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5200 vs. 8-bit


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#1 tep392 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 10:06 AM

EDIT: Yikes! Just searched and saw how a "vs" thread can unravel. I'm just looking for feedback, pros/cons, to help me decide on my next purchase. I'll probably end up with both at some point.


Original post:
I am looking for some opinions on the 5200 vs. 8-bit computers for gaming. I currently have a 7800 and am looking at picking up an 8-bit computer so I can play some of the games that are missing on the 7800, like Missle Command and Defender. What I'm trying to decide on is should I just get a 5200 since the hardware is so similarand there are quite a few other games available as well. What I see as pro's and con's are:

5200
pro's:
- good library of games that are not available on my 7800. Adventure 2, missle command, defender
- good trackball option
- programable multi cart available

con's:
- analog joystick (pro for missle command)
- will have to spend some bucks for a good alternative joystick.
- not sure if a good arcade style stick is available

8-bit computer
pro's:
- very large library of games including some of my fav's like missle command and defender.
- many good joystick alternatives
- programable multi cart available

con's:
- is a good trackball available?

What other pro's/con's am I missing?
Are there some "must have" games on the 5200 that I won't find for the 8-bit?

I would appreciate any and all feedback.

Regards,
Perry

Edited by tep392, Mon Oct 5, 2009 10:27 AM.


#2 bohoki OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 1:49 PM

ive said it before and i'll say it again if i didnt already have a 5200 i wouldn't buy one the lack of controller variety is paramount because i have slight ability i was able to make controllers that work for me

trackballs are available for the computer but they just act like a joystick but its good enough for me i have a wico tracball and an atari cx22 and they both are fine

i think the only game exclusive to the 5200 is space dungeon and honestly its not that great it feels a bit like berzerk or robotron when playing

my mega superawesome arcade joysticks ive assembled really brought new life to my machine

but for the few analog absolute positioning games(gorf,superbreakout,kaboom,starwars,missilecommand) it is a tradeoff using my arcade sticks i fixed all my analog sticks and they work 100% now so i can use the 5200 telephone stick with them

i'm a commodore64 guy and will probably never have an atari computer

but if you want a piece of history go ahead

#3 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 4:01 PM

I'm an 8-bit computer guy all the way. Control is EVERYTHING, and the 5200 doesn't have it. Get an 800XL, a standard joystick, and get yourself some fun games. Defender and Missile Command are both excellent choices and Missile Command does work well with the Atari Trackball since it does have a trackball mode.

#4 jetset OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 5:50 PM

Get both.
You have a MUCH bigger selection of games for the A8. As for control...it you are a halfway decent gamer, a little practice will have you fine with the 5200 controllers. So much is said bad of them but for most of the games they're fine, and for many they're worlds better than a 2600 stock stick. Defender for example. Both the fire and smart bomb buttons are easy to press, and hyperspace is any of the keypad buttons, pause is the pause button. On the A8, you have to play right up next to the keyboard. Your smart bomb is the spacebar, hyperspace is any of the regular keys, and esc. is to pause. Just try hitting any of those three when you're in later waves and need to go to hyperspace and the action is intense. By the time you look away to hit one of the keys, you're dead. Other games like Centipede and Missile Command will absolutely kill your hands before long. The 5200's controllers are made for games like those. Still, games like Gorf are unplayable with the 5200's controllers.

If you have to pick one get an 8-bit with an sio2pc interface. You'll have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of games available. If you are leaning toward the 5200, don't let all the complaints about the controllers steer you away. They're actually worlds ahead of a plain old 2600 stick, provided you get a working pair.

#5 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 7:07 PM

The Atari 8bit computers are by far vastly superior in game selection and accessories. Atari 5200.. about 150 games, Atari 8-bit, about 7,000. (As recently discovered on a 5 ATR disk set that holding thousands of files of games that was linked to Atariage for download) Really no comparison there.

Atari 8bit, more controllers available than the 5200.

Atari 8bit can access BBS and internet, playing online BBS games like Legend of the Red Dragon, Barren Realms Elite, Trade Wars..... 5200 cannot.

Atari 8bit can access hundreds of games (& access internet) with a $25 cable and a adaptor to a PC or Mac. 5200 it takes about $130 for a cartridges to access 128 games.

NEVERTHELESS....

Once you get a 5200, find yourself an adaptor to let you use regular Atari 8bit joysticks (or 7800 sticks), and get the Atarimax flash cart... the quality of the games is really nice. And it is fun playing in the Atariage high score club.

Seriously, if not for the Atariage 5200 high score club, I would say there was absolutely NO REASON to have a 5200....

