Atari 5200 A-C

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Adventure II - By Square Trio

Adventure - such a simple name yet one that became a remarkable success and the first game of its kind on a home console, namely the Atari 2600. The 5200 adaptation of Adventure preserves the formula of the original game while expanding upon it. As with the 2600, your “character” is a brave square who must traverse several kingdoms, landscapes, and rooms in search of a magical chalice that must be returned to the golden castle. In your journey you must face dragons, trolls, and minotaurs. The dragons are very aggressive and are not exactly easy to kill. If you are wondering how you get to slay a dragon that answer is simple - you have to find a sword in one of the rooms or mazes so you can be ready to defend yourself. There are other objects you’ll want to pick up and use as you play Adventure II but you can only carry one at a time. Visually, Adventure II is stunning. Where the 2600 version had simple graphics, in this 5200 version the landscapes, castles, and enemies are highly detailed and colourful. The hedges, river, bridge and other items just look fantastic. Yes the dragons look more like seahorses but I think that’s part of the charm of the game. Adventure II offers 22 game variations to choose from and lets you choose how big of a “world” you want to play in. This is an adventure well worth having for your 5200!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Astrochase - By Parker Brothers

Originally released by First Star Software for the Atari 8-bit family of computers, Astrochase was later licensed to Parker Brothers for home console releases. It even saw a release into the arcades by Exidy. Astrochase is a scrolling shoot ’em up type of game in which the player takes control of a spaceship in an attempt to defend the Earth from an alien attack. The goal is to destroy the eight mega mines as they approach Earth. Should any one mine reach Earth, the planet is toast. To make things more challenging, the aliens send an attack force to keep your ship busy. You must destroy them if you are to survive to complete your mission. These enemy ships come in a variety of types (eight, to be exact) and they each represent their own challenge. To complicate matters, there’s a force field that surrounds Earth and a section of section around it. Hitting the barrier drains your energy so you have to be careful. Thankfully you can replenish your energy by touching one of the four energy generators within the force field. You can also engage your own shields for several seconds if you touch one of the shield depots. While all of this sounds like it would be fun to play, it turns out to be rather repetitive. The game does have nice graphics that are bright and colourful and it even boasts at beautiful opening sequence where you see the pilot of the spaceship walk to a landing spot before he gets transported up to the ship. Unfortunately, nice visuals don’t always make for a great game. Sounds are good and you get to listen to the 1812 Overture through the game. Overall an OK game but not overly exciting.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 Atari Tris - By John Swiderski

Who would have known that pieces made of four squares organised in different shapes could be so fun to play with?! Atari Tris, as the name suggests, is an adaptation for the Atari 5200 of that wonderful puzzle game, Tetris. As in Tetris, you play with tetraminos, puzzle pieces made of squares organised into seven different pieces. The goal of the game is to organise these pieces as the drop from the top of the screen so that lines can be formed. Every time a line is made, it is cleared from the playing field making more room for more pieces. If you make five lines together at once, you get bonus points. Be careful, though because misplacing a piece results in gaps that make it more difficult to complete your task and which leads to pieces accumulating in the playing field. If too many pieces remain in the playing field and you are no longer able to organise more falling pieces, the game is over. Atari Tris is a superb port of this puzzle classic. Pieces are detailed and in different colours. The playing field is detailed (the playing area is framed by boxes with game information such as score and next piece) and sound is fantastic. There are several tunes that play in the background as you work hard to cleanly organise all the falling pieces. The game has a nice title screen in which you can choose the level at which you want to start the game. The higher the number, the greater the difficulty. The Atari 5200 controllers do work well as well, so control is not a concern with Atari Tris. As a classic puzzle game, Atari Tris should not be missed in any 5200 collector’s game library

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Ballblazer - By Lucasfilm

Ballblazer is a rather unique sports title for the 5200 as it is a futuristic take on soccer. In Ballblazer you and your opponent control a rotofoil which is used to carry and/or throw a ball to the opponent’s goal. The further you are from the goal, the higher the points you score. The players, which can include a human opponent or a “droid,” move through the checkerboard playing field chasing the ball and attempting to steal it from each other. The goal changes position with each round and as the game advances the goal posts get closer to each other, making it more difficult to score. The game continues until the timer runs out or one of the players reaches a score of 10 points. Ballblazer is unique in that the playing field is actually split in two so that each player can see the game in first-person perspective. While this is well animated, it can become confusing at first. One fantastic factor in Ballblazer is the music that plays through the game - “Song of the Grid.” That title seems fitting of a Tron movie but it works quite well with this game. In fact, you may find yourself humming the tune in your head long after you stop playing. The graphics in Ballblazer are straightforward but they are done well, with fluid movement, and pristine animation. The 5200 controllers work well and do not detract from the gameplay. In fact, I’m sure the folks at Lucasfilm made the game to take advantage of the controllers. The computer opponent is effective but the game can be even more fun when played with a friend. Ballblazer is a superb game and one that I feel is a must have for any 5200 owner.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Battlezone - By Atari

