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RickR

8-bit Games That Were Re-Written for 5200

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I think we all know that the Atari 5200 is based on the same hardware as the Atari 8-bit computers.  And in many cases, Atari just ported existing games from the 8-bit to the 5200 with only minor changes.

 

But I can think of three games that Atari actually re-wrote -- started from scratch -- for the 5200.  I thought it might be fun to do some comparisons of these games.  The idea came to me while I was playing 5200 Space Invaders last night, so I'll start with that game.

 

8-bit Version

post-41-0-67690800-1444597759_thumb.jpg

The 8-bit version of Space Invaders is just ok.  It plays well, with good speed and controls, but it just doesn't feel like Space Invaders.  The aliens don't look like the arcade version at all, there are no shields, and the aliens emerge from a lame looking space-ship/rocket on the left side of the screen.  For each wave cleared, the rocket lowers a notch and new aliens emerge.  The ground under your ship isn't quite flat, although that has no impact on your movement.

 

post-41-0-11495500-1444597760_thumb.jpg

 

 

5200 Version

post-41-0-56337200-1444597760_thumb.jpg

The 5200 version is very good.  Good controls and speed.  The shields are here and the aliens look better, making it feel more like the arcade version.  Strangely, like in the 8-bit version, the aliens emerge from the left side of the screen, although there is no rocket.  Best feature:  the aliens change every 2nd wave!  And there are some pretty wild designs.  Spinning/rotating/shrinking aliens!  I counted 4 different sets, but there may be more than that. 

 

Judging by your ship, the ground color, the information at the bottom of the screen, and the left-emerging aliens, it is obvious the programmer heavily referenced the 8-bit version in creating this version.  

 

post-41-0-00372200-1444597761_thumb.jpg

 

 

Why they did it.

I think the 8-bit version is pretty lackluster and gets boring pretty quickly.  Atari spent some time and came up with a version that is much more fun and will hold your interest a little longer.  I know I kept playing to see all the different types of aliens!  Very nicely done and a great choice by Atari.

 

Coming soon, the other two games that I know of....

Edited by RickR

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Time for part 2:  Centipede

 

8-bit Version

post-41-0-24055800-1445121016_thumb.jpg

 

The 8-bit version of Centipede isn't very good.  Choppy animation, centipede segments that are mostly square, and a lack of colors make this a pretty lazy port.  Also, the game is way too easy.  The spider doesn't have that killer instinct from the arcade, making him really easy to avoid. 

 

 

5200 Version

post-41-0-72631700-1445121016_thumb.jpg

 

The 5200 version of Centipede is excellent.  Smooth animation, colorful and distinct centipede segments, and multi-colored mushrooms make this a MUCH better looking port.  The spider here wiggles a lot and totally has the killer instinct.  Avoiding him is challenging.  The game gets fast quickly and is a blast to play.  Things are a little bigger on the screen, but that doesn't seem to impact the fun factor at all.

 

Why they did it

This one was a no-brainer.  The 8-bit version of Centipede is poor.  Re-doing it was a wise choice by Atari.  I don't see any sign of using the old code here...5200 Centipede was written from the ground up.  Excellent choice by Atari here. 

 

 

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The 5200 isn't a system I would go out of my way for like I did the 7800, but it would be nice to get someday. It has a very good library of arcade titles in my opinion, but it doesn't really have much to make it stand out like the 7800 or 2600 did. It mostly has games that you'd also find on those systems. Nowadays there are solutions for controller issues, so that's not that big of a problem. I'm not sure if I would rather have an Atari 8-Bit Computer as learning BASIC is on my bucket list. Print, Go to 10, load "$,8" (well that one's Commodore but you get my point).

What I'm trying to say is: I love Atari. I would like a 5200 someday. No reason to get one, though. There's no Food Fight for 5200. (I don't think anyway)

Can't wait for Dig Dug, @RickR! You've been keeping everyone waiting for half a decade for this! I like Dig Dug, but I will ALWAYS prefer Dig Dug II: Trouble in Paradise. A mix of childhood nostalgia and that it's just a better game.

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On 9/14/2020 at 4:06 PM, RickR said:

I never finished this post!  Coming soon -- Dig Dug! 

The conclusion to the trilogy five years in the making! I expect an epic review @RickR 🤣

Seriously, great topic! People often say why bother getting a 5200 when you have the Atari 8-bit. Looks like there are at least three great reasons why.

I see a five year old comment about the 5200 controllers. I hope this is a thing of the past. If you're a 5200 fan suffering from controller issues today, a cheap and easy solution is to get the ikonsgr adapter that I mentioned in a different post. People shouldn't be harping on this awesome console about controllers anymore.

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On 10/11/2015 at 4:13 PM, RickR said:

I think we all know that the Atari 5200 is based on the same hardware as the Atari 8-bit computers.  And in many cases, Atari just ported existing games from the 8-bit to the 5200 with only minor changes.

 

But I can think of three games that Atari actually re-wrote -- started from scratch -- for the 5200.  I thought it might be fun to do some comparisons of these games.  The idea came to me while I was playing 5200 Space Invaders last night, so I'll start with that game.

