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Atari 5200 Console Overview

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#1 Doctor Octagon

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 06:46 PM


Atari 5200 Console Overview (1982)

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#2 kamakazi20012


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Posted 05 February 2016 - 07:10 PM

As my brother in law says about the Dallas Cowboys...there's going to be haters.  And it looks like the 5200 is in that same boat.  For what it is, though, I will still defend this console in every way...controller issues and all.  It's not as bad as some say it is.  I've been playing one since 1982 so that ought to account for something.  Yes, the controllers can break easily.  What game system doesn't have controller issues, though?  Granted not on the same scale as the 5200 but they still have issues.  The system has aged so there are going to be issues and if you are late to the game then be prepared to go through issues others have already faced before.


You also can't expect to treat the 5200 like a 2600.  It's not going to work and will cause more frustration than anything.  Each game has to be learned individually.  I'm not talking about how to play the game by its rules, but by the 5200's rules.  Those analog controls if not given the time to learn them throws an unexpected curve ball.  And, as I have said numerous times before, the 5200 has to be used regularly or it will fail again.  It was not a system meant to be sitting on a shelf month after month, year after year, without using it.  


Learn the system first, then learn the controllers, and then learn the games and you will find that the 5200 is actually a rather enjoyable system.  If you have non-working controllers get them rebuilt.  Trust me on that...it makes a difference.

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#3 Retrogamer81081


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Posted 06 February 2016 - 08:49 AM

I enjoy the 5200 myself! It is a fantastic game machine and bringing an authentic arcade experience directly to your home. The only negative is the library was relatively small despite it's lifespan was equivalent to the Colecovision and that system released doubled more of the 5200. But the Atarimax SD multicart makes up for it with unreleased games, 8 bit computer conversions, and homebrews you can download to the SD card. The system is like taking care of a Ferrari. There is things you need to invest and put money into. The Best refurbished gold plated controllers is money well spent and a must to anyone getting into the system. A tral ball is reccommended for games like Centipede, Missle Command, and Tempest. Lastly I ignore all the criticisms the system takes. It's because they have never played it. Give it some time and once you are adjusted to the controllers. You will enjoy it. I happily own a 2 port and 4 port system. I don't regret it at all. :)
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#4 kamakazi20012


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Posted 07 February 2016 - 02:31 AM

I use to have a trak-ball controller decades ago.  It got lost in a move.  I tried playing Pole Position with it once and that was interesting.  If I find one again I'll have to try it with Tempest.  I have the game and like the controls with the original joysticks so far.  I just don't like the quality of the cartridge itself.  It's horrible and doesn't seat in the console well.  I've had mine pop out a few times during game play.  The game itself is perfect!

#5 RickR


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Posted 07 February 2016 - 05:14 AM

Tempest is a modern release, right? Great game that never got ported to home consoles back in the day.
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#6 Clint Thompson

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 05:52 AM

I owned a 5200. Actually, I ended up owning about 6 of them in total because some local couple that ran a flea market booth had a bunch of them and a ton of other Atari items for sale for dirt cheap. I only assumed something to be wrong with the units at $4 each but decided to get them anyways. Such huge beasties with not a single controller to be found for them locally and the ones that eventually did pop up years later simply did not work. Plus, the sellers always wanted $20-$25 for one controller because they were so rare and the same applied, something was always wrong with the controllers.

Meanwhile, I also picked up the almost as big as the 5200 trakball controller and played the living daylights out of Super Breakout. I loved the styling of the console and the games and continued to slowly collect games over the years until I finally made the mistake of landing a pair of actual, working controllers.

By this time, I had quite a large and well rounded Atari collection which consisted of multiple Atari 800 and XL computers, 7800, etc. and learned that the 5200 was basically a repackaged 800. The controllers destroyed any hope of keeping the system around as a real console for me when I could just play most of the games I had slowly collected on the 8-bit computers anyway. So it didn't make sense to keep this huge console around, let alone six, to play identical games with inferior controls. I ridded everything I had very shortly after and even to this day with little regret, with the exception of keeping a trakball and Super Breakout, best version I've played and it was a ton of fun!

If Atari had packaged the 5200 in the smaller size that of the Atari 2700 and included the well known joysticks with it, having the option to upgrade to analog controllers for specific games later, then the machine may have done well. Maybe not, I don't know.... but I do know I would have certainly kept one had that been the case.

As cool as the system was or had hoped to be, I doubt I would ever go out of my way to own one again unless I just so happen to run across a cheap unit with trakball and super breakout. I was always fond of the Atari logo, copyright year and name of the game on bootup though.
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2600 - 7800 - 800XL - 130XE - Lynx - Jaguar



#7 Yo-Yo


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Posted 07 February 2016 - 06:04 AM

Between the 2600, 7800 and computers I never felt like the 5200 was really worth anything to me. Most of the games were pretty muddy looking, and between the archaic graphics of the 2600 and the cartoon-like graphics of the NES it was neither here nor there.

And who releases a new Atari system without a new Yars' Revenge? Dumb!
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Welcome to the short bus.

#8 kamakazi20012


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Posted 30 May 2016 - 05:15 AM

@RickR: yep...I got Tempest complete in box from AtariAge when I won a $50 gift card.

So...maybe I ought to say if any Atari.IO members get/have 5200 stuff they don't like or want, working or not, let me know. I will give them a home...gladly.

#9 Lost Dragon

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Posted 30 May 2016 - 08:12 AM

@River:It appears even the home conversions of Tempest we did see, on home micro's was by accident rather than design. 


The coder of the Amstrad CPC version had written it as a demo whilst looking for work, Electric Dreams saw it, decided to market it and asked David to convert it to the ZX Spectrum, but even then, they didn't ask for a C64 conversion, so sadly demand for the game seemed very low.



Update:I forgot, Superior Software release a conversion for the BBC Home Micro.


So, it is ironic that 3rd parties were busy doing home conversions, yet Atari didn't seem interested in converting it.

Edited by Lost Dragon, 04 June 2016 - 02:18 PM.

#10 Protestari



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Posted 07 September 2016 - 10:06 PM

Well Bob and I will be extolling the virtues of the 5200 in our upcoming Atari 5200 Podcast.

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The Atari Xegs Cart By Cart Podcast

The Atari 5200 Podcast

#11 TeddyGermany


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Posted 31 January 2017 - 01:49 PM

The Tempest cartridge for the 5200 was the main reason for me to buy the console. I have no regrets about it! ^_^

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#12 TrekMD


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Posted 05 February 2017 - 01:35 PM

The 5200 is a great console on its own right.  I didn't get one until about 10 years ago but I have to say that have really enjoyed playing its games.  In fact, it is impressive as the game library for the system is rather excellent.  The majority of the games are very good to excellent.  I know some people will hate on the system because of the controllers and the lack of self-centering but there are alternatives.  I use with Wico controller to address that issue for games like Pac-Man that require more precise control.  Overall, though, this is a fun system with a great library of games.

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Going to the final frontier, gaming...

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