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Who owned / owns a Bally Arcade?


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I have one. It's a great system. Still, one of my favorites. The controllers are a pistol grip with a combo joystick/knob on top and an index finger trigger. Comfortable, and work very well. Their versions of Gunfight, Clowns, Galactic Attack (Galaxian), Incredible Wizard (Wizard of Wor), Tornado Baseball, Football were ahead of anybody else until Intellivision showed up. They had a basic cart that was able to save and load from tape. In my opinion, it was ahead of its time. Too bad it didn't get more exposure. There's tons of information on BallyAlley.com

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I had one for several years.  It's a great system in the context of its time.  The Bally Arcade versions of Space Invaders, Galaxian, Wizard of War, and Pac-Man would have blown me way if I had seen them as a kid because they were better than anything else out there at that time.  Gunfight was pretty amazing compared to the competition, too.

 

But that's the problem — while I saw ads in magazines back then as a kid, I didn't see a Bally Astrocade in person until I bought one 20 years ago.  Because the system didn't have the mass exposure and polulatrity, it didn't get a large game library.

 

The controller is amazing, especially considering it was designed and manufactured in the 1970s.

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I had a Bally Computer System model in the 80's right before it relaunched as the Astrocade. Now I've got too many but they include the Home Library Computer, Professional Arcade (regular, Montgomery Ward regular, and Montgomery Ward White), Computer System and Astrocade models. 

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6 hours ago, OldSchoolRetroGamer said:

Back in the day or even in my collection years I have never owned one of these or any of the PONG-type consoles before the Atari 2600. An interesting time, anyone own one back in the day or since? 🤔

 

It looks like you need to pick up an Astrocade now.  It's never too late to join the Astrocade party.  Most of the time we chat over on groups.io, here:

 

ballyalley@groups.io | Home

 

I'm a big Astrocade fan, but I didn't get mine until the early 1990s.  It seemed old then, and it was only about fifteen years old back then.  If it was old then, then how old is it now?

 

Adam

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The Bally was a bit before my time, but I first got one and started collecting for it somewhere in the late '00s. I'd been interested in that era of consoles ever since I got into retro gaming in the '90s (at the time, that era is what retro gaming was). For a while it was a very frustrating platform because they would keep dying on me and they were/are quite expensive to replace. Fortunately I have a couple of solid ones now (*knocks on wood*), and a pretty decent collection. The system doesn't have a huge library, but most of what it does have is really good if you're an afficionado of the 1978-82 period of video games. 

 

21 hours ago, ballyalley said:

... It seemed old then, and it was only about fifteen years old back then.  If it was old then, then how old is it now?

It feels bizarre to remember back to when we thought 15 years was ancient. I had a sort of existential crisis (at age 13 or 14, mind you) because my [recently acquired second-hand] Odyssey 2 was 20 years old! 

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I have one and recently had to change out a chip.  I have been trying to program it.  A bit stuck at the moment but having fun.  I, too, am sad that it didn't get more of a following.  This is a powerful system (especially for its time) and had we gotten the creativity we had on the Atari 2600 there would be incredible games for it.  The 160x100 resolution is certainly less than the 2600 160x192 but 4K of ram, built-in graphics functions, etc.  For sure somebody would have come up with bankswitching.  The games we could have had.

 

 

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2 hours ago, 128Kgames said:

For sure somebody did [come up with a bankswitching scheme] all 512K 😉

https://msdconsulting.wixsite.com/128kgames

 

Yes, the MaxFlash cartridge did exist, but, sadly, it was never made available because of the high cost of creating it.  Luckily, Michael (128Kgames) did make a cart available to me for a while and I did write some code for it, which is on my site, here:

 

Bally/Astrocade Maxflash Files (ballyalley.com)

 

I can't believe this project happened 13 years ago now.  Maybe this project can be revived?

 

Adam

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16 minutes ago, cjherr said:

I would love to see what could be done with 512K on the Bally. 

 

Yeah, a 512k game could be amazing.  Here is a link to the memory map of the 512K unit:

 

ballyalley.com/documentation/bally128k-com/maxflash/Astrocade_Maxflash_512K_Memory_Map.txt

 

You get 128K 4K banks.  Here is video made for the earlier, 256K version of the board:

 

 

Here is an example of full-screen scrolling with the board:

 

 

Neat, right?

 

Adam

Edited by ballyalley
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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, glazball said:

@OldSchoolRetroGamer I'm actually a bit surprised you haven't played a Bally Arcade/Astrocade, seeing as you are a long-time member here.  It is -absolutely- worth finding a console and an UltiMulti-cart!  It's the Neo Geo of the 70's and the controller is simply the best of that era.  Amazing system, enjoy!

