News Article

Atari 2600 Version of LIT?

Posted by Corbie Dillard

For those of you out there who are old enough to be familiar with the beloved Atari 2600 console, here's an interesting little article for you.

It seems that one of the developers from Wayforward believes that any game design worth its weight in gold should be able to be executed on the old Atari 2600 game console. He even goes so far as to work up some screenshots of what the game might look like as well as a step-by-step description of how the game would play using the old single-button Atari joystick.

It's an interesting article and will definitely be worth a look for those who can appreciate how the game might have been on the classic Atari 2600 VCS.

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Source: AtariAge Forum

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User Comments (46)

7th_lutz

#4

7th_lutz said:

I first read about this last week at Atariage.

The pictures are not bad for an Atari 2600 game. I am judging this by all the Atari 2600 games that I own including 3 homebrew 2600 game cartridges.

A game like LIT could be 32k or 64k in memory for an Atari 2600 game by using bankswitching if it is being programmed in this decade. The only 64k Atari 2600 game in existence is called
2007 AtariAge Holiday Cart: Stella's Stocking. Info on that game is found at http://www.atariage.com/software_page.html?SoftwareLabelID=2779.

That type of memory for an Atari 2600 game couldn't happened over 20 years ago due to cost.

DazzaAdmin

#5

Dazza said:

I agree, any game worth its salt could also be made taking into account the limitations of a Atari 2600 game.

My vote goes to Mega Man 2600! :-p

7th_lutz

#8

7th_lutz said:

@Toddr,

Atari 2600 games are not supposed look better than Wiiware games a first place. It doesn't exactly mean a 2600 version wouldn't be fun to play though.

It is up to the programmer.

Atari 2600 games can be fun or addicting depending the genre or game. Games like Demon Attack, Midnight Magic, Jr. Pac-man, Space Invaders, and River Raid are fun games to play despite the graphics. They are just as fun to play this year as they were for me back in the 1980's.

thewiirocks

#10

thewiirocks said:

@Objection_Blaster & anthonyb - You'd be amazed how deep the 2600 community gets. I previously wondered what the point was when I first found AtariAge. Mostly it seems to be a case of "because we can", but a lot of it is just the fun of working with a highly limited system. Counting cycles when programming is foreign to most programmers today, but it's a necessity on the 2600. There are few better ways of getting a feel for the history of computing than writing such games. Not to mention the way the alternative trains of thought can help you develop better games on modern systems. ;)

@Corbie - So go get one! The blasted things are common as dirt. If you're located here in the midwest, you can hit the Midwest Gaming Classic Show on the 21st & 22nd and pick yourself up whatever you need. Make sure you take the time to enter the yearly Shoot'Em Up contest. ;)

raindog469

#11

raindog469 said:

As someone who's done a good bit of 2600 programming and was active on the Stella mailing list (but doesn't have time to visit a web forum like AtariAge regularly), it's nice to see coders for modern systems trying to at least replicate the look of a 2600 game.... but there are at least three things in that screenshot that would not be possible on the VCS, mainly the number of color changes of the playfield.

Also, I found it a little insulting when wiiware-world informed me that my email domain doesn't exist when I went to sign up just now, since I get about 1100 emails a day to the address I gave. I had to use my fallback Yahoo account, which I check once every 6 to 8 weeks. You guys need better DNS or something.

CorbsAdmin

#12

Corbs said:

I still have my Atari 2600 from 1981. And it still looks brand new. I meant I miss the days of the Atari 2600. But I would like to check out that Gaming Show. I interviewed Bob Smith who created the Imagic title Dragonfire not long ago and he told me I needed to attend that show. I just might.

thewiirocks

#13

thewiirocks said:

@raindog469 - In salstadt's defense, he did say that he believed he was probably over on color changes. Still, I think he's pretty close to what's possible with a multisprite kernal. The biggest change he needs to make is to get rid of the backgrounds on objects like the meter and the button. Overlapping objects like that is a lot harder than it looks. I suppose the playfield could be used for the meter, but you'd never get that fine a resolution out of the button.

BTW, have you seen the Ballblazer 2600 experiment? If that isn't one of the most impressive kernals ever, I don't know what is. What's particularly amazing is that the playfield scrolls so smoothly and maintains its checkerboard appearance. If I hadn't run it in an emulator myself, I never would have believed it.

@Corbie - If you do go, look me up. I'll probably be there on Sunday. I'll be the guy with two kids (both boys) in tow. And maybe I'll even convince my wife to go this year. ;)

AdamTierneyWF

#14

AdamTierneyWF said:

Hey guys,

Wow, this shouldn't have been news. :) I'm surprised to see it on a few different sites since it was just a post I made on Atari Age for fun. Okay, so a few things:

1) Salstadt = Adam Tierney (me), LIT's director.
2) I was actually pretty heavily interested in the 2600 homebrew scene back around 2003, when I co-developed an original 2600 game, FADE OUT:

http://www.atariage.com/development_page.html?InDevelopmentID=77

In some ways, that game was kind of a precursor to LIT, since it dealt with the light v. darkness theme.

