Atari Flashback Portable confirmed for Fall 2016

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LS650
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Joined: April 8th, 2015, 11:03 pm

Re: Atari Flashback Portable confirmed for Fall 2016

Postby LS650 » December 15th, 2016, 4:30 pm

I ordered one from bedbathandbeyond a week or so ago. I received mine yesterday, and loaded up an old SD card with a few favorite ROMs while waiting for the unit to charge. I haven't played it much, just a minute or two each with maybe 15 or 20 different games.

Pro:
+ Emulation seems pretty good. I've read some grumblings about the sound, and although it's not perfect, I find it's not bad, especially if you keep the volume relatively low. The cheap little speaker has bad distortion at high volume.

+ I found it very easy to get ROMs loaded into it via SD card. No problems there.

+ I tried some third party games such as Enduro, Donkey Kong, etc. No problems.

Con:
- The D-pad is quite stiff, especially pushing to the right. I think for games that require deliberate throws to the four cardinal directions it works OK. For games that need good diagonal input, such as Missile Command, the control is not good. I am hoping that the D-pad will loosen up with a bit of usage.

- One of the first games I tried was Berzerk, one of my top faves for the 2600. I found that although the game runs and you can move without issue, the fire button would not work!

- Is the monochrome switch not supposed to stay on? I found that if I hold it down, the screen is B&W, but as soon as I release, the Color setting returns. It did this with more than one game.

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Atariboy
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Re: Atari Flashback Portable confirmed for Fall 2016

Postby Atariboy » December 26th, 2016, 6:52 pm

eneuman96 wrote:But the reason this device has been getting so little attention compared to, say, the NES Classic Edition, is that it's simply not a very good way to play Atari 2600 games, on the go or otherwise. As mentioned previously, there are a lot of games that have compatibility issues or don't work at all. In addition, the D-pad is annoyingly imprecise (then again, so is a vintage 1977 controller), and the wealth of buttons in place of the original system's switches make things confusing when you're trying to do anything but actually play the games.

Another thing worth noting is that SD cards over 8 GB in size are incompatible. This is particularly annoying because many stores don't even carry SD cards that small anymore and you'll probably need to buy one online. In my experience, it doesn't seem like you can use micro SD cards through an adapter either.


Now that I've spent a few hours with this unit, I don't particularly agree with this post.

First, I've had no significant issues with the d-pad. I find it's precise enough to do well at 4 direction games like maze titles as well as games that require diagonal inputs like River Raid (And while the ergonomics may not be up to 21st century standards for Atari's classic joystick, I'd never call a CX-40 imprecise).

And while the emulator isn't perfect, I find that it generally does well. The bulk of the library works well on it, the audio quality is reasonable albeit not always sounding correct, and most of the software I've wanted to play so far has been free of issues. I'd say that my percentage rate loading up roms is at least 80% for what I personally want to play on this, judging by the 25 or so roms I've loaded up with and spent 5 or 10 minutes with so far. And I bet most of us had a 2 gig SD card collecting dust like I did.

So far, I've only been disappointed with Battlezone (While playable, the radar is still half broken just like it was with the initial AtGames effort years ago with the Flashback 3), the Juno First and Rally-X homebrews don't work, some graphical corruption with Pressure Cooker that led me to delete the rom off my SD card, the inability to fire your weapon in Berzerk, and I wish the Supercharger version of Frogger was playable even though I never expected it would be.

Perhaps my biggest annoyance is one that others have took notice of on AtariAge. The screen seems to have been meant to be viewed in a vertical orientation. I can rotate the unit sideways and tilt it quite a bit forward and back with it not affecting the picture negatively. But there isn't really a sweet spot held horizontally where the colors and such are stable. Even slight movements of the unit in my hands are leading to color shifts and such.

I can only imagine what people with two good eyes are seeing with this, with one or two users at AA saying they're seeing a different color in each eye for the same object. I've never been blessed with two fully working eyes, but I bet that's annoying.

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Atariboy
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Re: Atari Flashback Portable confirmed for Fall 2016

Postby Atariboy » December 26th, 2016, 7:10 pm

I forgot a couple of other things.

First, I actually do agree with the post that I quoted earlier since the button layout is a bit confusing, but I really don't see that much could be done about it. We're trained to the 2600's layout and anything trying to replicate that in a gamepad form factor with buttons was never going to be anything but counter-intuitive. It's just a necessary evil although I do wish that the fire button was located a bit higher up than it is.

And it's annoying when you select the hard setting on a difficult switch to to have that notice (P1-HARD, for instance if you switched the left switch to hard) overlaid on your screen until you switch back to easy. Someone screwed that up and forgot to have it set to fade after a few seconds like our televisions do when we change the channel or volume.

LS650 wrote: Is the monochrome switch not supposed to stay on? I found that if I hold it down, the screen is B&W, but as soon as I release, the Color setting returns. It did this with more than one game.


It sadly isn't just your unit. Mine does the same thing which prevents me from switching to B&W in games that supported that feature (Which are generally the earlier 1st party releases).

Sounds like nitpicking, but I enjoy some of these classics like Missile Command in B&W. But I guess AtGames only saw value in that switch as a button for Secret Quest and didn't think anyone would actually want to play a color game in black & white.

LS650
Posts: 41
Joined: April 8th, 2015, 11:03 pm

Re: Atari Flashback Portable confirmed for Fall 2016

Postby LS650 » December 30th, 2016, 10:04 am

Atariboy wrote:I've only been disappointed with Battlezone, the Juno First and Rally-X homebrews don't work.

The creator of Juno First has released a patched version of this ROM that now runs on the AFP.

You can find out more if you search for Juno First on the Atariage web site. I've tried it and it looks pretty good on the little AFP screen.

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Mr SQL
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Re: Atari Flashback Portable confirmed for Fall 2016

Postby Mr SQL » March 17th, 2017, 2:47 pm

Atari Flashback BASIC Programming.png
Compatible with all Atari consoles
Atari Flashback BASIC Programming.png (83.08 KiB) Viewed 460 times


Atari Flashback BASIC
was just released with graphics demo's and new games like Defender III:

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/263138-atari-flashback-basic/

Why these enhanced graphics work on the Atari portable:

The Atari Flashback portable is compatible with nearly all of the classic game library, and new homebrew games provided they run on a stock Atari - classic bank switching schemes and an extra 256 bytes of RAM in the cart from 1983 are also supported; Atari Flashback BASIC utilizes this minimal classic expansion hardware along with software algorithm to create a blitter chip, allowing programmers to pan the camera (or multiple cameras) while updating relative object positions.

batari BASIC games with DPC+ and games like Scramble and SpaceRocks have enhanced graphics that cannot run on the portable because they use a modern 32-bit processor to run code and game logic that the Flashback portable does not support; there is actually a modern processor in the Flashback Portable but the API is restricted to Atari and they use it very sparingly - only one game, Frogger, runs on it.


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