Aside from of course having a game system for some good game playing fun. ;)

Edited by doctorclu, Mon Oct 5, 2009 7:09 PM.


#6 atariksi OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009 11:02 PM

EDIT: Yikes! Just searched and saw how a "vs" thread can unravel. I'm just looking for feedback, pros/cons, to help me decide on my next purchase. I'll probably end up with both at some point.


Original post:
I am looking for some opinions on the 5200 vs. 8-bit computers for gaming. I currently have a 7800 and am looking at picking up an 8-bit computer so I can play some of the games that are missing on the 7800, like Missle Command and Defender. What I'm trying to decide on is should I just get a 5200 since the hardware is so similarand there are quite a few other games available as well. What I see as pro's and con's are:

5200
pro's:
- good library of games that are not available on my 7800. Adventure 2, missle command, defender
- good trackball option
- programable multi cart available

con's:
- analog joystick (pro for missle command)
- will have to spend some bucks for a good alternative joystick.
- not sure if a good arcade style stick is available

8-bit computer
pro's:
- very large library of games including some of my fav's like missle command and defender.
- many good joystick alternatives
- programable multi cart available

con's:
- is a good trackball available?

What other pro's/con's am I missing?
Are there some "must have" games on the 5200 that I won't find for the 8-bit?

I would appreciate any and all feedback.

Regards,
Perry


Pro is that A5200 has a 32K linear cartridge space whereas A800 has 16K. Perhaps, someone wants to list some cartridges that are 32K vs. 16K on A800 and what difference they make.

I have both and sometimes when wanting some youngsters to play, I'll give them an A5200 since it's easy to plug-in plug-out big cartridges than play around with PC interfaces or turning A8s on/off. Controllers are better on A8 but I have a A2600 paddle interface and Wico so it's not so bad.

As a bonus, A5200 has mostly socketed chips so you can easily fix them or use them to fix your A8 easily. A5200 is high quality like A400/A800/XL. XE/XEGS is generally lower quality build with only one or two socketed chips.

#7 Shannon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:04 AM

XEG carts can hold up to 128k....

#8 Shannon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:13 AM

The Atari 8bit computers are by far vastly superior in game selection and accessories. Atari 5200.. about 150 games, Atari 8-bit, about 7,000. (As recently discovered on a 5 ATR disk set that holding thousands of files of games that was linked to Atariage for download) Really no comparison there.

Wah, huh, where?

#9 atariksi OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:27 AM

XEG carts can hold up to 128k....


It's not linear address space. Atari 5200 has 32K linear address space ($4000...$BFFF). Also, XEGS is built with low quality cheap components like in C64. A5200 like A800 is expensive parts (like socketed chips).

#10 Shannon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:38 AM

And your point is what? What advantage from a gamers point of view does that really provide?

8-bit computers typically have more RAM and can play more complex games. Especially if they are on a disk...

#11 Mighty Sweevo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:54 AM

I never owned a 5200 ( i live in the UK ) so they passed us by, but i would have thought the old A8 are more versatile and offer more scope for just about every area. So they would seem the more logical choice going forward.

#12 atariksi OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:58 AM

And your point is what? What advantage from a gamers point of view does that really provide?

8-bit computers typically have more RAM and can play more complex games. Especially if they are on a disk...


The point was for someone to list 32K A5200 cartridges which are 16K on A8. Perhaps, there are some. I noticed that Pac-man on A5200 has the scene running in between scenes that doesn't exist on A8 version of the cartridge.

#13 atariksi OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 2:04 AM


And your point is what? What advantage from a gamers point of view does that really provide?

8-bit computers typically have more RAM and can play more complex games. Especially if they are on a disk...


The point was for someone to list 32K A5200 cartridges which are 16K on A8. Perhaps, there are some. I noticed that Pac-man on A5200 has the scene running in between scenes that doesn't exist on A8 version of the cartridge.


That should be "scenes running in between mazes".

#14 Shannon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 2:05 AM

Ahhh I see...

There is a disk version of Pac-man that has the commercials and better sound.

No doubt there are a handful of games that were superior on the 5200 compared to the 8-bit. But they've all been converted by someone (mostly glenn the 5200 man) and with modern technology are fairly easy to get over to an 8-bit machine.

Now Adventure II (or whatever it was called) would be a good example of a reason to get one.. :D

Edited by Shannon, Tue Oct 6, 2009 2:07 AM.


#15 tep392 ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 8:38 AM

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I think the 8-bit machine will be my best option at this point. Probably an 800XL. Would still like to pickup a 5200 but that can wait. Plus, I still have fond memories of the Atari 400 I had back in the early 80's. I can still remember playing Defender for the first time and how dazzled I was by the graphics. It really felt like I was playing the arcade version except the joystick made it much more playable. I would let the humans get picked off just to watch the landscape explode.

