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Tips for someone considering collecting for the Atari 2600?


hiitsbrian
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I've been collecting retro games and systems off and on the past 10 years or so. My main focus is NES games and I also own a SNES, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo 64 with a small collection of games for each. So since I'm new to Atari completely, I was hoping some people here could help me out.


What's the best model of 2600 to get? I'm considering the 2600 Junior myself just because I like that it takes up less space and has a nice sleek design and logo on the front of it. Are there any downsides to this version of the console I should be aware about? Does the console just connect straight to your TV with an RF connector? Or will I need to buy some sort of converter to get the system hooked up to the television?


And lastly, GAMES. What are the best/must-own Atari 2600 games? Thanks!

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What you should do is get the Atari 7800 so you can play both 2600 and 7800 games on it, killing two birds with one stone, and it's not like it's much more expensive.

 

Get your system/games in a big lot to save dough. In general, the console comes with a switchbox, but everyone uses a little coax adapter you can get on the AA store.

 

And remember - Activision games are your friends. They're the best on the system.

Edited by bretthorror
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the atari's used the coax jack (or RF signal) http://atariage.com/howto/connect.html

 

I never had a Jr. model but your easons for wanting one of those is probably the most popular reason

 

the 7800 does have that same sleek design & not much larger than the Jr. Model , it will play most of the 2600 library with only a few exceptions.

 

the common games are very fun to play & should be inexpensive

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If you really want to start collecting, okay, start buying. If you just want to play, just get a 2600 of your choice and a Harmony cart, put all the ROMs on it, and go to town. This will leave you more money and space to buy some homebrew carts.

 

I own the majority of the original carts and a good # of the original boxes and instructions, and while I enjoy the feeling of having them, if I were starting today, I'd just get the Harmony cart and be done with it.

 

I prefer the 6 switch due to all the switches being handy in the front, and it's the system I had back in the day. But there's no reason I can think of to not get a Junior if you prefer it otherwise.

Edited by Mirage
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Hello and welcome to atariage!:)

 

When it comes to getting a 2600 there are 5 different models made. I have all 5 and I will go through some pros and cons.

 

The Heavy Sixer which was made from 1977-1978 is the first model. They were made in Sunnyvale, CA. Later 1978 models in Taiwan. And most don't have channel select switches. It is a 6 switch system with the famous woodgrain veneer. It has thick molding which has a curve and the areas around the switches has thin molding. The video quality is the best and produces the greatest image. It is personally my absolute favorite and the best made model for the 2600. These are the most sought after from collectors and are uncommon. They cost about $60-$80 for a bare system.

 

Light Sixers were manufactured from 1978-1980. These started out being produced in Sunnyvale then off to Honk Kong. They look similar to Heavy Sixers, but the molding is much thinner and has a sharp and angled curve. Also the molding is thicker around the plastic pieces along the switches. Channel select switches were mandatory. And the RF shielding is identical to the Heavy Sixer which produces great results in terms of quality. These are a little more common and should run around $40 for a bare system.

 

4 Switch Woody consoles have a facelift. The channel select switches were moved to the back and the controller ports were raised higher. The cart slots are not as deep and won't scrape any labels. The picture quality is not as good as a sixer. But with a minor solder and tinker you can fix it to where you can have it look like a six switcher when it comes to picture output. These were manufactured in Taiwan from 1980-1982. Some reports in Sunnyvale and Hong Kong. These are the most common and should cost $20.

 

"Darth Vader" Models were made in Taiwan from 1982-1984 and is the last toggle switch model. They are identical to 4 switch woodies with the obvious being there is no orange paint around the cart bezel and an all black veneer replacing the fake woodgrain. These models cost about $30.

 

The Juniors were originally due to be released in 1984 along with the 7800 but shelved until early 1986 due to Jack Tramiel who is interested in marketing computers than gaming consoles. These are more compact and take much less space. The quality of the parts are not as good as a toggle switch model. It has an LED power indicator. These run on the cheap for about $20-$25. And a good one to have if you want a system with not much space to take up. Also 2 different ones were made, a short rainbow and a long rainbow. They are both identical in terms of quality and how it runs.

 

Also you can go the Atari 7800 route. These were released in 1986 to compete with the NES and Master System. There is 60 original 7800 games plus an outstanding homebrew scene thanks to Bob DeCrescenzo (PacManPlus on Atariage). You can play the entire 2600 library except a few Activision games depending on the motherboard revision. A good reccommended start if you are getting into Atari. These systems are getting a bit higher in cost these days. They are at least $60 and can get to $80 for a bare unit.

 

This is the most reccommended item to use when plugging the rf cable to the tv. It's an RF coaxial adapter. They sell these at Radio Shack or Fry's Electronics for a couple bucks. Just plug the female end to the cable and screw it onto the coax plug on your tv.

