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Dauber

Thinking of abandoning the 5200...maybe get an 8-bit computer

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I've had my Atari 5200 for a couple of years now, and I'm finding myself not playing it too much. i guess it's because I only have a few games for it, but when I go looking for games, be it out in the wild, on eBay, craigslist, etc., the same games that I already have just keep popping up...

 

I guess it's just a hassle...the console is huge, the controllers suck, and even the Wico, as much of an improvement as that is, is still not great. The console seems difficult to do a video mod on, too, so I have to deal with an RF connection. Usually when I'm about to do a marathon gaming session I'll pull out the 7800 because it's much easier to deal with...

 

The owner of my favorite arcade is an Atari 8-bit fan, and he and a friend of mine got into a pretty chatty conversation about the 8-bit systems...I asked in terms of gaming the difference is between the 5200 and 8-bit stuff. (Yeah, I know, the 5200 is 8 bit too, but... :) ) The arcade owner said something like, "Once you use an 8-bit, you'll never want to go back to a 5200!"

 

Now...I don't really care about the computer functionality; I just want a good selection of games, ideally on cart so I don't need to use any more peripherals than necessary.

 

But my question is...if I ditch the 5200 and go 8-bit, what would I miss about the 5200?

Edited by Dauber
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Interesting! You've given the 5200 a fair shot, and even overcome it's major weakness by acquiring the Wico stick. So if at this point, as seems clear, you've found it's not to your taste, I think switching to the 8-bit machines is indeed a good option.

 

You'll find that almost all the best 5200 games are easily available as 8-bit carts (if generally a bit more expensive) There are a few exceptions - Space Dungeon, Tempest, Kangaroo, Gremlins, Countermeasure, and Berzerk come to mind. And a few 8-bit games were overhauled for the better for the 5200 - such as Centipede, Dig Dug, and Qix. But you can play all of those on an 8-bit as well if you acquire some way to get the translated games onto the machine (SIO2PC, flash cart, etc.) You'll be able to use any 2600 joystick you like, which is nice. And you'll have access to dozens of additional games that haven't been ported to the 5200.

 

So what might you miss? For me, just the style and feel of the 5200 is a major attraction - I really like that huge shiny black console, and love it's satisfyingly large carts. You're also giving up the analog control that does make a bit of a difference in games like Pole Position, Missile Command, and Centipede. And I find collecting for the 5200 to be hugely fun, as you can get most items made for it at very reasonable prices. (The system really only has one holy grail - Bounty Bob Strikes Back -and even it doesn't command anything like the outrageous prices that the grails for the 2600 and NES do.)

 

Having spent a few years with the 5200, you probably have some idea already if you'll miss these things or if they are just not important to you.

 

As for the 8-bit machines, they're great vintage computers that I've been enjoying since 1984. The 800XL seems to be the most highly-recommended machine, and with good reason - top-loading cart slot, 64K of RAM, decent keyboard, compatible with most software (but not quite all - a few 400/800 games won't work on it without help)

 

Me, I really like both of them, and keep them both handy. Despite 30 years of 8-bit use, I actually find myself playing the 5200 the most... there's just something about that beast that I somehow enjoy more. This would NOT be the case if I had to use the standard controllers, but unlike you, I'm fine with the Wico. But you may be one of many who find the 8-bits to be a more natural fit to you. Really, either one is great - The underlying hardware that they both share was VASTLY ahead of its time when first released in 1979 and is still extremely well-suited to playing classic games to this day.

Edited by sdamon
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Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I really just want to get rid of the 5200 all together and stick with the 7800...

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Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I really just want to get rid of the 5200 all together and stick with the 7800...

 

There you have it. If you don't enjoy a system and want to get rid of it you probably should. Like sdamon said, there's plenty of reasons to own a 5200 over an Atari 8-bit, but if they aren't enough for you stick with the 8-bit. Can't say I'd recommend the 7800 over it, but that's me. There's a charm to the 5200/8-bit games that the 7800 lacks (though the homebrew scene gives the 7800 major points). The graphics are slightly better (though to me it's like comparing the graphics of the older 1977-79 releases of the 2600 to that of the Odyssey2. Yeah they're better but really not a whole helluva lot), but the sound is rough on the ears. But I digress...I say keep both (all three rather), but not everyone has the space or the funds for that. I would keep my 5200 just for games like Robotron, Defender, Centipede, and Space Dungeon alone because those are games that no other system comes close to with the controls. As bad as they are to some, the controller options for the 5200 can't be touched on certain games.

