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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

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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.

 

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5200 Version

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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.  

 

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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

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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

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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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