Jump to content
IGNORED

New to collecting atari 400/800/XL/XE questions


Elvis8Atari
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've been collecting Atari 2600, 5200 and 7800 games for many years. But I've only recently gotten into collecting Atari 8-Bit computer stuff. And I have several basic questions..

 

I am curious which games work for which computers? For example, can I play Atari 800 games on the Atari 400?

 

Can Atari XE games be played on the Atari 400?

 

Can Atari XE Games be played on the 800 or 800xl?

 

And is there a list anywhere of which games were released for each computer? I saw atarimania has a good index of the games, but I was hoping to find a basic text list of the games for each system.

 

I'm assuming each one of these computers had a disk drive. Is there a disk drive that works with all the computers or does one need to own ALL of the disk drives? Also, since many floppy disks don't work any more, is there a better way to play Atari computer floppy games? I have heard of Floppy emus. Does that exist for Atari computers?

 

Also, which of these computers is the most sought after? Which do you consider to be the best one to own?

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi. Here is a quick, and by no means comprehensive answer:

 

Some games produced for the original 400/800 don't work on the later XL and XE lines. Games like Shamus, Protector 2, Monster Maze etc. Search the forum for XL compatibility and you will find a list.

 

Unless your 400 has been upgraded to 64k ram, it will not run a lot of the bigger games.

 

XE games can be played on the XL line, and some of them work on the original 800. Very few commerical games took advantage of the extra 64k on the XE line, and generally, the XE games use ROM space on the carts, not the extra system ram on the XE line.

 

The best way to play games nowadays is to get an 800xl (most reliable and easily upgradable) and install an Ultimate 1mb (google it) RAM/OS expansion and pair that with a SIDE2 cart. You have more memory than you will ever need, and you load disk images via a simple to use menu that reads disk images or .xex (excecutable) files off a standard, windows readable Compact Flash card.

 

A simpler, but slightly slower solution is an SIO2SD drive that does the same thing using the computers SIO disk drive port. It works as well, but is much slower than the previously mentioned setup.

 

Both allow you to just download games off the internet and play them easily. No need for unreliable and slow disks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most early 400/800 cartridges will work on the XL and XE lines too, except for a handful that require the original 400/800 OS, All 400/800 cartridges work with each other. It's possible to install alternate OS's or even more than one, into the XL and XE's that make them compatible with all 400/800 software, but that's beyond you at this point, just getting started. But I know Video61 sells a translator cartridge for 400/800 compatibility, my guess is the translator cartridge has a port on it for a game cartridge.

 

In any case, All XL cartridges are also interchangeable with the entire line, but most, not all, XE cartridges will only work with a 64K or more XL/XE computer, but some do still work with a 48K 400/800. That's cartridge software. Software on disk or cassette is for the most part, isn't more than 48K or less, probably like 85-90% of the software, About 10-15% requires 64K and therefore will only ever work on a XL/XE and that has to do with the computers base memory, how much of the ram can is see at the same time. 400/800 maximum base memory was 48K and memory upgrades would swap data stored in the extended banks above 48K "swapped" memory banks into and out of the base 48K the 400/800 can see. With the XL and XE machines base memory was extended to 64K. and data saved above 64K in extended memory has to also swap with the 64K base memory banks, 16K at a time. This is true of extended ROM memory too, it is swapped into base ram if it's more out of rom too, this is the 128/256K XE cartridges, but if the extra rom memory is on cartridge, extended RAM memory is not needed to run it beyond the base 64K. Most 400/800/XL cartridges don't require more than 48K base memory (many only require 16K base memory). I think it's only some XE cartridges and some recently released cartridges that require 64K base memory.

 

So regardless of how much memory worth of data a game has it requires a minimum amount of base memory that it was written for. If you want to know how much memory any given 400/800/XL/XE cartridge requires, a good place to start is to look at the on-line catalogs of game cartridges and other software at the Atari dealer websites, they usually show memory requirements of the cartridge games next to the games name in the pricing list. Early 400/800/XL cartridge were mostly all 8K and 16K and though there were some exceptions, it wasn't until the XE game system was released that Atari started making larger, 64K, 128K and 256K cartridges or "super carts." These are really the only ones that won't work on a 48K 400/800. But a few of the XE cartridges are only 32 or 48k and those I think work on the 800.

