Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Orbit (c) 11/1978 Atari.


Game ID : 033689-033702

Main CPU : M6800 (@ 756 Khz)

Sound Chips : Discrete (@ 756 Khz)

Screen orientation : Horizontal

Video resolution : 512 x 480 pixels

Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz

Palette colors : 2

Players : 2

Control : 2-way joystick

Buttons : 3


On Orbit, Owen was basically asked to knock off Steve Russell's 'Spacewar!' (the first vector video game ever writen : 1962!) in RASTER for the European market in just 6 to 8 weeks, it was done quickly and there are small mistakes. Owen should have made the shots bigger for example, and the space stations could have had better graphics. But for a raster version of an original vector game in those days, Atari hit it fairly well.

There was 2 versions, a large upright cabinet (that may never have been shipped) and the smaller one with the long row of buttons. Atari did a very advanced version in the larger cabinet that had an electronic touch pad and lots of LEDs to indicate which options were selected, with a different type of buttons from the small cabinet. It was a very cool touch pad but all the same functions were there, just in a small space. It was a large cabinet with the touch pad over the monitor. The stereo sound was cool because it placed the sound where the objects were on the screen.

Owen also changed the option buttons to always work because he hated that in 'Spacewar!', once you picked the game and options, you were stuck with them for the entire game. If you bought and were playing a 15 minute game, it was a long time to realize you should not have picked negative gravity! Also, Owen needed to add something to the game to make it different (in addition to the switchable options), so the idea of getting new fuel, shots, and repairs from Space Stations seemed like a cool idea at the time. Too bad it did not work as well as Owen thought it would. That is why they are an option.

The last interesting note on Orbit was that the space stations actually DO orbit the sun, they are not on tracks. Owen gave them an initial hit of velocity at the start of each wave and the gravity routines do the rest (they ignore negative gravity, because the first time you selected it, they would fly off the screen). To test the gravity routines, on the bench Owen put the space stations into orbit around the sun, and just let it run for days. Several days later, they were still in orbit, but degraded a bit and a bit more elliptical. They finally lost orbit a few days later. Not that Owen needed to do this, he could have put them on tracks, but he wanted his 8 bit gravity math to work as well as possible all the other time.


Designed and programmed by : Owen Rubin