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How to use Atari 2600 joysticks on a PC

 

If you wondering what the heck this is about, you probably didn’t grow up in the early 80’s playing an Atari 2600 so you may not care to read onJ. In the early 80’s the Atari 2600 (VCS) ruled the video game industry and for most people this was the first introduction to video gaming at home. Nowadays you can find many free good Atari emulators for PC (for example http://stella.sourceforge.net/) but the experience isn’t really the same playing on a keyboard or gamepad controller. The Atari joysticks were pretty unique. So is it possible to use original Atari joysticks on your PC? Yes, here’s how:

1.   Get Atari joysticks if you don’t already have some: either buy the Atari flashback 2 if you can still find a cheap one (comes with 2 joysticks that are pretty close to the original), or buy some original Atari joysticks from stores like B&C Also best electronics is a great place to get updated more robust joysticks

2.       Buy 2600 to USB adapter here: Amazon Atari 2600 adapter or Stella adapter at atariage.com. You also need a regular USB cable if you don’t have these already (also sold at atariage.com).

3.       Connect the Atari joystick to the adapter and on the other end connect a regular USB cable that goes into the PC. Windows will automatically detect the joystick as soon as you plug it in (typically no driver required)

4.       Install Atari 2600 emulator. For instance Stella: http://stella.sourceforge.net/. Also for Windows 8 RT there’s EMU7800 app but I believe it’s not compatible yet with USB adapter (only xbox controllers). ROMS are available on http://atariage.com and other sites. Several 2600 reviews can be found here: http://www.videogamecritic.net/

5.       Start Atari 2600 emulator and under choose options/input settings and then tab virtual devs. Choose the joystick you just connected.

 

Note: you can connect up to 2 joysticks provided you have 2 adapters. Also you can connect 2 pair of paddles (4 players) and the indy 500 race paddles. I tested the adapter on Windows XP and Vista and both worked without requiring any drivers.

If you already have the Flashback 2 you don’t need a PC of course. But it only comes with a couple of games. Speaking of Flashback 2: get 2 bonus paddle games using this code in the main menu: joystick up, down 9 times, up 7 times, down 2 times

 

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One response

  1. Get Atari joysticks if you don’t already have some: either buy the Atari flashback 2 if you can still find a cheap one (comes with 2 joysticks that … fflashbacka.wordpress.com

    August 16, 2015 at 9:05 am

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