 

8-bit Version

post-41-0-67690800-1444597759_thumb.jpg

The 8-bit version of Space Invaders is just ok.  It plays well, with good speed and controls, but it just doesn't feel like Space Invaders.  The aliens don't look like the arcade version at all, there are no shields, and the aliens emerge from a lame looking space-ship/rocket on the left side of the screen.  For each wave cleared, the rocket lowers a notch and new aliens emerge.  The ground under your ship isn't quite flat, although that has no impact on your movement.

 

post-41-0-11495500-1444597760_thumb.jpg

 

 

5200 Version

post-41-0-56337200-1444597760_thumb.jpg

The 5200 version is very good.  Good controls and speed.  The shields are here and the aliens look better, making it feel more like the arcade version.  Strangely, like in the 8-bit version, the aliens emerge from the left side of the screen, although there is no rocket.  Best feature:  the aliens change every 2nd wave!  And there are some pretty wild designs.  Spinning/rotating/shrinking aliens!  I counted 4 different sets, but there may be more than that. 

 

Judging by your ship, the ground color, the information at the bottom of the screen, and the left-emerging aliens, it is obvious the programmer heavily referenced the 8-bit version in creating this version.  

 

post-41-0-00372200-1444597761_thumb.jpg

 

 

Why they did it.

I think the 8-bit version is pretty lackluster and gets boring pretty quickly.  Atari spent some time and came up with a version that is much more fun and will hold your interest a little longer.  I know I kept playing to see all the different types of aliens!  Very nicely done and a great choice by Atari.

 

Coming soon, the other two games that I know of....

hi rickr,

if i remember right, and its been a very long time ago, the 8-bit version of space invaders was better on the cassette version. its been a very long time ago since i played it on cassette, i might be mistaken, but i remember there was something different about it.

i do not play space invaders at all on any system but the 2600. atari also slaughtered asteroids on the 8-bit vs. the 2600 version. which still rules today.

 

lance

www.atarisales.com

 

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8 hours ago, Video 61 said:

if i remember right, and its been a very long time ago, the 8-bit version of space invaders was better on the cassette version. its been a very long time ago since i played it on cassette, i might be mistaken, but i remember there was something different about it.

I think the 8-bit had a version of SI made by Roklan on tape that was a lot closer to the arcade.

8 hours ago, Video 61 said:

i do not play space invaders at all on any system but the 2600. atari also slaughtered asteroids on the 8-bit vs. the 2600 version. which still rules today.

2600 Asteroids is awesome, that's for sure.  But the 8-bit version offered 4 player simultaneous mode, didn't it?   Atari could have done better on the 8-bit, I agree.  

 

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14 hours ago, RickR said:

I think the 8-bit had a version of SI made by Roklan on tape that was a lot closer to the arcade.

2600 Asteroids is awesome, that's for sure.  But the 8-bit version offered 4 player simultaneous mode, didn't it?   Atari could have done better on the 8-bit, I agree.  

 

hi rickr,

 

forgot about the roklan version, its great! i never played multiple players on space invaders. it might offer it though. many early 8-bit titles were a disappointment, agreed.

 

lance

www.atarisales.com

 

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On 10/11/2015 at 4:13 PM, RickR said:

I think we all know that the Atari 5200 is based on the same hardware as the Atari 8-bit computers.  And in many cases, Atari just ported existing games from the 8-bit to the 5200 with only minor changes.

 

But I can think of three games that Atari actually re-wrote -- started from scratch -- for the 5200.  I thought it might be fun to do some comparisons of these games.  The idea came to me while I was playing 5200 Space Invaders last night, so I'll start with that game.

 

8-bit Version

post-41-0-67690800-1444597759_thumb.jpg

The 8-bit version of Space Invaders is just ok.  It plays well, with good speed and controls, but it just doesn't feel like Space Invaders.  The aliens don't look like the arcade version at all, there are no shields, and the aliens emerge from a lame looking space-ship/rocket on the left side of the screen.  For each wave cleared, the rocket lowers a notch and new aliens emerge.  The ground under your ship isn't quite flat, although that has no impact on your movement.

 

post-41-0-11495500-1444597760_thumb.jpg

 

 

5200 Version

post-41-0-56337200-1444597760_thumb.jpg

The 5200 version is very good.  Good controls and speed.  The shields are here and the aliens look better, making it feel more like the arcade version.  Strangely, like in the 8-bit version, the aliens emerge from the left side of the screen, although there is no rocket.  Best feature:  the aliens change every 2nd wave!  And there are some pretty wild designs.  Spinning/rotating/shrinking aliens!  I counted 4 different sets, but there may be more than that. 

 

Judging by your ship, the ground color, the information at the bottom of the screen, and the left-emerging aliens, it is obvious the programmer heavily referenced the 8-bit version in creating this version.  

 

post-41-0-00372200-1444597761_thumb.jpg

 

 

Why they did it.

