Atari 5200 O-R

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Pac-Man - By Atari

He’s round, he’s yellow, he eats dots and gets chased by ghosts! His name? Pac-Man, of course, and he makes a spectacular appearance on the Atari 5200. In Pac-Man you control the titular character from the beloved arcade game through a maze in order the clear the maze of the dots that fill it. Be mindful, though, as four nasty ghosts (Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde) chase Pac-Man in order to stop is dot chomping and send him to the netherworld. Of course, Pac-Man is not without recourse as there are four energy dots in the maze that temporarily allow Pac-Man to turn the tables on the four ghosts! Pac-Man on the 5200 captures every element of the arcade. The maze is just like in the arcade, though stretched to fit the horizontal TV screen. As a result, there are actually several more dots on the screen for Pac-Man to eat than on the arcade. The game is actually faster than the arcade from the outset, which adds to the challenge. All the intermissions are included as well as all of the arcade sounds and the bonus fruits. If there is one thing the game could be faulted for are the ghosts. For some reason, they are of a solid colour and have no detailed eyes. The eye sockets are just hollow and it is a shame because I’m sure they could have had eyes just like in the arcade. Pac-Man has a one or two player option and allows you to choose your starting level. Truly and excellent game for the system.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Pac-Man Arcade - By TEP392

So, you are probably wondering why would anyone develop another version of Pac-Man for the Atari 5200 since it already has a great port. Well, as good as the original Atari port of Pac-Man is for the 5200, this new adaptation actually takes that up several notches making it not just a great port but a perfect port of Pac-Man. For the uninitiated, Pac-Man is a game where you play a round character called Pac-Man who goes around a maze eating dots to clear the entire maze. In this maze there are four ghosts who pursue Pac-Man in order to stop him from cleaning up the maze. Pac-Man is able to turn the tide against the ghosts by eating one of the power bullets in the maze, which temporarily let him “eat” the ghosts. In this new version for the 5200, there is now a real title screen and introduction screen for all the ghosts and Pac-Man. The maze has been adjusted so it is not as stretched as it was on the Atari port and the walls have a wider edge. The ghosts now have eyes and their movements match those of the arcade ghosts to perfection (Blinky will target Pac-Man’s current location while the other ghosts target locations based on direction and distance) and game sounds are now a near-identical match to the arcade. The vertical passages above and below the ghost pen don’t allow the ghosts to move up, which is something you can use strategically when playing. Of course, all the intermissions are here as well as the bonus items. A one or two-player option is available and you are able to select your start level. If you want an arcade-perfect Pac-Man for your 5200, look no further!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Pengo - By Atari

Pengo is a port of the arcade game of the same name. In Pengo you play the role of a penguin of the same name who races around an ice field covered with cubes that must be rearranged while avoid the sting of the Sno-Bees. Pengo can use the ice cubes to crush the Sno-Bees but he also needs to do his best to align three diamond cubes as those will grant him a motherload of points (5,000 if they are aligned against a wall or 10,000 if they are aligned inside the playing field itself). Aligning the diamond cubes also temporarily freezes the Sno-Bees in place, making them easier targets for Pengo (he can just run over them to kill them when they are frozen). You can also freeze the Sno-Bees if you they happen to be walking close to the walls and you push against the wall to make it vibrate. A level is cleared only when Pengo destroys all the Sno-Bees in that level or if the last Sno-Bee manages to escape. All of the elements of the arcade have been translated well and really bring the arcade experience home. The graphics are colourful and the characters are well defined. Pengo himself is rendered in three colours and definitely looks like a penguin. Game sounds are a faithful reproduction of the arcade originals as well. Pengo can be played with either the 5200 joysticks or with a trackball controller. Overall, this is an excellent port of the arcade and one that is well worth adding to any 5200 owner’s collection. If you enjoyed Pengo in the arcade, you are sure to enjoy it on your 5200.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Pitfall! - By Activision

Pitfall Harry is back! This time he has come to the Atari 5200 for his original adventure, Pitfall! For those who’ve never played Pitfall!, the goal of the game is to cross a jungle maze in order to collect as much treasure as possible over a 20 minute period. There are several types of treasure that can be collected, including gold bars, silver bars, money bags, and a diamond ring. You start the game with 2000 points and only lose points if you fall down a hole (100 points) or if the rolling logs get you (the points lost vary with the time you are in contact with the logs). If you collect all the treasure in the jungle without losing any points, you achieve a perfect score of 114,000 points. Of course, getting to that perfect score takes a lot of planning and a lot of effort! Pitfall! on the 5200 is pretty much a direct conversion from the 2600 version. All of the same elements are here but there have been some graphical improvements made to the trees in the background and some of the sounds have been improved. Harry himself and the enemies pretty much look like they do on the 2600 I’m not sure why things weren’t spruced up more but it doesn’t really detract from the gameplay. The controllers, however, are another story. There are certain actions that are quite difficult to accomplish with the non-centring joysticks (e.g., letting go of the vines) making it preferable to use a Wico controller instead. The other thing to keep in mind is that Pitfall! will only work on the 4-port 5200 consoles, so don’t bother getting this game if you have a 2-port console.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Pitfall 2: Lost Caverns - By Activision

