Author Topic: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread  (Read 21129 times)

Offline TrekMD

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2013, 01:32:11 AM »
By the way, does anyone know if any homebrewer ever produced end-labels for the 5200 carts?  They would be very useful!

Going to the final frontier, gaming...

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2013, 01:33:36 AM »
Quote from: "64bitRuss"
Surprised at all the hate honestly, I guess it has something to do with low footprint in the UK?

The 5200 is my favorite classic system. The Jaguar is first overall, but for 8-bits, I love the 5200 more than the rest. To me, it was like having the arcade games in your home. Remember that even though it is technically an 8-bit computer consolized, 1983 didn't see widespread adoption of home computers in the states, at least they weren't marketed to gamers. So in that sense, I think the 5200 was it's own beast, as it was marketed to a completely different segment of the population. Computer nerds and gamer nerds weren't necessarily in the same category.

To me, just about every single game is superior to it's 2600 counterpart, and the audio was out of this world. There's no denying that the controllers were a problem, and they were a problem from the start. There were options of course, with the Wico Command Controller, which was readily available and analog. But, the proper replacement controller to get if you can, is the microswitch, digitial Competition Pro joystick pictured here:


This fixes most of the control issues of the games, making for a much more sound arcade experience on the Supersystem. Let's not forget the arcade-quality Trak-Ball that was produced, for use with Missile Command and Centipede, creating a true arcade experience that was unmatched in it's era. The original 5200 controllers do come in handy for use with a few games however, by using the joystick coupler that was included with Space Dungeon and Robotron, and it's not bad with the excellent Star Raiders.

I was always fascinated by the 5200, it was a taste of extravagance in home gaming to me, a poor boy. Originally I could only play it at my cousin's house, who was more well off than my family. Eventually I was able to get my own later in life, and I now have a pretty decent 5200 collection, but it could be much better. Not nearly as good as my Jag and Lynx collections. Anyway, great console, the Supersystem!

We had some ropey hardware design's ourselves here in UK-my 1st home micro was a ZX81, which i had to use Blu-Tac to keep the add-on 16K Ram pack steady with...a 'Dead Flesh' keyboard on the ZX Spectrum and basically the entire Amstrad range of anything, ever (no idea if any/all of those mentioned were UK designed, but just for point i'm making, it'll do.., so we were used to ugly...

However...putting everything through one cable like they did with power/audio/visual, that alone is kinda crackpot stuff for UK minds to grasp.

Your wasting you time preaching of the superior audio my friend, as a C64 owner myself, only to witness the claims made by Spectrum owners about their soundchip (woo the 128 had a buzzer as well) sniff....:-)

Seriousily though, please don't let the British outlook on things we never got, give you the wrong impression, it's a system i'd love to know a lot more about.

Offline sloan

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2013, 03:42:13 AM »
IMO, Atari 5200 is where Atari really got the 80's arcade gaming scene right. I don't care how many internet parrots are out there calling the controllers, 'crummy' and such. There are alternatives, and rebuilding the originals takes little work (and is well worth it). I agree with the poster who said that 5200 is their favorite console. There are simply arcade games done on good old 5200 that, at least to me, are non pareil. Yes, most of the 5200 games available on other systems, but there is a certain early 80's nuance that comes with 5200 that you can get nowhere else. To me, 5200 Pac Man is the best version I have ever played.

Offline TrekMD

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2013, 04:18:02 AM »
Some of the controller issues can be overcome by replacing some of the contacts.  I had my controllers replaced (I exchanged them) with the gold contact versions from Best Electronics.  It definitely makes a difference in the performance of the controllers (though you still have to deal with the non-centering issue). 

Sloan, have you tried the homebrew version of 5200 Pac-Man?  It really takes up several notches from the Atari version.  If you like the Atari version, you'll really like the homebrew version, Pac-Man Arcade. 

Going to the final frontier, gaming...

Offline 64bitRuss

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2013, 05:11:10 AM »
Regarding the RF/AC cable combo device: That device was only issued with the first run of 4-port systems to my knowledge. Atari revised the console to a 2-port design, I think only a year later, as there were no games that utilized 4 joystick ports anyway. With the 2-port, which is what I have, there are separate power and RF cables, a standard setup. There is a BIOS revision somewhere in there also that caused some compatibility issues with 3 games. My 2-port however, plays all the games, and has separate power and RF cables, so it is my opinion that the 2-port system is the way to go on the 5200.

