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Atari 5200 What is wrong with it?


peteym5
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Came across this on YouTube. Thought it would make an interesting discussion here on Atari.IO. I know there are now many solutions an alternatives to the original 5200 controllers. Many people are selling repair kits, offering to repair controllers, and these thumbpad controllers. With these, do you believe the 5200 is now a worthwhile system?

 

 

 

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That was then, this is now.  Since that time, there have been three major items to come out for the 5200 that makes it a nice RETRO GAME MACHINE for the modern era and those who suffer from the middle age nostalgia bug.  Sure, the price point was off back THEN, the joysticks sucked back THEN.  Hell, by today's standards the video sucked too, but today is different.

1) The Atari 5200 is now going for LESS than many retro gaming machines because of it's old reputation, meaning not as many people are nostalgic for it, so prices are lower.

2) There are modern-day solutions to those demon joysticks from hell.

3) There is the modern UAV modification which makes the video crystal clear with popping colors and contrast.

4) You can download and play most of the games FOR FREE and put them on a multicart. 

Sure, you'll have to make a modest investment if you modernize a 5200, but you'll have a ton of the most popular games that were available at the time, and many later day conversions and ports as well.  After those three aftermarket investment, you'll HAVE IT ALL.

 

This first video shows the UAV modification to modernize the video output.

 

This second video show one of the best (my opinion) joystick upgrades for the 5200 currently available on the market today.

 

<<< My YouTube Page >>>

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I guess I was a lucky owner.  I never had issues with the controllers.  I do now from age and my hands don't belong to an eight year old no more but they are still more comfortable than the 7800 controllers us USA gamers got. I still say it is a unique system that tried to do something different. I enjoy playing mine all the time.  

I have noticed the system goes for a less amount of money than other systems but some games for it go for a ridiculous amount of money.

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I believe that Atari Engineers made a series of mistakes starting with mapping the control chips at different memory locations and not including a compatible 400/800 OS that will make games easier to port as long as they do not require a keyboard. The other mistake is of course the controllers. If the PIA remained with 4 port. Atari and other companies would had been able to port a huge library of games over to the 5200 back in 1982. Just make all the stuff take input from the console or controllers. I do not see any probably with the 32K cartridge port, and could had even included an adapter to play 400/800 games. The system would had cost about the same and would be been serious competition to Coleco and Intellivision. 

 

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7 hours ago, peteym5 said:

I believe that Atari Engineers made a series of mistakes starting with mapping the control chips at different memory locations and not including a compatible 400/800 OS that will make games easier to port as long as they do not require a keyboard. The other mistake is of course the controllers. If the PIA remained with 4 port. Atari and other companies would had been able to port a huge library of games over to the 5200 back in 1982. Just make all the stuff take input from the console or controllers. I do not see any probably with the 32K cartridge port, and could had even included an adapter to play 400/800 games. The system would had cost about the same and would be been serious competition to Coleco and Intellivision. 

 

I don't get it. I wouldn't call it a mistake.  Were mistakes made? Yes. It was released to the public even when R&D said it wasn't ready.  It was trying a couple of new concepts with the first being a computer converted into a console. The 5200 was the first to try this.  The second was the analog controller.  The movement of address locations made sense; to avoid the unauthorized games that plagued the 2600. It was a means to keep that from happening again. Atari didn't want just anyone making games for the 5200.

The 5200 is not limited to 32K.  It can handle up to 48K before bankswitching is required.  That is printed in the field service manual for the system.  The adapter would have been cool but it would have had to do a couple of things: 1) remap all #D0 access to #C0 access on the fly, 2) provide support for the analog controllers or have joystick ports for using 2600 controllers.

I've had all three: 5200, Colecovision, and Intellivision.  After owning and spending a decent amount of time on each one I can say the 5200, IMO, I like much better. All three have fun games, no doubt, but the Intellivision controllers were too small and the ColecoVision controllers were a bit too large and off balance.

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16 hours ago, peteym5 said:

I believe that Atari Engineers made a series of mistakes starting with mapping the control chips at different memory locations and not including a compatible 400/800 OS that will make games easier to port as long as they do not require a keyboard.

 

They made the same mistake when they changed the OS for the XL computers and dozens of games were instantly incompatible:

http://www.ataricompendium.com/game_library/easter_eggs/a48/a48xlxe.html

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9 hours ago, Atari 5200 Guy said:

I don't get it. I wouldn't call it a mistake.  Were mistakes made? Yes. It was released to the public even when R&D said it wasn't ready.  It was trying a couple of new concepts with the first being a computer converted into a console. The 5200 was the first to try this.  The second was the analog controller.  The movement of address locations made sense; to avoid the unauthorized games that plagued the 2600. It was a means to keep that from happening again. Atari didn't want just anyone making games for the 5200.

I call it a mistake, and one of Atari's costliest.  Look, the 400/800 hardware was the best to have been created from the 1970s, and was years ahead of its time.  As much of a fan of the VCS that I am, the 400/800 hardware was designed to be the true successor to the VCS and should have been released as a console in 1979 as originally planned.  Had it been, we wouldn't be talking about the Intellivision or Colecovision.  But taking a superior concept and making an inferior one out of it is always a mistake.  The home computer 'boom' was still a few years away and the home video game market had yet to reach its peak (pre-crash).  Not that the crash still wouldn't have happened, because the reshuffling of address locations did nothing to prevent 3rd-party companies from making games for the 5200 (Activision, CBS Electronics, Parker Brothers, etc).  Look at the thousands of programs that were created for the Atari 8-bit computers :)  Atari released the 400/800 computers without any documentation on how to program it, but much like the VCS, people figured out how to do it.  Hell, Nintendo had a lockout chip in their NES, and Atari (Tengen) figured out a work-around for it.

Atari wasn't breaking new ground with the 5200 analog controllers, they were trying to reinvent a wheel that didn't need to be.  Atari's Marketing was calling the shots at that point, and for some inexplicable reason, they 'feared' the Intellivision with its 16-position joypad.    They took one look at it, and made the correlation that the 'advanced' Intellivision controller with its keypad was something Atari needed to surpass.  The problem was, people in Marketing aren't gamers; they just look at 'numbers'.  To them, a controller that offered 360 degrees of movement beat one with 16 degrees of movement.  Had they all be ushered into a room and been forced to spend the day playing both Atari's games and their competitor's, they would have realized (maybe...) how awful Intellivision's controllers were, and how much worse an analog joystick was for games that were designed for digital joysticks.  But that's a 'what if', alternate universe discussion, because in this universe, that didn't happen.  The membrane keypad tech was used in earlier systems (Intellivision, Odyssey2, etc).  Atari's mistake was in trying to improve it (again, trying to reinvent a wheel that didn't need to be).  

I get that you're a fan of the 5200, but you're in the minority.  History has already judged the system for what it is - a mistake.  No amount of revisionism will change that.

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