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Atari should make a trackball plug and play device...


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Setting aside for the moment the fact that Atari is in no shape to do anything these days, the company that currently uses the name doesn't have any manufacturing capacity of its own, anyway. All Atari-labeled plug-n-play systems that have come out in the past 10+ years have been projects brought to Atari by external agents (either licensors or contracted project designers, namely Jakks Pacific, Legacy Engineering, Basic Fun, and AtGames), who were the ones who handled the design and production aspects. This current Atari would probably be happy to have such a product out on shelves, promoting the Atari brand, but it's unable and/or unwilling to do it on its own.


I'm with you though in being surprised that it wasn't made five years ago when they were more of the "in" thing.


Heh, I'd say more like 9 years ago, concurrent with the Atari Paddles system that Jakks Pacific released. The end of 2004 was pretty much the peak of the market; after that, it started slumping and shifting focus. By 2007, the only retro gaming plug-n-play systems still being released were either recompilations of existing Namco material or a re-release of Jakks' 2002 Atari joystick (not including AtGames' Sega systems, which didn't hit mainstream retail markets until more recently), and Jakks' 2011 Taito system didn't lead to any further developments in the retro arena.


I wonder if there might have been some design obstacles hindering such a product, too. For games like Centipede and Missile Command, you'd really need a solidly stationary trackball, one that wouldn't slide around the table (since neither hand would be available to hold it down, with one controlling the ball and the other the fire button). You'd need something of fairly large size, like the Golden Tee Golf plug-n-play systems (both), but that would probably be priced beyond the $20 range that the typical retro plug-n-play systems targeted for MSRP. I suppose you could design a purely handheld trackball, but then you might have problems with getting the directions right, since individual players might not hold it with the "proper" orientation the designers were intending. So, simply coming up with something widely playable at the right price might have been problematic. But, I'm just speculating.


At any rate, if you really want to get someone to make such a product, I think your best bet these days is AtGames, who have lately been doing the emulation-based Atari Flashbacks. If any company out there might be interested in putting in the R&D and licensing work to do a trackball Atari arcade system today, it would probably be them. Jakks Pacific, though they did the Atari and Activision joystick and paddles systems ~10 years ago, might be a hard sell on the idea--look at their release slate for 2013: a light gun game based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and a light gun game based on Duck Dynasty. I think they would put out a better designed, better quality product than AtGames would, but they likely wouldn't have the retro gaming interest.



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And load it with games like Missile Command, Centipede, and Milipede, among others. Seriously, this would sell like hotcakes; I'm surprised something like this doesn't already exist!

This is a really good idea. I know that Golden Tee's plug and play can be had for about $30.00. An Atari trackball plug and play could also include Crystal Castles and Mabel Madness. Couple other games to consider, (even though these games are not traditional trackball games, but they would work well with a track ball) Tempest & Major Havoc.


Since it is the Atari logo that most will recognize, the system should be called the Atari Arcade System. That would be one heck of a plug and play.

Edited by pboland
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Nyko made a Trackball controller for Playstation many years ago. I think it used some of the same classic molds, and it worked with the Williams/Midway collections of the time. It wasn't great and it certainly was not a great seller.


If you want to play old arcade games with a big heavy trackball, you're better off buying quality arcade parts, not a cheapo plug and play. Even an office trackball would probably be better.

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