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Creative Computing article about the Atari 5200 (September 1983)

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Below is part of an article from Creative Computing Magazine (September 1983) Volume 09 Number 09 Page 278. Continued.

Merging Terrific

There is further evidence that Atari has gotten its act together. Take, for example, the merger of the old Consumer Electronics Division, which used to handle the dedicated home video games, and the old Home Computer Division, which was the ostracized and unprofitable division that just happened to market the best consumer microcomputers in the world. How utterly reasonable. Now they can quit competing with each other and start competing with the competition.

Let's talk about games for a minute. I have been hard in past columns on the Atari 5200, the supposed "Supergame" successor to the VCS. It is widely known that the 5200 is an Atari computer in drag, with the compatibility built out. If Atari had introduced a computer-compatible supergame last year, ColecoVision would not have such a large consumer base now.

Anyway. Back when I was soliciting suggestions for improvements on the now-defunct model 1200, a few people said "let it run 5200 games." I didn't report the suggestion at the time, and I'll tell you why. In Sunnyvale I had just seen the then-new Kangaroo for the 5200, and been shocked at its low quality. Atari software had up until that time been synonymous in my mind with top quality. Kangaroo made the 5200 look like a VCS in a slick box. I couldn't believe they had accepted it. It was appalling. Why shoot for compatibility with that thing, I reasoned? Forget about it.

Gaming Momentum

Since that time, I admit that some very nice games have come out for the 5200. The versions of Centipede and Qix for the 5200 are much snazzier than the same Atari computer carts. I still strongly object to the pot controllers and triggers on the 5200 machine, which are incredibly slow and have stick boots that wear out in weeks. And why buy one if you already have an Atari computer? Such a duplication of machinery!

So what is the solution? Well, some hackers seem to think the answer is dumping and customizing the front end of 5200 cartridge programs to run as disks on Atari computers. Atari, are you listening? Bet that rankles. There is an easy answer, though.

It is time to develop a games expansion box, which allows 5200 carts to be played on the new computers. Compatibility, fellas. That word you learned recently. Think of the time, manpower, and money you could save by making the dedicated game machines and computers cartridge-compatible — even at this late date. In Valspeak: Like wow man. What a concept.

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