Battlezone was an excellent vector graphics game in which the player pilots a tank in a battlefield where the goal is to destroy enemy tanks and UFO’s that fly about. Recreating vector graphics in most home consoles was challenging, so compromises were usually made when these games were ported to them. The 2600 version is a perfect example where the playing field was just filled up with colours but which achieved the gameplay of the arcade. On the 5200, Atari chose to do a mixture of standard graphics and vector emulation. While all the enemies and objects in the battlefield are well done in emulated vector graphics, everything else is done with standard graphics. So, the background mountains are beautifully rendered as is the radar and the information screens. Visually, it actually works very well and really gives the impression of a superb arcade port. Unfortunately, it is all but appearances. As beautiful as the game looks, it is really bad to play. The animation of the enemy tanks and their explosions (if they can even be called that as they look more like a dismantling sequence) is poorly done and detracts from the gameplay. Targeting is also difficult to accomplish and the bullets move so slowly, it is difficult to tell what’s happening. It is truly unfortunate because I was really looking forward to having a blast playing this version of Battlezone. Sadly, it faltered.

Review by TrekMD

4/10

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 Beamrider - By Activision

Beamrider is an original title that bears some resemblance to Tempest. Earth is surrounded by a Restrictor Shield (this is the grid you see on the screen) and you command a ship equipped to travel the grid, the Beamrider. Your goal is to clear all 99 sectors in the shield of alien ships that infest it. To do so, you are equipped with two types of weapons: lasers and torpedoes. The lasers have a limited range that covers about 2/3 of the screen. The torpedoes have full range but they come in a limited supply. At the start of each sector you are given three torpedoes which you must deploy smartly since you’ll need them to destroy motherships (called Sentinel Ships) at the end of each round. Along with alien ships that you can shoot, there may be asteroids floating in the grid which you must avoid as they will destroy the Beamrider on contact. In order to reach the motherships, you are required to destroy a specific number of alien ships. This is indicated at the top left of the screen. Once you’ve destroyed the required number of s hips, the mothership appears and this is your change to rack bonus points by destroying it with a well-placed torpedo. Bear in mind that your enemies are not defenceless. They will also shoot back, so you must be attentive so you can avoid their fire. Things can get tricky as there can be many objects heading your way! Beamrider is a nice shooter for the 5200. Graphics and sound are well done and the pseudo 3D effects works fine. Enemy ships and objects scale as they move closer to your ship, so judging their distance from the Beamrider is not difficult. This is a good title for your collection.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Beef Drop - By Ken Siders

Beef Drop is a clone of the excellent arcade title, Burger Time. As in that arcade game, you play the role of Peter Pepper who is charged with making burgers while walking atop the different parts of these (buns, burger patty, lettuce) on a multilevel maze of platforms. But Peter is not alone on the maze as there are eggs, hot dogs, and pickles who chase after him to stop him from performing his task. Peter is not defenceless, however, as he can squash these food characters with any of the burger parts or, for even more bonus points, he can give them a ride down on any burger part. The more bad guys are on the burger part, the further down the piece will drop and the more points Peter racks. Peter is also has a limited supply of pepper that he can use to temporarily paralyse his enemies. These should be used smartly, though they can be replenished by picking up one of the many bonus items that sporadically appear in the centre of the maze (ice cream cones, salt, French fries, etc.). Beef Drop is an excellent port of the arcade game both visually and with its gameplay. All the characters are here as well as all the mazes for plenty of fun and challenge. The player can choose from several levels of play and up to two players can take turns. Game sounds are well done and the catchy tune from the arcade game is all here to add to the atmosphere. Beef Drop is an excellent title for the Atari 5200 and one that no owner of the system should be without.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Berzerk - By Atari

