As some of you may have read in a post on Atari.IO somewhere I am trying to adventure into the world of making videos. My main goal is to have an easier method of expressing my thoughts and adventures surrounding video games. And I've had a YouTube Channel since 2011 with no real reason to have one. The only reason why I had it was because I had a racing game on my first gen iPad I got for college that saved replays on YouTube. You couldn't save replays any other way so I created a YouTube account just for that. One of the replays is below...and I used touch controls instead of tilting the iPad.
So...I created a new opening I plan to use on all my videos and I am presenting it here. I have yet to make any real content but I think I might have figured out what I want my channel to be about and how I am going to present it. Without further ado I present the opening here. This was created with a trial version of Bluff Titler which is why you will see "DEMO" on the last portions of the video.
Any other videos on my channel (mostly those used for college) will be getting removed as they have nothing to do with video games. So...bye bye old videos!
As always feedback is welcomed and Atari.IO will be my main link for any YouTube subscribers to my channel to communicate with me. I don't want to make my own website and I'm not a huge fan of Facebook or Twitter. I feel that it would be simply too much to try to keep up with any comments on all sites. So I plan to stick with here and YouTube for communications. I also feel it might bring more members to Atari.IO.
I still have some gear I will need to get eventually as I still have no way to capture game play from the game hardware yet. I will have to work on that in time. I'm starting simple with at least an HD webcam that is capable of 720p in Widescreen...so that's a start. I'm not going to try to do too much too soon. I am curious to see where it heads and would rather build up over time instead having too much on my hands before I know what's going on.
I hope that people will like what I am doing with my YouTube channel as I really have no idea what I'm doing in the first place. But I'm going to try to do my best.
Here's to 2017 and I hope we can make it a great year for video gaming! Thanks to those who read my posts and taking interest in my writings. I am hoping to bring that formula over to the videos I create. I look forward to hearing feedback about my videos and their content.
See ya around!
For my 13th birthday, in 1987, my mother picked up a game system I never knew nor heard of. It just mysteriously appeared. For I had unwrapped a game console that would forever change the way I perceived video games. That gift was the Nintendo Entertainment System. At first I didn't like the controllers because there was no joystick. In a joystick's place was this "thing" that controlled on-screen movement of a playable character or other image. Then again when the only games you have are Gyromite and Duck Hunt the controllers really didn't get a chance to show their worth until a while later.
Mom and I were living with my grandparents, her parents, and the town had barely 2,000 people. Mom had got the system from the only video rental store in town at that time on a payment plan. And with every payment she made I got a ticket to rent a game. So the controllers eventually got to prove how good they really were. This is when I would come across games I would eventually declare as the best on the system. These games include Gradius, Castlevania, and most of the initial issue titles. As much as others enjoy it I am really not a huge Donkey Kong fan but the NES really got a spot-on port of that one. Really well done.
It took us (Mom and I) month after month to locate a single copy of Super Mario Brothers. That game was very hard to come by. But...I wasn't too worried because I had come across a different game one time while paying a visit to the hometown's Wal-Mart. As luck would have it I was planning to spend the weekend with my Grandmother in my hometown and my NES was back at the other grandparents' house. But, this visit scored me what I am assuming was an initial release of the adventure game everyone would talk about decades later as well as spawn a huge franchise with a large fan base following. Zelda had made it to store shelves.
I had to sit for an entire weekend admiring a game I had no way of playing. I took the game out of the box, read the instructions front to back, read the back of the box, rinse and repeat, over and over. Mom could not have come to pick me up any sooner. But, once back to my NES I didn't hesitate one second. I made a bee line to the system which was setup in the room we were sleeping in. On went the TV, in went Zelda. I started my adventure not realizing just how involved this game would become.
At school I could hear others talking about the game I picked up over the weekend. Some were getting stuck in areas I had not reached yet. One couldn't find the first dungeon. Mom and I paid a visit to one of her friends who's son was a friend in school. He also had Zelda and we spent a few hours on that game trying to get through dungeon after dungeon. What was really happening was that the NES and Zelda had triggered video gamers to socialize about the games being played, how to beat this or that boss, and getting unstuck in troublesome levels. This was before Nintendo Power so the only thing left was pretty much word of mouth.
Once Mom and I moved back to my hometown there was a change in schools and atmosphere for sure but there was one thing that didn't change...the talk about the NES and its games. Call me weird or crazy, or both, but there was nothing I wanted to do more than stay at home and play Nintendo games. After school I would come home and spend time on it before doing my homework. On the weekend, if I wasn't sleeping, eating, using the bathroom, or doing something for my grandmother, or visiting my other grandparents (I love them dearly so don't get that wrong...I just don't know how else to word it), I was on the NES playing games.
The little console had revitalized video gaming on a massive scale. I still have one here that works without issues. Well...there are times it will do the screen flashing thing but that doesn't bother me. I just clean the carts and keep trying. I rarely blow on them.
For what it's worth I really owe a lot to the NES. The game play was addictive because once you had that latest game in your hand nothing else mattered except beating that game. If you got stuck you turned to a game magazine or call the hotlines at 99 cents a minute, give or take a few cents. You see, I was so involved with the NES that I didn't go out of the house much. I had no need to. I sat, in my room, playing video games. At the same time the NES was keeping me off the streets and out of trouble in a lot of ways. I might have gotten into trouble sometimes for not always doing my homework but I wasn't being arrested for being intoxicated or under the influence in public like some of my high school friends were. I didn't have a girlfriend because, now that I think about it, I was already married...to the video games. As crazy as that sounds that's pretty much how I was.
I still play the NES on a regular basis. As much as I love my Atari stuff the NES is the only non-Atari console that has a large place in my heart. It is a well balanced system with lots, and I mean LOTS, of games. If you've never had one before for one reason or another pick one up. Before you do, however, do your homework first and ask around about what games you should lookout for. Whatever you do don't compare the system and its games with modern stuff. The system and games have already proved their worth years ago...they should simply be enjoyed as they are.
To think that any gamer who lived and experienced the NES during its production run spent countless hours if not months or more on a single game just to beat it. With a few exceptions like Zelda had there really was not much of a way to save the game progress. You started and endured the challenges. Later the idea of writing down a password to save game progress was seen in most NES games like Metroid and Kid Icarus but if you got one character wrong, guess what...you had to start over again.
The real value of the NES is the overall package. The games, the system, the controller options, and I have never seen ALL of the NES games. There are sooo many that I would most likely need another lifetime to try them all. So...NES...solid entertainment that will challenge you. I would love to hear favorite games of other NES gamers so be sure to post those in the comments section below. Thank you for reading and I will return with more thoughts running in my head. Well...that might be a bit scary.
My first encounter with Mouse Trap, the video game and not the board game, was not until 2011 when I had, for a short time, a Colecovision console with some games. I ended up selling that off to help with holiday funds that same year. I would not see Mouse Trap again until about Spring 2016. This time the game would be for the granddaddy of all consoles...the Atari 2600.
Mouse Trap is a different take on the Pac-Man theme. The player controls a mouse that is hurrying to eat up all the cheese scattered about the house. Trying to keep our mouse from his rewards are three pesky cats who are hungry...and our mouse would make a perfect snack. To aid our mouse are "cheese enhancements" that can turn our mouse into a dog for a short amount of time, allowing the mouse to attack the cats. Sounds like a game that should have been called Tom and Jerry because it sounds like the game was based on those two cartoon mascots. So, in goes the game and on goes my 2600. The game starts instantly with a short tune.
Mouse Trap on the 2600 is actually OK. Moving around the "house" I manage to get all the "cheese" without being eaten by a cat. Next round...same thing. I spent a good hour on this game getting all the cheese, turning into a dog when needed, eating cats, collecting "bones" to change into a dog, racking up points. I stopped once just to see what would happen and, guess what? The cats only move a short distance in a continuous loop. They only relocate when my character, the mouse, moves. Try it sometime. There is an invisible mode by moving the TV Type switch from color to black and white (B/W) which is very challenging but the rest is the same. After an hour I'm still going with plenty of extra lives left. With each round advance the cats move faster but it's not enough to take me out completely. Tired of playing I put down the controller.
Mouse Trap is made well. I like the fact that I can alter the "house" design a bit by holding the fire button down. Areas in the maze can be moved to help alter the path the cats are taking. The colors in the game almost seem like those on the early computer systems that couldn't do graphics and had a monochrome monitor. Even with the cats being of a slight yellow color the game has that monochrome appearance. The only other color that is noticeable is when the mouse changes into a dog which changes the player from the same green as the maze to a brown color. The maze also changes to a pinkish-purple when the mouse is caught by a cat. The game does control well and sounds are not annoying.
