Atari 5200 D-G

Alien Brigade Ė By Atari

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 Decathlon - By Activision

If you like Olympic-style games, Decathlon is for you. Decathlon is an original title in which you play in ten different sporting events: 100M dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400M, hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and a gruelling 1500M run. Donít let anyone tell you canít burn calories while playing video games because Decathlon will prove ďanyoneĒ wrong. Control of the game is achieved by wiggling the joystick as fast as you can for each of the sports. Depending on the event, you may also need to press the fire button to complete another action (say, to jump for the high jump). The 5200 joysticks work very well for this but I will admit that a controller specifically designed for this game would have been even better (like the Track & Field controller for the 2600). I suppose that was not something Activision considered doing at the time. Up to four players can compete (or you can play against the computer) in Decathlon but only two can participate at a time. As you participate in each sport, a score is tallied which is then summarised when all the events are played. This scoring then determines the winner of the events. Decathlon has beautiful graphics with nicely rendered and animated athletes. There is a nice intro screen with a musical theme as well. If anything is lacking in this game is more in-game sounds. It would be fantastic to have the sound of crowds cheering or even some in-game music for each of the events. There are sounds for running, guns firing, when things are thrown, etc. but they are bare bones sounds on an otherwise great-looking game. Regardless, the game is fun to play, particularly against friends!

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Defender - By Atari

The planet Humanis is under attack by an unknown alien force. Using their Landers, the aliens are abducting humanoids and making them into mutant alien combatants. The aliensí goal: capture every humanoid on the surface of Humanis before moving onto their next target world. There is one who is willing to stop them, the captain of the starship Defender! Though the original arcade game gave no name to the planet being attacked, Atari added some detail to the back story of Defender when they ported the game over to the 5200. In this port, as in the arcade, you are in control of the Defender in order to attack the alien ships roaming the planetís surface. Besides Landers, youíll face Baiters, Swarmers, Bombers, and Pods. Each of these enemies has their own tactic but they are all equally deadly to your ship. Using the Defenderís laser gun, you must destroy these alien ships while, at the same time, being careful not to hit any humanoids they might have abducted. To add to the action, you must also be ready to catch any humanoids that start falling should you destroy a Lander that is already high in the atmosphere. Failure to do so will result in the death of that humanoid. Your ship also comes equipped with hyperspace and a limited supply of smart bombs. Use these carefully in order to complete your mission. Be sure to use the scanner at the top of the screen to see where your enemy is located. Defender is a fast-paced game that requires a lot of quick thinking. It was a challenge in the arcade and it is just as challenging on the 5200. Graphics are beautiful and sound is as arcade-perfect as it comes for the 5200. Defender is a must have for the 5200.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Dig Dug - By Atari

The Fygars and Pookas are back on this arcade port for the Atari 5200. In Dig Dug you play the role of Dig Dug, a digger who is charged with destroying all the Fygars and Pookas in underground caverns by inflating them until they explode or by dropping stones on them to crush them. The Fygars, who look like red tomatoes wearing goggles on the arcade game, are able to transform into some kind of ghost form that allows them to move through the ground so they reach Dig Dug to kill him by merely touching him. The Pookas are dragons who can also change into a ghost form to reach Dig Dug but who also can breathe fire onto Dig Dug to burn him to ashes. You must be careful when approaching the Fygars if they are facing you as they may just burn you before you are able to inflate them to death. Bonus items, generally shaped like fruits and vegetables, appear in the middle of the screen once Dig Dug has dropped two stones as he digs through the soil. Grab these bonus items for extra points. Since the goal of the game is to eliminate all the monsters that appear underground, you have to be careful as to how far the last of the monsters is from you as it will do its best to escape from you by going above ground and disappearing through the left side of the screen. The 5200 port of Dig Dug does a great job of capturing the gameplay from its arcade cousin and has nicely granulated soil for Dig Dug to dig through. The musical tune form the arcade is also nicely rendered, which is a key aspect of the game. The only area where the game is lacking is in how the characters are rendered as they are simplified versions of their arcade versions. Both Pookas and Fygars are rendered in one colour only and the Pookas have no goggles to speak of. Because of this, the inflation animation doesnít look as nice as it does on the arcade (or the 7800 version, for that matter). Regardless, the games is Dig Dug without question and definitely a great port to add to your library.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Frogger - By Parker Brothers

