Lately I've had the opportunity to pick up the 5200's arch-nemesis the Colecovision and I've got a fair amount of titles and some interesting things:
Everyone bitches and moans about the 5200 controllers. Well the fire buttons are definitely bad, they should never have been so small or rubbery, bad choice.
The Coleco controllers don't seem to fair any better then the 5200's in comfort and the short stalk is not as comfortable to use as the 5200 joystick.
One thing that definitely is a major plus is the pause button the 5200 controller.
Now, the Colecovision did outnumber the 5200 in peripherals, certainly the Super Action Controllers were cool, the Driving Controller was great and a major missing item from Atari's periperhal lineup.
However while both Colecovision and the 5200 had trakball controllers, the Colecovision is a bit of a kludge to have to get going and a bit of a pain.
While the 5200 trakball simply plugged in and you were ready to go, the Coleco roller controller is a pain to have to connect into the coleco power supply, you had to plug the controllers into the ports inside the controller and locked in after messing with the cords a few times, then you connected it up to the console, phew..... how annoying is that?
Not lets talk games....
While Colecovision touted itself as bringing home The Arcade Experience, the arcade titles (with the exception of Donkey Kong, jr. and Zaxxon) are mostly forgotten, or lackluster titles and didn't have much in the way of graphics and sound. While many complained that the 5200 had just rehashed 2600 games, lets face it, Pac Man, Centipede, Defender and so forth rocked!!! Space Invaders lost a lot in the translation.... lets look at Star Raiders, Space Dungeon and others Whoa!!! These games were amazing.
Hands down, the Colecovision ruled at Expansion, with its 2600 module and upgrade to the Coleco ADAM, Coleco put a lot of thought into where they wanted the Colecovision to go.
Atari's 5200 had an expansion connector, but it seemed more like a token gesture then a well thought out path for expansion. Instead of putting all of the lines of the cartridge port out to the expansion bus plus additional lines for video input/output and so forth, the port should've also been put on the side of the 5200 and then thin wedges could be added to the side of the 5200 keeping its lines and look. The 2600 adapter was an example of nonsense to package a whole 2600 into a plastic case and have it sticking out of the 5200 like that.
So while Colecovision was certainly from a marking standby really catching people's attention, in a real hands down, direct side by side comparision, the 5200 really is the SUPER of the two Systems.
So, lets hear others commments and personal views, feelings and stories.
The Atari Museum http://www.atarimuseum.com