Mouse Trap is a game that should be in a game library for a bit of a variety. However, once mastered it might not hold as much replay value as it did before being mastered. It is a fun game none the less and maintains an arcade feel that is easy to pick up and learn without instructions. I have the Atari release that Atari bought once Coleco left the video game market during the crash. And I am not sure if any changes were made during the ownership switch. Either way I recommend the game to offer a bit of variety in a 2600 collection.
(Hums theme to Xevious). Xevious. A shoot 'em up game developed by Namco. I still have no clue as to what exactly the player is suppose to do other than destroy everything. As well it is unclear whether the game actually has a purpose or if the player is locked in an endurance mode lasting as long as they can. I never figured it out. But I believe I read somewhere that Xevious has 8 rounds.
Xevious is a vertical-scrolling shoot 'em up game. The player gets no power ups and is equipped with a twin shooter and ground bombs. Difficulty switches on the front of the 7800 console can help the player select whether one fire button fires both simultaneously or if one button fires the twin shooter and another button fires the bombs. It has to be selected before starting the game though as you can't switch in the middle of a game.
With my best 7800 controller connected, I put Xevious in my 7800 and power it on. On my screen is the Atari logo (which is striking similar to the one used on the 1200 XL home computer). After a few seconds the Xevious title screen appears. I use the joystick to select a beginner skill level and press the fire button to start the game.
I do pretty well starting out having taken down a few flying enemies and bombing a few "tanks" and other ground enemies firing at me. Before too long I am zoned in to the action on my screen. Before long I come across these barriers that are flipping in mid air. These can not be shot down. Every shot I make that hits one is met with sudden death.
As the game play continues it is not long until I am up against a rather large enemy. Surrounding this enemy are large black dots that turn into shots aimed at me. I have no clue as to what I'm suppose to do. After a minute the thing flies off the top of the screen and my mission continues on.
After a while I am up against more flying enemies and tanks that can run on top of water. I never knew they made such things. And before long I make a wrong move and lose a life. I finally find my trouble spot and lose life after life and before I know it I run out of extra lives. Game over.
Xevious, while it is a fun game, can make the player feel like they have no purpose to keep playing. Yet, at the same time, it can be difficult to put down. If any game shows what the 7800 is capable of I would have to say that Xevious is one of them. The graphics look really good, the characters are well done, and even the sounds are spot on. Controls work well but, as an issue with the 7800 standard controllers, my hands started cramping before I made it to that huge enemy. This is from the 7800 controllers being so uncomfortable to use for prolonged periods of time and not because of the game.
Xevious is a good game that captures everything that makes the arcade exciting. It could also be considered a 7800 exclusive since no other Atari console every received it. Considering the 7800's rather short life span and game library I couldn't see a 7800 gamer without this game in their library of 7800 games. It's worth owning.
Jungle Hunt was one of many games Atari would bring to their consoles, meaning the 2600 and 5200, that I would not have the joy of experiencing. I'm not sure why this game never made it in my library of games in the past unless we simply could not find it. But it is here now and I have been trying to enjoy the game.
Jungle Hunt is a side-scrolling, run-and-jump style game. You play as a guy trying to rescue a woman who has been captured by savages. Sound a bit familiar? The game offers four stages of game play and two difficulty settings. Difficulty switches are not used in this game. So, in pops the cart and on goes my 2600. I grab the controller and press the fire button.
At the start of the game I'm swinging on a vine and have to jump from vine to vine to reach the next level. Timing of jumps is vital as a mistimed jump can lead to death from a nasty fall. One jump after another what seems like a few seconds and I'm on the next lever before I know it.
That was a breeze. My guy is swimming in what I believe is a really huge river. In this river are alligators or crocodiles, not sure which, and I don't think it would matter should one have me for lunch. On the right side of the screen just above the "water" is a diving meter. If you dive below the surface of the water the guy can only hold his breath for so long...and that meter is a timer for how long he can hold his breath. Stay underwater too long and you lose a life. I lose two lives in this round; one from an alligator and another one for not paying attention to my breath meter. Opps.
The next round our guy has to avoid boulders either by jumping over or ducking under them. There are two size of boulders. The smaller boulders are not difficult and only require timed jumps. The larger boulders, however, are a bit more difficult and I soon learn it is easier to duck under them than to try to jump over them. Before I know it
...I'm suddenly standing next to a jumping savage. It takes me a few times to figure out this area and I lose all my lives and have to start over. By the time I make it back here I have managed to keep all of my lives from the start. I study the movement of the savage. Jumps to the right and then jumps back left and seems to pause for a second before jumping again. That's it! I manage to get next to him on his jump right and as he jumps left I move close to him. As soon as he lands I jump over him. Ah HA! Success!! Another savage, same move as before, and jump!
And I have managed to save our jungle lady in distress ... for the first time. After my bonus points have been added up we are back at the beginning of the game, ready to do it all over again. This time things are a bit tougher than before. I only manage to make it to the swimming round because the alligators are faster than before and I can't hold my breath as long as I could before. So...game over at the swimming round.
Jungle Hunt is a good game. The graphics are not that bad for being a 2600 game. It's easy to visually tell what everything is suppose to represent. There are not many sounds in this game other than when jumping, the bonus points being counted up, drowning or being eaten by alligators, and short tune between levels and at the beginning of the game. Other than that the game is pretty much quiet. The controls are tight and respond very well. It might take a while, however, to time jumps in later levels but as soon as a direction or button is pushed the game responds immediately.
Jungle Hunt is fun and looks good. I especially enjoy the label artwork that I would have expected to see on the side of the arcade cab. Jungle Hunt is sure to provide with a few minutes to an hour of entertainment. It should also be enjoyable sitting next to more games in a 2600 library.
During the first year of the 5200's production run, the system received many ports of popular arcade hits. Every dot-munchin' gamer loved Pac-Man, a game the 5200 received shortly after initial release. To Atari ... it only made sense to bring the Queen of Video Games, Ms. Pac-Man, for SuperSystem owners to enjoy in the comfort of their homes.
Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 contains everything the arcade hit has including very accurate multiple mazes, intermissions, music and sounds. Pressing the start button gives the player the first maze along with the opening music Ms. Pac-Man is known for. Going around the maze, munching dots, the ghosts don't take long to come chasing after me ... forcing me to use a power dot. It's not long before I finish up the first maze with one life down because I made a turn the wrong way when I was expecting a ghost to move another way.
Down with the second maze and I'm down two more lives. Pinky managed to head me off when Blinky was hot on my tail. Not once but twice. Time for a break to watch the first intermission! OK...new maze now. The speed of the game seems to have picked up by now. I barely manage to eat all of the dots on this round and am on my last life by the time I reach the pretzel round. I don't last long because I take a turn into the bottom left tunnel without noticing that Inky had already entered the same tunnel on the right side. Game Over.
At first the game seems a bit sluggish, almost like it is stuck in slow-motion. The animation and game play is not as smooth as it was in Pac-Man but the controls are a bit more responsive. As the player advances a few more mazes the game play speeds picks up a bit. The graphics are really good but I think the eyes on the ghosts could have been done better. And I know that the 5200 is very well capable of producing a purple color so why do we have a brown Sue??? That is the only real complaint I have with this Ms. Pac-Man is the one ghost that is not colored like the arcade. Then again the fourth ghost in Pac-Man was not the right color either.
As for sounds...eh...they are not too bad but I feel some more effort could have been made to make them more arcade-like. Especially after playing a prototype version of Super Pac-Man on the 5200 that showed just how close the 5200 can sound to the arcades. So for Ms. Pac-Man I did expect sounds to be a bit better than they were.
Controls are actually not too bad nor difficult...providing a good working standard controller is used. My copy is used so I am not sure if Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 came with overlays or not. Pretty much standard with 5200 games, * usually changes skill levels and # changes number of players....or is it the other way around? Oh well...just mash 'em 'til ya find 'em. They are the only keys used on the keypad anyway.
All kidding aside, Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 looks and plays well but it also feels like it might have been a bit rushed as there are some things that could have used a bit more polishing. And, while the sounds are not too bad, Atari should have spent a little more time perfecting them. The only pet-peeve I have with this game is the one ghost that is not colored like the arcade. If you are going to try to port an arcade game to a home console at least get the colors right. Other than that Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 is a solid and fun title so 5200 owners owe it to themselves to enjoy a game with the Queen of Video Games.
Well...here it is; my 5200 game rating list. This list will grow as I obtain and review 5200 games. Just like the 2600 list I have going this list will show how I rank the 5200 games I come across.
5200 Game Ratings
October 17, 2016: Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 is a solid title but does suffer from a few aspects that differ from the arcade smash hit. One of the ghosts is not colored correctly and the sounds seem to fall a bit short for my tastes. Controls are actually good and very responsive. However, as much as I love Ms. Pac-Man I would play Moon Patrol more often so the Queen is currently defending 2nd place.
