The Atari 7800 was planned for release in 1984, but was not actually released until 1986. By then Atari had lost the momentum to Nintendo and only about sixty games were originally released for the Pro System. Also, many third party publishers moved on and developed games for the NES. In the past decade, an active homebrew community has developed and released more than twenty additional games for the 7800, but there are still a lot of holes in the 7800 library. I think it is interesting to consider the games that should have been developed for the 7800. Here are my top ten missing classics for the 7800:
Battlezone-Atari made a great version of this game for the 2600 and Activision developed a similar game (Robot Tank) for the 2600 as well. It would have been awesome to see a simulated vector graphics version developed for the 7800, but a version in the style of either of the 2600 games would have been fine as well.
Defender-Atari made awesome versions of this game for both the 2600 and the 5200. In fact, the also made Stargate (or Defender II) for the 2600 as well. Bob DeCrescenzo hacked Defender II to make an almost perfect version of Defender for the 2600 (Defender Arcade) and the Atari 5200 version is widely respected as one of the best games made for the Super System. Seriously Atari…what were you thinking…where is Defender for the 7800? At least we can play Bob’s great 2600 game on our 7800’s!
Galaxian-Atari made Galaga for the 7800, so I guess they figured that they didn’t need to make Galaxian as well. The 2600 version has been hacked and updated into a pretty good game and we can play that version, but it would have been nice to have an official Galaxian for the 7800.
Kangaroo-Atari developed great versions of Kangaroo for both the 2600 and the 5200. In fact, the 5200 version is almost arcade perfect. Kangaroo is clearly inspired by Donkey Kong and, maybe since Atari was able to produce Donkey Kong for the 7800, they felt that they didn’t need to develop Kangaroo as well? Too bad as the 7800 would rock this game!
Millipede-the 7800 version of Centipede is pretty awesome and is a blast to play in the two player cooperative mode. Millipede is an Atari classic and it is surprising that they never developed a version for the Pro System. The 7800 was designed to be able to display up to one hundred objects without flicker…Millipede would have been a showcase game for the Pro System.
Missile Command– Given that General Computer Corporation developed the 7800 and they got their start as a company by making upgrade kits for the Missile Command Arcade units, this is one of the most stunning omissions from the 7800 library. You can certainly play the 2600 version on your 7800, but imagine updated graphics and all three missile bases!
Pitfall-Activision developed two games for the 7800 (Double Dragon & Rampage), but never updated their 2600 classic. It would be cool to see what could have been done with the 7800’s improved graphic capabilities. David Crane, we know you are still out there…show us 7800 fans some love…return to your roots and give us an updated version of Pitfall for the Pro System!
Star Raiders-this was an awesome game on both the 2600 and 5200 consoles. Atari, already had the keypad for the 2600 version which could have been reused for a 7800 version. A 7800 version of this game would be a blast and could have been a big seller for Atari.
Tempest-it took thirty years, but Tempest was finally completed for the 5200. One homebrew developer started on a 7800 version, but never completed it. With the ability to add Pokey chips to the 7800 cartridges, it should have been possible to develop a near arcade perfect port for the Pro System!
Zaxxon-back in the day, I was jealous of Colecovision owners as they had great home versions of both Donkey Kong and Zaxxon. Atari develop a similar game for the 7800, called Desert Falcon, that is actually pretty good, but not Zaxxon. Zaxxon is a true ‘80’s arcade classic that should have found its way to the Pro System!
One game that I would have included in my top ten would have been Frogger…who played video games in the ‘80’s and didn’t play Frogger? Up until now, 7800 owners have had to be content playing the Parker Brothers 2600 version of the game. Fortunately, a near arcade perfect version of Frogger (called Froggie) has recently been developed for the 7800 and should be released later this year.
As for the rest of my list…any of you 7800 homebrew developers reading my blog?
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July 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm
I was having a discussion with some others on forums about this and personally I think the 7800 has more than enough arcade ports at this point. I’m not sure why so many 7800 fans still clamor for arcade ports but I think it is just me from what I read. I just don’t see the point anymore, apart from learning how to code for the system as we have MAME and the 7800 library already has a bit of arcade content for it already. IMO it would be much better to see stuff like Star Raiders or Pitfall as opposed to Galaxian; Adventure II (or III!) would be more welcome than a Tempest port and Bentley Bear’s Crystal Quest is preferable to another port of Missile Command. Of course I’m happy to see any development happen for the system but for anyone that wants to sell a few carts, my money will go to more original stuff rather than ports.