Pitfall 2 takes the Pitfall formula to a new level and it is a super 5200 game. In Pitfall 2, Harry is back but he’s not alone. Harry’s cowardly pet and his niece, Rhonda, are also here though they are not playable characters. Harry has to collect gold, as before, but he also must seek Rhonda, his pet and a gold ring to complete the first phase of the game. You see, this version of Pitfall 2 has a second part to it for continued adventure! Unlike Pitfall, virtually all of the game is played underground - hence the “Lost Caverns” title. Harry also faces additional enemies. Poisonous frogs, bats, electric eels, and condors inhabit the first set of caves; whereas rabid bats, frogs that traverse the entire horizontal screen, fire ants, and even piranha await him in the additional levels. Harry has unlimited lives as the game uses checkpoints (marked by crosses) through the caves. Harry is taken back to the last checkpoint if he comes in contact with any of his enemies. When Harry finds all the items in the first set of caves, he can move the second, and more challenging, caves where he has to find a rope, a pot, a trumpet, and a snake charmer. All of these items are key for Harry to return above ground. Pitfall 2 is a fun and challenging game on the 5200. The graphics are very similar to the 2600 version, though they do have some enhancements and additional details. One key feature in Pitfall 2 is its extremely catchy tune. Pitfall 2 would not be Pitfall 2 without this music! This is a must-have title for any 5200 owner, even if you have played the 2600 version. The new levels in this version are worth the price of admission.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Pole Position - By Atari

Pole Position was a very popular arcade racing game in 1983 that could be played in a stand up machine or a cockpit cabinet back in its heyday. Pole Position was adapted to a number of home consoles, including the Atari 5200. The goal of the game is to complete a race on the one track in the shortest amount of time in order to achieve the highest score possible. Before you go onto the actual race, you have to drive a qualifying race that must be completed in less than 73 seconds. Should you take longer than that, you don’t qualify and the game ends. If you do qualify, you are assigned one of eight possible spots on the race (the position is assigned based on your time on the qualifying race). Once the real race starts, your goal is not only to beat the other race cars on the track but the timer as well. You must complete each lap in less than 75 seconds if you want to stay on the race. The 5200 port of Pole Position offers four types of races for the player to choose from: Practice Run, Malibu Grand Prix, Namco Speedway, and Atari Grand Prix. Each race has different levels of difficulty by varying both the number of cars and the number of laps to be completed. Though the game works well with either joystick or trackball controllers, nothing replaces a steering wheel for a true arcade experience. Unfortunately, Atari never released such a controller for the 5200. Visually I admit to have been a bid disappointed but sound-wise the game is excellent. Only missing are the “prepare to qualify” or “prepare to race” call at the beginning of the race. Pole Position is definitely another very good port for the 5200.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Popeye - By Parker Brothers

Popeye the sailor and his love Olive Oyl become separated by Brutus and Popeye must now collect all the objects Olive throws at him in order to save her. Popeye must deal with Brutus and the Hag in his mission to collect the hearts, musical notes, or letters that spell HELP thrown by Olive. Brutus chases Popeye and can kill him on contact whether they are on the same platform, above, or below since he can jump or hunch over to grab Popeye. Brutus and the Hag also throw bottles at Popeye. Popeye, however, is not totally defenceless. Popeye can deflect the bottles with his fists and he can turn the tide against Brutus by picking up a can of spinach. Unfortunately, he can only do this once per level so use of the spinach must be done strategically. On the first screen, the dock, there is also a barrel that hangs that Popeye can throw over Brutus to incapacitate him for a few moments. It is important to keep in mind that if the objects are not picked up by Popeye, they may sink if they get to the water at the bottom of the screen. Popeye has three screens in which to play, the last being a ship where even a condor chases after Popeye. Once all screens are cleared, the game starts again at the first screen at a higher level of difficulty. The 5200 adaptation of the game is well done. The graphics are good and a tune plays on each screen as in the arcade. Overall a fun game and another excellent title for the system.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Q*Bert - By Parker Bros.

Q*Bert is a unique and rather addicting arcade game where the player never shoots anything but keeps coming back for more. The goal of Q*Bert is to change the colour of all the cubes on a pyramid in order to get the most points possible. Early on you just have to change the cubes to one colour but as the game advances you may need to step on cubes twice to get them to change to the correct colour and even later you will need to try to avoid jumping on cubes already changed as they revert back in colour. Of course things cannot be so easy in video game land. Q*Bert must avoid a number of characters and items that also jump around the pyramid and who are deadly to touch. These include red balls, purple balls, Coily (a snake-like character that pops out of the purple ball when it reaches the bottom row of cubes), Ugg and Wrong-Way (two purple characters who jump on the wrong face of the cubes), and Sam (a green gremlin that changes the cubes back to their original colour). Two additional elements appear on the playing field to help Q*Bert, flying discs that are just outside the pyramid and green balls that temporarily paralyse every enemy on the screen allowing Q*bert free reign on the pyramid. If Q*Bert is being chased by Coily, he can jump on one of the flying discs which brings him to the top of the pyramid and clears it from enemies. Be careful not to jump off the pyramid or Q*Bert dies. Q*Bert is very well made with almost arcade-perfect graphics. The only catch is the control scheme which requires you press the fire button to move. All and all though, an excellent port.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Qix - By Atari