 

Video61 Atari Sales (they have memory requirements listed next to the cartridges, and OS compatibility too): http://members.tcq.net/video61/compnew.html

 

B&C computervisions: http://www.myatari.com/atarixlc.txt

Edited by Gunstar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best way to play games nowadays is to get an 800xl (most reliable and easily upgradable) and install an Ultimate 1mb (google it) RAM/OS expansion and pair that with a SIDE2 cart. You have more memory than you will ever need, and you load disk images via a simple to use menu that reads disk images or .xex (excecutable) files off a standard, windows readable Compact Flash card.

 

A simpler, but slightly slower solution is an SIO2SD drive that does the same thing using the computers SIO disk drive port. It works as well, but is much slower than the previously mentioned setup.

 

Just something to note with the SIDE2, and Ulitmate 1MB combo...

While you can set the OS to OS-B (as per the 800), that OS has no support for PBI (which is what the SIDE2 needs for ATR disk mounting)

This means that this combination cannot play disk based games that haven't been fixed for the XL/XE roms, because you can't mount the ATRs via the SIDE2.

 

The only way to play those games is with a SIO2SD

 

If you're looking to play 100% of everything on real hardware, I'd recommend the SIO2SD, Ulitmate1MB upgrade, and a flash cart (for Space Harrier and larger cart only games)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are just looking to use an Atari computer basically as a console,then the 800XL is the way to go, it has the minimum 64K to run all cartridges but a few 400/800 ones, and it has easy access to the cartridge port like Atari consoles. You'll be able to play all XL and XE cartridges and 99% of 400/800 cartridges.

 

If you are seriously looking at a 400/800 as a gaming system, make sure either one has 48K ram installed, and you'll be able to play all cartridge games except for about half of XE cartridges.

Edited by Gunstar
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I'm assuming each one of these computers had a disk drive. Is there a disk drive that works with all the computers or does one need to own ALL of the disk drives?

 

 

 

Each generation has their own stylish matching drive (810,1050,XF551) Every drive can be used on any system (Assuming you have enough RAM). I would say the 1050 is probably the most reliable and upgradable of them all.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...
6 minutes ago, Johny_lovin_it said:

What is the OS? Is the XE game system the ultimate one that is backwards compatible with 400 and 800 games? Buying all those other systems is too much for me. I'm thinking of getting the XE but need an opinion.

The OS is the operating system, which is on a chip in the computer.

 

I've never looked into the XEGS, so I can't comment on my opinion there.

 

The stock 130XE is probably the most compatible of all stock systems.  There is a translator disk that was used to run 400 and 800 games (and applications) on an XL/XE.

For games, the biggest advantage of the 800 was the 4 joystick ports.  (While upgradable, the stock 400 only had 16k of RAM and also had 4 joystick ports.)

 

I'd rate the stock 65XE, 800XE, and 800XL as the next most backwards compatible systems as they had 64k of RAM and could use a translator disk as well.

 

If I could only buy one system it would be a 600XL or 800XL as the memory can always be upgraded one way or another.  (The 600XL would need it's memory upgraded to do much of anything.)  The 600XL and 800XL have the cartridge port on top...which is convenient.  The cartridge port location in the 130XE is in the back and horizontal...which is why I prefer a 600XL or 800XL.

 

If you really need 4 joystick ports, an 800 would be the way to go but the tradeoff is you can't run any XL/XE games without major surgery.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Steril707 said:

If I may ask a question as well:

If I have a 600Xl, can I get the 128mb RAM needed for games like Crownland with the 64kb extension and that 1mbUltimate board?