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Can't say I'd recommend the 7800 over it, but that's me. There's a charm to the 5200/8-bit games that the 7800 lacks (though the homebrew scene gives the 7800 major points)

 

Yeah, I'm with jetset on this one. I can see giving up the 5200 for an 8-bit, that makes sense. But never for just a 7800. There's just too many classic games that never got a 7800 port, plus there's definitely something to what jetset says about the charm of the earlier games.

 

But, hey, if you feel that would work best for you, that's fine of course. Just hope you enjoy whichever Atari system(s) you end up with, and that your 5200 ends up with someone who enjoys it. :-)

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I agree with the others that said if you don't like it get rid of it. The 5200 is my favorite system of all time and even though I love Atari I'm not really a 7800 fan. But so what. Use what you like and don't use what you don't like.

 

kind of pointless to argue about which system is better 30 years after the fact....

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I agree with the others that said if you don't like it get rid of it. The 5200 is my favorite system of all time and even though I love Atari I'm not really a 7800 fan. But so what. Use what you like and don't use what you don't like.

 

kind of pointless to argue about which system is better 30 years after the fact....

 

If you still want to stay loyal to the Atari brand, but step up to a computer that will give you more flexibility, growth potential and years of enjoyment, consider...

 

1200xl-main.jpg

 

This has got to be the sexiest Atari (at least visually) that was ever made... IMHO.

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My thoughts on the situation:

 

I've had my Atari 5200 for a couple of years now, and I'm finding myself not playing it too much. i guess it's because I only have a few games for it, but when I go looking for games, be it out in the wild, on eBay, craigslist, etc., the same games that I already have just keep popping up...

 

I guess it's just a hassle...the console is huge, the controllers suck, and even the Wico, as much of an improvement as that is, is still not great. The console seems difficult to do a video mod on, too, so I have to deal with an RF connection. Usually when I'm about to do a marathon gaming session I'll pull out the 7800 because it's much easier to deal with...

 

Sounds frustrating a little.. Gaming (and the overall hobby) should be non-stop fun! FUN! FUN!

 

I've never been a fan of the 5200 controllers BITD. I didn't know how to effect repairs and it was the second reason why my 5200 never saw much use. The sloggy no-tactile analog joystick, the buttons that didn't always register a press.. Ugh..

 

The first reason was that I already had most all the games [that the 5200 had] on my 400/800 8-bitters. After about the 20th cartridge (bear with me, I was slow) it dawned upon me that the games were the same! Oh there were minor differences here and there, but essentially I was duplicating a portion of my 8-bit library. While I don't dislike the 5200, I am still mad at it for taking away my attention from the 400/800.

 

There may be (an expert can answer this) some 5200 exclusive titles, and unless they're gotta-have titles, I'd say there's little or no need for a 5200.

 

Analog controllers? Ehh.. I grew up with digital/switch type controllers & keyboard control schemes, and the games that used them. Mostly. And I play games so much better with those kinds.

 

 

The owner of my favorite arcade is an Atari 8-bit fan, and he and a friend of mine got into a pretty chatty conversation about the 8-bit systems...I asked in terms of gaming the difference is between the 5200 and 8-bit stuff. (Yeah, I know, the 5200 is 8 bit too, but... :) ) The arcade owner said something like, "Once you use an 8-bit, you'll never want to go back to a 5200!"

 

Now...I don't really care about the computer functionality; I just want a good selection of games, ideally on cart so I don't need to use any more peripherals than necessary.

 

That is generally true. I liked and used my 400/800 for a lot of gaming back in the day, alongside my Apple II. I never did many computing activities on the 400/800 in comparison. But it was still interesting. My limited intellect back then only allowed for learning one architecture at the time. And it was Apple II.

 

As far as the game selection goes, the 400/800 and successors have got you covered. I think you should get a disk drive to go with it because that will open up a whole world of gaming. You don't need to get other peripherals, just the 810 drive.

 

I'm not too familiar with what's out there in the way of multi-cart or PC-to-Atari or disk simulators and emulators. But there is stuff! And, again, that would be your only peripheral. Get it! And you never know, you may come to enjoy some of the "computer" side of the 400/800.

