Atari Flashback

Atari Flashback

The Atari Flashback and Atari Flashback 2 are dedicated video game consoles marketed by Atari Inc. in 2004 and 2005. They are preprogrammed with classic Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 console games from the 1970s and 1980s built in, and do not use ROM cartridges.

Both systems are powered by an AC adapter (included), come with a pair of joystick controllers, and use standard composite video and monaural audio RCA plugs to connect to a television.

Atari Flashback

Infobox CVG system
title = Atari Flashback
logo =

manufacturer = Atari Inc.
type =
generation = Sixth generation era
lifespan = 2004
media =
unitssold =
onlineservice =
topgame =
compatibility =
predecessor = Atari Paddle Controller TV Video Game System
successor = Atari Flashback 2

The Atari Flashback was released in 2004. The console resembled an Atari 7800 in appearance, and came with a pair of controllers which resembled those of the Atari 7800 but were slightly smaller. The system had twenty games built-in, all originally developed by Warner Communication's Atari Inc. and Atari Corp. for the 2600 and 7800 game systems. The games which originally required analog paddle controllers were made to work with the included joysticks.

It was designed by Atari veteran Curt Vendel, whose company [ Legacy Engineering Group] designs other home video game and video arcade products. Atari Inc. gave Legacy Engineering ten weeks to design the product, produce its games, and ready it for the 2004 Winter holiday season. The Atari Flashback was based on "NES-on-a-chip" hardware, not resembling either of the Atari systems which the Flashback was supposed to represent. As a result, the games it contained were ports and differed in varying degrees from the original games, and therefore the Flashback was unpopular with some purists.

Included games

One game, "Saboteur" (originally designed by Howard Scott Warshaw), was advertised as "unreleased"; though never part of the Atari lineup, it was sold at the Philly Classic 5 convention in 2004.

Atari 2600

*"Air-Sea Battle"
*"Canyon Bomber"
*"Crystal Castles"
*"Haunted House"
*"Sky Diver"
*"Yars' Revenge"

Atari 7800

*"Desert Falcon"
*"Charley Chuck’s Food Fight"
*"Planet Smashers"

Atari Flashback 2

Infobox CVG system
title = Atari Flashback 2
logo =

manufacturer = Atari Inc.
type =
generation = Seventh generation era
lifespan = July 24 2005
media =
unitssold =
onlineservice =
topgame =
compatibility =
predecessor = Atari Flashback
successor =
The Atari Flashback 2, the successor to the original Atari Flashback console, was released in 2005. It has forty Atari 2600 games built-in. A few of the included games are homebrews which were created by enthusiasts in recent years, and two of the games ("Pitfall!" and "River Raid") were originally published by Activision.

The appearance of the Atari Flashback 2 is reminiscent of the original Atari 2600 console from 1977. It is roughly two-thirds the size of the original, and much lighter in weight. The Flashback 2 console has five buttons (power, reset, left and right difficulty toggles, and select); on the back it has a color/black-and-white slider switch and two ports for the included joysticks. The joysticks bear very close similarity to the original Atari 2600 joysticks from 1977, and are compatible and interchangeable with them. The Flashback 2 does not come with paddle controllers, but original paddle controllers can be connected to it and used with its paddle-based games.

Curt Vendel and Legacy Engineering returned to develop the Flashback 2. Unlike the original Flashback console, the Flashback 2 contains a single-chip version of circuitry designed by Vendel; it is a reproduction of the original circuitry in that of the original Atari 2600. Therefore, the Atari Flashback 2 runs games just as they ran on an original console. The Atari Flashback 2 project was codenamed "Michele", after Vendel's wife. Her name is printed on the motherboard.

Marty Goldberg, owner of the Electronic Entertainment Museum, was the technical writer for the packed in manual and full design of the online manual. Because of changes in game content during the development and problems with the graphic design company keeping edit revisions straight, the manual which comes with the Flashback 2 has several errors in it including typos. For example, contrary to the manual there is no two-player mode in "Centipede", and there is no connected-ship gameplay in "Space Duel". Likewise in the description of "Save Mary" "Barnaby just blew up the nearby damn" appears.

Included games

The available games are arranged into four categories selectable from an on-screen menu. Once a game is selected, the only way back to the menu is to use the power button to turn the console off and on again.

The games listed below as "hacks" used other games' code as a starting point and modified their gameplay or appearance. "Homebrews" were written from scratch by Atari fans in the 1990s and 2000s. "Unreleased prototypes" are games which were developed by Atari Inc. in the 1970s and 1980s but never sold to consumers; some of these games may have bugs or be incomplete. A few of the games listed are new and exclusive to the Flashback 2.

