hacked, and homebrew Atari 2600 games. While the first Flashback was styled like a miniature 7800, the Flashback 2 was styled like a miniature Atari 2600 VCS, complete with simulated woodgrain. As a bonus, the two included joysticks were pin compatible with the originals, meaning they could be used on other systems that worked with Atari-style joysticks. This also meant that you could use original paddle controllers with the Flashback 2 to play the hidden paddle games. This was in direct contrast to the first Flashback, which merely converted its paddle games to make use of the joystick, which again, was not the way you wanted to experience those games. As a final bonus for those with the requisite skillset, the Flashback 2 could be hacked to add a cartridge port, which outside of a few relatively minor compatibility quirks, made it an ideal modern revision of the original Atari 2600 hardware, particularly since it had default composite video output rather than RF.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain - Expect More, Get Less

Basic Fun's Officially Licensed Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain Series: {Image from the Basic Fun Website}Basic Fun's Officially Licensed Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain Series: {Image from the Basic Fun Website}While this is hardly breaking news, it's been interesting to follow some of the drama around the "Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain" series from "Basic Fun". The first part of the drama involves the company's falling out with engineer Curt Vendel, most famous for being the lead on the "Atari Flashback" and "Atari Flashback 2.0" products, and launching "Awesome Arcades". The second and more relevant part of the drama involves the simple fact that these products, amazing form factor and low price aside ($15 each), are awful simulations, seemingly ignoring all the progress made over the past few years in TV Game quality (in fact, reverting back to the NES-on-a-chip of the first Flashback, which has been proven unable to properly simulate Atari 2600 games!). Perhaps "Basic Fun" should have just went with the quality product that Curt had originally delivered for them, rather than scrapping it and doing the products on the super cheap!

While the "Atari Flashback" was a weak simulation of both the Atari 7800 and 2600 systems using the readily available NES-on-a-chip as the platform, the "Atari Flashback 2.0" rectified this by incorporating a clever Atari 2600-on-a-chip, almost perfectly emulating the original hardware. After that and the prior "Commodore 64 30-in-1" (which essentially featured a C-64-on-a-chip), it's hard to go back to the kind of innaccuracies that are present in these keychain devices. Bottom line, the bar has been raised and we truly have the right to expect more, based simply on precedent and the countless other TV Games devices out there that do offer more authentic experiences, even of latter day systems like the Sega Genesis or arcade machines.

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