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Why does the Sears Video Arcade II have four controller ports?


StopDrop&Retro
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My favorite Atari 2600 is the Sears Video Arcade II, I love the look of it with the lit up LEDs. For some reason it just screams 80's to me and I feel the build quality is better than the 7800, plus it can play games like Space Shuttle and Ghostbusters.

 

Anyways, I was wondering- why does it have four controller ports? Which games support this?

 

post-29879-0-13875500-1307469969.jpg

 

My guess is that they made this choice since the controls that were included with the console each have a paddle and are not the two-in-one plug system of the regular paddle controllers. So is that why? Is it just for four player paddle controlled games using those specific controllers on this console?

 

Other than Warlords are there any other 2600 paddle games that support four players?

 

Are there any non-paddle games that support four players and were made specifically for this console?

 

I searched and couldn't find an answer, so I thought I'd ask.

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Youhit it right on the head - because the original controllers for the system are a combination joystick and one paddle. As far as I know there were never any specific 4-player joystic games for this console. It wouldn't even be possible hardware-wise. Fun fact: you can use the standard pairs of Atari paddles by leaving the selection switch on "joystick"

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As far as I know there were never any specific 4-player joystic games for this console. It wouldn't even be possible hardware-wise.

Correct. There aren't extra input lines compared to the standard 2600. When you select "paddle" on the console, the paddle lines are rearranged across the 4 ports as well as the pins corresponding to the firebuttons (if you leave the selection to "joystick" you can play some single player paddle games, but the button won't work, you have to move the stick in one direction to simulate the paddle button). The Coleco Gemini controllers are electrically the same, and the cheaper solution in that case was to include an Y-adapter with the console to use for paddle games (it allowed 2 controllers per port and redirected the buttons pins just like the SVAII does internally).

 

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Other than Warlords are there any other 2600 paddle games that support four players?

 

A quick review of the Paddle games reveals the following as 4 player games:

There's also some that supported 3 players.

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To parrot everyone else: joystick/paddle combo controllers. The Coleco Gemini had them, too, but went for a Y-connected design. It's worth bearing in mind that Coleco simply cloned with 2600 with off-the-shelf parts, while a Video Arcade II was a new design by Atari themselves. I'm guessing the reason Coleco went with a combo controller was because they'd only have to manufacture one controller--otherwise, if you think about it, it's weird you'd need an adapter to use their own controllers on their system.

Unfortunately the Video Arcade II controllers aren't very good. The paddle works pretty well when clean, but the joystick and buttons have a weird feeling, like they're stiff and mushy at the same time. And they're not very responsive. The Gemini controllers are great, and would probably work very slickly with a VAII.

And no, there are no 4-joystick or 8-paddle 2600 games. You should check out the Atari 800 for that. ;) Although as Spiceware said, there were a number of paddle games that supported up to four players. (Weirdly, Blackjack only supported three players. And IIRC GI Joe supported three players with a combination of joystick + paddles.)

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The GI Joe Cobra Strike one is the only one I know off that supported 3 players at the same time; two paddles and one joystick.

And no, there are no 4-joystick or 8-paddle 2600 games. You should check out the Atari 800 for that. ;) Although as Spiceware said, there were a number of paddle games that supported up to four players. (Weirdly, Blackjack only supported three players. And IIRC GI Joe supported three players with a combination of joystick + paddles.)

:)

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Damn. I was hoping there would be some odd game that supported four joysticks, maybe released for Japan.

 

Sucks that it just has four ports to accommodate that horrible hybrid controller. Has anyone ever posted a good guide to restoring one of those? I have a pair but one doesn't work and the other just barely.

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What they really need for better reliability is some kind of mod. The design unfortunately seems to inherently preclude a good way of doing that.

IIRC the fire buttons have a "tongue" (for want of a better term) that moves across the top of a dome switch, pressing it down when you push in--sort of like a camming action--instead of pressing directly against a switch like every other fire button design in the history of ever.

The plastic ring that presses the joystick contacts is flimsy as well. Internally the controller is just an ill-conceived design.

As far as refurbishing, I guess I'd start with new dome switches, particularly on the fire buttons. Seems like they'd be likely candidates for crackage.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nothing odd about it...the hardware is only capable of 3 copies of the sprites. The programmer went with the restriction rather than use some other method (such as flicker) to compensate.

From a player's perspective, it's extremely odd. :) Apart from Blackjack and G.I. Joe, I don't know of any other multiplayer games--on ANY console--that support a maximum of three players.

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  • 2 years later...

From a player's perspective, it's extremely odd. :) Apart from Blackjack and G.I. Joe, I don't know of any other multiplayer games--on ANY console--that support a maximum of three players.

I gotta check out GI Joe, sounds like a real oddball.

 

Bomberman II is another 3-player game (NES via Four Score and Famicom with auxiliary P1 controller).

 

Technical mumbo-jumbo regarding NES and Famicom multiplayer support:

 

Third party external Player 1 controllers were common enough on Famicom, though two player controller adapters using a Y cable, piggyback, or hardwired were rarer. I have a Hudson Joycard controller. Very nice feel to it.

 

The vast majority of Famicom games, and many Japanese developed NES games ported from Famicom, mirror the inputs on Data1 to equal that of Data0. This means that external controllers plugged into the Famicom expansion port could work with existing Famicom games. I believe Super Mario Bros USA (Japan release of Super Mario Bros 2 which was a port of Doki Doki Panic with Mario characters) is one of those rare Famicom carts that doesn't support external controllers. Many western developed NES games (including unlicensed and homebrew) do not read Data1 inputs from the external port either.

 

Later on 4-player Famicom games came about which used these inputs as player 3 and 4. Bomberman II only supported three players by using a single expansion controller as a third input. It retained this mode on four score when ported to the US. The four score device for nes multiplexed the data0 inputs on the controller ports (data1 pins are inaccessible on an nes controller port) so 4-player NES games will not operate properly on a Famicom and visa-versa. AVS and NT-Mini have menu options for switching 4-player multiplayer modes between Four Scote and Famicom.

 

Also Legend of Zelda Triforce Heroes for 3DS, which got poor reviews because it did not support two player at all and required 3 systems for multiplayer (even with one game cart), and the AI players in single player mode were dumb and repetitive.

 

And yeah, necro-bump time... :dunce:

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