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Was the 5200 really that bad?


Frozone212
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Frozone212 said:

I know the controllers were awful but is all this hate for the console overblown or is it all true?

Well....although this has been covered many, many times, I'm going to answer with a resounding "no". Of course there is bias on my part, the 5200 always was my favorite system. The games, for the most part were awesome. I had one back in the day. Maybe me and my gang were mutants or something...the non self-centering was *never* an issue. Sure, we'd blame the controller all the time, but in the same way you would with any controller on any system lol. Kind of like the way you would say "uh....yeeeeeaaahhhh...the sun got in my eyes..." as you play in a dark room. I had 3 friends and a cousin with the system, plus another couple of guys who had one but I wasn't like close with but we'd talk Atari, etc (this was...9th grade in HS?). Honestly the controllers were awesome. They set just right in your hand, unlike the CV and INTV, where fire button#1 & 2 were on opposite sides of the controller, the 5200's were right by each other on the same side of the stick. What *did* suck was the fire buttons were prone to wear out. For the first year, when it wore out, I'd just take it to this little tv shop  that was an auth. Atari svc ctr and it was free. After that it was $5 bucks. The bad rap with the controllers is *rarely* from someone who owned the system "back in the day". Think of this...imagine a system you've never owned. Maybe the INTV, Coleco, 7800...play a game you usually are great with for the first time with one of those controllers. Oh you can do great at Donkey Kong on any platform? Play DK with the INTV disc controllers! PLay Choplifter on CV or any game where fire button 1&2 are required. Can't lose at Frogger? Pfft. Play it on the 5200. Ha even the 800 computer series....try playing Defender! Uh......I need a smart bomb! reach for the SPACE bar.....Oops! I hyperspaced. And ANY game that required constant movement like Centipede...the 7800 controllers will near literally break your hands. Point being there was a learning curve with every controller.

What killed the 5200...the pack in. Who wanted Super Breakout? Had they included Pac-Man it would have been a huge hit from the start.

Edited by jetset
sp?
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The 5200 is a fine system.  I had a friend who had one, and despite the wonky controllers, I was super jealous and always excited to go to his house and play it.  Looked (keep in mind at the time of course) and sounded SO much better than my VCS or Odyssey 2.  I even kind of liked the controllers, not counting the fire buttons.  Tons of great games, Star Destroyer aesthetic, big fan.

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Yeah! For a real answer, the 5200 is fine. It has flaws, just like every system does. But it's a perfectly fun system with some good games (just like everything else except for the really obscure stuff).

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12 hours ago, Cebus Capucinis said:

Every word of it is absolute truth. Especially the part where it singlehandedly caused The Crash™️.

How did it cause the crash when it didn't even get an ET port?

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Well, this, is coming from a lifelong Atarian who has owned at least one 5200 since his 17th Birthday back in 1983.

 

BITD, I was naive about the analog, dual-pot-based controls of the CX52 controller, and yet like @Cebus Capucinis said, every controller (and system) has its flaws, and you just had to roll with them.

 

Now having owned and played almost every 8-bit console and controller on the planet, I still say to this day that Big Sexy, in spite f her short 18-month production run, was the best system I have ever played and that's why she along with her rival-now-ally from back in the "Third-Wave Wars", the ColecoVision, still proudly sit in my new arcade setup along with my other Insignia 39" monitor hooked up through my RF-to-HDMI converter.

 

For the controllers, the CX52 had (and still has) THE BEST design, at least ergonomically, she was the most comfortable in my hand, the configuration of the dual fire buttons along with the joystick and keypad made it so much easier to operate in my hand than any other console had (or has) at that time. The CX24 ProLine (a.k.a. "PainLine") that was designed for the 7800 was based on that same ergonomic design but was a bit smaller, hence she was a little less comfortable in my hand as a result. BTW I DO still have one of my vintage AtariAge/Pixels Past Redemption 5200 units that allows me to use my 7800 sticks with the 5200. Now, had the CX24 been the same exact size as the CX52 was then perhaps maybe they could've made a 5200 version of her by simply swapping out the slider/dual-pot-based analog controls of the CX52 for bubble-contacts or a micro-switch based digital setup for games like Pac-Man and Qix and the like, but overall, and especially since Best Electronics has since replaced the carbon flex circuitry with gold-plated contacts, the CX52 was (and still is) THE BEST of the bunch.

