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5200 VS 7800: Which System has the Better Library?


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#1 Dr Manhattan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:29 PM

I have been spending a lot of time with both consoles lately and I'm just curious how you all feel about this subject. Which console has the better library? Atari 5200 or Atari 7800? Please tell us whether homebrew games factor in your decision.

I just spent 4 months in Upstate NY playing 5200 and 7800 games. After all that time I'm starting to lean towards the 5200. In fact I honestly believe this system is highly underrated. Don't get me wrong, I still love the 7800. (I love all Atari consoles.) I just always get the feeling that 5200 is treated as the "worst" Atari console, and that's a title it does not deserve. Its really a great system with an outstanding library.

So which library is better in your opinion? I'm eager to hear your replies.

#2 Christophero Sly OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:38 PM

5200, by a hair.

#3 mimo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:43 PM

800xl, followed by 7800.
Don't get me wrong, there are some great games on the 5200, but most of them I prefer on the XL/XE computers.
The 7800 homebrews are awesome

#4 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:44 PM

Both have access to the 2600 libraries, the 7800 a little more easily so.

But with all the conversions from the Atari 8 bit computer library I think the 5200 has pulled ahead.

#5 Ransom OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:48 PM

Setting aside VCS games, since both can play them...

The 5200 has a far better library, IMO. There are very few games I enjoy playing on the 7800. But I enjoy nearly all the first-party games on the 5200, as well as many of the third-party titles.

That may change, with the upcoming 7800XM and a slate of new games coming from home brewers. But for now...

#6 tz101 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:00 PM

7800 has Galaga, my favorite arcade game of all time. But even with that, I rate 5200 as the better system. Overall, it has the more complete library as far as games I like to play on a regular basis.

#7 zylon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:29 PM

5200. :thumbsup: I even bought A8's to be able to play my favorites from the 5200 figuring they'd be more reliable and better control. I was wrong. :( Only Kaboom was better or same of all my favorites. The rest are not as good or much worse.
The 7800 games never really stood out to me, except maybe Galaga, and that port wasn't that great. IMO

#8 Mirage OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:48 PM

If going by original library, not counting homebrew, 5200 by FAR. This is ignoring the fact that you could use an A8 to get much the same experience, but if it was between specifically 5200 and 7800 original libraries, then 5200.

I can barely tolerate most of the 7800's original releases. I know that's a controversial opinion, but the system just really does nothing for me. To me, it has no soul.

Conversely, the 5200 is about my favorite console of all time. If I had to be stuck on a desert island (with electricity) and could have only one Atari console, it would be 5200 hands down. And yes, I mean even with it's controllers. Get the Best Electronics Gold Controllers. They're a must. You won't regret it.

But, many of the homebrews for the 7800 look great, and with the upcoming XM, that should become an even greater factor.

So, if counting homebrews, I'd start considering the 7800 a lot more.

Solution: get both.

Edited by Mirage, Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:48 PM.


#9 ApolloBoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:51 PM

I know that's a controversial opinion, but the system just really does nothing for me. To me, it has no soul.

...So? I hate it when people say something has or doesn't have a "soul". No offense to you of course, but I just think it's just ridiculous to assign a quality like that to a game system of all things.

#10 Mirage OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:56 PM


I know that's a controversial opinion, but the system just really does nothing for me. To me, it has no soul.

...So? I hate it when people say something has or doesn't have a "soul". No offense to you of course, but I just think it's just ridiculous to assign a quality like that to a game system of all things.


Well, maybe that's not the best word, or a word that doesn't communicate correctly. Maybe "dry" is a better word?

It's like when you look at a painting and it either expresses feeling to you... or it doesn't. Soulless. We talk about music like this... music has soul or it doesn't have soul (to a particular listener). I mean it in the same way. I guess this is my art/literature/music background and lingo coming through.

[Needless to say, this is all IMHO].

Or, I could just say... no videogame system has a soul and be done with it :D

Edited by Mirage, Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:09 PM.


#11 tz101 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:02 PM

Conversely, the 5200 is about my favorite console of all time. If I had to be stuck on a desert island (with electricity) and could have only one Atari console, it would be 5200 hands down. And yes, I mean even with it's controllers.


I am coming to this conclusion on my own as well, progressively over time. I do not have Best gold controllers, but have refurbed my own with new rev 9 circuits, replacement pots, and aluminum dots. The stock 5200 controllers are really underrated by many of the naysayers. All I am seeking now to really complete the 5200 experience is a Space Dungeon controller cradle. Just cannot find them cheap enough to suit my budget these days, but Space Dungeon and Robotron 2084 are phenomenal with this device.

#12 Mirage OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:08 PM

I do not have Best gold controllers, but have refurbed my own with new rev 9 circuits, replacement pots, and aluminum dots.


Yeah, and that's fine too. I always just recommend the Best Gold since it's the sure-fire option (no pun intended). But any method of getting good/rebuilt ones that work is fine.

#13 VectorGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:19 PM

7800 is the better console

#14 svenski OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:20 PM

I like the 7800 but if I had to pick I'd go with the 5200. Both are good systems though but for me the 5200 offers a much better classic gaming experience with some pretty decent games titles to boot.

#15 BydoEmpire OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:41 PM

I like the 7800, but I love the 5200. In my humble opinion, there are just more good-or-better games on the 5200. Lots of great arcade ports as well as cool originals and a good modern homebrew scene.

#16 DracIsBack OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:52 PM

meh - get both.

#17 Ataritard OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:04 PM

Very good question. I'll agree with the majority of posters so far, it's the 5200 for me as well. Granted we are in the 5200 section after all. I think to be fair the OP should ask the same question in the 7800 section.

#18 akator OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:19 PM

I've been leaning towards the 5200 for a few years. I play it more often.

