Atari 5200 S-U

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Satan’s Hollow - By CBS Software

In 1982, Bally Midway released an arcade shooter that bore a resemblance other shooters of the time but with a more demonic theme. That game was Satan’s Hollow. The goal of the game is to shoot formation of gargoyles so you can pick up pieces of a bridge that needs to be built over a river of lava. Wave after wave of gargoyles attack you with exploding eggs or rocks that can damage the bridge. After clearing waves of gargoyles you will face a fire-breathing demon who will try to scorch your ship. Your ship is equipped with rockets and with a shield. The shield can only be used for a short time, though, before it needs to be recharged. Once you’ve finished building the bridge you get to face Satan himself. Defeat him and you start again with thing being faster and your having to build a larger bridge. Satan’s Hollow was ported to the Atari 8-bit computers and to the C64. The 8-bit port was then converted to play on the Atari 5200. The Atari port of the game retains the elements of the arcade but it does not do as good of a job with the graphics. Things are recognizable, without a doubt, but there is less colour than in the arcade and the objects are not was nicely rendered. The castle looks horrible, the eggs the enemies throw at you are nothing more than lines, the gargoyles look like birds, and your ship looking nothing like the arcade original. Despite the graphical differences, the game does retain the gameplay and it is most fun to play.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Space Invaders - By Atari

There are certain arcade classics that can never be replaced and Space Invaders is one of those. What Atari created in this version of Space Invaders, though, could more aptly be called Super Space Invaders because it takes the original formula of the game and just puts it on steroids. In Space Invaders the goal is to clear the screen of the waves of aliens that move toward the bottom of the screen. You accomplish this by moving a cannon at the bottom the screen from left to right. Though your cannon has no fancy shields or ways to protect itself, there are three fixed bunkers that you can use to hide from enemy fire. These bunkers are not indestructible though, as they are slowly damaged by your enemies until they become useless. As you play, alien motherships fly at the top of the screen which you can destroy for bonus points. So, what makes this version of the game so special? This version is fast, it is very colourful, and it has beautifully rendered and animated aliens. The aliens don’t all appear on the screen at once as in the original version but, rather, enter from the left side of the screen. Your cannon fires rapidly so you don’t have to wait long in between shots. As the aliens move closer to the bottom of the screen their marching sound increases in volume to give a sense of greater danger. While Atari could have easily created an arcade-perfect version of Space Invaders, they instead chose to expand on the original concept. This works very well which, coupled with several gaming options and modes, and the ability to use the trackball controller just make for an excellent game. No fan of Space Invaders should be without this version.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator - By Sega

Space, the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. . . ST:SOS is a port of the arcade game of the same name. The arcade, however, was a colour vector game and that is something this version doesn’t even try to be. The graphics have been changed to standard raster renderings but they do the trick. In ST:SOS you play the role of a captain-to-be in charge of the Enterprise on your training mission. Unfortunately, you find yourself carrying on a real mission as Nomad and the Klingons decide to have some fun with you. You must traverse different sectors of space and clear them from Klingon ships through 10 different levels of play (each with six rounds) before they destroy you or you run out of power. Clear the sector and you can dock with the local star base to replenish your resources. Once you’ve cleared two waves of Klingon ships, you will need to face an asteroid field that will challenge your maneuvering skills. And then, of course, there is Nomad. As in the arcade, the screen is split into three sections. A bottom first-person perspective view (which is a simulation of the view screen), with two different areas above: a status window that lets you know how shields, photons, are warp are functioning and a radar scanner which offers a top-down view of the space sector you’re in. ST:SOS is a faithful conversion of the arcade despite the graphical changes. The Klingon ships that appear on the view screen are nicely rendered and the radar screen resembles that of the arcade. Game sounds are a faithful to the arcade but speech synthesis is missing. This game is fun and challenging and one any Star Trek fan will certainly enjoy as well as any fan of space shooters.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Star Wars: The Arcade Game - By Parker Brothers

