Atari 2600

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Atari 2600 Games can be played in LinuxMCE, thanks to the wonderful work by the MESS project.

Game Player Playing Pitfall

Basic Definitions

  • The OK button is defined as the button normally pressed while the Options screen is visible to select items, and to enter into other menus.
    • If you are using the keyboard, the OK button is the ENTER key.
    • If you are using a joystick, the OK button is Button 1 on your joystick.
    • If you are using the Orbiter, the OK Button is the Play button on the bottom of the orbiter display next to the arrow keys.
  • The Escape button is defined as the button normally pressed while the Options screen is visible to abort selections, or to exit menus.
    • If you are using the keyboard, the Cancel button is the ESC key.
    • There is no cancel for the orbiter currently, (FIXME)
    • There is no cancel on the gamepad. You will need to define one if you want it, in the UI Controls subsection in the Options menu.

Putting ROMs into the system

Using Mac OS X Finder to drop ROMs into the system.

In order to play the games, you must acquire the ROMs. These can be found in a variety of ways, and they will not be detailed here.

Rom files for the Atari 2600 must end in .a26 (this is so that we can accurately find the ROM files and identify them as Atari 2600 ROMs.

Once the ROMs are acquired, place the .a26 files into a directory searchable by the filesystem. Normally, this would be under public/games/a2600. PAL games can go under a2600p, and will be played using the PAL TV standard. SECAM is not, and will never be supported. (Trust me, if you ever saw a SECAM Atari 2600, you'd understand why!)

Once UpdateMedia finds the ROMs, the Game Database will be consulted, and imagery will be pulled from the Game Snapshot Database.

Playing Atari 2600 Games

Selecting a Game

Selecting a 2600 Game, the Cover art.

Games can be played by selecting the Games scenario in the main screen, and selecting Atari 2600 from the resulting list. If you have changed the sort order (under Options), you should change it to System, so you can see the Atari 2600 option.

If available, each game will be shown with their respective cover art. If you see a game and it doesn't have cover art, it would be wonderful if you at least filed a ticket, even better if you provided cover art.

You can of course use the Options page to filter, and search through games, the same as with other media. In search, games for all systems will be shown.

Playing a Game

Typically, once a game has been selected, the Game will appear, with artwork around the game screen (if available). Since these games are simulations of the actual game hardware and software, you will see the game "boot" its hardware and software. This will entail various "self test" screens which may look quite strange, but they will eventually give way to the Game's attract screen.

Select / Start

Selecting a Game Difficulty level

The Select and P1 buttons on the orbiter will select a game difficulty, or start the game, as appropriate. The behaviour of these buttons depends on the game currently playing.

How Do I?

This section shows common issues that can arise while playing Atari 2600 games with the Game Player.

Configure your controller

Setting Atari 2600 options

You can configure a controller by pressing Options . Once the Options menu has appeared, you can use either the orbiter to select the folowing:

  • Input (General) - Changes in this menu affect every single system that MESS controls
  • Input (This System) - Changes in this menu affect the Atari 2600 (and every game that it plays)

Once you select this section, you can then select the button you wish to redefine, and then press the OK button, and then press the desired button on your keyboard or controller to define the new button. Repeat this for each button you wish to define.

A note about redefining buttons present on the Orbiter
Mapping buttons so Orbiter can work too.

Currently, because Arcade implementation uses MESS, and we are throwing keystrokes at MESS, these keystrokes are currently hard-coded into Game Player. We expect that 2 is player 1 start, 1 is select, etc, and we send keyboard events whenever you press a button on the Orbiter display when this happens. If you redefine these keys, the buttons on Orbiter will cease to function correctly. This is easy to solve. When you are defining your keys, define your new button, then repeat, the process, pressing the appropriate orbiter button. MESS will assign the button events to both keys, and your orbiter buttons will continue to work correctly.

Setting Difficulty or Color switches

Setting Atari 2600 options

The Atari 2600 has switches to set difficulty, or to change between Color and Black and white. To select this, go into Options, select Dip Switches, and change the appropriate setting. Any settings changed here will immediately affect the currently playing game.

Change the Controller Type

Setting Atari 2600 Controllers

Some games require different controller types. For example, Video Olympics, and Warlords both require a paddle controller, while Night Driver and Indy 500 require Driving controllers, while most Atari 2600 games require joysticks. You can change this setting in the Driver configuration menu.

A note, Right controller means player 1, Left controller means player 2.

For best results to be able to effectively use all the controller types, see: Using Atari 2600 Controllers