#16 frogstar_robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 8:42 AM

I have to go with A8 here. The A8 is a superset of the 5200 capabilities and all of the 5200's titles with the unfortunate exception of Adventure II have been converted. Minus Adventure 2, you can play all 5200 and A8 titles on an A8.

Another post mentioned the small handful of 5200 titles that benefit from absolute positioning or trackball control. There is no reason in principle why the A8 couldn't also enjoy such benefits but in practice most titles are joystick or joystick+keyboard. Still, if you want to whip a Missile Command cursor about the screen or weave graceful curves in Star Raiders then the 5200 has an edge there.

#17 dave4shmups OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 10:28 AM

Get both.
You have a MUCH bigger selection of games for the A8. As for control...it you are a halfway decent gamer, a little practice will have you fine with the 5200 controllers. So much is said bad of them but for most of the games they're fine, and for many they're worlds better than a 2600 stock stick. Defender for example. Both the fire and smart bomb buttons are easy to press, and hyperspace is any of the keypad buttons, pause is the pause button. On the A8, you have to play right up next to the keyboard. Your smart bomb is the spacebar, hyperspace is any of the regular keys, and esc. is to pause. Just try hitting any of those three when you're in later waves and need to go to hyperspace and the action is intense. By the time you look away to hit one of the keys, you're dead. Other games like Centipede and Missile Command will absolutely kill your hands before long. The 5200's controllers are made for games like those. Still, games like Gorf are unplayable with the 5200's controllers.

If you have to pick one get an 8-bit with an sio2pc interface. You'll have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of games available. If you are leaning toward the 5200, don't let all the complaints about the controllers steer you away. They're actually worlds ahead of a plain old 2600 stick, provided you get a working pair.


What's an sio2pc interface? My concern about the 5200 is that once you get a working joystick controller, isn't it just a matter of time until the buttons break? And, regarding the joystick itself, it's not self-centering, so making wouldn't making (for example) precise turns in games like Pac-Man and Frogger be a real problem?

What about this re-built 5200 controller-worth it?: http://cgi.ebay.com/...=item5ad300867b

Edited by dave4shmups, Tue Oct 6, 2009 10:39 AM.


#18 Cafeman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 11:21 AM

To enjoy an Atari 8bit computer, you have to have a way to load the thousands of games into the Atari - the SIO2PC interface allows you to do that. There are also programmable flash rom carts both for the A8 and the 5200. Regardless of which decision is made, I suggest you get a programmable flash rom cart. (or is it called a flash ram cart? regardless...)

The SIO2PC replaces the need for an Atari computer programmable flash cart. I don't own one myself yet, but I've read about it - it connects your PC to your Atari computer and allows you to load all those disk-based games onto your Atari computer. It sounds like a messier solution than having a programmable cart and you'll need the PC and Atari to be close enough to each other to load games each time. That's why I never got one.

Concerning controllers, I have a Masterplay interface for my 5200 and it allows me to use Atari or even Sega Genesis control pads for 5200 games. But sometimes (like with Adventure II, Space Dungeon, and Missile Command for example), I prefer the stock 5200 sticks. If you get a rebuilt 5200 stick and regularly play with it, I'm sure you'll quickly adapt to its analog feel and it should last a long time without much maintenance. If you box up the controller for a year, then it might not work well after that, hence you'll need to clean the contacts internally.

Concerning Adventure II on A8 - sorry, I lost the homebrewing bug before I got around to porting it. And now it isn't likely I'll ever do it.

#19 phaxda OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 11:41 AM

I love my 5200 for nostalgic reasons. It was the first video game console to grace our house when I was a kid and I loved it dearly, so when I got back into retro gaming after college and discovered the rec.games.video.classic newsgroup in 1996, it's what I collected for. I now have a fairly complete loose 5200 collection, complete with a wide array of controller options. That's really the key.

I never even had an 8-bit machine until picking up two within days of one another a couple of years ago. Got a 140XE for $20 with a bunch of games on disk and a couple carts on a Thursday from craigslist and then found an 800, disk drive, and more disks at a garage sale ($10) the Saturday after that. I had a lot of fun with these and noticed right away that the games pretty much looked like the 5200 games I love so much, and were in some cases even better. Honestly, if not for these great finds, I don't think I would have ever gotten into the computers. I was an Apple // guy back in the day.