September 30, 2016: Moon Patrol is a great arcade port the 5200 received. The multi-scrolling background, the enemies, and the moon buggy's animation across the bumpy terrain are very well detailed and close to the arcade. Sounds are good and close to the arcade but at times will seem flat in comparison. Since this is the first game I reviewed on the 5200 it is the only one on the list at the moment. There will be more games reviewed soon. This game will give your 5200 controller a decent workout.
When Moon Patrol hit the local arcade it quickly became one of my favorites. By the time my 11th birthday came I had pretty much faced the reality that games for my 5200 were no longer going to arrive. This would have been in the spring of 1985 and after 1983 showed up the 5200 games seem to have stopped. For two years I kept hoping that I would see a new game for my 5200 show up somewhere. Nope. The only thing I really seen was the sudden rate at which prices were being dropped on anything for my 5200 and some 2600 titles as well. So I was surprised when I unwrapped a brand new 5200 game called Moon Patrol. Where Mom found it I had no clue and I still have no clue but it was the only gift I got that day and that was enough for me.
It took everything in me to wait until after my birthday to play Moon Patrol on the 5200. And that time is when I believe I started to pick up the habit (a bad one) how to block out anything else around me to concentrate on a game. And what seemed like a few minutes was actually a couple of hours. The friends I had sitting next to me were no longer there...and, yes, I shared the game with them. I remember taking turns for a while and then it seemed like the asking to play stopped all of a sudden. Other than that my eyes were stuck on the purple moon buggy on the screen, watching for holes and rocks, while firing at enemies.
Just before writing this review up I took some time to play this game again on the 5200 to refresh my memory and to get my mind set on what to write about. The memories of getting this game as a gift came back. The timed reflexes also returned to aide my quest. I managed to make it to "Y" before a second rock caught me off guard after I jumped over a rock while trying to shoot at enemies above me. After that my whole thought process seemed to not want to work any more. I guess you could say I lost my mojo.
Moon Patrol is a side-scrolling arcade-style game that is a bit of Space Invaders and a bit of something else. The side-scrolling action is automatic but the player can adjust the speed at which the moon buggy is traveling with the joystick. It's not just the enemies flying down out of the sky that the player has to worry about either; there's rocks (which you can shoot or jump over), holes, mines, robot tanks, and if you manage to make it to the Advanced stage, there is a hovercraft that will attack you from behind. Basically anything possible to destroy you was put in the game...and it actually works well.
The player travels from A to Z in five rounds; A to E, F to J, K to O, P to T, and U to Z. As the player progresses the more challenges the player faces. The nice thing about Moon Patrol is that the rounds are pattern-based, meaning that no matter how many games you play the way the rounds are setup will remain the same. Where ever a hole or rock was before it will be in that exact same spot the next time through.
One of the things that I really love about Moon Patrol on the 5200 is the artwork. While it is the same used on the 2600 with the exception of the red sky the 5200 Moon Patrol has the blue sky background to match the system's dedicated color. It's one of my favorite box arts on the 5200...it makes you want to play the game instead of trying to figure out what the artwork is doing.
The 5200 version of Moon Patrol does not include a keypad overlay so if you get a complete, or new, copy of this game don't think they are missing. There simply wasn't any made for this game. I will say this; Moon Patrol on the 5200 may require you to use your best working controller. Immediate responses from working controls can make the difference in the overall experience of this game.
Moon Patrol is one of many arcade titles that made it to the 5200 ... and it is a well make port. The graphics, sounds, and controls are good even with the analog controls. It will not disappoint. I couldn't see my 5200 collection being without Moon Patrol and you shouldn't either.
Ahh. Missile Command. A game that reminds me of the ABC Network movie called The Day After. If you've never seen the movie I will share it on the forums here at Atari.IO. Watch it and you will see why I feel the two are almost connected.
Missile Command is an arcade-style game where the player is protecting six cities from wave after wave of attacks. First a few missiles, then a few more missiles. These are soon joined with bi-planes, satellites, and more to increase the challenge as if there already wasn't enough. It's enough to make one pull their hair out.
Popping the cartridge in the 2600 I am greeted with a game screen where I can change skill levels and settings. I go with default settings. First wave of missiles I fend off easily. The next round introduces a few more missiles than before. By the third round I'm fending off bi-planes as well, by the fifth round there are these little, annoying, small triangles coming down that manage to avoid my shots. But I manage to save all six cities. I lose my first city by round eight. As the game progresses the speed at which things are coming out of the sky is overwhelming and by the tenth round it's game over.
Being played on the 2600 Missile Command is a very well made port. But it is also a game where the player will lose, it's only a matter of how skilled a player is and how much time they are willing to spend playing it. The visuals of the game are not too different from the arcade. I didn't notice any flickering and the sounds are OK. Despite being a track-ball game the controls are very well done for the joystick controller.
Missile Command appears to be about an era when worries of nuclear attacks were an everyday fear. I'm not so sure if those fears still exist or even if the underground facilities for such an event are still around either. Missile Command might have more to do with history, not video game history but actual history, in the fact that it portrays what would happen in an all-out missile attack anywhere in the world. Even with the most sophisticated technology to help protect against such an attack, cities would be wiped off the map, lives would be lost, civilizations destroyed. But, it is only a game and well made one at that. And the 2600 does a very decent job of bringing home the arcade that was once a hit.
Missile Command is one of those games you either like it or you don't. It is a very common 2600 title so it shouldn't be too difficult to find. No Atari 2600 would be the same without Missile Command in a game library. I'm just not too sure how often I would play it.
If you are here then you either have a 5200 console and not sure what to do with it or you have had one for a while that is not wanting to work right or at all. In either case the system is most likely used, has not been played in quite sometime, and the controls are not working. Am I right?
Then welcome to the Atari 5200 guide! I will do my very best to help you get your system cleaned up, hooked-up the way it was intended, so that it can be enjoyed the way it was intended. Be advised, though, that the 5200 is a delicate console. It will last for a very long time if knowledge is shared on its operation and such. It is not a console intended to sit on a shelf, closet, basement, or where ever, for months on end without using it. Not using a 5200 will do it more harm than good, even after giving it a lot of tender loving care. This will be a multiple-part series covering how to use, clean, and maintain the 5200 console and its controllers. Ready? Let's get started! I'm already excited!!
What You Should Have
If you have just purchased a 4-port 5200 (four controller ports on the front of the system) you should have:
A 4-port 5200 console
An Original 5200 A/C Adapter (do NOT use any other adapter or you may destroy the console!)
An Original 5200 Automatic RF Switchbox
At least one original 5200 controller
At least one 5200 game of your choice
If you have just purchased a 2-port 5200 (two controller ports on the front of the system) you should have:
A 2-port 5200 console
An Original 5200 A/C Adapter (do NOT use any other adapter or you may destroy the console!)
A 2600-style RF Switchbox or a Cable-Ready Adapter is OK
At least one original 5200 Controller
At least one 5200 game of your choice
NOTE: There has been known identity problems with an A/C Adapter included with the 5200 and those included with the 400/800 Atari computers. This adapter looks almost identical to the adapters used for the 400 and 800 computers. Whatever you do please, before connecting any adapter to the 5200, make sure it has the Atari logo and says on it "Use only with model CX-5200". This is an AC to DC adapter meaning it converts incoming AC current into DC current. The 400/800 Atari computers have circuitry built in them to do the converting of the current to DC, the 5200 does not. Using an adapter for a 400/800 Atari computer on a 5200 will fry it the second the Power switch is pressed because the 5200 can not handle the AC current. I mention this here because I have seen this and once got a 4-port off of E-Bay with a 400/800 adapter included...and I didn't notice it until it was too late.
If anything is missing or damaged/worn out, replace those before trying to use your 5200 again with original equipment. Using aftermarket parts, especially on the 4-port console, may be more costly and more harmful to your equipment than the original-issued equipment.
How To Properly Hook-Up A 5200 To Your TV (4-Ports Only!)
You may have seen online videos or other reviews/blogs mentioning about a spark that comes from connecting the system to the RF switchbox of the 5200. This spark is caused from connecting the 5200 in the opposite order of the instructions that were included with the console. What is causing the spark is the power adapter being connected to the RF switchbox first and then connecting the 5200 to the switchbox last. You are essentially creating a surge of power being sent to the 5200.
In the words of the late Gene Wilder when portraying Willy Wonka, "Strike that, reverse it." Connect the 5200 to the RF Switchbox first and then connect the switchbox to your TV. After that connect the AC adapter to the switchbox and finally plug the AC Adapter into the wall outlet. Always plug the adapter into the wall last. This will eliminate any chances of a spark or power surge from happening.
