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  1. Like
    Ballblaɀer reacted to Atari 5200 Guy for a blog entry, Moon Patrol (Atari 5200)   
    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.
  2. Like
    Ballblaɀer reacted to Atari 5200 Guy for a blog entry, Missile Command (Atari 2600)   
    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.
  3. Like
    Ballblaɀer reacted to Atari 5200 Guy for a blog entry, Atari 2600 Top 10 Favorites   
    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!
    #9 Breakout

    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.
    #8 Othello

    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! 
    #6 Warlords

    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.
    #5 Gravitar

    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!
    #4 Amidar

    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.
    #3 Enduro

    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.
    #2 Solaris

    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.
  4. Like
    Ballblaɀer reacted to Atari 5200 Guy for a blog entry, Atari 5200 Top 10 Favorites   
    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!
    #10 Centipede

    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.
    #9 Defender

    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.
    #7 Vanguard

    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!
    #6 Berzerk

    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."
    #5 Qix

    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.
    #3 Tempest

    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.
  5. Like
    Ballblaɀer reacted to Atari 5200 Guy for a blog entry, Star Raiders (Atari 5200)   
    Strapped inside the cockpit of your starship, looking out into space, you see a star moving. After a few seconds of watching, the star turns into an enemy Basestar...and it has sent out its best starfighters to destroy you. Red alarms start to go off as your radar shows the enemy attempting to out flank you. An enemy starfighter appears right in your line of sight. You take the shot by firing your photon torpedoes. A direct hit!! Somehow you managed to miss the fire of another starfighter, which has started to come back at you again, while taking down the first starfighter. You line up the enemy in your crosshairs and fire. Seconds seem like minutes waiting to see if your aim was good. Another direct hit! The only thing to do now is to destroy that Basestar. You increase your engine speeds. Within seconds the Basestar is in your crosshairs and firing its weapons at you. You send blast after blast of photon torpedoes, some shots missing while others are hitting their target, until the Basestar explodes. With the area cleared you look at your Galactic Map and head for another sector with more approaching enemies. Your adventure in Star Raiders has just begun full force.
    Appearing first on the Atari 400 and 800 home computers, the 5200 received one of Atari's most enduring and engaging space battle games ever created. For its time the game was way more advanced than any arcade game on the market and was one of the first space games that concentrated more on strategy than anything else. Star Raiders on the 5200 is absolutely brilliant. While it may not push the capabilities of the system to its limits it does make full use of the 5200's analog controls and immerses the player into a space battle they will not soon forget.
    Compared to the simplistic style of Atari's joysticks on the home computers, and 2600 for that matter, the 5200's controls in Star Raiders allow for precise movement to help the player line up their shot. The more the joystick is moved in any direction the more the ship moves. The movement is very fluid like but effective and in the player's favor. Of course the game does pause when you need to take a break for whatever reason and Reset will take you back to the Mission Select screen where you can challenge the game at various difficulty settings.
    Where the game can get complicated is with the keypad controls. This is the only game I am aware of that places the keypad on double duty. In SPEED MODE the keypad buttons correspond to the ship's traveling speed. For example; button 1 sets the starship's speed at 1. In CONTROL MODE the keypad becomes a mini-computer and control console. This is where the heart of Star Raiders lies. From view settings to setting shields and tracking controls to viewing the Galactic Map and activating Hyperspace to warp to other sectors are all done at the press of the corresponding button on the controller keypad. The keypad controls may take some time to get use to but once they are learned the game becomes easier to navigate.
    The manual included with Star Raiders is a 35-page manual with only one page dedicated to a high score recording table. The rest is all about playing the game. This easily makes it the most documented instruction manual of any 5200 game, period. A lot of work went into making sure that not only did the game play good but that the player had enough information to learn how to play the game. Nothing was left out. Atari went so far as to tell how the score is calculated in the game.