I have a theory that if you own the 5200, ColecoVision, and Vectrex, you have the best of home gaming from the early 80s. IMO, those systems encapsulate the best of the era. If I was forced to only have a few systems from the period (which is actually happening), those would be the ones I would fight to keep.

I know I'm going to be hated for this... but while the 7800 is awesome, I would sell mine off long before the 5200.

#19 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:00 AM

I can barely tolerate most of the 7800's original releases. I know that's a controversial opinion, but the system just really does nothing for me. To me, it has no soul.


You know, I hear what you are saying here.

I think "soul" means "live up to potential of the hardware" I think. You often hear "I hate the earlier games" on a game system. Generally I've noticed that in the 8 bit world, the programming was pretty tight from day one to accomplish anything arcade quality. Truth is, the 8 bit could not produce the arcade quality no matter what was done, but the programmers were able to pull off that illusion quite nicely anwyay. That is why the Atari 8 and 5200 games were such a hit. And the multiple chips helped.

The 7800 had some spectacular graphics in comparison, just took a bit to understand that next level of programming perhaps? Or maybe it was not a jump enough in technology? Actually I would not say the 7800 was soulless. If released in 1984 as planned that would have knocked the socks off the gaming market. As it was, some of the earlier games might have had 1984 in mind, and later ones might have over stretched a bit, but I think the 7800 found its nitch.

But anyway, "without a soul" I think translates to "game system that has not met its own potential" which is generally based on the perspective the games seen up to that point by the person making that observation.

That sound good to others?

#20 DracIsBack OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:51 AM

I think GCC had lots of plans for the 7800 to have soul. Then came the Tramiels and their endless cost cutting on everything.

expansion port? Gone.
Peripherals like high score cart and keyboard?. Gone.
Sound chips in cartridges? Gone. (GCC intended this from the start to be more commonplace)
Colour labels on carts (initially)? Gone.
Bigger games? Gone.
Battery backups? Gone.
A-Plus developers? Gone. (though that was more Nintendo's doing)
Big game dev budgets? Gone.
Ads? Mostly gone.

Fortunately, I still think there are enough gems from the original library plus the homebrew scene over the last five or so years has really spiked my interest ... dozens of new games and demos, new tools, new emulators, exciting new hardware (XM, Cuttle Cart, H2).

Edited by DracIsBack, Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:53 AM.


#21 Mirage OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:07 AM

I think both of you guys have a part of what my feeling is, sure. The 7800, at the time of release, just didn't get a fair shake due to timing/circumstance. It's a big part of it. Sorry again for the shorthand, but I think some are getting it.

It's getting a new life now/lately though, which was my real point.

#22 jetset OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:08 AM

Definitely the 5200. Granted I'm a big fan always have been. Still one of the reasons for that is the ratio of good games to out and out dogs. The 5200 has one of the best out there. 85 or so original releases and only about 5 real bombs. And in comparing like games, such as Robotron, Ms PacMan, Ballblazer...the 7800 versions just don't impress me. The 7800 is capable of such great graphics, but when you see how near identical games like those are you realize the 5200 was programmed much better.


I know that's a controversial opinion, but the system just really does nothing for me. To me, it has no soul.

...So? I hate it when people say something has or doesn't have a "soul". No offense to you of course, but I just think it's just ridiculous to assign a quality like that to a game system of all things.


Actually I totally understand this. It just feels like the 5200 was put forth with more effort (at least initially), and more thought was put into being unique, advanced, even high end. The 7800, while a fine system seemed like Atari was trying to clone the 2600 rather than give the system it's own personality/feel.

#23 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:12 AM

7800 + 800XL = best of both worlds IMO. All of the flavor and none of the calories.

#24 Official Ninja OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:19 AM

I like the 5200 over all game consoles. I've been playing 5200 for the better part of my life and I don't see myself ever not playing it. :) Its all about the games. 5200 games play great I like the controller and for those games that aren't good with them I secured a Masterplay interface years ago. I've read people complaining that Activision games on the 5200 are hardly any different than 2600 versions.... Maybe, but thats whats good about them... Ever play the versions of your favorite Activision games on a ColecoVision?.... CRAP. The 5200 has some of the best home versions of games like Centipede, Berzerk, Missile Command, Defender, DigDug, Pac-man, Popeye.... All the Prototypes, Like Super Pac-man, Jr.Pac-man, Millipede, Battlezone.... Then there is Castle Crisis and don't forget..... Adventure II. ;-)



I like 7800 but in my opinion most of the games released by Atari are just shit. Not all but most. Plus as a 2600 the cart slot is too tight for some games and the display is dull and washed out. I'd throw the converter in the 5200 any day over using the 7800 to play the 2600 library.

I like all Atari consoles and computers, and they all have their place in the Atari history (obviously) but the 7800 doesn't hold up to the 5200 as far as games are concerned. IMO. Still these comparisons are silly these days.... just get both systems and play the games. :)

#25 darryl1970 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:23 AM

7800 + 800XL = best of both worlds IMO. All of the flavor and none of the calories.

I also choose the 5200. Games like Centipede illustrate that there was a lot more potential than 4 Players, 4 Missiles, and character (8x8) graphics. I think the joysticks are great if you don't follow the media hype (except for reliability). Games like Pac-Man were never uncontrollable; it was just a different feel that scared people into not even trying to use them. I would love to see where the 7800 might have gone if given the right timing (1984) and resources, but the 5200 is when the programmers started pulling the punches to make up for releasing the system with Breakout to compete with Donkey Kong... LMAO. I still recommend a good dose of 5200 and 7800. There are just a few more bright 5200 stars, and the 7800 wasn't ENOUGH of a jump over the 5200 technology to overshadow the small, but solid, 5200 library.

Edited by darryl1970, Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:24 AM.





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