 

Lastly, as for games. There are so many great ones. Atari brand ones are excellent. Their is a plethora of great third party games. Activision, Parker Bros. Coleco, Imagic, and M Network being some of the best. Check out the atariage store for some awesome homebrews. Or you can get a Harmony Cart which you can install roms and play any game you like. You will enjoy the Atari 2600! A great system with many awesome games and to collect for. Best of luck on a console!:) These systems are reliable and will outstand a nuclear war.

 

post-32978-0-84705100-1451347205_thumb.jpg

This above picture is the item suitable for connection to your tv especially an HD one.

 

Heavy Sixer

post-32978-0-80255400-1451347309_thumb.jpg

 

Light Sixer

post-32978-0-96003600-1451347330_thumb.jpg

 

4 Switch Woody

post-32978-0-66411800-1451347357_thumb.jpg

 

2600 "Darth Vader"

 

post-32978-0-83691700-1451347383_thumb.jpg

 

Junior

post-32978-0-97031700-1451347409_thumb.jpg

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I like six switches and wood grain, but my secondary Atari setup is a Jr (for space and looks). The two Jrs I own have given me zero trouble. As long as you're a little bit gentle with the thin aging plastic and they're in good shape... you should be fine? Your mileage may vary.

 

I like having physical carts. They're neat talismans of a bygone age, historical artifacts that can be not only appreciated for their aesthetics (beautiful art, vintage styling), but the fact that you can interact with them. And in much the same way it was intended. It's almost like a technological time capsule -- even today, a VCS/2600 and a CRT television should give you the same experience as gamers back in the day had.

 

That said about philosophy, I'd echo what everyone else says about technology -- get a Harmony Cart and make sure your hardware is up to snuff. Spend time getting some controllers you really like (paddles, too -- they're some of the best games on the system). Then have fun being picky and going on the hunt and building up an immaculate collection of whatever kind of carts it is that you want. And some of my favorite games for the system have proven to be homebrews like Medieval Mayhem and the amazing Pac-Man 8K, games which make a Harmony Cart that much more essential.

 

 

Have fun and don't let anyone else tell you what you like playing! Get what makes you happy, and don't get caught up so much in "collecting" that you forget that these are games, and meant to be played and enjoyed. It's easy to do. But why spend time stalking eBay when you could be playing Kaboom?

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I cut my teeth on an Atari Jr. They are usually pretty cheap with a game or three. I like the late 80s styling/rainbow stripe. I was (barely) old enough at the time to remember these on the market so I've more connection to them than the original packaging. I did eventually get a light sixer. They're beautiful and all Atari fans should try to add one of these (or a heavy) to their lineup.

 

My system of choice these days is an AV modded Atari 7800. No dicking around with adapters or whatever, just plug and play. More expensive but definitely worth it. Though, like Keatah, I am mostly an emulation guy these days. My Mac can store all my games for all systems and takes no space. Hard to deny the appeal.

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I'm also a emulation guy, but let me tell the OP this, get yourself a 7800 and wait until batari releases his 7800/2600 combo flashcart and you have yourself the ultimate Atari. Then collect whatever you enjoy most. Play every game as intended, collect only the things pertinent to you, that's how us commoners in the collector world can Eat the Rich (RIP Lemmy).

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After some research these are the games I have decided to target..

Asteroids
Berzerk
Breakout
Combat
Defender
Demon Attack
Dig Dug
Dodge 'Em
Donkey Kong
E.T.
Frankenstein's Monster
Frogger
Haunted House
Jr. Pac-Man
Jungle Hunt
Mario Bros.
Missile Command
Ms. Pac-Man
Pac-Man
Pitfall!
Pitfall II
Pong Sports
Q*bert
River Raid
Space Invaders
Star Fox
Worm War I
Yars' Revenge

Edited by hiitsbrian
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After some research these are the games I have decided to target..

Asteroids

Berzerk

Breakout

Combat

Defender

Demon Attack

Dig Dug

Dodge 'Em

Donkey Kong

E.T.

Frankenstein's Monster

Frogger

Haunted House

Jr. Pac-Man

Jungle Hunt

Mario Bros.

Missile Command

Ms. Pac-Man

Pac-Man

Pitfall!

Pitfall II

Pong Sports

Q*bert

River Raid

Space Invaders

Star Fox

Worm War I

Yars' Revenge

You spelled Yars' Revenge right! You are already a step ahead of some of the veterans here. Video Olympics (Pong Sports) is one of my favorites that often gets overlooked. Maybe add Warlords.

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Maybe add Warlords.

 

 

For sure...

 

Warlords, Kaboom, Astroblast, Circus Atari, and a few others are essentials for me, as they're paddle games. And there's nothing quite like them. I'd definitely encourage trying some of those out. (Pong Sports and Breakout are lots of fun, but I feel like they only scratch the surface of the paddle games.)

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I have a light sixer and a Jr. The LS is the one I use most of the time. I don't think you can really call yourself a 2600 collector if you don't have an original Woody. It's like being an English teacher and saying you don't know any Shakespeare.