 

 

But my question is...if I ditch the 5200 and go 8-bit, what would I miss about the 5200?

 

No one can answer that question but you yourself. I would suggest dismantling your 5200 setup, put it in a hefty bag, in a box, in the garage. Out of sight, out of mind. Go get a basic 8-bit rig and some multi-cart or disk storage device. Try it out and discover for yourself the differences. Any shortcomings or regrets will soon reveal themselves..

 

Or if you're so inclined, try some emulation! Atari800 Emulator 3.1.0 and Altirra have got you covered.

 

 

Really, either one is great - The underlying hardware that they both share was VASTLY ahead of its time when first released in 1979 and is still extremely well-suited to playing classic games to this day.

 

Yes. I still jam Star Raiders, Missile Command, Defender, Buried Bucks, among many other titles. And people still are impressed seeing Star Raiders for the first time. They all gotta try it!

 

 

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Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I really just want to get rid of the 5200 all together and stick with the 7800...

 

Wow, I always thought the 7800 was actually inferior to the 5200. I know people complain about the CX-52 joystick controllers but personally I am accustomed to using them. The 5200 was the best console IMO that Atari ever put out and their flagship console to their primitive 2600 predecessor. It was the elite arcade-at-home gaming console. You can find almost all of the A-list classic arcade titles and many more homebrews and Atari 800 ports like Asteroids, Battlezone and Millipede. The Trakball controller delivers exceptional arcade-style performance. I also own a Colecovision and was a strong advocate of that console in the early 80's but truthfully it had mostly B-list arcade titles with the exception of a few A-list titles like Donkey Kong and Zaxxon.

 

Edited by Tron Unit
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I thought the ColecoVision was a breath of sophistication and an adventure into games that were not necessarily A-list "safe" material.

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I had a minty 5200 with Best upgraded controllers, many games, and a AtariMax flash cart. I loved my 5200 but also found myself no longer playing it as much. I never really enjoyed the 5200 controllers, even though the Best controllers always worked fine.

 

I sold my 5200 stuff here on Atari Age a few years ago. Last year I replaced it with a few 800XLs, peripherals, and the AtariMax MyIDE-II cart. So far it is getting far more use than the 5200 did. Why?

  • The original A8 library is pretty extensive, offering a wide selection of games and other fun software from the time.
  • Any 2600 compatible controller can be used, including lots of third party options and even gamepads for later systems.
  • Almost all of the games exclusive to the 5200 have been ported to the A8.

And that's the period stuff. Since the 80s, there have been a massive number of new games and applications on the A8. There is an amazing amount of new stuff to keep me using the A8, including the New Years Disk(s) and new games like Dungeon Hunt and Dimo's Quest.

 

I still love the 5200, and I think of it fondly, but the A8 does more for me. I enjoy the styling of the XL line, it shares a lof the that slick futuristic look of the 5200. I like looking at the 800XL and periperhals, appreciating them as objects, just as much as I did the 5200.

 

I sold my 5200 to give it a better home where it would get more use, but there's no reason why you couldn't keep them both :)

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Yes. No reason why you can't keep both. Just pack it up and put it away. If you find yourself never wanting to play it again, then no harm done. Sell it!

 

My only thing against that type of collecting is that the thing boxed up remains a nagging thorn for some people.

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The 5200 was the best console IMO that Atari ever put out and their flagship console to their primitive 2600 predecessor. It was the elite arcade-at-home gaming console. You can find almost all of the A-list classic arcade titles and many more homebrews and Atari 800 ports like Asteroids, Battlezone and Millipede.

 

 

This is correct.

 

I thought the ColecoVision was a breath of sophistication and an adventure into games that were not necessarily A-list "safe" material.

 

This is correct as well.

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I thought the ColecoVision was a breath of sophistication and an adventure into games that were not necessarily A-list "safe" material.

 

Make no mistake, I love, love, LOVE the Colecovision but for entirely different reasons than the 5200, mostly because it HAD to rely of games that weren't A-list safe. The 5200 was THE premiere arcade-at-home gaming console though because it was all about the A-list games. When I am feeling nostalgic for retro arcade classics, the 5200 is my go-to console. When I am in the mood for the lesser-known arcade hits and alternative games, the Colecovision is my go-to console. On occassion I get nostalgic for a few of the old NES 8-bit carts, but let's face it, I don't want to spend hours and hours or even days trying to go through games like Legend of Zelda again. I just want the good-old-fashioned simplicity of the old coin-op classics. I can play a game for 15-20 minutes and it takes me back and I've scratched the nostalgic itch and I'm good.

