Atari 2600 Study
At the moment I’m reading ‘Racing The Beam‘, an in-depth study of Atari’s VCS console from 1977 (renamed the 2600 in 1982). The book traces the systems history and talks about how it’s game designers creatively worked around the machines limitations. One major constraint been how it was designed to show just 2 sprites (objects, aliens or whatever) onscreen at once.
In the name of research I’ve scored a cheap woodgrain 2600 from ebay and will conduct some serious playtesting of the games mentioned in Racing The Beam, starting off with Combat, Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Then it’s onto Empire Strikes Back. Even E.T. will be tested. It’s gonna be a tough job :)
Anyhows, there are still applications been made for the 2600, albeit in a homebrew capacity. For instance, Atari 2600 OS, a point and click GUI with Pong embedded is a marvel of minimalism. While the 2600 Full Midi interface allows direct control of the VCS audio for making music, if you’re into the gritty low-bit sound!