Offline TrekMD

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2013, 05:18:56 AM »
Quote from: "64bitRuss"
Regarding the RF/AC cable combo device: That device was only issued with the first run of 4-port systems to my knowledge. Atari revised the console to a 2-port design, I think only a year later, as there were no games that utilized 4 joystick ports anyway. With the 2-port, which is what I have, there are separate power and RF cables, a standard setup. There is a BIOS revision somewhere in there also that caused some compatibility issues with 3 games. My 2-port however, plays all the games, and has separate power and RF cables, so it is my opinion that the 2-port system is the way to go on the 5200.

I'd agree with that.  There apparently are a subset of two-port systems (I think they have an asterisk after their serial number) that have the updated software.  I actually need to look at mine to check that out.  I keep forgetting!

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Offline TL

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2013, 11:32:26 AM »
Quote from: "64bitRuss"
Surprised at all the hate honestly, I guess it has something to do with low footprint in the UK?

Well given that some of the criticism here has come from Americans I would say not! :3:

I have only played on one once, back at Jagfest UK in 2009 and thought the system had some cool games but I REALLY hated those controllers. The Joystick TrekMD posted looks like a massive improvement though for me, never liked the Competition Pro. so that wouldn't be an option.

Offline TL

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2013, 11:34:43 AM »
Quote from: "Rogue Trooper"
Your wasting you time preaching of the superior audio my friend, as a C64 owner myself, only to witness the claims made by Spectrum owners about their sound chip (woo the 128 had a buzzer as well) sniff....:-)

Each to their own but I much prefer the POKEY to the SID chip.   :)


Offline Gorf

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2013, 18:39:23 PM »
Actually the SID chip's only advantage over the Pokey was one could send commands to it and then the processor was free to do whatever. However, this limited it's abilities as the pokey was superior in many was allowing the 6502 or whatever processor to flexibly control the chip in ways the commands on the SID chip was just not capable of doing.

The Video System X was pretty much identical to the 5200 specs wise so there would have been no help there.
It used the A8 line of chips and would have only been different in name.

Offline sloan

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2013, 23:46:56 PM »
Quote from: "TrekMD"
Some of the controller issues can be overcome by replacing some of the contacts.  I had my controllers replaced (I exchanged them) with the gold contact versions from Best Electronics.  It definitely makes a difference in the performance of the controllers (though you still have to deal with the non-centering issue). 

Sloan, have you tried the homebrew version of 5200 Pac-Man?  It really takes up several notches from the Atari version.  If you like the Atari version, you'll really like the homebrew version, Pac-Man Arcade.

TrekMD, is Pac Man Arcade available for sale anywhere?

Also, the best controller solution I have come across is a 15-pin PC joystick adapter that is easy to construct. Bohoki on Atari Age forums used to sell them for $10 and they were well worth it. They work well with most games except a few more analog games like Gyruss and Missile Command. The best thing about this adapter is that it allows you to use a controller made by Performance called the Ultra Racer. This controller allows for dial spinner playing of games like Super Breakout, Gyruss, and even works well with games like Space Invaders, Kaboom and Megamania, not to mention allows for steering in Pole Position.

Offline TrekMD

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2013, 23:50:35 PM »
Sloan, Pac-Man Arcade was available on AA but I do not know if it is still available.  The demo is available for download, though, if I'm not mistaken.

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Offline Gorf

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2013, 10:36:54 AM »
Quote from: "sloan"
IMO, Atari 5200 is where Atari really got the 80's arcade gaming scene right. I don't care how many internet parrots are out there calling the controllers, 'crummy' and such. There are alternatives, and rebuilding the originals takes little work (and is well worth it). I agree with the poster who said that 5200 is their favorite console. There are simply arcade games done on good old 5200 that, at least to me, are non pareil. Yes, most of the 5200 games available on other systems, but there is a certain early 80's nuance that comes with 5200 that you can get nowhere else. To me, 5200 Pac Man is the best version I have ever played.

This is not about the games quality so much as it is about the marketing business decision. Americans tend to
know when they are being rooked. Many of us Atari fans knew they were simply repackaging a computer most
of us already had and many of us were not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a system we essentially already
had in an A8. Yeah, there are alternatives for the controllers, but the system should have come with better ones
and not have to put on the consumer the burden of spending even more money to buy after market controllers to
make up for the bad decisions made by the company. Not only that, we would spend 50 bucks per cart on games
that were already just like the ones we had already spent good money on? No thank you! The fact is, no one got
the arcade scene correct in those days...some came kinda close but no cigar.