 

For the games, for those who may not know of the 5200's history, yes while Super Breakout was the eventual pack-in game and while Pac-Man could've been (and was eventually) a better choice, in fact, it was Asteroids, that was supposed to have originally been the one that came with it, she was even christened with the number CX5201, but, back in May 1982, Asteroids, then unfinished and still in development, was cancelled by Warner, after (then, since corrected, twice by our very own Paul Lay @playsoft last year) frustration with being able to re-code the 8-bit version to the analog controls of the CX52, that, lead to Super Breakout, becoming the pack-in game when Big Sexy made her debut in October of 1982.

 

Since then, and with the most recent development and knowledge gained as far as pushing the limits of her 16K or RAM, there are some rather spectacular games available for her now that we may never have seen back in 1982-83 that we only dreamed could happen, in fact, many of the 8-bit games that ran within the 16K RAM limit, have since been ported over to the 5200, and while I myself have been known for being such a pest for my constant requests for more conversions it is with good, valid reason, it's because I believe there are so many good games that could, still, be ported over, after all, while some here on AA would like to tell you that perhaps getting an XEGS might be a better choice, some of us either don't have the $$$ or don't want to have yet another console and have to put up with having yet another setup on controls to deal with, and I have found out, having owned both, that many of the games that play on the 5200 play easier on the CX52 than they do on a separate joystick and keyboard of the 8-bit computer/XEGS, especially Star Raiders, and, Defender, among others, so when it came to closing The Atari Report and downsizing the 5200 was simply the better choice of the one to keep, she has over 400+ great titles and she is great for what she has, hands down!!!

 

Plus, she also has the legendary, then-exclusive CX53 Trak-Ball, in which when Atari touted when they launched the commercials for the 5200 during the 1982 World Series, it made me an instant 5200 fanatic even 7 months before I FINALLY got mine for my 17th Birthday (just 7 days ago) back in 1983, then the VCS (2600) adapter announcement also secured it, and also we had games like Space Dungeon with her supplied dual controller holder and later we had Robotron that also included one. We later found out that there were other games that were scheduled to (many of them finished) be released but never were. They, have since been released, and, are brilliant, some I haven't played before (I have those of ROM), and all available on cartridge at the AA Store (our very own @Albert will help you out with those), and there are a ton of homebrews out too as well in ROM form and also on cartridge, and over at Video 61/Atari Sales they have their own original titles available only there (and only on cartridge).

 

Things could never have looked better for Big Sexy on this, her 40th Anniversary, so while her size may have been a turnoff for some (she was only that due to Atari incorporating a built-in control storage bin), she has her great qualities, and she has turned out to be SOME COUGAR!!!

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Well, here...we...go...again.  The 5200 is a fine system.  If you are asking about this console because you're considering whether or not to get one, please do not let the controllers stop you from doing so.  Today there are many ways to connect a controller to the system and if you want to play the way it was meant to be played, you can order brand new Gold CX52 Lifetime joysticks from Best Electronics.  I have two pair and highly recommend them.       

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Do I like it as much as my Coleco Vision, Intellivision, 2600, Vectrex, or Odyssey 2?


No.


But it could be much, much worse. It could be a ZX Spectrum or an RCA Studio II or an Emerson Arcadia or some other irredeemably awful platform.

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2 hours ago, zzip said:

How did it cause the crash when it didn't even get an ET port?

It was too big and too sexy for the industry to contain.  All other game systems felt ashamed and just quit trying.

 

ET had nothing to do with it.

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43 minutes ago, famicommander said:

But it could be much, much worse. It could be a ZX Spectrum or an RCA Studio II or an Emerson Arcadia or some other irredeemably awful platform.

 

.....no, not even having Mystique doing games for her, would've done it. Even having 5200 ports of Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em, Bachelor Party or even the infamous Custer's Revenge would not have killed it. I DARE someone to port those over, no, no thanks, I know of better games to request ports of for Big Sexy than those three, I have them for the 2600 already and they are awful, albeit utilizing the death tone from the original 2600 Pac-Man in Beat 'Em was kinda funny in a way, in fact it is really nothing more than an adult-oriented variation of Kaboom!

