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Thread: Atari Paddles: Mixing "Tennis" and "Racing" Controllers, or Two vs One Per Cord

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    Question Atari Paddles: Mixing "Tennis" and "Racing" Controllers, or Two vs One Per Cord

    Growing up, I only ever had the two-in-one Atari paddle controllers (the kind labeled as "Tennis"). With these, you could have up to four players participate simultaneously. However this year I've also been made aware of the "Racing" variant of the paddle controllers which have only one paddle controller per cord. Why now?

    Because recently, I got an Atari Flashback 4 for Christmas. It's pretty good and contains 75 games - and an Asteroids poster! It surprisingly has an official pause function which I've accidentally activated a few times... I guess I'll need to read the manual (or get help from the fine folks here at DP) to find out how to purposefully pause the games. Yet there's another change to the games: previously paddle-only games are now also compatible with joysticks. There's just one problem: the games were originally analog-controls-only before for a good reason! The joystick controls are too coarse for the fine tuning needed in things like Warlords or Atari Circus, causing misses and frustration... or hilarity, depending on the situation.

    So I'm thinking of getting some paddle controllers for the Atari Flashback 4. Thus the questions: If you use two Racing controllers, is the one plugged into the second controller port seen as Player 2 or Player 3? Furthermore, do games work just fine mixing both Tennis and Racing ones (i.e. for three players)? Any good third-party paddle controllers? And which ones should be avoided?

    Thanks for the info, all.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) sloan's Avatar
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    I am not certain how FB4 handles the paddle versus driving controllers, but on a stock VCS system, the two types of controllers are not interchangeable. The only game I am aware of that released for the driving controller (single controller to a cord) is Indy 500 by Atari. Paddle (two controllers per cord) games included Asteroids, Breakout, and Circus Atari. So, if those games are included on FB4, unless the ROM's have been modified for special release, only Indy 500 would work with the driving controller, and would not work with paddle controllers.

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    If the games have been modified to use joysticks, are you certain they're even still compatible with paddles? I'd just make sure before you go buying anything.

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    No, they definitely work with paddles; I've used both Atari-era paddles and the new ones AT Games sells on its website, and they work as expected.

    Between the two, the original paddles have a much looser, faster dial but is prone to jitter. The new paddles look almost identical to the original, but the dial feels much firmer (and thus a bit slower) and there is far less jitter. I haven't opened it up, but I am mildly curious if the internal mechanism is the same or different from the original paddles.

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    Thanks for all the info, fellas. Time to go get some Atari (two-in-one) paddles!

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    Kirby (Level 13) Leo_A's Avatar
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    As already said, they've never been compatible with each other. Despite external appearances being similar, the Indy 500 controllers aren't just single paddles. They're two different types of controllers that operate in different ways. One obvious difference to the user is that the paddles have stops while the Indy 500 controller is free spinning like a wheel on an Atari Sprint machine would be. Technically, paddles utilize potentiometer's and are analog devices while the Indy 500 controller's are gray code devices and are digital. And paddles have a much higher resolution and the kernel has to be constantly checking these value's which greatly limits what can be displayed with a 2600 paddle game due to the heavy resource use of the paddles.

    Indy 500 is the only commercially released game that supports it and since it isn't included on the Flashback 4 (It hasn't dawned on Atari's legal team that this game is releasable without an IMS license via a simple renaming), it doesn't have a use on here. And since this isn't a 2600 on a chip, there has yet to be a cartridge hack so you can't modify it to accept an original cartridge. So no way to play Indy 500, the homebrew Indy 500 XE, the driving controller hack for Sprintmaster that added a feature that should've been there 25 years ago, the Omega Race hack, and no homebrew Stella's Stocking or Stell-A-Sketch.

    Quote Originally Posted by sloan View Post
    Paddle (two controllers per cord) games included Asteroids
    You're mistaken.

    Asteroids was a joystick game. And while it doesn't state anything about paddles one way or another on the cartridge artwork or in the manual and I've never actually tried it with paddles to make sure they don't work, it wouldn't be provided as an option for obvious reasons. The paddle's only have a single button so there would be no where to map thrust (Applied with a joystick by pushing up) or hyperspace or shields (Applied by pressing down) to.

    All you could do would be rotate and use the button for fire (Or thrust if the game utilized auto fire). So no matter how they handled it, you'd still be short at least one button that's necessary with a paddle controller.

    Edit - Looks like there's a hack for Asteroids that adds Driving Controller support. I'll have to give it a try later on my Cuttle Cart II but i don't expect to enjoy it very much when I also have to use a joystick just to thrust and hyperspace.

    http://www.atariage.com/hack_page.ht...twareHackID=43

    Quote Originally Posted by BlastProcessing402 View Post
    If the games have been modified to use joysticks, are you certain they're even still compatible with paddles? I'd just make sure before you go buying anything.
    Like has been said, AtGames has even made new 2600 paddles for their Flashback 3 and Flashback 4. So they're certainly compatible.

    The paddle games haven't been modified at all to use joystick's. It's their emulator program itself that's interpreting the joystick signals as paddle signals with the game code remaining intact and fully paddle compatible. So merely plugging in original 2600 paddles or the new AtGames recreations allows one to enjoy games like Super Breakout on the Flashback 4 properly.
    Last edited by Leo_A; 01-10-2013 at 07:37 PM.

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    Thanks Leo_A, your post was really informative! I believe I'll pick up some classic Atari paddles for future use.

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    Arrow How to "Unpause" and Pause the Atari Flashback 4

    Quote Originally Posted by Nz17 View Post
    It surprisingly has an official pause function which I've accidentally activated a few times... I guess I'll need to read the manual (or get help from the fine folks here at DP) to find out how to purposefully pause the games.
    OK, I figured this one out manually last night with the help of another Atari player. As I've seen it nowhere else on the Internet, I'm going to post this here for posterity's sake. You're welcome, future Internet readers.

    To pause the Atari Flashback 4 (and the Atari Flashback 3 which introduced the feature), press Fire and Select at the same time. The word "PAUSE" will appear in a gray box in the middle of the screen. To unpause the Flashback 4, press Fire and Start at the same time. It's easier if you hold Fire and then press the other corresponding button. You can pause or resume the other way about (Select then Fire or Start then Fire), but the games catch the first button pressed, so your game will change modes or restart if you press Select or Start first. So don't do that as it voids the reason for pausing the game in the first place.

    Also of note, any Fire button causes this to happen. So if Player 2 presses Fire at the same time when another player presses Select, the game will pause. I'm guessing this works with paddle controllers too, but you'd have to use the controls on the console for Select or Start in that case.

    Happy gaming!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_A View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sloan
    Paddle (two controllers per cord) games included Asteroids
    You're mistaken.
    I suspect sloan meant Astrosmash, as I believe that game could be played with either joystick OR paddles.
    Russ Perry Jr, 2175 S Tonne Dr #114, Arlington Hts IL 60005
    Got any obscure game stuff?

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