I would also argue that the Bally Astrocade version of Pac Man(Muncher) was the better of the versions of that
time. That was an unfinished prototype but it was much closer in game play all around. The 5200 controllers
did no justice at all for it's version of Pac Man.

The 5200 should have been a newer system altogether or at very least, package it as a console version of
the A8's with the old style controllers and allow those already with the games for the A8's plug these right
into the new console. Atari fooled no one except themselves and never were able to bounce back from this
really bad decision...they were never the same after this.

The biggest mistake of the 5200 was the non-self-centering joysticks. I remember I was actually excited to
try out the new system at the local game store, and when I did, I was greatly disappointed just because the
controllers were horrible....most of the games for it were in no need of analog sticks and needed the self
centering to really get that arcade feel...so no I strongly disagree with your assessment of the 5200 getting
the '80's right, because the most important part of  a game is it's contollers...you can't play a game with gfx
only. To me....the 2600 controllers(also those for the A8's) where the right stuff for that era....period.

That early '80's nuance was already available...the A8's were it and the controllers were it. The 5200 is a
perfect example of if it ain't broke....don't fix it!

Offline 64bitRuss

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2013, 22:37:53 PM »
I disagree with your entire analysis Gorf. The marketing of the 5200 was not aimed at Atari 8-bit computer owners. Obviously, why would you buy the 5200 if you already had an 8-bit? The whole concept of the 5200 was a great idea, it was a way to sell more 8-bit hardware to a larger segment of the population, without it being a computer. Home computers were a niche market in 1982, in fact as a young boy at the time I had no clue about them, but I had a 2600 and wanted the 5200. You didn't buy home video games for dedicated consoles, in the same section of a store that you bought the computer games. It was two completely different industries, with the same name brand.

I also don't believe that the 5200 was a commercial failure, despite it's reputation of having bad controllers. I think they sold through quite well on the 5200 and it's software, because it is still one of the easiest systems to collect games for. There's always an abundance of every game available, and relatively cheaply. It happened to be in that particular time where the Atari 2600 dragged the entire industry into the gutter. You're making it sound like the 5200 was this giant colossal failure, but there's so much readily available 5200 equipment and software out there, somebody had to buy that stuff originally. You could say that Atari overproduced and point to ET as proof, but I'm sure all the companies overproduced based on market expectations. That market crashed faster than anyone could anticipate.

Offline onthinice

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2013, 04:03:41 AM »
Quote from: "Rogue Trooper"
Quote from: "TrekMD"
I'm not familiar with that joystick.  I'll need to see if I can get my hands on one of them!  Looks sturdier than the Wico stick. 

I have to wonder if the decision by Atari to not sell the 5200 outside the US was because they saw the system as a short-term solution until they had something better ready, because there was a technical reason, or simply because someone just made a poor decision.  It would have helped sales had it been released out of the US.

Maybe Atari 'knew' the entire UK population alone was waiting for Nintendo to roll in and either save us from the 8/16 Bit micro's we were very much enjoying or give those who'd yet to play on said micro's or wide range of 8 Bit consoles or LCD games or arcade games, their very 1st taste of gaming, with the Nes....


Or have i been reading too many UK publications of late?.
Oh, Rogue Trooper!  :78: Too Funny!!!!

Offline onthinice

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Re: The Atari 5200 Discussion Thread
« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2013, 04:27:52 AM »
The controllers are definitely the Achilles heal for the system. With patience, a person can learn to appreciate what Atari was trying to accomplish with them.

For a long time, the 5200 had one of the better Pac-Man conversions. Better than my Atari 400 Pac-Man, which does not have the intermissions.

Pitfall II has the lost level and is cheaper to buy then the 8-bit Atari computer versions.

River Raid is better with tanks that cross the bridges and shoot at your plane. Never played the Intellivision or Colecovision versions. Not sure how it compares.

Kaboom has much better graphics than the 2600.

Frogger is great, if you use the keypad. The keypad increases the challenge and fun of the game.

Arcade favorites like Qix, Pengo, Moon Patrol, Jungle Hunt and Kangaroo are hard to find on other systems.

Blue Print, Keystone Kapers, Popeye and Q*Bert are some of my favorites.

If you like arcade games, this system will not disappoint.

 

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