From what I've read, the cheapest way, on a 600XL, to add the 1MB Ultimate board is to replace the 16K with 64k (which requires adding a couple jumper wires to the board as well) then installing the U1MB board.  I don't have the 16k to 64k DRAM instructions handy but they are posted in this forum somewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, reifsnyderb said:

From what I've read, the cheapest way, on a 600XL, to add the 1MB Ultimate board is to replace the 16K with 64k (which requires adding a couple jumper wires to the board as well) then installing the U1MB board.  I don't have the 16k to 64k DRAM instructions handy but they are posted in this forum somewhere.

See my signature for 600XL u1mb (and initial 64k)  upgrade instructions. 😁

 

Lots of food for thought for the OP here.. I skim read most of this topic just now but would agree generally that start with an Atari 800XL and maybe sdrive max to see how the OP gets on.  For a newbie getting into retro it's a lot to get ya head around.  Keep it simple to start off with is my advice. But yeah...  In the future I'd also endorse an U1mb upgraded 600XL, 800 XL,  65 XE or 130XE and SIDE3 cart. Or a standalone AVG cart.

 

Edit: for the OP @Elvis8Atari  I'd suggest also going to the pinned newbie topic thread here on AA

Edited by Beeblebrox
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, reifsnyderb said:

There is a translator disk that was used to run 400 and 800 games (and applications) on an XL/XE.

The vast majority of 400 / 800 games that were not compatible with the XL / XE line have been converted. So, this is generally not an issue anymore.

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you plan to set up your Atari close to a PC the cheapest „disc drive“ solution is a SIO2PC cable that will let your PC emulate a floppy drive using free software. 

 

All gadgets called SIO2xx are some kind of mass storage emulation with SIO referring to the Atari‘s „proto-USB“ external serial bus and xx to the various devices at the other end (SD cards, Bluetooth, etc.). 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So that's all interesting stuff. I'm not sure what to do yet. There's an Atari XE right now on eBay complete. I collect boxes for each game console as best I can. But I also want one console that can play as much as possible. Getting the 800xl or 1200 whatever means having it close to my desktop then so it'll take some space. The reason my eyes are on the XE is cuz it's partially a console. Has anyone tried the XEGS? Tell me your thoughts on it? Is it worth it? Anyone else?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Johny_lovin_it  The XEGS is a 64k model. 

 

More info here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_XEGS

 

What is the price of the XEGS model you are thinking of getting? Link to it here if you like. 

 

Thing is the XEGS has a detachable keyboard (although cable is short),  and the same compatible cart bay as the other Atari 8-bits aka A8s. It will take up more space than the other A8s with the keyboard. 

 

The 800XL and 600XL share the same top loading cart position as the XEGS,  whereas the 65XE and 130XE has the cart port at the back of the machine. The 1200XL cart bay is to the side. 

 

The old (48K) 800 and (16K/48K) 400 line A8s are top loading cart bay types underneath a cart door. 

 

In terms of connecting up to a display - in terms of proximity you are still in the same boat as you would be with an Atari 800XL, Atari 600XL, or Atari 65XE or 130XE for example. Just get longer cables between them and your display. (off the shelf ones are usually one size (eg 1m to 1.5m) anyway)). You would also have to have longer joystick cables or extension cables. This would apply to the XEGS and others. 

 

Unless the XEGS is a bargain,  (as in my experience they are usually more expensive),  I'd go for a either a 64K 800XL, or 64K 65XE or a 128K 130XE personally.  The latter if you want to play something like the excellent 2021 release of Prince of Persia which requires 128k to run. .

 

The other obvious advantage over the XEGS out of the box is that the above A8s (600XL, 800XL, 65XE and 130XE) have PBI expansion ports.  This can be used to hook up upgrades and other hardware,  (diagnostic,  etc). Plus the XE line can accept S-video for a better quality image (XEGS is RF and composite only as stock). The standard 800XL can be tweaked to accept S-video. 

 

Generally RF is the lowest quality,  then composite and then S-video. 

 

FYI all A8s have an SIO port for connecting old disk drives,  tape decks also modern kit like Sdrive max, (essentially virtual disk drives which can hold many games,  etc). 