Jump, jump, jump and cross and the street, cross the river, and get to the other side. Frogger was another successful arcade game that saw itself ported to many home consoles. The goal of the game is to control a frog as it crosses a road infested with cars, trucks, tractors, and buses to then cross a river by jumping atop floating logs or turtles. You must be careful, though, as some of the turtles will dive with you on them or an otter may push you off a log making you fall into the water where you drown to death (wait, canít frogs swim?). On your way to the river, you also have to avoid snakes that may be at the riverís edge. Who you donít want to avoid is the lady frog that waits for you on the logs as carrying her to safety will give you bonus points. This port of Frogger looks fantastic! The vehicles, logs, turtles, and everything just look perfect and well animated. The game has the classic tune from the arcade as you start to play but lacks the in-game music (whatís up with that?). All the proper game sounds are present and you can even hear the frog drop into the water! The only problem with this port is the control system, which does take some getting used to. You have two ways in which to control Frogger. You can choose to use the joystick or you can use the keypad. Because the 5200 controllers do not self-centre, you must press and release the lower fire button as you push the joystick in order for the frog to jump. This is a bit of a hassle to deal with but you can get used to it. If you use the keypad, you use 2 for forward, 8 for backward, 4 for left, and 6 for right. You select keyboard or joystick by pressing the number 0 on the keypad before initiating the game. This is a good port of the game and definitely captures the spirit of the arcade version. I do miss the in-game music (I am spoiled by the 2600 Supercharger version!), though.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Frogger II: Threedeep! - By Parker Brothers

Frogger is back and heís more ambitious than ever. In Threeedeep!, Frogger travels within three areas: underwater, above water, and in the sky. Each area offers its own challenges which adds to the complexity of the game. As with the original game, Frogger must reach the home berths at the top of each screen in order to complete a level. These berths, however, do not have to be filled in any particular order which allows the player to take Frogger to any of the areas as he pleases. It is important, however, to still keep track of time or Frogger will die if the timer runs out. The game starts underwater where alligators and barracudas canít wait to get a bite of Frogger. Touch any of them and dead youíll be. Other fish here wonít harm Frogger but theyíll make this trip up more difficult. You must also contend with the water current and not let it move Frogger to the edge of the screen as he will die. Joe the turtle can give Frogger a safe trip through the screen. Once you reach the top of the screen, you can choose to fill the berth on a log or jump on the edge of a log to move above water. Once above water, the game is similar to the original Frogger. Jump on logs, lilly pads, hippos, and others to make it across to the top of the screen. If you fall in the water, however, you donít die. Instead you go back to the bottom of the river to start again. If you jump over mama duck, she then flies you to the sky where you must jump on clouds. Threeedeep! is well done, colourful, and fun to play. Definitely worth having in your collection.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Galaxian - By Atari