Use the same steps to connect a 2-port 5200: console to switchbox first, connect switchbox to TV, connect console end of AC adapter to console, and then plug the adapter into the wall outlet.
Testing The Console
Cross your fingers at this point as this is the do or die moment. Hopefully you managed to pick up a game or two (or more) along with your 5200. Grab any one of those and insert it in the 5200's cartridge port, making sure the label is up-right and facing you. It will fit snugly in the port. Try not to force the cartridge in the slot as this should not be necessary. If the cartridge springs back up, however, you may need a little more force to make it fit all the way in the cartridge slot. Once it is properly seated press the Power switch.
If you have an Atari released title you should see the Atari Logo with the game's name and copyright date at the bottom. Any third-party games, like those from Parker Bros., Sega, and Activision, will go directly to the game screen or a title screen.
If you don't have a power light on the console then double-check all of your connections to the RF Switchbox. Make sure that all connections are fully seated in their sockets and that the AC Adapter is plugged into the wall. If you still have no power there is a way to safely check the AC Adapter by simply placing the AC Adapter to your ear. If you hear a buzz or humming noise then the AC Adapter is getting power and working (we will get to that in a moment).
If you have a power light on the console but no TV signal check to make sure that you have the Automatic RF Switchbox in NORMAL mode and not in STANDBY mode. Also make sure the TV is set to the proper channel (2 or 3). For 2-ports make sure the RF Switchbox is in COMPUTER or GAME mode by moving the switch to that direction completely.
If the AC Adapter is making a humming noise, and still the 5200 is not coming on, the AC Adapter may still be at fault. Inside the 5200 adapter is a fuse to help protect it against a large power surge. The AC Adapter will still hum from the transformer inside working but the console end of the adapter will be dead. Unless you know how to fix electronics, and are comfortable with taking things apart and fixing them, it is recommended to get a new 5200 adapter from an Atari dealer (which in this case would be Video 61 or Best Electronics).
If the system still refuses to work at all it may be defectively unfortunately. The good news is that the above mentioned dealers can also fix the 5200. I can only offer things to check for such as a damaged or worn-out RF cable, AC Adapter, RF Switchbox, etc. I have not had any issues with a 5200 that is cause for parts repairs or replacements other than those already mentioned. Others may know more than me and, if so, I would hope they would share that information in a comment below.
If your machine is working then we now need to test the controller or controllers if you have more than one.
Testing The Controllers
All 5200 models should have the same controllers unless you are lucky to find a Wico controller. But this is about standard equipment that would have been included with the console when bought new decades ago. For that reason this section will be discussing the original 5200 analog controllers.
This is the most picky part your will find on the 5200. These are what makes and breaks a 5200 because of the nature on how they actually work. I will discuss the insides of these in another post because I want to keep how to fix these separate from this post so it is easier to find.
First, turn off the console. Please do not connect a controller to the 5200 before turning it off if this is your first time using one. There is a reason for this which I will discuss in another post. Plug a controller into the Control 1 port of your 5200. Turn on your machine with a game already inserted in the cartridge port. I recommend Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Missile Command for testing controllers. Press the START button. You shouldn't have to press these buttons hard at all. If they are not responding well or at all they may just need to be cleaned. You can either find a video or other post about how to clean these controllers or wait a bit for me to write mine. I have a few secrets that some of those other do-it-yourself instructions may not have.
If your controller is working then try to have fun. Play a full game. Play all the games you have for the 5200. Take notes on how the controller is working, responding. Is it sluggish? Are the buttons working instantly? Are you having to mash the buttons with too much force? Keep a mental record of your findings with the controller for each game played. If you have more than one controller then try them all out taking notes on which one works best or which ones have the better response in the joystick handle and which ones have the better button responses. This will be important later.
A Bit About The 5200 Controllers
One thing you can not do with the 5200, and really shouldn't do, is approach the 5200 and treat it as if it was the 2600. While it is an Atari console it is not a 2600. And in some ways it simply can not handle the rigor a 2600 can.
One of the ways I have witnessed some people play a 5200 game is by holding the controller with one hand and working the joystick with their other hand by covering the top of the joystick. While there is no set way to use a joystick controller, and maybe I'm being a bit picky here, the 5200 controller is not an 8-way joystick with contact buttons inside. It is a 360 degree analog joystick meaning that it is very sensitive to movement. How I hold the controller is shown in the image below.
It's kinda hard taking a picture while trying to hold the controller but what I am trying to show is how I use the joystick portion. Cradle the controller with one hand where the fire buttons are comfortable to use. With the other hand try using the joystick handle by its base instead of the top. By playing the joystick handle inside your fore finger and thumb you can actually get better control and movement of your character on the screen with games that are analog sensitive. I hold the 2600 and 7800 controllers this exact same way as well to help eliminate or prolong cramps or other hand pains.
What All The Buttons Do On The 5200 Controller
The buttons on the 5200 controller are somewhat self explanatory as far as START, PAUSE, and RESET are concerned. But...
START BUTTON -- Starts a game
PAUSE BUTTON -- Freezes the game. Press again to resume where you left off. NOTE: Some games will return to the title screen if the game is left paused for too long. Others will put the 5200 in an attract mode just like the 2600 does, changing the colors on screen to protect the TV screen from burn-ins. This is normal and not a defect.
RESET BUTTON -- Returns to the Title Screen or another screen where you can change game settings if available. This feature usually only works when a game is paused. So, pause your game first before pressing RESET to return to the game's title screen.
The 5200 controller has two fire buttons on either side of the controller known as "Top Button" and "Bottom Button". This is to accommodate left- and right-handed players because the right-side buttons do the same as the left-sided buttons depending on the game being played. In some games the Top Button is not used.
The Keypad is the 12-buttons on the controller under the joystick handle. These keys perform various functions in the games and are very dependent on the game being played. In most games, however, the STAR (*) key is used to select the number of players and the POUND (#) key is used to select the skill level.
There were not many games made that make use of all the keypad buttons but some do. And without instructions, if you have never played the 5200 game before, can cause frustration. Most games came with keypad overlays that detailed what each button did in those games and are hopefully included with the games you find. Atari-made 5200 game cartridges had an area on the back of them to store the keypad overlays. Look there if you buy loose carts for the overlays.
How To Approach The 5200 And Its Games
The 5200 is a game console...nothing more, nothing less. But, due to the nature of its controls, the controllers movements and limitations will need to be learned first. Once you turn a game on move the joystick in a full 360 degree movement a few times. Then wiggle it some more in a left to right and back to left motion. This will aide the 5200 find the controller's center a bit better since it really doesn't have any programming to detect the controller's dead center.
If you have it, play a few games of Super Breakout to get use to how the joystick moves the paddle on the screen. Try a combination of slight movements to fast movements while playing the game. Practice this as much as you can because this is the true learning curve of the 5200; to harness the feel of the analog joystick.
Once the feeling and movement of the joystick is harnessed with one game try another. This is usually where the 5200 rules will change on you as each game performs differently. This is another learning curve with the 5200, the ability to learn the controllers on a game-by-game basis. If it sounds like a pain it really isn't. Usually a small amount of time is needed to pick up on how the game controls work the game on the screen. The main thing is to practice how to work the controller first and then learn how to play the game. That...that is where the 5200 is best approached. I know that statement is the same for any game but it applies more so to the 5200 and its games.
What To Do When Finished Playing
You will save yourself a lot of headaches, and prolong the 5200's functionality, if you do the following when done playing the 5200 for the day:
Turn the machine off
Remove the game cartridge from the cartridge slot. You can remove it completely or let the cart rest in the slot. It is not recommended to leave the cartridge completely seated inside the slot.
Unhook the controller(s) from the controller port(s). You don't have to wind the cords around the joystick handles and you do not have to use the provided storage space on the console. Considering the age of the controllers, winding the cords around the handle could cause the small wires inside the cable to break, thus causing a controller not to work until the cord is replaced. You can place the controllers inside the storage area of the console and feed the cables in the small holes provided on either side of the console, then close the lid. However you store the controllers try to place them somewhere where dust can't reach them.
Unplug the AC Adapter from the wall outlet. It is no longer necessary, nor a requirement, for power plants to give warning of a power surge. If a power plant was to perform a power surge without warning, and your 5200 was still plugged in, the surge could cause the 5200 to fail prematurely. So, if you plan on keeping it plugged in at least put it on a surge protector. Otherwise unplug it from the wall when not in use...even if for a few hours or so.
What NOT To Do With Your 5200
There are a few things not recommended to do with a 5200 console. Some of these are common knowledge while others are things I've ran into and would like to share with you.
