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Old 12-17-2012, 10:26 AM   #1
gzsfrk
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METAL JESUS ROCKS!: Making the Launch PS3 Look Svelte

God bless you, 'murica. While other countries were busily trying to reduce cars down to a glorified cracker box on wheels, you said "How can we market a military transport to upper-middle-class families?" Bigger is better! (And no, we're not compensating for anything.)

By that line of reasoning, the 60GB Playstation 3 should be the king of all consoles, right? Not so fast there, Bilbo. Did you know that 24 years before Sony's third foray into the console market caused sticker shock with its $600 price tag, there was a system which could have easily kicked sand in Sony's face, right in front of his girlfriend?

Yes, the mighty 5200 was Atari's follow-up to their hugely successful VCS (or 2600 as it's more commonly known). Despite its heft, the system was flawed on many levels not least of which was the design of its notoriously awkward and unreliable controllers. Nonetheless, the 5200 does have its admirers and continues on as a favorite among many retrogamers. But is it worth the time and attention of the casual collector or occasional vintage gaming connoisseur? That's exactly the question explored by the Metal Jesus in this week's episode of METAL JESUS ROCKS!

So click on through to find out if the Atari 5200 has actually got it under the hood, or if it turns out to have been stuffing its pants all these years:




The 5200 is one of those systems I enjoy owning and collecting for more than I enjoy actually playing.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:20 PM   #2
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Correct image below. I will let everyone figure out which text from gzsfrk I disagree with.

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Old 12-17-2012, 01:00 PM   #3
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Atari wrongfully thought Commodore computers were their biggest competition...

...but by the time they discovered it would be Nintendo...it was already too late.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:03 PM   #4
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This was the first system my family owned. Not sure why they bought it -- dad wasn't a gamer, and I was too young to understand many games. I did grow into it though (and ended up with lots of games for it).

This system is relative because it had a high number of awesome home versions of great arcade games. The 2600 wasn't cutting it at all wrt a number of home ports at that time. See Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man as a prime example. The 5200 versions are awesome -- the 2600 versions pale in comparison. The 5200 had really nice graphics and sound imo vs. the 2600.

Games I remember playing/enjoying a lot: Qix, Defender (didn't understand it, but knew it was cool), Joust, Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man, Kaboom!, Dig Dug, Missile Command, Berzerk, Jungle Hunt (loved this), Pole Position, Q*bert, Popeye, Frogger, Vanguard (this game was soo good!), Galaxian, Super Breakout, Congo Bongo, and many others I'm sure I forgot.

Random story -- I remember feeling intense anxiety and fear (a sick feeling) over this game-over sequence, which I probably saw at night. I think my parents even took the game away, lol. Too me as a young kid it was like seeing a ghost for some reason:

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Old 12-17-2012, 01:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metal Jesus View Post
Atari wrongfully thought Commodore computers were their biggest competition...

...but by the time they discovered it would be Nintendo...it was already too late.
Yes, the Atari 7800 is a very cool console imo (like the 2600, really), with really good hardware, but Nintendo dealt them a death blow. :-]
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:06 PM   #6
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Arg, somehow I flipped to/too in two places in that post. No edittttttttt got me again.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:34 PM   #7
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My favorite 5200 game was space dungeon. You had to use both controllers on that one, and it came with a special piece of plastic that held them together. Controlled similar to robotron. Sadly, once the plastic controller thingy broke, it was too difficult to play.
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Old 12-17-2012, 03:05 PM   #8
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The biggest challenge with collecting for the 5200 today is that most of the many arcade ports are technically better on other systems... even on the 7800. But the good news is that almost all of those 5200 carts are really cheap to buy today. There are a handful of decent system exclusives...but not many.

I get the feeling that most people who are passionate about collecting for the 5200 today, had some experience with it in the 80s.

Discovering the console for the 1st time today...can be a bit of a letdown if you aren't prepared for some of the idiosyncrasies before hand.
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Old 12-17-2012, 03:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AkumaATR View Post
Random story -- I remember feeling intense anxiety and fear (a sick feeling) over this game-over sequence, which I probably saw at night. I think my parents even took the game away, lol. Too me as a young kid it was like seeing a ghost for some reason:
Ha! That was awesome. I remember some games making me feel like that as a kid. The original Hacker and Hacker II on the C64 used to drive me to a near panic as I was running out of time at the end of a game and I just couldn't seem to find how to reach the contact I needed. I'm sure my heart was up around 180bpm by the time the final countdown started.

Another one was Forbidden Forest (again, on the C64). To this day, my heart skips a beat whenever I hear the intro song. Game really used to freak my 7yo self out when it would start playing that banshee shriek sound when you would kill some of the boss monsters.
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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It was not the controller that was so problematic, though it was dookie, but the fact that it was not compatible with the 2600--the most over-saturated machine in history--and developers and Atari chose to support to older machine.
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:50 AM   #11
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I actually had more of a problem with the buttons on the controller than the joystick.
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I actually had more of a problem with the buttons on the controller than the joystick.
Atari cheaped out so hard on all the components of the controller, it led to a myriad of problems. Non-centering, mushy joystick, button contacts being made with poor quality graphite contacts, a cheaply-printed zinc-coated flex PCB which was notorious for cracking and corrosion, and cables which contained wires highly prone to breaking after took much flexing. Just a piece of garbage all around.

Fortunately, Best Electronics offers some vastly improved repro 5200 controller parts (as well as fully remanufactured controllers) such as buttons and PCBs with gold-plated contacts which go a long ways towards making the controllers reasonably reliable, even if it doesn't improve the crappy ergonomics.
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