    Star Raiders is one of those games that set a new standard and could easily be declared one of the first space-style first-person shooters. The game play in Star Raiders is so intense, engulfing, enticing, and engaging, that after one round it's hard to avoid playing another round. Star Raiders, win or lose, leaves the player feeling satisfied. If it sounds like I am placing game above all others then you, my dear reader, would be correct.
    You see, Star Raiders was one of the first titles I would pick up after the holiday season I got my 5200. At 7 years old I was kicking Zylon butt. For years I played this game more than any other until during a move it got lost. I managed to find one, new in the box, about 5 years or so ago. And I was overly excited. Star Raiders, unlike any other game, has been, and remains, my all-time favorite console video game. I like Mario, I enjoy Sonic, and I like my NES and love my Dreamcast, but Star Raiders on the 5200 is my main game. I've had the 8-bit version as well and, while it is essentially the same game, I prefer the analog controls on the 5200.
    So for those that have wondered about this game before, and have never played it, try to pick one up new in the box. I know their are new copies still available somewhere. I mention new in box because you really need the keypad overlays and you might even need the instructions if you are new to this game. This game is a blast to play and I believe that fans of shumps are going to enjoy this ride.
    Grab your 5200 controller, a sandwich and drink, and strap yourself in for one heck of a ride. Then join the rest of us Star Raiders in freeing the galaxy of unwanted Zylon scum! Welcome to the fleet, Cadet, and good luck! You're going to need it.
  6. Like
    Ballblaɀer reacted to Clint Thompson for a blog entry, Welcome to the New Age of Atari   
    It's 2016 and unfortunately, the Blade Runner scene will become anything but reality and Atari isn't even close to how we could have imagined it some 20-years ago but maybe that's a good thing. Never the less, the dreams and memories continue to live on. The games, artwork, music, design and passion behind so many products and games will forever remain. The best part of it all is the community behind it all. The wide range of hardware and software hackers that continue to adapt these machines into useful modern day gaming systems, not to be left behind or forgotten, is amazing. It's nice to have new hardware or software for our machines and the majority of the people behind any of these projects mostly are in it because they enjoy it.
    At some point, I feel any Atari aficionado would have hoped for a better outcome that is Atari and kind of hope to live in a world where futuristic game consoles and computers continue to be developed and released to this day. Atari was always about promising the future, especially in its early years. Sleek, modern designs with never before seen features in consoles and computers, it was always something fascinating to look forward to and in a weird sense, gave many hope and something to look forward to.
    Today, I accept Atari for what it is: a childhood past time that I can adapt and bring into the future with me to enjoy, picking and choosing which time period I want to experience again. We can just about purchase any Atari console or computer for mostly reasonable prices and have access to flash carts to load these machines up with some of the best software our minds can remember. We live in a day of age where we can instantly relive our childhood memories in abundance at a fraction of the cost.
    I've owned and sold a lot of my Atari collection over the years, downsizing as needed due to space constraints and constant moving. The good news is, I have space again but no longer really need much more than to house the hardware itself. That's not to say there isn't a possibility it won't get out of control but I'm ready to rebuild a core Atari hardware collection so I can enjoy the massive amount of software created over the last 30+ years. Emulation isn't really for me, I'm a purist when it comes to the hardware side of things.
    My focus has been the Atari A8 or 800/XE series lately. It's one of the machines that has a ton of great games and is really easy to get into with a proper SIO2PC setup. I've yet to obtain a XF551 or Indus GT drive for my 130XE but am in no rush. Getting good hardware the first time around is important so I'm willing to wait. I've pretty much sourced an Atari Falcon I would like to follow up with next in my collection phase and if any of you spot a really nice STe or have one to sell, please drop me a message. I've got some cool projects going on in the controller department of things and the Jaguar side of things, so this will be the place I post about updates and an inside look when the time comes.
    Hopefully the next few years will prove to be fascinating with what comes from this hobby we all share!
    Anything is truly possible. Here's to a New Age of Atari -- it's ours for the taking.

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