3) Because I've done art for 2600, I now a few things about the hardware's limitations, which is why the BG and sprites are the proper resolutions (not jut made up). I was aware I probably went over on color changes per scanline, but since I just did this for fun (not to turn into an actual game) it didn't really matter that much to me.

Here are a few more mockups I did from way back when, starting with a Prince of Persia 2600 adaptation. Most are over limitations, although many were revised later to work within 2600 limitations:

http://www.adamtierney.com/Pixel/POPtari.gif
http://www.adamtierney.com/Pixel/depth4b.gif
http://www.adamtierney.com/Pixel/jacker_mockups.gif
http://www.adamtierney.com/Pixel/mattie_atari.gif
http://www.adamtierney.com/Pixel/monkey2600.gif

CorbsAdmin

#15

Corbs said:

As a big fan of the 2600, I thought this might interest fans of the classic system and I found it quite an interesting read. It reminds me of sitting at home playing Haunted House half the night back when I was in the 5th grade. :)

AdamTierneyWF

#16

AdamTierneyWF said:

Haunted House was (and is) incredible. Probably my favorite 2600 game ever. The dynamics between running in the dark with no flashlight (but missing collectables) and lighting up (but attracting enemies) was brilliant. True survival horror.

CorbsAdmin

#17

Corbs said:

I loved it too. I got it for Christmas and I bet it stayed in my Atari 2600 for a month before I finally took it out and even played anything else. I can still drag it out to this day and enjoy it. I've often wondered why no one has ever updated it.

Bass_X0

#18

Bass_X0 said:

Looks good. What would have been more awesome though if the Atari 2600 version had always existed and the Wii version was updated from that. I love it when really old games get the update treatment. But the "new" Atari 2600 version looks fun and interesting.

fco

#19

fco said:

Now when will they bring the Atari 2600 to the Virtual Console??

Omega

#20

Omega said:

I think the idea of creating new games for old systems is amazing. Especially when you consider that the Atari 2600 only has a variant of the 6502 CPU with around 1MHz and only a few kilobytes of memory available.

To create conversions of old games on new systems is IMHO not really a great achievement. I can still not understand what's the point in creating NES-like games on the Wii's extreme capable PowerPC CPU with more than 700MHz. It's like breaking a butterfly on a wheel.

Chunky_Droid

#21

Chunky_Droid said:

Smash Bros. Brawl on Atari 2600 is simply.... breathtaking!

Good to see the love for the old 2600, I wonder if they'll ever bring it out on VC someday....

thewiirocks

#22

thewiirocks said:

@Omega - It's worse than that. The 2600 has all of 128 bytes of RAM. The rest of the addressable 4K is ROM from the cartridge. :)

raindog469

#23

raindog469 said:

thewiirocks: That's awesome, I made a Ballblazer demo myself about 10 years ago (referenced earlier in the thread) but it's great to see someone has surpassed it.

AdamTierneyWF: I really liked the concept of FadeOut but never got around to playing it when it was being discussed on [stella]. I'll have to pick up the final product and give it a try. Good to know that the concept evolved into what seems to be a great modern game, because so few 2600 concepts made it that far.

Omega

#24

Omega said:

@TheWiiRocks: It is astounding how the programmers managed to create games like Pac Man, Demon Attack and all the others with so little memory. The requirements of these games are really tiny.

It would certainly be a great effort if the programmer from Wayforward manages to convert the idea of LIT for the Atari 2600. It is good to see that there are still people who are able to generate ultra-compact code. This is certainly useful especially for future WiiWare productions.

Sean_Aaron

#25

Sean_Aaron said:

You know Activision and Infogrames are just sitting on a ton of 8-bit IP there. I'd love to see a big ass Anthology full to the brim with as much 8-bit Atari console and computer games as they could license and fit on a Wii disc. The emulation shouldn't be too difficult (a homebrew developer has already released Stella and a 5200/800 emulator), so it's just a matter of testing and pressing the discs.

Why do these companies refuse to make the effort for an easy buck by porting/emulating their classic IP on current consoles? This goes for arcade games as well. Only Namco and SNK have any of their classic arcade games in compilations on current systems.

This stuff should get dragged out over and over again -- especially on the Wii. I have to imagine there's a lot of older Wii owners who didn't get into the "newer" consoles, but remember old arcade games or the Atari 2600 and would be willing to pay a modest amount of money for a bit of nostalgia.

Bass_X0

#26

Bass_X0 said:

To create conversions of old games on new systems is IMHO not really a great achievement. I can still not understand what's the point in creating NES-like games on the Wii's extreme capable PowerPC CPU with more than 700MHz. It's like breaking a butterfly on a wheel.

Bomberman Blast isn't that much different from the very first Bomberman game. Just more stuff.

Popyman

#27

Popyman said:

"Wow, too much free time"

^ That has always ticked me off to no end. When someone makes something amazing with their free time, instead of sitting on their butt watching TV and playing video games, it's a bad thing? Such an idiotic thing to say...

But yeah, awesome stuff, WayForward continues to be great.