Chicken, fight like a robot! Got the humanoid! Got the humanoid! These are some of the great phrases heard while playing Berzerk on the arcade. Other home versions of Berzerk are missing this great feature of the game but not the 5200. In this version of Berzerk, every element of the arcade is beautifully captured to truly recreate the experience right at home. For those who don’t know, Berzerk is a game where you control a man who is trapped in a set of mazes run by Evil Otto. These mazes are full of robots of various colours who will target your character in order to “kill the intruder”. The robots become more aggressive as you advance through the mazes and, if you take too long to leave any one maze, Evil Otto comes into the maze to get you. You better get out of there before Otto (or any of the robots) get you. Berzerk has a very interesting aspect to it and it is that the robots tend to commit suicide if you wait a few seconds. This was, apparently, a glitch in the original arcade game that became a staple of the game and which has also been adapted to the home versions. Graphics on this 5200 port are arcade-perfect and sounds are a good match for the arcade game. Berzerk has 11 different levels to choose from and it also has a two-player mode so you can play against a friend for highest score. This is a superb game that every Atari 5200 owner should have.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Bristles - By First Star Software

First released for the Atari 8-bit computers in 1984, the classic game Bristles found itself ported to the SuperSystem in 2004 by the very same company that created the game back in the ‘80s. The goal in Bristles is to guide Peter the Painter or one of other seven painters as they paint all the rooms in a series of houses. One or two players can enjoy the game and they can even play more than one character as long as they all have different names. There’s a total of eight buildings that need to be painted, each with six skill levels. Of course, things can’t be just as simple as painting rooms. Your first challenge is a timer that counts down and that you must beat by finishing the paint job before time’s up. Elevators move up and the down from floor to floor. While you can use them to more quickly travel between floors, you must be careful in your timing when getting on or off them. In the lower levels, falling through the elevator shaft is “safe” but at the higher levels you lose a paint brush. You can also move from the basement to the first floor through ladders but they are located near the elevator shafts. Go up at the wrong time and an elevator will get you. As if these weren’t enough, you’ll also have to contend with Flying Half Pints, Dumb Buckets, Brenda the Brat, and Bucket Chucker. Some of these characters only appear at higher levels and they ramp up the challenge. Bristles is, without a doubt, one fun game on the 5200. It’s graphics are a direct port of the 8-bit computer game and its sounds are underscored by a rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. A winner for sure!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom - By Sega

Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom is an original game developed by Sega based on the Buck Rogers franchise but it bears no relation to the televised show of the late 70's. Planet of Zoom is a space shooter where your goal is to race over the planet before reaching a deadly mothership that must be destroyed. You play the role of Buck Rogers as he manoeuvres a fighter ship over planet Zoom facing Electron Posts, Alien Saucers, and Space Hoppers. The fighter ship can be controlled to move right or left while also adjusting its height over the surface. Speed can be controlled by how high the ship moves and it determines the rate of fuel consumption (the faster you fly, the slower fuels is consumed and vice versa). If you run out of fuel, you crash and die. As you fly over the planet, you must manoeuvre in between the Electron Posts while avoiding the attaching ships. A counter at the top of the screen lets you know how many more posts need to be crossed before you move into space to face the mothership. Once you pass through enough posts, the screen flashes in various colours and there is a sound letting you know you’re moving to the next phase. When facing the mothership, be careful because it moves about closer and further from you while firing. Destroy it so you can move to the next level. Buck Rogers offers five different game levels to play. The game is simple fun but nothing stellar. Graphics work well and the animation is done smoothly with a good representation of perspective as objects move closer to your fighter ship. Sound is pretty good (I love the explosions) although I would have preferred a different sound for the “end of wave” animation.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Castle Crisis - By Brian Edewaard

If you have ever enjoyed playing Warlords, then you are in for a treat with Castle Crisis. In this adaptation of Warlords, you and up to three of your friends (if you have a 4-port 5200 console) can get together to do some castle smashing. You can certainly also play alone (against three computer opponents) or with one more friend and two computer opponents. The goal of the game is to protect your castle and your king from the fiery fireballs that are thrown in between the players. If you are wondering where these fireballs come from look no further than a vicious dragon that spits the first fireball randomly before leaving the field. You are equipped with a shield that you can control with the 5200 joystick or with a 5200 paddle controller (if you have one) in order to deflect the fireball from your castle and into any of the other castles. As the castle walls are hit, pieces fall off until the king is exposed. One hit to an exposed king ends the game for that player. The last player standing is the winner. Castle Crisis has fast-paced action and is fun to play even against the computer opponents. The graphics are beautifully done with a nicely animated dragon at the beginning of the game. The kings are well rendered and the fireballs look great. Sound is also good and the experience really mimics the arcade game quite well. Truly a winner to have in any Atari 5200 game library.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Centipede - By Atari