Do not leave a game completely seated in the 5200 while it is powered off and the AC Adapter is still plugged into the wall outlet for too long. Others I've mentioned this to have said they have never experienced this issue. But, just for the record, when I was I think 7 or 8, I had played a game of Space Invaders before having to go to bed. When I woke up the next morning to get ready for school I tried to get in a quick game of Space Invaders again while Mom fixed breakfast only to discover that the game no longer worked. Some have said that the game may have been faulty. And while that may have been true we (meaning Mom and me) had never had any issues with buying a game and it not work. I had left the system on the coffee table, game plugged in the machine, and the AC Adapter still plugged into the wall. Because of the experience I had I don't recommend doing this. I can't be 100% certain if this is what caused my Space Invaders to fail or not but, just to be safe, I am mentioning it here.
Do not let the 5200 sit more than a month without using it. This is mainly for the controllers as letting them sit can cause the buttons to stop working completely or make them hard to use, resulting in a cleaning job to be performed. Let it get exercise once a week to at least twice a month if you can. If you can't do that then at least once a month playing it for at least an hour.
Do not attempt to clean the cartridge slot while the power adapter is sending power through the system. Even when turned off the cartridge slot is still receiving 5 volts of power. Cleaning the cartridge slot while the power is still being provided will short the system out for good. Remove the source of power and press the power switch to drain any stored power before cleaning the cartridge slot.
Remember, while it is an Atari console, it is not a 2600 and should not be used as such. It will benefit you more to treat the 5200 as a delicate computer than a game console even if it is a game console. It is a beautiful machine that will last you years of enjoyment as long as you play by its rules. Treat it with respect and it will treat you to some of the best gaming you will ever experience.
A Few Tidbits
Did you know:
The 5200 is only one of two Atari consoles that is Made in the U.S.A.? This is something not seen very much in the modern world.
The 5200 was only released in the USA?
You can get extra balls in Super Breakout? It's true! On your 5th ball press the one button to reset the ball counter back to 1.
Before I get too far along, I had previously reviewed this game on this website here. So if you would like to read that first for a memory refresh, or if you haven't read it yet, the link to it is provided. Because this review is revisiting the game and adding to that review. Let's see how well Solaris still stands after a few months.
Without repeating myself too much, Solaris was an attempt at creating a Star Raiders-like title for the Atari 2600. Instead of a first-person flying perspective we get a third-person view behind our ship. And the galaxy map? Forget it! That is old school. Solaris has a large world that is really impressive. Seriously...every time I play this game I am overwhelmed by the sheer size and amount of maps that make up this fictional space. It's really good.
So, every time I plug Solaris in my 2600 I forget what I am playing this game on and, for a while, I am a spaceship captain and pilot out to find Solaris. I manage to take out a few Zylons, a Zylon Planet or two while rescuing a few Cadets along the way. It's not long before I find a wormhole where I can jump to another location on another map. After doing so, however, I find that the only way to advance is to attack some kind of space pirates where I get destroyed ... rather ... easily. Dang it! So I try again. And again ... and again. I finally give in and play something else.
After returning to reality I turn off the console, realizing that the game was on the Atari 2600 system. It's hard to believe that a system originally designed to play pong and tank games is capable of producing the game play I just witnessed. The graphics look really good for a 2600 game, the sounds don't seem 2-channel at times, and the controls are easy to use and master. Where Solaris' heart lies is within that large map the developer called a "Scanner". Solaris has 16 quadrants, or maps, with each quadrant made up of 48 sectors. All sectors combined create this space maze, if you will, where it is easy to get lost, trapped, attacked. At the same time the urge to explore the quadrants to see what all is out there remains a driving force that becomes an enemy itself because you simply don't have the time. In-game time that is.
Solaris will take you on a trip that is like no other on the 2600. If you love a good space action/adventure then Solaris on the 2600 will fill that bill. And quite easily I might add. This is one game I don't play very often. Why? Because of the time it takes to play it. When I don't have much time to play a 2600 I will pass on Solaris and grab a game I know will last only a few minutes...like 5 to 10 minutes tops. But, when I know I have plenty of time Solaris is my go-to title when I want to spend that time on the 2600. I still have not mastered this game but I know I will someday. I highly recommend this game for 2600 owners just as I did in my original review. It is a marvel of what could be done on the 2600. It will not disappoint. Might take some time to get use to but it will not leave you thinking it was a waste of money.
Before I start going into details I need to be clear about what this post is about. This is not a journalistic review of the console nor am I going to repeat, or try not to repeat, the memories of this console as I have already done that. Nope. This is more about the what and how that wood-grain console has worked its way into my heart in a short amount of time. So...here we go.
As mentioned in the post I made called 2600 Memories I never gave the 2600 a fair chance. My first console was the 5200 which I thought blew the 2600 out of water at the time. Then the NES came along and I was blown away. The poor 2600 never caught my attention for long when I would find one. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the games I played it was the fact that they didn't hold my interest for very long. Of course, I've already mentioned that.
Since the arrival of a 4-switch Woody I have had a hard time not wanting to play the system. I've had a Junior model before I acquired the Woody model but it just didn't catch my interest as much for some reason. It wasn't the games. We all know the variations in the consoles is not going to change the games. But there is something about that 4-switch Woody that is appealing. From the insertion of the cartridge, plugging in the controller required for the game to be played, using those shinny chrome switches, to holding the joystick that only offered one fire button, there is a need to satisfy this video game crave. Sounds wild I know but that's the only way I know how to explain it.
The 2600 wood-grain design is distinctively associated with the "Atari" name. As is the letters V, C, and S and the number 2600. When you see the wood grain it's hard not to think of Atari, VCS or 2600 and vice versa. What has really captured me is the amount of good games that have made it to the 2600. Most of the games I never knew of simply because it was Nintendo's section or no video games at all for a while. I never knew the 2600 was still being produced for years after the NES became a hit. And even during the NES' popularity Atari was still making 2600 games that I would never hear of until long after Atari was sold off. Only one store in my hometown sold anything Atari and that's where I discovered the Junior model. But if you think about it, the Junior model was already no longer being produced by the time I found it so it might have been a store trying to help sell off some leftover stock for Atari. Who knows.
Since the arrival of the 4-switch Woody 2600 my interest in the console has grown so much that the 2600 has found a permanent home in the living room. Normally game systems get used for a bit and then put back in the bedroom on a shelf I have for storing consoles. The 2600 remains attached, plugged in, ready for use. Not a single day has went by where I didn't play a game on it even if it was at the end of the day. I am beginning to wonder if the 2600 has managed to surpass my feelings about the 5200 that has more sentimental value than the 2600 in any shape or form. I can not be certain just yet but I do know I am enjoying every game for the 2600 I have been blessed with.
My journey with the 2600, full-force, had only started about a year ago. I am discovering for the first time what this console was all about when it was top-dog. And I am liking everything about the system. The controller variations, arcade-style games, and a few days with Adventure really changed the way I thought about the 2600 years ago. This is a very capable, constantly able to change, piece of gaming hardware. It's no wonder why it has be crowned the king of all consoles. For me? It has become a number one favorite surpassing the NES and my beloved 5200. Since owning the 4-switch my 4-port 5200 has not been used hardly at all. I'm constantly wanting to see what other games are out there...although a bit too late in the game. Now I wish I would have held on to all the hardware, controllers, and games my Mother and I found decades ago. Oh well, live and learn.
I owe the Atari.IO members more thanks than I can ever give. Because of you guys I have been able to give the 2600 a much needed chance to show how much it could really entertain. So, thanks to StormSurge for the console and thanks to everyone here who has become my Atari family. The 2600 is truly a remarkable system. It just goes to show that graphics and sounds are not everything...it's all about the game play.
This post is the one I will be editing when I find more 2600 games. This list will only consist of games I physically have...it will not be based off of emulation. I have nothing against emulation and I think those are good for preservation but it's not the same as the real deal for me. So...below is my list so far. Be sure to keep an eye on it as it will be changing and will be added to frequently.
My List & Ranking of 2600 Games
October 17, 2016: It's been a while since posting anything on the 2600 because I've working on reviewing things for the 5200. Jungle Hunt, while not a bad game, is not one I play very often on the 2600. Only at the time of this writing did I drag it out to play it for the first time in few months. It's not exactly one of my go-to games. And I managed to reach Lady P. the first time ever while playing the game to write the review. Jungle Hunt, while I might not play it that much, is a game I would play more than California Games but less than Breakout. So it holds #12 spot.
September 29, 2016: After writing my review on Missile Command I attempt to place it somewhere on this list. The truth is, while Missile Command is a good game, it is also one that not my particular favorite on any system. That doesn't mean I don't like it. On the contrary I use to play this game a lot on the 5200 when I was a kid. But, I don't feel that it has aged well with me...either that or I've moved away from this game over the years. I do like to play it every now and then ... and maybe if I can pick up a Trak-Ball controller for the 2600 it might encourage me to play the game some more. For now, though, I would play California Games more than Missile Command on any given day.