 

Yes. No reason why you can't keep both. Just pack it up and put it away. If you find yourself never wanting to play it again, then no harm done. Sell it!

 

My only thing against that type of collecting is that the thing boxed up remains a nagging thorn for some people.

 

Yeah you DO NOT want to make the mistake I made. I "entrusted" all of my old game systems to a good friend of mine because he wanted them for his game room and they were just sitting in a box in my attic. We had an understanding that if I ever wanted them back, they were mine and I could have them back, not to be an Indian-giver, but they had significant sentimental value to me because it was all of my childhood years invested in those games and consoles. I contacted him recently and he told me he just GAVE them all away to Goodwill a few months ago. I was devastated. I felt betrayed. It was very thoughtless of him. He should have contacted me first if he needed to get rid of them and I would have happily come and got them off his hands. He didn't even think about it. So I've spent several months and HUNDREDS of dollars buying back everything I had piece by piece. The moral of the story is, don't get rid of something you may regret later down the road. You may think you are tired of something and won't want it anymore, but all it takes is one moment years or decades from now when you feel nostalgic for something you had and wish that you still had it. I'd say it was one of my biggest life regrets.

Edited by Tron Unit

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I always thought the analog part of the 5200 controllers was fine. I think all of the stock Atari controllers for all of their systems left a lot to be desired though.

 

Honestly, there are more games on the "8 bit" platform. 800xl is easy to come by and a great computer or you might consider the XEGS.

 

Ideally, you would keep the 5200 and get an "8 bit" too.

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Well it basically comes down to whether or not you are more of a "PC Gamer" or a "Console Gamer." Playing the same games on the Atari XL just isn't the same for me. I much prefer a dedicated console and controller. I can play all of the same games on my computer on an emulator and it's just not the same experience as firing up the old console and grabbing that flawed old game controller with all of its little nuances and getting down and dirty gaming.

Edited by Tron Unit

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Well it basically comes down to whether or not you are more of a "PC Gamer" or a "Console Gamer."

 

I choose both ;)

 

Also add handhelds, smartphones, tablets, and emulation :D

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The 5200 is definitly an aquired taste.

 

My biggest issue with it is you HAVE to have a handful of different controllers to play all the games.

 

The stock controllers suck, but if you use both of them with the coupler, they work great with 2 games. :)

 

The WICO and keypad are great for some games, not all.

 

The Competition Pro Digital stick is ideal for most of the games.

 

Then last but not least, the TrakBall is essential IMO for certain games.

 

I am not interested in collectiong carts, so I have the AtariMax SD cart. Some don't like SD carts, but I think it's the best way to play all the games.

 

At least you gave it a chance though. ;)

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Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I really just want to get rid of the 5200 all together and stick with the 7800...

 

 

At least you gave it a chance though. ;)

 

This is the thing of it, really. It's not like you gave the 5200 36 hours and turned your nose up at it because, as the kids say, reasons. I'd say a couple of years is time enough to get a feel for whether or not the thing is for you. You definitely gave it a fair shot. I myself use my 600XL almost strictly as a computer, but I can't play Mr. Do! on my 5200. (I recommend that game for the 8-bit, by the way.) I'd say the biggest stuff you're missing out on are the Trak-Ball games, but that's only if you already have a Trak-Ball. (I play the daylights out of Missile Command + and Centipede, and would keep the 5200 for those games alone.)

 

I think Keatah's advice is best. Just pack the 5200 up for a bit and emulate the 8-bit. See how it goes. Better that than to part with the 5200 only to decide a week or two later that you really did like it better. You lose out on nothing this way, and get to make a good, educated decision.

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I run a 7800 for the awesome homebrew and hardware developments and a 600xl that is getting a u1mb mod a a/v mod and a sio2bt mod combined with a side 2.

If you want compact cheap and easy gaming get a 600xl. 64kb ram mod it(under 10 bucks) and put a sio2bt module(complete kit 25 bucks)if you have an andriod device to run the sio2bt program. You can play 1000's of games?!?.

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