 

BTW, I have been a gamer since the days of the original Electronic Games Magazine (Arnie Katz/Joyce Worley/Bill Kunkel-era, 1982-85) and I remember the Emerson Arcadia 2001, it, alongside Bally's Astrocade, in which is hardly even mentioned, if there isn't a forum here on AA on it, were far worse.

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Commodore 64 owners didn't have very much buyer's remorse. This ridiculous conversation is as old as widely adopted mass market subscription internet access itself--and it's always fueled by some crazy (and wrong) logic that the market was wrong--except it wasn't. Also, I had friends on my block with an Atari 5200 and zero working controllers (a big sexy doorstop) just months after getting the system. You can't say "except for the controllers".

 

Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?

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6 hours ago, zzip said:

How did it cause the crash when it didn't even get an ET port?

Ha!  Dude the Atari 8bit version of E.T. is actually quite good, and maybe it would have saved the industry if the 2600 version hadn't been released, and the 8bit version had been released for the 5200... Well that's my favorite timeline anyhow, Atari never went bust because the 5200 saved the day!

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I think the 5200 gets a really bad name now. It's like the reverse of the Vectrex. Everyone thinks the Vectrex is a jewel and amazing (and it is a very cool console), but back when it was released it was a black and white console that bombed and ended up in clearance in mall toy stores. The 5200 gets bad press today, but it was the Super System. If you had one in 1982, you had a top of the line machine that looked the part and you got to mock your friends and their 2600 Pac-man. The 5200 tied with and may have overtaken the Colecovision by the time the crash came. The Colecovision vs. Atari 5200 battle was a great one that ended too soon. 

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2 hours ago, leech said:

Ha!  Dude the Atari 8bit version of E.T. is actually quite good, and maybe it would have saved the industry if the 2600 version hadn't been released, and the 8bit version had been released for the 5200... Well that's my favorite timeline anyhow, Atari never went bust because the 5200 saved the day!

Something tells me that since I'm gonna be about -$200.00 in my bank account (and also -$150.00 in my PayPal account) that maybe this weekend I should make it a gaming weekend and try out (and learn to play) E.T. Phone Home! on my Atari 5200, and wait for our very own @Ryan Witmer's next beta release of Rob N' Banks, his already brilliant 5200 adaptation of Lock N' Chase, to drop.

 

Good thing the folks at OlyCAP (Olympic Community Action Programs) here in Port Townsend are helping me with my phone and internet bills for these past 2 months and my rent for both this and next month so maybe I can pay off some debts after I pay the $685.00 for the $600.00 payday loan I had this past month. Payday loans and multiple overdraft fees are normal for people like me who are severely low income.

 

I'll also tell you trying to live like Cindy Margolis can be very tough on a severely low income person like myself but I fear if Cindy finds out that I'm of a severely low income that she might unfriend me from her Facebook friends list, I actually fear that happening so that's why I overspend so much. Also, I want to make it in something in life, I even wanted to start a handmade beaded jewelry business where I make beaded necklaces and bracelets/anklets for different themes (like LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June for example), as well as in various sports teams' colors of their jerseys, and so much more. It takes money to become famous, that's part of the business, in which she said the entertainment industry is, especially when  you're running three YouTube channels, trying to make it in this business, in any capacity possible, and so I spend like it, even if it means starving myself to do so. Besides with Biden raising the prices on gas and food I cannot afford to eat at this time, so business first, Cindy herself said so years ago when she first wrote to me in 2003 after S.M.F. disbanded. Besides Cindy Margolis would never lower herself to ever going to a food bank so that's why I don't go to one either, the media would rip her (or me or her buddy Brad Pitt) a new one if she did, you never know what guys like that ol' Sam Rubin (of KTLA, Los Angeles) would say if they were to ever find out about that shit. Image over everything else AT ANY COST!!!