I think the 8-bit version is pretty lackluster and gets boring pretty quickly.  Atari spent some time and came up with a version that is much more fun and will hold your interest a little longer.  I know I kept playing to see all the different types of aliens!  Very nicely done and a great choice by Atari.

 

Coming soon, the other two games that I know of....

Space Invaders on the 5200 did something no other port of the game ever did, including the arcades...morph.  You mentioned seeing four sets of enemies and that's all the game has.  After you battle two rounds of the fourth set you've pretty much mastered the game.  Every wave after that sticks with the forth set of invaders.  Personally I prefer the 5200 port.  It's unique.

Oddly enough if some of you have one of the 5200 game catalogues that came with the system (as Asteroids in it) you will see Space Invaders mentioned with an image of the game with the rocket.  For years I wondered where that image came from and why my version was missing it.  There are actually three versions of Space Invaders on the 8-bits (computers): two by Atari and one on floppy disk by a 3rd party developer.  

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On 10/17/2015 at 5:31 PM, RickR said:

Time for part 2:  Centipede

 

8-bit Version

post-41-0-24055800-1445121016_thumb.jpg

 

The 8-bit version of Centipede isn't very good.  Choppy animation, centipede segments that are mostly square, and a lack of colors make this a pretty lazy port.  Also, the game is way too easy.  The spider doesn't have that killer instinct from the arcade, making him really easy to avoid. 

 

 

5200 Version

post-41-0-72631700-1445121016_thumb.jpg

 

The 5200 version of Centipede is excellent.  Smooth animation, colorful and distinct centipede segments, and multi-colored mushrooms make this a MUCH better looking port.  The spider here wiggles a lot and totally has the killer instinct.  Avoiding him is challenging.  The game gets fast quickly and is a blast to play.  Things are a little bigger on the screen, but that doesn't seem to impact the fun factor at all.

 

Why they did it

This one was a no-brainer.  The 8-bit version of Centipede is poor.  Re-doing it was a wise choice by Atari.  I don't see any sign of using the old code here...5200 Centipede was written from the ground up.  Excellent choice by Atari here. 

 

 

5200 Centipede and the arcade Centipede both used POKEY for sounds so ... This is one of a few 5200 games where the arcade sounds were exact copies.  What was heard in the arcade is present in the 5200.  Also this is one of only two games that takes advantage of the trackball controller which, if used, really brings that arcade experience home.  And Spidey needs less caffeine!

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On 9/16/2020 at 10:59 AM, socrates63 said:

The conclusion to the trilogy five years in the making! I expect an epic review @RickR 🤣

Seriously, great topic! People often say why bother getting a 5200 when you have the Atari 8-bit. Looks like there are at least three great reasons why.

I see a five year old comment about the 5200 controllers. I hope this is a thing of the past. If you're a 5200 fan suffering from controller issues today, a cheap and easy solution is to get the ikonsgr adapter that I mentioned in a different post. People shouldn't be harping on this awesome console about controllers anymore.

Why bother???  Its an Atari for crying out loud!  'Nuff said. Period.  Besides...what other console has Space Dungeon?  None.  That one is a 5200-only exclusive.  No other Atari console got it.  The 5200 is fun but time has not been kind to it.

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3 minutes ago, Atari 5200 Guy said:

Why bother???  Its an Atari for crying out loud!  'Nuff said. Period.  Besides...what other console has Space Dungeon?  None.  That one is a 5200-only exclusive.  No other Atari console got it.  The 5200 is fun but time has not been kind to it.

Exactly! It’s an Atari ❤️ 
Time hasn’t been kind in what sense? Hardware reliability?

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1 minute ago, socrates63 said:

Exactly! It’s an Atari ❤️ 
Time hasn’t been kind in what sense? Hardware reliability?

They joystick specifically.  Like "E.T." on the 2600, it's reputation as terrible has stuck, whether it deserves it or not.  

Also, as I've said before, the 5200 suffers for being the "same-old" hardware as the 1979 Atari 400.  At the time, for anyone that already had a 400 or 800, there was no reason to get a 5200.  That was a mistake by Atari.  

And Space Dungeon (and also Countermeasure) are awesome games, I'll agree with that 100%!

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I guess Atari never learned and doomed itself by repeating the same failure with the XEGS. That’s one that I ignored back in the day because I thought it was just an 8-bit computer marketed as a gaming console and an extremely ugly one... those pastel color buttons (I wasn’t a fan of the 130XE either although I had one). The 5200 I skipped as a kid because of money and then I got into the 800. 

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I own an XEGS and actually love it.

In my hometown after the 2600/5200 stuff Atari showing up seemed random.  The 7800 was found in another town at a toy store that sold liquidated merchandise and the 2600 junior I found at a local discount store that didn't last long.  Nothing after that until I got Jaguar flyers in the mail but by that time Atari was already sold off.  I did not discover the XEGS until 1998 and that I found used.  

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XEGS is fine...BUT...it came out in 1987!  By that time, we're talking about 8 year old technology.  And they were competing against the 7800!  WTF Atari??

PS - I have one too.  I got it used.  I had no idea such a thing even existed until probably 2010.  I like it, but it seems like another horrible design decision by Atari.

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