Fans of the Atari 7800 know that it is great system but that it has a glaring problem. The pack-in controllers, the CX24 ProLine joysticks, are almost universally reviled and have earned a spot among other disasters in input devices like the Apple hockey puck mouse and the Atari 400 membrane keyboard. They have earned their nickname, the Painline controllers, by being aggressively uncomfortable to use for any extended period of time. In Europe, the 7800 came with NES-style gamepads which were an improvement, but still not great, in my opinion. Because of this, there has always been a demand for alternative controllers for the Atari 7800. It reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where the person is in the library but breaks his only pair of glasses. The 7800 has a great library of games but those controllers are a barrier to enjoying them.
For games that can be played with a single button, the good old 2600 CX-40 joysticks work well. And while I contend that most games only need a single button, there are many 7800 games that get all fancy with two, including one of my all-time favorite games, Commando. An interesting bit of trivia is that the Sega Genesis shares the same joystick port, the DB9, as did many other computers of the 80s like the Commodore 64 and Amiga as well as Atari’s own 8-bit and ST computers.
You might think, because of this shared port, and because the Sega Genesis controllers have multiple buttons, that you could just use one as a substitute. Unfortunately, the wiring is different so that only the directional pad and a single button will work. Back in the day, there was a little cottage industry of people who would modify Sega Genesis controllers for use with the 7800. Now, however, there is an adapter to handle this conversion that plugs in between the 7800 and the Genesis controller, the Edladdin Seagull 78. So, not only does this device allow two Genesis controller buttons to work on the 7800, but it also works as an extension. With both the Seagull 78 and the generous cable for the Genesis controller, I can easily stretch the controller across the room.
The price of the Seagull 78 is a very reasonable $24.99. It is well-built and works exactly as expected. This product is great solution for getting a good controller for your Atari 7800. If you’ve been suffering through play sessions with the 7800 joypads or, poor soul, the Proline controllers, you really need to find an alternative and this is a wonderful, affordable solution.