Use The Force, Luke! Yep, that is the only way to really play this game. By the wits of The Force! SW:TAG is a port of the famous and excellent arcade game released by Atari in 1983. Unfortunately, when Parker Brothers ported the game to the 5200, they really botched it. It is ironic that Atari had to license this game to them to port to their own system! The goal of SW:TAG is to survive waves of TIE fighters before heading to the Death Star and destroying it. You will face the TIE fighters in open space, skim the surface of the Death Star where you’ll face attack towers, and then you’ll enter the Death Star trench on your way to the exhaust port where you’ll launch the death blow to the space station. If you succeed, you’ll fly away and see the Death Star explode to then start all over again. The 5200 port of SW:TAG captures all the basic elements of the arcade and it is even beautifully rendered to emulate the vector graphics of the original. Unfortunately, beautiful graphics are all this game has. Controlling the game is disastrous and it has nothing to do with the 5200 controllers. In fact, the controllers would work perfectly for this game but the way in which Parker Brothers programmed the control mechanism makes controlling your X-wing fighter difficult while also trying to target your crosshairs at enemy ships. So, essentially all you are doing is crazily fire hoping to hit something and to not get hit by enemy fire. It is really unfortunate because this was a fun game in the arcades but it just did not translate well as a home port. I would steer clear of this one unless you are a very determined Star Wars fan!

Review by TrekMD

3/10

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 Super Pac-Man - By Atari

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Super Pac-Man! In this version of Pac-Man, the original titular character makes an appearance again but with a very different formula. Gone are the dots from the maze and instead there are fruits and other items locked in boxes spread in a maze (in fact, the boxes make the maze). Pac-Man must go around the maze eating keys that unlock these boxes so that he can then eat the items in them. Early on the keys open boxes that are close to them but, as the game advances, the keys open doors further away. As in the original game, there are power pellets in the maze (also locked away) so that Pac-Man can eat the ghosts. However there are also special power pellets (super pellets?) that turn Pac-Man into Super Pac-Man. This temporarily gives him the ability to become impervious to the ghosts (they flatten out) and to eat through the doors so he doesn’t need keys to get to the fruits and other items in the boxes. Pac-Man can remain in his super state if he eats a regular power pellet before turning back to his normal self, which then also gives him the ability to eat the ghosts. A bonus star appears in between two boxes in the middle of the maze, its value varying according to the items within the boxes when eaten. Super Pac-Man for the 5200 is an excellent port of the title. The maze is stretched to fit the TV screen but it is arcade accurate and the ghosts are rendered better than in other Pac-titles for the system. If you like Super Pac-Man, this port is for you!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Tempest - By Keithen Hayenga / Atari

Tempest was a highly popular vector arcade game back in the day and Atari planned adaptations for its home systems, namely the 2600 and the 5200. Though prototypes were developed, they were never released. Well, the wait is over for 5200 fans as this prototype has finally been finished and released for all to enjoy. The goal in Tempest is to rack up as many points as possible by destroying the enemies that appear in its rather unique game field. The playing field is either a tunnel or open half tube that is divided into multiple segments and represented in a pseudo-3D manner. You control a “ship” that looks like a claw that is able to move at the top edge of the field while firing its salvo down the segment its on in order to destroy any enemies in that segment. The ship is also equipped with a super zapper, a weapon that destroys all enemies at once but that can only be used once per field to do this (it only destroys only a random enemy if used again). It must, therefore, be strategically used. Enemies come in different shapes but they all start at the “bottom” of the tubes and make their way up to your ship. Be careful as some of them also fire back and can destroy your ship. You also need to make every effort to keep the enemies from reaching the top of the field as they can get to you much easier if they do. This port of the game on the 5200 is very well made. The graphics look fantastic and sound is excellent. You have the option of playing with either the standard controller or with the trackball controller. Definitely a must have title!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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