 

So yeah-unless the XEGS is a bargain I'd probably go down the route above. (64K 800XLs being the cheapest and easiest to get your hands on which would work great with an Sdrive max). 

 

FYI the 1200XL is hard to come by and - along with the old 800 and 400 A8s - it doesn't have the PBI expansion port. 

 

Edit: BTW the Sdrive max and Sio2Sd are modern Sd card units and as such are standalone.  (Eg once the sdcard is loaded with games,  etc it plugs into your A8 independently of say your windows laptop).

You can also get excellent Sd card based cart options (SIDE3 and AVG carts to mention but a few).  See the pinned newbies topic thread here on AA for more info. 

 

Edit.  BTW I skim read this thread so if I've repeated anything or missed anything obvious my bad. 

 

Edited by Beeblebrox
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, reifsnyderb said:

From what I've read, the cheapest way, on a 600XL, to add the 1MB Ultimate board is to replace the 16K with 64k (which requires adding a couple jumper wires to the board as well) then installing the U1MB board.  I don't have the 16k to 64k DRAM instructions handy but they are posted in this forum somewhere.

My question wasn't so much about the installation of said stuff (since I would not do that myself, but pay some extra money for Lotharek to help me here I guess), but more about if installing the 64k+1mb enables the Atari600XL to run 128k games like Crownland and PoP. Sorry if this seems obvious to you, but I am coming from the Amiga, which has different RAM types, and installing one kind of RAM doesn't necessarily mean it helps you with a certain task. Hence my question. ;)

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Steril707 If you install u1mb (where the 64k upgrade from stock 16k is initially required as part of the installation) - yes you will be able to run Pop,  Crownland,  etc.  The U1mb gives you a whopping 1mb of Ram to play with.  Great for Atariblast!  And Space harrier. 

 

I've not run across a game I can't run on the U1mb as yet. 

 

You just need the storage medium to load the games.  So Side3,  sdrive max, sio2sd,  SIO2PC,  etc. 

 

You can also buy an AVG cart if you don't upgrade with the U1mb.  This can give you 576k I believe. 

 

The U1mb is more than just a 1mb upgrade though. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Beeblebrox
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Beeblebrox said:

@Steril707 If you install u1mb (where the 64k upgrade from stock 16k is initially required as part of the installation) - yes you will be able to run Pop,  Crownland,  etc.  The U1mb gives you a whopping 1mb of Ram to play with.  Great for Atariblast!  And Space harrier. 

 

I've not run across a game I can't run on the U1mb as yet. 

 

You just need the storage medium to load the games.  So Side3,  sdrive max, sio2sd,  SIO2PC,  etc. 

 

You can also buy an AVG cart if you don't upgrade with the U1mb.  This can give you 576k I believe. 

 

The U1mb is more than just a 1mb upgrade though. 

Thanks for all of that information, guys..

Love this friendly community already...

 

So if I get the 64k upgrade and buy an AVG cart, I can play Crownland, PoP and most other 128k productions (plus develop my own games on that as well I guess)?

Edited by Steril707
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Steril707  So just to confirm you have a 600XL (stock 16k) currently? 

 

To use the AVG carts onboard memory expansion you need an extra cable BTW (called an ECI cable)

https://retrolemon.co.uk/search?controller=search&poscats=0&s=eci

image.thumb.png.2bdec3f4b6704f87971b32de34b936f3.png

 

I am not 100% sure of how AVG cart works in terms of it's memory expansion and 128k+ gaming, (there are as you know such things as banking schemes - where someone else with be able to explain further).

 

For example I believe some games above 128k won't run in expanded memory. So for example a stock 64k machine with a memory expansion will be seen by some games as 64k + the expansion and may struggle to work. Sorry - not really qualified to explain this too well. Anyone care to explain?

 

EDIT: and as Mimo explained (messages crossed over), get the PBI cable as well if you are getting the AVG cart. 

 

Edited by Beeblebrox
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...