 

While admittedly I never personally sought one out with any effort, between my age, history and interest in this hobby and the collection I have accumulated it's kind of surprising to me as well though it was kind of my reason for making this thread. Well with any luck at some point maybe I will encounter one, though I am not actively collecting these days nor can I justify investing in the hobby anymore (lack of funds/space) anything is possible if I ever get around to sorting and perhaps selling/trading some of my collection. I will keep it in mind and look forward to it, it certainly seems to me to be an interesting part of gaming history. I love the look of it as well. 

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I have 2 and they've both been worked on to help preserve them.  It is a nice thing to have as a collector and even in restored condition they are still relatively inexpensive.  User @Allen Schweitzer restores them and is very pleasant to deal with.  This is his Ebay store, but he'll usually deal with you here on AtariAge directly:  alleschweitze_0 | eBay

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12 minutes ago, wongojack said:

I have 2 and they've both been worked on to help preserve them.  It is a nice thing to have as a collector and even in restored condition they are still relatively inexpensive.  User @Allen Schweitzer restores them and is very pleasant to deal with.  This is his Ebay store, but he'll usually deal with you here on AtariAge directly:  alleschweitze_0 | eBay

Not sure the last time you priced them but they've been soaring. Common models like the Professional Arcade or the Computer System model 100% working can run anywhere from $250 - $500 easy. Even "broken" models with their chips intact can bring in decent money as their chips (if working) can be used to restore Bally arcade boards like Gorf etc. 

If its a Home Library Computer, White Montgomery Ward Professional Arcade, or an actual branded Astrocade, the skies the limit, easily $750 or more. 

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17 hours ago, 128Kgames said:

Not sure the last time you priced them but they've been soaring. Common models like the Professional Arcade or the Computer System model 100% working can run anywhere from $250 - $500 easy. Even "broken" models with their chips intact can bring in decent money as their chips (if working) can be used to restore Bally arcade boards like Gorf etc. 

If its a Home Library Computer, White Montgomery Ward Professional Arcade, or an actual branded Astrocade, the skies the limit, easily $750 or more. 

I don't consider $250 to $500 expensive for this type of thing.  It is a rare machine, and that's what they've cost for years now.  Whenever I find them NOT online (not Ebay or here), the people never know what they are.  They are never tested, and they want at least $200 for them.  I even talked one guy on Craigslist through testing it.  Total sh!+show where he refused to listen to me about testing via the RF on his TV and took it to Gamestop.  They couldn't figure it out, and he still came back and told me he wanted like $300 for it.  I had another one where I went to a permanent flea market locally and actually brought a TV to test it.  When it didn't work, the person didn't believe me and refused my offer for a broken machine.  Both those are pre-pandemic examples.

 

Plus, if you click on that eBay link, you will find fully restored options that come with a multi-cart in the price range you mentioned.  I understand that $400 is a lot of money, but if you are chasing something this unusual, I think that is a reasonable price, and I haven't really seen it going up.

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1 hour ago, wongojack said:

I don't consider $250 to $500 expensive for this type of thing.  It is a rare machine, and that's what they've cost for years now.  Whenever I find them NOT online (like Ebay or here), the people never know what they are.  They are never tested, and they want at least $200 for them.  I even talked one guy on Craigslist through testing it.  Total sh!+show where he refused to listen to me about testing via the RF on his TV and took it to Gamestop.  They couldn't figure it out, and he still came back and told me he wanted like $300 for it.  I had another one where I went to a permanent flea market locally and actually brought a TV to test it.  When it didn't work, the person didn't believe me and refused my offer for a broken machine.  Both those are pre-pandemic examples.

 

Plus, if you click on that eBay link, you will find fully restored options that come with a multi-cart in the price range you mentioned.  I understand that $400 is a lot of money, but if you are chasing something this unusual, I think that is a reasonable price, and I haven't really seen it going up.

I probably should have asked "what do you consider "reasonable"." I completely agree with your assessment, problem is a lot of people have no clue what these systems are going for or more importantly what they should be going for. When prices first started to climb a lot of people just didn't get it. Honestly though the ones that aren't tested or people refuse to test I always chalk up to "not working" from experience. Occasionally you do get lucky but I stopped actively collecting the consoles years ago after getting each model / variant and then backups of each, then backups of backups. As far as Allen's auctions its not only what he includes in them but more so the fact that its working and most likely he's refurbished it (I actually told him years ago he was charging too little for his auctions!). 

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14 minutes ago, 128Kgames said:

I probably should have asked "what do you consider "reasonable"." I completely agree with your assessment, problem is a lot of people have no clue what these systems are going for or more importantly what they should be going for. When prices first started to climb a lot of people just didn't get it. Honestly though the ones that aren't tested or people refuse to test I always chalk up to "not working" from experience. Occasionally you do get lucky but I stopped actively collecting the consoles years ago after getting each model / variant and then backups of each, then backups of backups. As far as Allen's auctions its not only what he includes in them but more so the fact that its working and most likely he's refurbished it (I actually told him years ago he was charging too little for his auctions!). 

He is definitely NOT charging enough.  I told him the same.

I should buy another one from him as a backup for a backup.

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