 

I would start with the Harmony and go from there. If you still have an insatiable craving for 2600 originals after that, the collecting will happen anyway. Personally, I found that the Harmony made me feel that my money would be better spent on systems that didn't have such reliable flash solutions.

 

I class myself as a 2600 gamer rather than a collector because I only have 15-20 originals (mostly loose) and don't really have any intention of adding to them.

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Slightly off topic, but is there a huge advantage to owning a stand alone VCS? When I first started poking around here, I figured the best bang for my buck would be a 7800 or a ColecoVision with the expansion module.

 

Like it's been mentioned by several others I would go for a Harmony cart first.

 

One thing that has put the brakes on BUY EVERYTHING is collecting by company. I've been slowly building a Parker Brothers catalog and by not buying tons of games, I've been able to sink some decent playtime into (almost all) of the titles I have on my shelf.

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I don't believe some carts will physically fit inside the coleco expansion module. And there might be some other corner cases where the modules don't run every game.

 

First and foremost a standalone VCS is the gold standard. I prefer the light sixers. As far as bang for the buck - don't worry about it. 1 system, 2 systems.. They're cheap enough to get both.

 

The buy everything mentality is unsustainable monetarily for most of us, and time-wise for everyone. Sure you can spend thousands of dollars being a completist. But then you don't have time to enjoy the games. Despite the tens of thousands of games and their variations and ports available to me through emulation, my VCS favorites comes out to be maybe 50 games? And that's a lot!

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What's a harmony cart, an Atari flash cart?

 

Also, are there any quality 1st gen platformers like Pitfall, Pitfall 2, Jungle Hunt, and Frankensteins Monster? Those are the types of games I'll enjoy the most.

 

If you're talking scrolling platformers, you can add Smurf to your list. There are more, I know, but they're not abundant like on other consoles. There are early platformers ala Donkey Kong like Fast Eddie, Mountain King or Kangaroo if you count those.

 

A Harmony cart is a flash cart for the 2600, yes.

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Didn't read through all of this, but as for games you can find a lot of the common ones on ebay in lots for cheap. Theres the harmony cart like they mentioned above but for me personally, I like hoarding carts. I have a Vader model and a Jr., I like the Vader the most out of all of them aeshetically, but when I play I usually use the Jr.. Mostly because it's a pain in the ass to find an RF cable that fits inside the older models, wih the Jr. you can just grab a cheap video cable. Worth mentioning, I've owned two Vaders and on both of them the video is blurrier than the Jr. I hear because of cold solder joints.

 

Some games I recommend.

 

Berzerk (the atariage store has a hacked version if you want voice.)

Demon Attack

Mountain King

Ms. Pac-Man

Secret Quest

Solaris

Space Invaders

Turmoil

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My advice is to start collecting 15 years ago. :-D :P It was cheap as hell then (except for some rare games like Chase The Chuckwagon and Crazy Climber, which have ironically nosedived in value since then).

A 2600jr. will work as well as any other version, though some claim the RF quality isn't as good; in my experience the RF quality isn't appreciably worse than a 4-switch, although the RF cord connection might be flakier. A lot of people will say to get a 7800--and not wrongly--since it can also run 2600 games, but IMO it's not as pure an experience as a real 2600 (calm down, people, it's only my opinion).

If you want a Harmony Cart, that's cool, but it's not collecting. :P (Please don't feed me any arguments about how a folder full of ROMs constitutes a collection. I don't want to hear it.)

Some good games that are a little off the beaten path include:
Fantastic Voyage
Fast Eddie
Alien
Montezuma's Revenge
Subterranea
HERO
Miniature Golf (don't let the graphics deceive you; this is fun)
Radar Lock
Secret Quest

Another thing: Sears versions of Atari cartridges and consoles are usually cheaper than Atari-branded ones. They're exactly the same, only the labels and--on earlier games--the names have been changed. So if you don't care if a cartridge says "Target Fun" instead of "Air-Sea Battle," that's a way you can go.

All that said, welcome to AtariAge and the wide, wide world of Atari 2600 collecting. :)

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Well you're gonna hear it! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! Roms in a folder is as much a collection as a RubberMaid full of cartridges. Both contain the exact same data bits. It's just a matter of size. Therefore I believe the OP should do both. Get a full & complete set of ROMS for use with Harmony flash cart, and then get physical copies of favorites.

 

But there is something else to consider - when your tight-ass girlfriend comes over. Do you want to look like a housing project klutz stuffing old rotten Atari cartridges in plastic boxes under your bed? Or be like a Secret agent and pull out your entire COLLECTION from a smart-looking metal billfold case?

 

Yes, Miniature Golf is ridiculously fun. And don't forget the 2 Hi-Res versions, Miniature Golf+, Nukey's hacks, and an additional 62 holes. This of course (no pun intended) comes as a set of Digital Download ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS! ROMS!

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