It was two years ago this week that I decided, after a long absence, to get back into gaming. After looking at several options for a console, I chose to get a refurbished 7800 and figured that I would pick up 10-12 games for it. Some hundred plus games and four additional Atari consoles later, the 7800 remains my favorite. The ability for the 7800 to play almost all 2600 games is a factor, but it is the Pro System’s capabilities as a home arcade system that continues to draw me to it. While it doesn’t have anywhere close to number of games available as for the NES, it has some of the best arcade ports available for any system. Here are my ten favorite games for the 7800:
Asteroids Deluxe-developed by Bob DeCrescenzo and currently available from AtariAge. The original Atari version of Asteroids (3D Asteroids) for the 7800 is pretty good, but Bob takes it to the next level. Asteroids Deluxe features simulated vector graphics, killer satellites and is about as close to the arcade as you are going to get on a home system. As a bonus, a simulated vector edition of Asteroids is also included (just hold down the pause key when you power up your 7800)!
b*nQ-developed by Ken Siders and currently available from AtariAge. Ken has developed a near arcade perfect port of Qbert for the 7800. Qbert is an arcade classic and Ken’s version is a blast to play and good for hours and hours of fun!
Centipede-one of the original games for the 7800, programmed by General Computer Corporation (the designers of the 7800). The 5200 version of Centipede is probably the closest to the arcade, but the 7800 version is still a great game and a blast to play. One thing that sets Centipede for the 7800 apart is the two player team variation. This game is fun to play, but even more fun with two people. 7800 Centipede carts are plentiful and can usually be had for five dollars or less.
Commando-developed by Dwain Skinner for Sculptured Software/Atari and released in 1989. I prefer the traditional arcade games like most of the ones in my top ten, but Commando stands out for its game play, awesome graphics, and Pokey sound. In order to save space on the motherboard, provisions were made to allow for Pokey sound chips to be added to 7800 cartridges. Unfortunately, due to costs, only two 7800 games actually had Pokey chips in the carts (Ballblazer and Commando). Commando earns its way onto my list as it shows what Atari could have with the 7800. Unfortunately for the collector, Commando is one of the harder games to find.
Dig Dug– another one of the original 7800 games developed by GCC for Atari. This is an awesome port and belongs in every 7800 collection. It would have been better had Atari choose to include Pokey sound, but is still a great game, is a blast to play, and can typically be had for five dollars or less.
Donkey Kong XM (or PK)-by Perry Thuente. The best port of Donkey Kong for any home console…period. See my recent post about this awesome game. Perry spent more than a year developing the most accurate port of Donkey Kong …ever! The only way to get a better version of Donkey Kong at home would be to buy your own arcade cabinet!!!
Galaga-yet another one of the original 7800 games developed by GCC for Atari. The 7800 version is probably one of the best ports available for a home console. Even with all of the motion on the screen, there is no slow down and no flicker. This game is a blast to play and can typically be had for five dollars or less.
Moon Cresta– developed by Bob DeCrescenzo and currently available from AtariAge. If you like Galaga, you will love Moon Cresta. Bob to great efforts to get the alien movements as close to the arcade version as possible. Even on the ‘easy’ setting, Moon Cresta is a challenging game that will have you hitting the reset button over and over.
Pac-Man Collection– developed by Bob DeCrescenzo and currently available from AtariAge. I get to cheat here as this cart includes a whole bunch of Pac-Man games including: Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Hangly Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Ultra Pac-Man. Bob had originally developed these separately, but with efficient programming, he was able to squeeze them all onto a single 32K cart. This cart will give you hours and hours of fun and belongs in every 7800 collection!
Space Invaders– developed by Bob DeCrescenzo and currently available from AtariAge. Like most everyone that had an Atari 2600 in the early 80’s, I played Space Invaders over and over again. The 2600 version was actually pretty darn good, but Bob shows how great the 7800 can be as a home arcade system. His version totally rocks and has all kinds of options such a moving shields, zigzagging bombs, and invisible invaders.
Ok, I am going to cheat a little and have a couple of honorable mentions:
Alien Brigade-developed by Ken Grant for Atari. One of the later releases for the 7800 (and challenging to find), Alien Brigade is an awesome game with outstanding graphics. It is the best of the five light gun games developed for the 7800 (although it can also be played with a normal controller). Atari never released the light gun for the 7800, so you will have to find an XEGS model or get one from Best Electronics.
Plutos-developed by Kevin Franklin at Tynesoft and never officially released. An unstable prototype was discovered by Curt Vendel in 2008 and Bob DeCrescenzo, Mitchell Orman, and Eckhard Stolberg collaborated to get the code stable on stock 7800 consoles. The graphics in Plutos (and its sister game Sirus) are stunning and really show what the 7800 is capable of. Had this game been released in the 80’s, it would have been a top seller for sure!
More than half of my favorite 7800 games are homebrews by Bob, Perry, & Ken. It is really amazing that, some thirty years after the 7800 was designed, new games are still being developed. In fact, several new games have been recently finished and will be released soon. It also shows that had Atari released the 7800 in 1984, as originally planned (vs. 1986), that many more games probably would have been made available.
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