Now though, I have nice 8-bit collection. Not a lot on disk, but there's something I love about the little carts and I enjoy the old literature that often comes in a nice box of 8-bit computer stuff. I have the 140XE still, traded away the 800 and its hard drive, and bought an 800XL cheap on eBay instead. I have a lot of fun playing around with it and collecting those little carts--one of my best flea finds was about 20 of them that I paid $2 for. That really launched my collection!

I will probably buy an SIO2* solution at some point, but for now I just like playing the games. Sorry, long answer, but if you have to choose, I would reluctantly recommend an Atari 800XL over the 5200.

#20 dave4shmups OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:18 PM

To enjoy an Atari 8bit computer, you have to have a way to load the thousands of games into the Atari - the SIO2PC interface allows you to do that. There are also programmable flash rom carts both for the A8 and the 5200. Regardless of which decision is made, I suggest you get a programmable flash rom cart. (or is it called a flash ram cart? regardless...)

The SIO2PC replaces the need for an Atari computer programmable flash cart. I don't own one myself yet, but I've read about it - it connects your PC to your Atari computer and allows you to load all those disk-based games onto your Atari computer. It sounds like a messier solution than having a programmable cart and you'll need the PC and Atari to be close enough to each other to load games each time. That's why I never got one.

Concerning controllers, I have a Masterplay interface for my 5200 and it allows me to use Atari or even Sega Genesis control pads for 5200 games. But sometimes (like with Adventure II, Space Dungeon, and Missile Command for example), I prefer the stock 5200 sticks. If you get a rebuilt 5200 stick and regularly play with it, I'm sure you'll quickly adapt to its analog feel and it should last a long time without much maintenance. If you box up the controller for a year, then it might not work well after that, hence you'll need to clean the contacts internally.

Concerning Adventure II on A8 - sorry, I lost the homebrewing bug before I got around to porting it. And now it isn't likely I'll ever do it.


Ok, thanks for the info! So, with a 2-controller port 5200, could I just use a video cable from Radio Shack and one of those male-female adapters like I used for my 7800? I've heard complaints about the box for the 4-port 5200, that the video quality stinks.

Also, do you absolutely have to have 2 controllers for Robotron 2084 or Space Dungeon, or can you play either game with just one? Because the joystick coupler would be pretty hard to find, I would think.

Edited by dave4shmups, Tue Oct 6, 2009 1:51 PM.


#21 Cafeman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 2:37 PM

For the 2-port, you need an RF adaptor. Radio Shack used to sell them, I don't know if they still do or not. You can't use (for example) one of those automatic-detecting RF adaptors for (for example) SNES - they dont work. For the 4-port, scour the internet to find its custom power+RF connector.

You need 2 sticks for Robotron and Space Dungeon. You can find the couplers online, or if you are cheap like me, build one out of cardboard and duct tape. :)

#22 dave4shmups OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 3:02 PM

For the 2-port, you need an RF adaptor. Radio Shack used to sell them, I don't know if they still do or not. You can't use (for example) one of those automatic-detecting RF adaptors for (for example) SNES - they dont work. For the 4-port, scour the internet to find its custom power+RF connector.

You need 2 sticks for Robotron and Space Dungeon. You can find the couplers online, or if you are cheap like me, build one out of cardboard and duct tape. :)



Should I look for the couplers on Ebay, or are there better places to look for them?

#23 Mitch ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 4:56 PM

Actually a 2port will hook up exactly like a 7800 except you don't need the cable since the 5200 has one built in. Just get one of the female RCA to male f-jack connectors and you will be good.

Mitch

#24 dave4shmups OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 6:16 PM

Actually a 2port will hook up exactly like a 7800 except you don't need the cable since the 5200 has one built in. Just get one of the female RCA to male f-jack connectors and you will be good.

Mitch


That's what I was wondering, and it's great news, since I have no need for a 4port. Speaking of the 7800, you are supposed to use two controllers for that version, but I found that I only needed on controller-I couldn't move around as much or as fast as I wanted to, but I could still do pretty well. AFIK the 5200 couplers came with one or two games and weren't made by Atari, which would make them nearly impossible to find.

#25 Mitch ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 6, 2009 7:42 PM

That's what I was wondering, and it's great news, since I have no need for a 4port. Speaking of the 7800, you are supposed to use two controllers for that version, but I found that I only needed on controller-I couldn't move around as much or as fast as I wanted to, but I could still do pretty well. AFIK the 5200 couplers came with one or two games and weren't made by Atari, which would make them nearly impossible to find.


I'm assuming you are referring to the 7800 version of Robotron? 7800 Robotron can work with either two joysticks or one, I don't remember if the 5200 version is written like that as well or not.
The 5200 couplers were made by Atari and were included with the games that used them.

Mitch




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