 

But yes, I am going to try and stay home this weekend, with no money available even though i have a ton of frozen food saved up I'll try and eat some against my own conscience knowing that it will cost me more to replace it than it did to get it in the first place. So I'll try and stay home and clean myself up and do some much needed filming (and maybe do some "downloads" of myself in various different outfits like Cindy Margolis did BITD, that's why I spend so much every month, how much $$$ she spends on all of those bikinis and outfits she wore in them IDK and IDC) for my 3 YouTube channels including launching "ColecoVision EXTRA!" and "The Atari 5200 SuperReport" (those will debut June 5th on my Ray Jackson YouTube channel) and so much more. If I start saving my $$$ next month maybe just maybe I can relaunch The Atari Report with all new episodes by this fall if I bust ass at work and save my $$$ to reacquire the 7800 and XEGS systems and their multicarts again as well.

 

Peace out everybody!!!

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Ray - I should probably just not say anything, but I cannot read that last post and not in good conscience not reply.  If you are living with several hundred dollars deficit per month and refusing to eat even frozen food because you think Cindy Margolis will unfriend you on Facebook, I am worried that people who should be looking out for you are not.  I find your spirit admirable and the fact that you work is very commendable, as many people just live off the government teet so to speak or are content for handouts.

 

You have obvious skill and talents but I think you could benefit from some guidance.  What the hell - it's not my place to comment.

back-away-slowly-gif-10.gif

 

19 minutes ago, BIGHMW said:

So I'll try and stay home and clean myself up and do some much needed filming (and maybe do some "downloads" of myself in various different outfits like Cindy Margolis did BITD, that's why I spend so much every month, how much $$$ she spends on all of those bikinis and outfits she wore in them IDK and IDC) for my 3 YouTube channels including launching "ColecoVision EXTRA!" and "The Atari 5200 SuperReport"

I haven't subscribed yet - would I do so for a bikini edition of the Big Sexy Report?  I've been known to do things for a price.

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Posted (edited)

 

I think some of the hate is overblown, but still rather justified - borne out of disappointment over the odd lack of quality, especially considering the cost of the unit. If the controllers don't work, it's not going to be a fun experience - no matter how great the games actually are. Which is a shame as, in 1983, salesman at department store electronics' sections told people outright to avoid the console because of the controllers.

 

A big shame, as the games I had seen in the store and at friends' houses were really great. Even in 1986, listening to my friend Elizabeth describe the nature of the sticks and the horrid RF interface - the other forehead-slappingly bad botched design. Not even a user-accessible fuse for when Mittens the kitten traipses by, barely brushes up against that cable, and causing sparks to fly as a result. Literally. On paper, its sounds innovative (as much of the system was). In practice, it was a cheap, fragile, and potentially dangerous design.

 

The sparks were cool to look at, though. But it's not as fun as chucking a CD into a microwave and powering that up for 47 seconds and watch it fry... cheaper than fireworks, too... just don't breathe in any fumes... ?

 

Third party controllers existed, but those should never have been needed - that said, kudos to those who built and sold them to try to keep the 5200 in any semblance of a good light. Even then, not all games worked properly with those, so one would have to go back and forth un/re-plugging in sticks. 

 

Considering the trakball didn't have any of those problems, except playing Pac-Man with it was nigh on impossible and there's more to life than Centipede and Space Invaders, odd but true...

 

Note: I'd eventually get a 5200, but it took a mere thirty eight years,  with AV and power modifications to bypass those OOTB nightmares, and replacement gold flexcircuits for the controllers to get around those blasted joystick problems. Since then, the console has been a genuine treat and the retro-gaming community seems to be perking up in spots. But the renaissance and appreciation shouldn't have needed nigh on four decades, however!

Edited by CommodoreDecker
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I never heard any hate.  It was just not the most tempting option at the time.  Not sure if price was a factor at the time.  Later I heard rumors about the joystick calibration problems.

 

Right now it's a very sturdy lunch tray with Adventure II stuck in it.

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49 minutes ago, Gemintronic said:

I never heard any hate.  It was just not the most tempting option at the time.  Not sure if price was a factor at the time.  Later I heard rumors about the joystick calibration problems.

 

Right now it's a very sturdy lunch tray with Adventure II stuck in it.

You could totally store burritos in there!

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