AdamTierneyWF

#28

AdamTierneyWF said:

@Sean Aaron: Ever see this?

http://gameboy.ign.com/articles/445/445805p1.html

It's a fantastic collection, and even better is that they included some recent 2600 homebrew games Skeleton+ (one of the best games on the system).

"Wow, too much free time"

Well, it took me about an hour. It's not like 2600 art is time-consuming to create. It actually took longer to write out the comments for each image.

Omega

#29

Omega said:

@Bass X0: I think Bomberman Blast looks like a completely newly developed Bomberman. It even uses some kind of 3D graphics. I would say that it makes good use of the Wii's hardware capabilities. - I meant games that almost look exactly like NES games.

CorbsAdmin

#30

Corbs said:

I have all of those Atari 2600 Anthology titles and I love them. I especially love the Activision stuff. It's also fun to get to play the homebrew stuff.

A1234

#31

A1234 said:

Very cool! I love Atari 2600 homebrew games, especially if they are of computer/arcade games. So, a wiiware game/conversion makes it even more special. I would love to play it one day!

Also, maybe you can let Nintendo know that we want Atari 2600 for the VC service? ;)

Looks like I might have to get Lit now since there are some old school roots in your blood. ;) Not a fan of horror games, but I do enjoy puzzle games.

btw, I am new to the community. Very glad to be here with Smalls, Leg and Corbie.

Objection

#33

Objection said:

I see. Thanks for replying to my thoughts. Just to challenge the notion that every good game can be reverted to 2600, what about Smash Bros, Resident Evil, or No More Heroes? It'd be difficult though fun to see mock-ups of big titles like that.

CorbsAdmin

#35

Corbs said:

I still remember actually talking my family into driving into Alamagordo, NM during our vacation just so I could go to the landfill where all the E.T. cartridges were dumped. What a dork I was/am. :P

Sean_Aaron

#36

Sean_Aaron said:

@AdamTierneyWF: yep, I have that and play it on my Gameboy Micro on the very rare occasion I go on a trip and take it with me. I think it was Digital Eclipse that did that, wasn't it? They did an outstanding job. The music is also great and I even connected my Micro to my iBook to capture the songs. Anthology and Overtaken are on my mobile phone right now, ready to be played at a moment's notice!

I'd still love to do something other than run Stella to play these on the TV, so my cash is ready and waiting for Activision to do the right thing...

Bass_X0

#37

Bass_X0 said:

#30: - I meant games that almost look exactly like NES games.

I see. I was talking about old games with modern graphics and gameplay but still basically the old game at heart. I get a kick out of seeing these kind of games on WiiWare.

anthonyb

#39

anthonyb said:

I agree with Sean- Imo the 2600 isn't as appealing as NES style. 16 bit is too much- 8 bit is juuuuust right. :D More plz.

Omega

#40

Omega said:

@Bass X0: Yes, me too. If the classic game concepts are re-designed with polished graphics, better technology, new levels and maybe some new ideas, I can also not resist and it gives me a kick too.

@anthonyb: Why not writing programs, that use the full capability of the Wii's 64-bit processor architecture?

@Sean Aaron: There are already so many emulated 8-bit games on the Virtual Console Channel. And there are always more coming. Isn't that enough for you? Then I suppose that you have already played countless NES/Master System/C64 etc. games and you know them inside and out. And you still want more on the WiiWare Channel. Okay, I understand, you must really be a big fan of the 8-bit era of gaming.

Bass_X0

#42

Bass_X0 said:

Toki Tori was the kind of update I like. New modern graphics and presentation. Improved gameplay. All the old levels as well as brand new ones. My only complaint I suppose is that the original had a proper introduction whereas the WiiWare game didn't.

Sean_Aaron

#43

Sean_Aaron said:

@AnthonyB/Omega -- when I said 8-bit I meant 8-bit Atari NOT 8-bit NES (although Pole's Adventure and Cave Story are awesome enough that I'd like to see more of that as well)! Even though the NES had more memory and advanced graphics they are both using 8-bit processing. That just refers to the word length in computer language (how many tasks can be done in one cycle).

I'm sure we'll be arguing about the Atari Jaguar being 64-bit (it was) before long!

Omega

#44

Omega said:

@Bass X0: Yes, "Toki Tori" and "Bomberman Blast" are indeed good examples of successful updated classics. And in my opinion "Space Invaders Get Even", "Alien Crush Returns" and "Tetris Party" are also pretty good reconditioned games, if someone likes the originals.

@Sean Aaron: Okay, I think I can see what you mean. You actually want NEW Atari 2600 games (which are coded for the original machine) on the Wii, right? - I think this has something to do with emulation. But I'm not sure. Does this belong to WiiWare or rather to the Virtual Console Channel?

Sean_Aaron

#45

Sean_Aaron said:

New games. Bit.Trip.Beat appears to demonstrate a good aesthetic and I think it's worthy to continue down that path. I prefer actual Atari 2600 games to actual NES games (I've only bought two of the latter: Elevator Action and Bubble Bobble), however I love the aesthetic of the 8-bit NES/SMS as exemplified by the look of both Cave Story and Pole's Big Adventure.

Definitely WiiWare (though I would like to see Atari 2600/5200 on the VC).

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