September 25, 2016: Adventure has been getting a LOT of playtime lately. And I managed to beat a Skill Level 3 game without too much difficulty. Well...believe it or not the bat helped. He grabbed all the keys I needed so I didn't have to hunt for them...but he was doing what he could to keep me from a gold key in another Skill Level 3 game. So much so that I can only see half of the Gold Key and the magnet is no where to be found. Come to think of it, I haven't seen a bridge in this round either. I can see why this game tops a lot of 2600 gamers' lists. It's fun to go hunting these items down and slaying a few dragons. So...Adventure has made it to the top of my list. It is now my number 1 favorite on the 2600.
September 3, 2016: Atlantis is a good game and that was almost always present with the many 2600 systems Mom and I would find at yard sales and second-hand stores. I have played it often and managed to get a nice copy that is complete in box. I really like the artwork and style of the box and labels the Imagic used. Those are very distinctive and attractive. As good as the game is it is not one that I play often. I would probably play E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial more than I would Atlantis. But I might pass up a game of Othello for Atlantis instead. So, Atlantis will fall between those two games for the time being.
August 28, 2016: I was blessed with a copy of Adventure from an Atari IO member (thank you very much!) and have spent most of my free time on it since it arrived in my mailbox. This is a very fun game if not the game that other adventure computer/console games came from. This is currently in my 2600 Woody and getting lots of play time. Of course it will get replaced when new games come along but I feel that it will get played often. There is a craving that Adventure satisfies...that sense of accomplishment and beating all the odds is what makes Adventure the awesome game that it is.
For that reason I would rank it as my new number one favorite game on the console. However, Space Invaders has more of a sentimental memory for me. With the 2600 receiving a more faithful Space Invaders port than any other console at that time it is for that simple reason I can not put Adventure in the number one spot. If it wasn't for Space Invaders I might not have ever wanted an Atari...or to play video games...in the first place. Usually when I play the 2600 hooked up in the living room I will go to the bedroom and grab some games from the shelf to bring back. Since Adventure has arrived it, and Space Invaders, along with about two or three other titles, have always made the journey between rooms. Both games sit on my 2600 under its dust cover waiting to be played.
I am personally taking the time to thank readers of my Atari.IO blog posts for their continued support. If it wasn't for Atari IO and its members I would not be here writing my thoughts and sharing my feelings about the one video game company that changed my way of life as well as gave me so many memories of time spent with family members no longer with me. And I enjoy reading every response I get in return. I don't think I will ever be able to thank you guys enough. You guys are the best!
Now...go play your Atari today.
Atlantis. The legendary city said to have mystical powers. Legend tells of this mythical city being attacked before sinking into the depths of the ocean. Whether this city still exists remains a mystery to this day.
Imagic, one of two third-party game developers for the Atari 2600 started by ex-Atari employees, brings to the table a game based on the legendary city of Atlantis. The job at hand is to protect the city of Atlantis from wave after wave of attacks by Gorgon vessels. You have one Command Post and two Sentry Posts at your disposal to help ward off the waves of attacks. The city of Atlantis depends on you!
In the game of Atlantis you are responsible for trying to keep as much of the seven Atlantis bases alive for as long as possible. Lose all of them and the game will end. As ready as I'm going to be, I place this cart in my 2600 and...WOW! I'm immediately blown away by the colorful image on my screen. The artwork done to make up the city of Atlantis has lots of detail for a 2600 game. Generators are animated, too, to help give the city the sense of life. Very nice.
I start a game and immediately the horde of Gorgon ships start to traverse across the screen; starting at the top and working their way closer to the city. MY city! "Take THAT!", I say as my Command Post takes down the first Gorgon ship. After a few more ships are destroyed I have managed to keep every base alive and well. Now it's time for the second wave of attacks. Ships are moving faster now and there is a new type of enemy called a Bandit Bomber. He's fast but very effective if you can score a direct hit on him as he will take all other ships on the screen with him. I managed to hit everything I was suppose to but I lose a couple of my bases.
Wave three. Enemies are moving a lot faster now, especially the bomber. Before I know it my city has lost two more bases. Just when I think I can't keep up the wave ends and I'm given back one of my bases. Fourth wave now. Holy cow! What did they give these guys? Within a blink of an eye I've lost my Command Post and another two bases. And before I start to attack with my Sentry Posts my last base is destroyed. The last image seen on the screen is a small ship flying off into outer space, thus marking the end of the game.
Atlantis is a well made game that brings part Missile Command (protecting structures at ground level) and Space Invaders (enemies traveling close to the ground) together. Imagic did a super job on creating interesting visuals with rainbow-colored Gorgon ships and detailing the city of Atlantis at the bottom of the screen. It's easy to distinguish what all the elements are by sight. Sounds are used not only to give game elements the effects they need to be believable but also as distinctive warning signs with the Morse-code like beeps at the end of each wave or the sound of the bomber when it appears.
Controls in the game are simple; move the joystick handle left or right along with the fire button to use the relative Sentry Post or don't move the joystick handle at all while using the fire button to use the Command Post. Easy stuff. Difficulty switches are not used in this game. It does, however, offer four game variations to play including a unique co-op mode for two players where one player works the left Sentry and another player works the right Sentry. Pretty impressive for a 2600 game. The fourth setting is easier for those who are new to the game.
The one thing that I like about Atlantis, as well as most of the original issue Imagic games, is not only the quality of the game but with the entire package the consumer received. I really wish that modern games would use materials to really make a game package more unique. The chrome box and label with a large, detailed artwork are none the less impressive...and something that is missing from today's game packages. The only games I've ever seen that came close are those made by Working Designs during the PlayStation craze in the mid to late 1990's. Just the carts, alone, are very nice when the labels have managed to avoid fading from extensive use, wear and tear, or neglect from lack of use or proper storing.
It's a good game but one that I'm not sure how often I would return to it. The copy I have has been sitting on the shelf for months before being pulled to play again. And that was just to help me write this review.
It may come as a surprise to others reading this but Adventure on the 2600 was one game that I missed completely. From the time it first hit store shelves until now I have never had the chance to play the game that has been considered one of the best on the system. Even when my mother and I would find lots of 2600 consoles with lots of games Adventure simply wasn't there. And since the 5200 was my first game console I felt the 2600 was lacking and never gave it a fair chance.
It's almost fall 2016 and I have been blessed, thanks to Atari.IO members, with a 4-switch woody console and a copy of Adventure. I finally got the chance to see what all the hype was about with this game. So...I plug it in and flip the switch. As usual I just start a game with default settings. I don't even bother to check the difficulty switches. It's just something I don't think about.
I'm moving my block along after picking up the gold key to get my sword. Then off I go to find the black key and get the chalice. I run into the gold dragon (which looks like a duck to me, sorry Adventure fans) and he ate me. So I reset the switch thinking, "Alright. I got your number!", and set off again. I managed to kill the gold dragon, find the black key, and retrieve the chalice. On the way back I find the green dragon. He chases me all the way back to the gold castle and I get stuck just for a split second on the entrance. I'm dragon food, again. So I try again and ... success! The 1st level became clockwork in about a half-hour's time.
Being brave, and taking one for the team, I changed the game setting to the 2nd level. Oh my word. You would have thought I was trying to start world war three or something with the things I was saying, no...yelling at the images on the TV screen. I couldn't find half the items I needed and when I did that stupid bat would come along and switch whatever he was carrying, which was a dragon most of the time, with what I was after and fly away...leaving me defenseless and fleeing for my life! I spent about a week trying to complete a level 2 game just once...just ONCE! And I finally did it before I started writing this review. I have yet to embark on a level 3 journey as I am still trying to re-cooperate from the level 2 journey. But it is on my to-do list.
After all of that I sat down and gave it some thought while I stare at the square on the TV standing next to the gold-flashing chalice. The adventure I embarked upon already took me in dark catacombs to find items, fighting very aggressive dragons, searching for items a bat would take off with, only to have been rewarded with what some would expect to be the fact I managed to make it back with the chalice. The true reward was all the challenge I was put through just to get that chalice and bring it back. This game can easily be your classic Dungeons & Dragons stuff, of which I've never had the chance to play before either. But from what I've heard about D&D from regular players the 2600 Adventure is easily the first video game adaptation of the popular D&D games. That is where I would expect to find this game on store shelves because it really is in a category all of its own. In other words, the Adventure title fits perfectly.
This is a well thought-out game and as simple as the game's graphics and sounds may seem beneath that cartridge shell is a game that is very well capable of giving the player one heck of an adventure. I recommend bringing a joystick along for the ride that you know will not break. You will find intense moments where the joystick in your hands will most likely receive extra force that it normally wouldn't receive otherwise. A highly recommended game for 2600 owners.