The Galaxians are invading and you have been tasked with defending the world against them. You must destroy each wave of the Galaxian fleet with your intergalactic command ship by shooting each of the attacking ships. But be careful as the Galaxians have organised their fleet in ranking order with Drones (blue) making most of the fleet, followed by Emissaries (purple), Hornets (red), and Flagship Commanders (yellow). Flagships attack with two escorts in tow, making them harder to hit. The ships will attack in random patterns so you canít predict their movements. They will even try to confuse you so you fall prey to their attacks. If you finish a wave of Galaxians, another wave promptly takes their place but with more aggressive ships! You must fight on if your world is to survive. Galaxian was an excellent arcade game that saw adaptations to various home systems. Iím sorry to say that this 5200 adaptation is an outlier in the library of 5200 games and it is far from being excellent. In the arcade, the Galaxian ships would attack you and disappear through the bottom of the screen if you didnít destroy them. For some odd reason, on this port they frequently disappear through the sides of the screen. In addition, enemies tend to stop in place which makes them easy targets. These two changes alone alter the gameplay from the arcade enough to be disappointing. Visually the game is nice and sound is fair but the controls just donít cut it. Thankfully, this game does have the option to be played with the trackball controller and this fact alone makes for a better game. I wouldnít bother with joysticks if you have a trackball controller. I was disappointed with Galaxian so I consider it an average port.

Review by TrekMD

5/10

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 G.O.R.F. - By CBS Electronics

Galactic Orbiting Robot Force, G.O.R.F., is a port of an arcade game of the same name in which you must defend Earth from the evil Gorfians. G.O.R.F. was actually five games in one: Astro Battles, Laser Attack, Galaxians, Space Warp, and Flag Ship. This 5200 port has all but one of those games, Galaxians. Each game offers a different challenge for the player. Astro Battles is, essentially, a clone of Space Invaders. The barriers have been replaced by a shield and there are fewer enemies on screen. Laser Attack involves fighting two formations with five enemies each in which two of the ships fire a single and powerful laser beam toward the player. The other ships in the formation (3 Kamikaze and 2 Gorfs) aggressively attack without firing. Space Warp places the player is some sort of vortex where Flying Gorfs and Gorfian Attackers come at you one at a time while moving in a spiral and shooting torpedoes. Lastly, thereís Flag Ship, the level where you face the Gorfian Flagship head on. Destroy it by blasting through its heavy shields and hitting its main reactor. G.O.R.F. was a fun game in the arcades. This port reproduces the game graphics pretty well and it is not shabby in the sound department either. Despite these positives, G.O.R.F. has one major weakness - lousy control programming. No, the 5200 controllers are not to blame but whoever programmed the game is! I lost many lives playing G.O.R.F. simply because of poor control. The ship either moves too fast if you push either left or right, sits automatically in the middle if you let go of the controller, or jitters in place if you try to be gentle. Someone please hack G.O.R.F. and fix this so we can enjoy this game!

Review by TrekMD

3/10

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 Gremlins - By Atari

One of the few original games for the Atari 5200, Gremlins was inspired by the movie of the same name. Billy Peltzer receives a gift from his dad, a remarkable little creature called a Mogwai that he purchased at a store in Hong Kong. Having a Mogwai does require that certain instructions be followed, though: (1) keep them away from water because if they get wet, they multiply, (2) keep them out of light because it will kill them, and (3) the most important thing, the thing you must never forget, is that no matter how much they cry, no matter how much they beg, never, never feed them after midnight because if you do, they'll hatch into gremlins! While showing his Mogwai, called Gizmo, to a friend, Gizmo gets accidentally touched by water and voila, several Mogwai pop out of him. Billy locks them all in his room but they escape right after midnight and have a snack...and you know what that does! You must help Billy deal with the gremlins and the many Mogwai running around the house by capturing or killing them. You have to be careful, though, because any water in the room you are in will make them multiply even more! Use a sword to kill the gremlins and capture any Mogwai before they eat a snack and become gremlins. Once you capture a Mogwai, take them to the pen in the room and leave them there. You canít take forever to deal with this mess, though. You are clocked in each room and you must be done before timeís up. You also have to make every effort to survive until 6 am so the light can deal with any gremlins still running around! Gremlins is truly a fun game to play with frantic action and several tricks up its sleeve. For example, if there is a TV in the room, be sure to turn it on (by touching it) because that will keep the Mogwai and gremlins entertained while you are doing your thing. This is definitely a game to get for your 5200!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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