Longtime reader, semi-recent convert. I picked up both a 7800 and 5200 cheap this past year, and while I expected to love the 7800 due to limited childhood experience, it was the 5200 that won my heart. Almost every game I tried felt like everything I loved about pre-NES console gaming, and I was stunned to discover how much it appealed to me after the bad rap it had. I got it on a lark being such a fan of the 2600 and the early-'80s era, but I've probably played it more than almost any other console this year.
I'm a writer, so I tend to chronicle stuff. When I got the 5200 (a 4-port), I was having a little trouble with the power supply, but that cleared everything up for a while and everything was retro gaming bliss.
Then it turned out that the switchbox I'd gotten was funky. Blew a chip, then would fritz out. I planned on doing the power mod, but once I opened it up I saw that a previous owner had modded it for (what others told me) was the 2600-adapter mod. So I wasn't about to power mod it after that. I ended up going out, buying some supplies, and building my own power/video I/O box (there's not any real "switch"), and that worked great.
I also found a Competition Pro at a local shop, and that changed almost every problem I was having with the joysticks -- digital control made my favorite games even better. About as good as I could imagine them.
But after that, I started to notice that the console would power itself on at random. I'd walk into my office and notice the red light on. Sometimes it took a few days, but it would end up turning on itself. It didn't seem to affect anything, but I don't like having ANY electronic device juicing up improperly without me knowing about it. I put it on a power strip with a switch I could turn off when not in use, but the worry was that if THAT was happening, there might be something else detrimental happening in there. Which has made me hesitant to even use it the past few months. Which has been a total bummer, since I love even the just the dozen games I have so far.
Anyway, the point is that for Xmas, Mrs. Shake went out and found me a replacement. A 2-port with two working controllers, in great shape, with 12 games included (nothing too fancy, but 6 of them were new to me, and of those, 3 were delightful additions to the collection). It was a little pricey, but with the bundle being local and from a shop, there was no shipping on this beast, and if there are any problems, I know the place is cool about defective returns.
Testing it out, the stock controllers work almost perfectly. Gentle pressure does the trick. One fire button on one of them needs a little extra pressure, but I'm sure opening them up and cleaning the contacts will take care of it (I'd also like to see what revision they are. The joysticks are a slightly looser than the two I already have -- maybe I'll see if I can swap out the boots.
Anyway, it's been a dream. The irritation of dealing with a series of bad switchboxes and someone else's modding and now having two even-cleaner controllers (seriously, I can't imagine they were in much better shape back in the mid-'80s) has lifted the 5200 even one step higher in my book. Having a digital control option, no A/V worries, and all these great games is just aces. I love it, and I appreciate all the help over the past year from you fine folks for your direct advice and all the info collected here.
Next up is an AtariMax SD cart and a Masterplay clone. It's going to be a while -- we're buh-roke, so this bundle was the big holiday gift (along with Battletoads and Super Castlevania IV). I'll probably be inquiring in a few months about the best Masterplay options.
And now that I can play the games without having to worry about electrical problems, that 4-port might just be a candidate for some work under the hood way down the road. Get it composite modded, the standardized power mod, and I'd love to see about getting the 2600-adapter mod on the 4-port UN-modded just to keep things a little tidier. Anybody have any idea if that's a reasonable dream to have? Especially if I can drop it off with someone in New England.
Sorry about the wall of text, thanks for reading, and I'll try to post pics soon!