With all of that being said I am updating my favorites list. I actually need to start a new post about how my 2600 games rank as I get them. This, unfortunately, would be way too similar to NoSwearGamer's method...and I don't want to be a "me-too" thing. That is his way...but, sadly, that is a method I would have to use for the time being until I can come up with my own method.
Secret Quest, the last 2600 U.S. released game, gives the 2600 the dignity to go out with a bang. Not that it wouldn't anyway with all the popular games it had received during its production run. No matter how you look at it, the 2600 proved that gaming hardware was only limited by imagination, and Secret Quest takes that imagination and gives players an adventure they won't soon forget.
While misleading in a way, the label tells the game was made by Nolan Bushnell when in hindsight he basically designed it and oversaw its development by giving advice, a fellow by the name of Steve DeFrisco actually coded the game having never programmed the 2600 before. What we ended up with was a rather large action/adventure game of a sci-fi nature that will take some patients to master. So, my hat's off to DeFrisco for a fabulous job on this 2600 game.
Our main character is a guy that actually looks like he could use a shirt, or if that is his shirt we need to get him a new one. I'm not sure if that is a helmet on his head but we will just say it is and leave it at that. Our objective is to visit all eight, I'm going to call them "bases", to enter a code that starts a self-destruct sequence. Once that has been started our main character has only seconds to find the teleport to beam him off the base before it destructs.
Sounds easy, right? Well, with the first base it is, and the second base is not too hard either. But after that the game begins to get really difficult and it becomes very easy to get lost. Once you find and start the self-destruct sequence it is very hard to find and reach the teleport in time. If Nolan's idea was to frustrate and test a player's mind and patients then he accomplished what he set out to do.
Against you are two elements; energy and oxygen. Using your weapon uses your energy. If you run out of energy you will lose the ability to lose any weapons. You can still navigate the levels but simply won't be able to kill any enemies. Running out of oxygen, however, and it's game over. Oxygen is more like a timer. Whether you move or just sit there you are using oxygen. Both can be replenished by killing enemies. Some enemies drop energy while others drop oxygen.
Actually, Secret Quest is a very well made game. You can actually tell that each element of the game was thought out before being placed in the game. The thick, colorful borders that outline the rooms are used in a way to help the player visually tell where they are, especially with levels containing more than one floor. Enemies are colorful even if some are hard to tell what they are suppose to be. Sounds are good and, while there is a small hint of background music, it's not so much that it's annoying. At some points you almost can't hear it so it's almost like it's not there at all.
Where Secret Quest shines is in two features. The first feature, well, not exactly an "in-game" feature but something that not many games this early in the video game industry's starts ever did, is having the player involved in the game's strategy where hours are lost simply trying to navigate the levels. There's only eight of them but there might as well be a hundred. With the possible exception of the first two levels the remainder of the game will have the player drawing out maps just so they don't get lost. Seriously, the third level of this game when I first reached it made me rethink the way I thought about 2600 games in general.
Now, the second feature of this game, which really should get an award of some kind but I'm not sure what kind of an award that would be. You see, Secret Quest actually has a continue feature. How it works seems a bit complicated at first but once the steps are performed a few times you start to get the hang of it. During the game, should something go wrong or you are done playing for the day, you move the TV TYPE switch to the black and white setting, and then back to the color setting again. On a 7800, simply press the PAUSE button. You will leave the GAME SCREEN and be presented with what the instructions called a STATUS SCREEN. Here, see for yourself.
If you've never seen this screen before allow me to explain. The top section are the bases left to be destroyed. Just under the left-most section of those bases is the level you are on indicated by large flashing rectangles. Just to the right of this is the weapons you currently have, which you can have three but only one equipped at any one time. Now take a look below all that and you should see some funny looking characters in an almost-hieroglyphic style. Need a closer look?
These characters are your password to continue play at the beginning of the level you are on. It only works when you are on the first room of the first level. Basically, start a new game and immediately access the STATUS SCREEN. Once there press SELECT on the console. You can now edit the funny characters at the bottom of the screen using the joystick; up and down to select the characters and left and right to select the character you wish to change. This password feature is unique in that it only works under one condition. You may notice at the start of the game that there are two dashes, or underlines. The game instructions say to enter your initials here. So, the initials placed here determine what your password will be. And the password will only work with those initials.
I never knew the 2600 could pull off a game of this magnitude. It's simply mind blowing! Atari.IO's high score run with this game was my first time learning that this game even existed. Since then I have managed to locate a loose copy of the game and have been spending hours on it trying to beat the game. The password feature is a saving grace for the very reason that you can start off where you left off, including the amount of energy and oxygen you have left.
If you are new to the 2600, or a 2600 vet who has not seen this game yet, this would be the game to try to find. It is a rare title from what I understand but there are copies that turn up every now and then on E-Bay's and Goodwill's online auction sites. Just recently before this writing, Goodwill had two unopened copies show up on their auction. So...keep looking if you want a physical copy. Otherwise download your favorite 2600 emulator and a ROM copy of this game and give it a shot. It's a really good game that should not be missed. Fans of Nintendo's Zelda might find this game of interest.
The Atari 5200 was the first game console I would ever own. Received as a Christmas gift shortly after the system's initial release it quickly became my favorite childhood product. Years went by playing many of my favorite arcade games at home in the comfort of my family's living room. Many decades later the 5200 remains my favorite console of all time. The system really brought home some of the most advanced technological game console breakthroughs that other consoles picked up. And most of the games looked and played just like the arcades when compared to the 2600 ports.
With that being said I would like to share the games no 5200 console should be without. It is these games that I feel showcase what the 5200 was truly capable of. These also happen to be my favorite games on the system. Strap on your safety belt...here we go!
I have to consider the 5200 port of Centipede closer to the arcade than any other console port (not counting the computers on this one). Combine this with the 5200's Trak Ball controller and the arcade feel will be present as well. The multi-colored sprites/graphics combined with sounds that seem to have been taken directly from the arcade machine makes for some unforgettable game play. This was my mother's favorite game. It is one of mine as well. I could not have a 5200 without Centipede.
As much as it can cramp your hands due to the position of the fire buttons, Defender on the 5200 is a near-perfect arcade port. Awesome sounds, graphics, and effects that mimic the arcade perfectly. My only gripe is I wish there were more controller options along the lines the 2600 received. Other than that, Atari did a great job with this title.
#8 Moon Patrol
My first encounter with Moon Patrol on the 5200 was at my 11th birthday. 1985 was a bad year to own an Atari 5200 in my area. Hardware and games were non-existent so I didn't even know that this game was made for the 5200. How and where Mom found it I have no clue...I'm just glad that she did. The multi-plane scrolling background is spot on with the arcade as is the enemy ships and the levels. The only part not on par with the arcade is the player's vehicle. We lost some wheels somewhere. Easy to pick up and play with the analog controls and doesn't cramp your hands.
My first side-scrolling shoot 'em up adventure arcade style was with this title. I spent hours upon hours on this game learning the levels, how to move and avoid level walls, and eventually beat the boss at the end of the game only to have to do it all over again. That was decades ago, now I haven't been able to do it again. My liking this game might explain why I liked Gradius, Life Force, and other shoot 'em ups that followed. Great game!
I enjoyed playing Berzerk on the 2600 when I picked up a 2600 console with some games from a classmate decades ago. I never knew the 5200 got Berzerk until a few years ago and picked up a brand new copy. I have to say that this game pushes the envelope of what the 5200 was capable of doing. When this game spoke I about crapped myself. "This game can talk!?!" I was amazed and still remain that way to this day with this title. This game can get difficult quick. "Chicken. Fight like a robot."
Out of all the ports of Qix I have come across the 5200 port of this odd arcade game is the only one I know of to remain 100% faithful to the original arcade. Other ports added extras, the 5200 adds nothing and is still as much fun to play. It doesn't need the extra stuff. It doesn't take long for the game play to get intense after a few waves either so bring your best 5200 controller to the field. Might want to bring a first-aid kit, too.
#4 Space Dungeon
This was another 5200 title I knew nothing about until a few years ago. I never knew the 5200 had games where you had to use two controllers. A very neat idea. And the game play is astounding! Great colorful graphics, interesting sounds, and lots of areas to explore with all 99 levels present. This could take a while.
This was one title that I waited to make it to the store shelves. But it would be one of many 5200 titles that would go unpublished. I was more than surprised to see the game on Atari Age's store one day and picked up a copy. This is the only homebrew 5200 game I own and considering the fact it was finished by the original developer I couldn't have been happier. The game is really good and everything about the arcade hit is here. Even the sounds are impressive. My only gripe is that the cartridge is not of original Atari quality and doesn't seat well in my system. However, the game play is so impressive that I play it often.
