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October 2012 Retro Gaming Article

October 2, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

How many Flashbacks does it take to complete the Atari 2600 game library? Flashback 4 looms

Atari Flashback 4 console If you follow the path of the Flashback series of Atari consoles (made by various manufacturers and often licensed from Atari), the number of built-in games increases, yet the classic favorites are often duplicated. One might think that after a few releases of these contraptions, you might "own" a significant portion of the Atari library. But no, you will not.

The 4th version is coming in November, as part of Atari's 40th anniversary, with 75 included games and wireless controllers. Let's take a quick glance at it's predecessors...

Flashback (1)

The first Flashback came out for the 2004 holiday season and looked much like the Atari 7800 - especially the controllers - and even contained several 7800 titles, including a favorite of ours, Food Fight. 20 games were built-in and accessible via a menu system.

However, all the games, both 2600 & 7800, were ports from the originals since the innards were actually the "NES on a chip" which meant none of the original code would run natively - it had to be ported. These games often looked similar, but there were differences that irked the true Atari fans.

Flashback 2

Doubling the included games to 40, the Atari Flashback 2 arrived next Christmas in 2005. This time out, it resembled a smaller-scale 2600 console from which most of it's games were culled. Interestingly, a few of the games were homebrews that had been released after the 2600's life cycle. They even negotiated rights for Pitfall! and River Raid by Activision. It's guts were the original circuitry of the 2600 all on one chip. This allowed the original code to run without emulation or porting.

The games were broken into 4 categories and suffered the oddity of having to hit the power button (reboot) to switch to another game.

Flashback 2+

In January (so much for the Christmas season) 2010 the Flashback 2+ was released and was very similar to it's predecessor. The game lineup was similar with the exception of removed Activision titles and an added group of sports games. Atari never excelled at sports titles.

Flashback 3

Again a year passed and the Flashback 3 came out in the Fall of 2011 with 60 built-in games. Atari licensed Legacy Engineering's Flashback console & name to AtGames. The Flashback 3 goes back to emulation that runs on an ARM-based processor instead of Legacy's "2600-on-a-chip" found in the FB2 series. one nice facet is that the original Joystick and paddle controllers for the 2600 will work on the FB3.

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