Adventure Territory

*"Adventure II" (A sequel to "Adventure" that is built on its original assembly-based game code)
*"Haunted House"
*"Return To Haunted House" (A sequel to "Haunted House" that is built on the original "Adventure"'s assembly-based game code combined with graphics from the original "Haunted House")
*"Secret Quest"
*"Wizard" (unreleased prototype)

Arcade Favorites

*"Arcade Asteroids" (a hack of the original Atari 2600 "Asteroids" with the sprites changed to outlines to more accurately portray the arcade version)
*"Arcade Pong" (exclusive to the Flashback 2, a version of "Pong" which can use paddle controllers if attached)
*"Asteroids Deluxe" (exclusive to the Flashback 2)
*" Lunar Lander" (exclusive to the Flashback 2)
*"Missile Command"
*"Space Duel" (exclusive to the Flashback 2)

kill and Action Zone

*"3D Tic-Tac-Toe"
*"Aquaventure" (unreleased prototype)
*"Atari Climber" (homebrew, released in 2004 as "Climber 5")
*"Combat 2" (unreleased prototype)
*"Dodge 'Em"
*"Fatal Run" (only released in Europe)
*"Frog Pond" (unreleased prototype)
*"Human Cannonball"
*"Maze Craze"
*"Off The Wall"
*"Pitfall!" (originally released by Activision)
*"Radar Lock"
*"River Raid" (originally released by Activision)
*"Save Mary" (unreleased prototype)
*"Video Checkers"
*"Video Chess"

pace Station

*"Caverns Of Mars" (exclusive to the Flashback 2)
*"Quadrun" (originally sold only by mail order through the Atari fan club)
*"Saboteur" (unreleased prototype)
*"Space War"
*"Yars' Return" (exclusive to the Flashback 2)
*"Yars' Revenge"

Paddle Games

The console also includes two hidden titles which require the use of paddle controllers. The Flashback 2 does not come with paddle controllers, so these games cannot be played unless the user has an original set of Atari 2600 paddle controllers. To access the hidden paddle game menu, the user must press up on the joystick 1 time, pull down 9 times, push up 7 times, and pull down 2 times. (This represents the year 1972, in which "Pong" first appeared). The code must be entered steadily and without pauses (enter it too quickly and it won't work).

*"Super Breakout"

Test screens

Controller test screens can be accessed by holding down the select and reset buttons while pressing the power button to turn on the console. With the color/black-and-white switch set to 'color', the joystick test screen will appear; with it set to black-and-white, the paddle test screen will appear. These test screens allow a gamer to test controller inputs as well as the console's colors and sounds.


There have so far been three revisions of the Atari Flashback 2.

*Rev. 0X has a problem with the synthesized voice in "Quadrun" not working due to a problem with the emulation of the original console's audio output (when play begins, the game should speak "Quadrun" three times). It also contains a prototype version of "Millipede" programmed by General Computer Corporation [] ; this version has problems with the display losing vertical hold and appearing to "roll", making the game unplayable. This revision had the early delivery data to the chip fabricator and was not meant to be run into production. While this is commonly called Rev. A it is properly termed Rev. 0X

*Rev. A Is the correct production revision of the chip which fixes the voice synthesis in "Quadrun" and also contains the Atari Inc. version of "Millipede" as well as a newer revision of "Adventure 2" that is easier to see on certain TVs that experienced too dark a color palette. This revision is sometimes referred to as Rev. B since it was the 2nd series of release.

*Rev. C features a reduced-size PCB, which was designed to simplify installing a cartridge port (as described below). There are no changes to the unit's functionality, the Revision C chip corrected some Hmove incompatibility issues, but still lacked several 65xx Illegal OpCodes and support for FE bankswitching.

A few of the included games, such as "Lunar Lander", exhibit some flicker. This is due to limitations in the original Atari 2600 hardware, which the Flashback 2 reproduces accurately. Curt Vendel noted that the games exclusive to the Flashback 2 were programmed under a strict schedule, and later commissioned developers to tweak these games in order to reduce flickering [] . However, as of June 2006, Atari Inc. has not produced any further Flashback 2 revision with the improved games.

Rev. D is the Atari Flashback Portable with support for all games with the exception of "Pitfall 2" and the Supercharger games. This new chip will also have built in LCD driver lines, and USB connectivity support and built in Flash RAM for games storage. No official word on when Atari Inc. will release this revision and gamers eagerly await its official announcement.

Adding a cartridge port

While the original Atari 2600 consoles had a cartridge slot, the Atari Flashback 2 does not include one. However, a hobbyist can easily modify a Flashback 2 to use Atari 2600 cartridges, and can even install a switch across certain points of the motherboard so that the console can be easily set to play the forty built-in games again. The motherboard is printed with several solder points and a guide to what contact points associate with which cartridge pinouts. Complete details regarding the cartridge modification can be found at [] , a site set up by Curt Vendel.


In a recent interview with "The Escapist", Curt Vendel remarked, "Flashback 2 did exceptionally well. 860,000 sold in U.S./domestic." []

External links

* [ Atari Flashback on]
* [ Atari Flashback 2 on]
*Atari Flashback 2 online manual: [ HTML] , [ PDF]
*Unabridged Return to Haunted House Game Manual: [ PDF (640.73k)]
*Save Mary - How to play: [] , [ 2600 High Score Club]
* [ Flashback Review] - includes side by side comparison photos of the Atari 7800 and Flashback consoles.

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