If you hate bugs, Centipede is the game for you. Why? Because you get to kill plenty of these critters! Centipede is a port of the arcade game of the same name. You control a cannon that moves freely (up, down, left, right) on the bottom part of the screen while you shoot a centipede that comes running down a screen full of mushrooms. But the centipede is not alone. You have to be watchful of spiders that jump about toward the bottom of the screen and you can’t forget the fleas that come down toward you at top speed! All the elements of the arcade game are faithfully captured in this port with the only significant difference being that the playing field is horizontal instead of vertical. This means that the centipede can make it to the bottom of the screen much faster! In the arcade, Centipede was played with a trackball. This is not something you have to give up at home if you have Atari’s trackball controller for the 5200. While the standard controller can be used to play the game, the experience is far better with the trackball as it gives you the most arcade-like experience. This is another winner for the 5200 and another must for your game library!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Choplifter - By Broderbund

Sixty four United Nations diplomats have been captured and are being held hostage behind enemy lines. It is your mission to rescue them and bring them back to safety. To do so, you man the helicopter smuggled into an isolated post office and fly, in the middle of the night, into enemy territory to save the hostages from the barracks that hold them. Carry as many hostages as your helicopter will take and bring them back to the safety of the post office before heading back to save more. Be careful, however, for the enemy forces of the Bungelings have noticed your actions and they’ve sent tanks, jets, and guided missiles to stop you from completing your mission! You have three sorties in which to complete this mission. Are you up to it? This is the story behind Choplifter, a game originally developed in 1982 for the Apple II computers. It was adapted to many other systems, including a port to the Atari 5200. Because this port is of the original game, and not of the arcade version, it remains faithful to the original both visually and in gameplay. You control the helicopter with your joystick, use the top buttons to fire your weapons, and the bottom buttons to rotate the helicopter. Choplifter is a game of strategy and it is a classic. Though this is a good port, I wish an effort had been made to spruce up the graphics a bit. Adding some colour to things like the helicopter, the post office, etc., would have been a nice touch and certainly within the capabilities of the 5200.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Congo Bongo - By Sega

Given the success of Donkey Kong, Sega attempted to create a similar game that upped the ante by having an isometric view of the playing field. The game they created is Congo Bongo where Bongo, a big gorilla, is the “bad guy.” You see Bongo is a practical joker and he has set fire to a safari hunter’s tent and has burned the hunter’s feet. The hunter is now after Bongo in order to enact revenge by turning the tables on Bongo and burning him! In your chase of Bongo, in the arcade incarnation of the game, you must climb Primate Peak, cross Snake Lake, run across Rhino Ridge, and make it across Lazy Lagoon. Each screen in rendered in a nice isometric view and each has different challenges. The isometric view, while cool, must have made porting the game to home consoles difficult as most home systems only have two of the four screens - including the 5200 port. The 5200 port includes Primate Peak and Lazy Lagoon. As you go against Bongo on Primate Peak you must avoid the coconuts he throws your way as well as a pack of monkeys you try to get on your back to make you fall. On Lazy Lagoon you must make it across the lagoon jumping on lily pads, hippos, and fish so you can make it to Bongo to turn his feet. Lazy Lagoon has similar gameplay to Frogger, just with an isometric view. As much as I hate to say it, this version of Congo Bongo leaves much to be desired (particularly if you ever see the ColecoVision version which has three screens, better graphics, and better sound). While the game does retain the isometric view, the angle is different from the arcade game on Primate Peak, there is significantly less detail, the colour palette is not the best, and the animation is awful. It is nearly impossible to tell where the coconuts are hitting, which makes it difficult to avoid them on Primate Peak. The hunter, whom you are supposed to see bend as he climbs up the peak, simply magically moves up the walls of the peak which takes away from the charm of the original. The Lazy Lagoon screen looks better but it still suffers from bad animation. It is truly unfortunate because I really wanted to like this game but I just can’t. I believe Congo Bongo was just poorly programmed and it fails to take advantage of the capabilities of the 5200.

Review by TrekMD

2/10

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