If you are looking for an abstract game to play, then Qix is your game. In Qix your goal is to claim a given percentage of space in the playing field in order to trap a moving stick entity known as the Qix. You control a diamond that movies through lines it generates at two speeds. The trick is to generate these lines to close off sections of the playing field without any part of the line making contact with the Qix. If you draw the lines slowly, which increases your risk of getting hit, you score more points than if you draw the lines quickly. In addition to the Qix, you must avoid “sparx” that move at the edge of the playing field and you must never stop while drawing a line as a “fuse” appears in the line that can then destroy your diamond. Qix is a game of strategy and one that is wide open for the player to choose how to play. You can draw lines to generate different squares in virtually anywhere within the playing field. As you close of sections, which fill up with colour, the percentage of captured screen increases until you reach the goal. Once you reach a level with two Qix, split them apart and your points double. Do it again, and they triple, etc. If you get killed, however, it is back to square one. This 5200 port captures all the elements of the arcade pretty well. The graphics look a bit blocky but that really doesn’t detract from the gameplay. Qix is challenging and it is another excellent title for the system.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 RealSports Baseball - By Atari

When I first played RealSports Baseball on my Atari 2600 years ago, I was quite impressed with what Atari accomplished with the system, so I was eagerly looking forward to trying out the 5200 version of the game as I expected the game to be much better. Well, this 5200 version is just astounding! This is definitely baseball and it is superbly executed. The game has beautiful graphics with teams rendered in two colours. The diamond is well drawn and sound has one fun surprise - speech synthesis! It is just fantastic to hear the umpire scream: “Strike!” “Ball!” “You’re out!” The 5200 controller works perfectly with this game, as programming was clearly done to take advantage of the non-centring aspect. You swing your controller left to right to bat and you can even adjust the height at which you hit. Another cool aspect of the game is that there are several menu options which you can use to customise the game to your taste. You can alter the number of players, the number of innings, turn voice on or off, choose the skill level for each time, and choose to play against the computer or a friend. If you want to play a fun classic baseball game, this is the one to play. A truly superb game for the Atari 5200.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 River Raid - By Activision

River Raid started off as an original 2600 game which was an immediate hit. Given its success, Activision ported it to other systems, including the Atari 5200. The goal of the game is to fly over a river on your jet to destroy as many targets as possible and score the most points. These targets include enemy battleships, helicopters, fuel depots, jets, land tanks, and hot air balloons. As you fly over the river you must keep an eye out for these targets but you also have to monitor your fuel. You can replenish your fuel by flying over the fuel depots, so you need to be careful about blindly blowing those up. Each river section is divided by a bridge which you must also destroy in order to advance forward. Failing to do so will result in your plane crashing. Also be careful as you approach the bridges as the land tanks will be ready to shoot you down. Unfortunately, you can only destroy a land tank if it is over a bridge. As with other Activision ports to the 5200, the graphics of River Raid have a lot of similarity to its 2600 counterpart. The enemies pretty much look like they do on the 2600 (except for the balloons and the tanks which are new additions) but the landscape has been changed to take advantage of the 5200's capabilities. Instead of straight riverbanks, there are now more detailed and curved riverbanks as well as additional landmarks. The riverbanks have a clear border that looks rough and is distinct from the rest of the land. Sound is minimalistic but effective. River Raid has one and two player modes selected through its eight different variations. This is an excellent game that every 5200 owner should have.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Robotron 2084 - By Atari

It is the year 2084. Humans have mostly been eradicated by the Robotrons, robots who’s only goal is to eliminate mankind. But there is hope! One hero, one superhuman, has risen against the Robotrons to save the last humans left on the planet. You are that hero and you are prepared to fight wave after wave of robots in order to preserve mankind. Robotron 2084 is a port of the highly successful arcade game of the same name. As in the arcade, you control the hero using two joysticks which are held together with a special coupler. This control mechanism is superb and it is a way in which this title gives a true arcade-like experience. The joystick on the left controls the movement of the hero, while the right joystick controls his weapons. You move the hero around an open field that is filled with robots of different kinds and several humans. You must move through the playing field while avoiding contact with the robots or their fire while seeking for any humans. Once you completely eliminate all the robots on that screen, you move to the next wave to repeat the process. Seven types of robots will challenge you, each with their own weapons and behaviours. These robots include mindless grunts, indestructible hulks, giant brains, sinister spheroids, galvanising electrodes, cubic quarks, and torturing tanks. Though the graphics are boxier than on the arcade, they are well done. Sound is very close to the arcade and you are not at all hindered by the controllers. This is an excellent arcade port on the 5200 and one not to be missed.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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