#2 Pole Position
Pole Position hit the arcades and became an instant hit. When it came to home ports of this game only one of those ports was able to maintain the analog controls. And that was the 5200 console. Being that this is the only racing game I know of on the system it is also a very well done port of the arcade. This game really showcases the analog controls when they are in good working order. Great sounds, graphics are good, and the animation of the track is smooth and fluid. Put your helmet on and hit the pavement!
#1 Star Raiders
Star Raiders is easily the ancestor to the likes of Wing Commander and other first person space shooters. Flying around, hunting down enemies while protecting bases is a half-hour of human time well spent. This is one of few games where the keypad on the controller is put to heavy use and the analog controls give the feeling of flying in space really well. I played this game for hours when I was a kid and I still come to it the most when I pull out my 5200 to play a game.
This list was not an easy one to make for me. There are lots of other titles that made the 5200 a good system along with those I've mentioned like Robotron, Frogger, Q*Bert, Dig Dug, Galaxian, Joust, and many, many more. My list was based off games I physically own and based on the games I go to the most. I would love to hear other 5200 owners tell what their favorites are as well.
The Atari 2600 is the undisputed king of game consoles. And in the short amount of time that I have owned an Atari 2600 4-switch wood-grain model the amount of 2600 games I owned has been growing fairly well. With that being said I thought I would do a post on what my top 10 most played games were that just happen to also be my favorites. This list is based on games I own a physical copy of and not on emulation. Therefore as I pick up more 2600 games this list will change and may expand to include more favorites. For now, here is my 10 favorite Atari 2600 VCS games. Enjoy!
#10 California Games
California Games is one of three games that Epyx would release for the 2600. While I am not a huge fan of sports video games I find the variety of games included on this cart interesting. Epyx also did a decent job on making the graphics easy to visually understand what you was looking at. Sounds are good with my favorite being the Louie Louie playing at the Title Screen. The real reason I continue to play this game is for the BMX race. I will purposely have the biker go as fast as he can before a large jump just for him to fly through two or three screens and crash. It's simply hilarious!
Breakout has its charm and is an easy paddle game to pick up and play. Simply bounce a ball between your paddle and a wall of bricks until the ball smashes away all the bricks or manages to slip past your paddle. There's nothing more exciting than getting that ball trapped for a few seconds above the wall of bricks and watching the ball bounce back and fourth, removing bricks and racking up points as the ball tries to find a way free. A simple concept that stands up well in the library of 2600 games.
I enjoy a good fast-paced, arcade action game just as much as any gamer. But there are those times when I want to play a game that I can be relaxed at the same time. And Othello is one such game I enjoy playing on the 2600. It's down-to-basics nature captures this board game and makes it one of the better board-game conversions done on the 2600. Playing against the computer is very challenging at any skill level and the VCS doesn't take near as long to figure out moves like it does in Video Checkers and Video Chess.
#7 E.T. -- The Extra Terrestrial
We all know the history of E.T. on the 2600 by now so there's no point in going into that over and over again. However, I will say that what was pulled off in 5 to 6 weeks time is not as bad as most reviews claim. E.T. can be difficult with normal settings but lots of patience and practice can pay off. This is one of my go-to titles when I want to play a relaxing game of a different genre. I will change the difficulty to three and guide E.T. to find the items he needs to return home. A fun game!
Warlords is the only game I know of that is four players on the 2600. Then again I have never tried to play Super Breakout or Breakout with more than one player either. Warlords is a great party game alongside Combat. Even playing against three computer players is a fun challenge and, unlike the arcade, if your castle gets destroyed the game is not over instantly. The 2600, while the graphics are simplistic, captures the game play the arcade is known for very well. In some ways this port is a bit more friendly than the arcade in my opinion.
This is not one of my normal go-to games but when I do play it I am still amazed at what Atari pulled off. Having gravity against you constantly is a huge pain in the butt but also makes for an enjoyable game play experience when you can navigate some of the most bizarre maps, or mazes if you prefer, I've ever seen in a 2600 game. Even without the gravity against you some of the levels are hard to navigate. Hair pulling action at its finest!
Amidar is a go-to title for me that provides a pleasant balance between fast pace and relaxed game play. I know that sounds sort of contradicting but their are times when this game can put you in a hypnotic trance to where you are so involved with the onscreen action that nothing else matters. By the time the game is over and you return to reality you feel rested and ready to go. Actually, the game is great fun and captures the arcade well. It would have been better with the arcade bonus rounds.
Enduro is simply, in my opinion anyway, the best racing game on the 2600, period. The way you can adjust the speed to cruise along a road, passing cars, going from nice weather to snow and then fog, from mid day, through sunset and night fall, watching the sun rise only to do it all over again is some of the most impressive 2600 programming I've seen. The concept is simple...pass the required number of cars per round before the next day begins. In the first few rounds it is not so hard...later rounds get so difficult that you better not mess up even once.
Solaris is a very well made space game that seems to capture a bit of Star Raiders in its programming. The graphics, sounds, and game play of Solaris on the 2600 are simply incredible and should not be missed. I go to this title often when I'm ready for some serious space action/adventure challenges. I have yet to figure out my way to the planet Solaris but I am working on it.
#1 Space Invaders
When Atari released the 2600 I was entertained with the few visits to the in-store display were I would play a few games of Combat or some other game hanging on a chain. Then Space Invaders came along for the 2600 and I immediately wanted both. This game continues to be my number one go-to title for some classic 2600 fun. The game play is solid and there is no flicker that most 2600 games have issues with. And with lots of variations in how the game is played keeps this version of Space Invaders from being boring. There's so much to do with this simple game concept on the 2600 that it doesn't get old quick.
Well...that's my top 10 favorite 2600 games so far. I hope you have enjoyed seeing what games I find my favorites on the 2600. I look forward to comments as always and will be doing more top favorites across other consoles soon.
Nintendo's shock of announcing a miniature NES with 30 games built-in a few weeks before I wrote this article seems to have been met with mixed feelings. With all of the clone systems on the market based on the original NES, that perform well but might have mistakes here and there like a few colors wrong or sounds not quite right, it makes one wonder why Nintendo didn't think of it sooner. After all, Atari, ColecoVision, Intellivision, and Sega, have had remakes of their consoles on the market for a while now. So, with so much love for the NES by the people that remember it, enjoy it, treasure it, why the mixed feelings?
For the most part the NES Classic has been getting positive feedback already. However no one has seen the thing in action yet so I can only imagine what others are thinking. Is it possible that Nintendo would go out of their way to produce a product that is not 100% accurate in what it is trying to mimic? I really don't think so. Nintendo's reputation will be on the line with this product as the NES remains one of the most popular consoles today. The NES still has a rather large fan base and for good reason as many of its games were revolutionary and a step forward from the games Atari, Mattel, and Coleco were bringing to the console market. Mega Man, Castlevania, Mario Bros., and Zelda have continued on for many generations long after their initial NES debut. And that only touches all the game titles the NES is famous for.
If one plays those games long enough it becomes common to build expectations of what the game is "suppose" to do. Mario should change to a red and white outfit when he picks up a fire flower. What would happen if that color scheme was off? Or try this...hum a few bars of the Super Mario Bros. theme. Go on ahead...I'll wait. . . . . . OK, time's up. Now imagine that same theme that is played too fast or too slow. Basically, place a 45 RPM record on a turntable and play it at 33 RPM or 78 RPM. Yea...some emulators have been known not to be 100% accurate in this department when emulating the NES hardware. It's also been true with the flashback consoles made by ATGames.
One thing to realize is that, no matter how well received a Nintendo product has been received, Nintendo has always put quality in their hardware. And since the introduction of the GameCube Nintendo has been revamping the NES games slowly like Metroid on Metroid Prime as an example. So if any company has had experience in emulating their own products it would have to be Nintendo. And it is possible that the NES Classic is going to be emulated but it might also be using real hardware or the same virtual console found on the Wii and Wii U.
Just for the games alone the Nintendo NES Classic is worth the $60 price tag. If a collector, gamer, what have you, were to hunt down those games in their original cartridge form, just the carts, any two of the games in the 30-game list would easily cost $60 depending on where you looked. Mega Man 2 alone can fetch $40 or more. And only the most popular NES games seemed to make the list, too. So you have literally hours upon hours of gaming, good, wholesome, quality gaming, in one little package.
Once again, though, if anything is even slightly off, it can ruin the whole deal. So I really hope that Nintendo does the original NES and the 30 games they have included justice. As for now the NES Classic is scheduled for a November 11th release and I am excited for it. I already have money set aside to pick one up on release date and will do another review on it once I get it. In the meantime I'd like to hear your thoughts on Nintendo's surprise console.
(Image used: http://www.nintendo.com/nes-classic )