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Classic Pac

Are 5200 Controllers As Bad As Everyone Says

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It seems recently I sparked a little debate on Facebook recent when I commented, "I heard a 5200 controller will break even if you look it at". Really 5200 controllers have got a bad rep, it hard not to run in to repair kits when searching for 5200 controllers on Ebay. Even though I like to get a 5200, it is the issue of the controller being so terrible that has stopped me from getting one. Then there is what the owner of a local retro game shop told me recently. That the reason most people don't buy 5200s is because of the controller issue.

 

I still wonder to this day, why hasn't someone made a more reliable 5200 controller that is self centering.

 

So I leave this out for debate. Are the 5200 controllers as bad as they say?

Edited by Classic Pac
grammar

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I mostly prefer to use the originals when a game plays best with them. As such, that means I'm usually using an original controller. Yes they require maintaining them to keep them working well, but if you know how to do this, it isn't that big a deal and even with the cheap method I use to refurb my personal ones (foil tape), I only have to refurb them every few years. The non centering I can see as an issue for those that prefer to play maze games and games that really benefit more from a digital like control scheme. But most of the games I like to play on the 5200 use the stock controller very well so...

 

No I don't think the controller is as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

 

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A well-maintained stick with the extra rubber around the stick is easy to use.  But they quickly develop contact problems especially the buttons. After a while, you may give up the constant maintenance.

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I mean....you can play most games digitally correct? With a converter? What games are analog only? I'd get one of the Competition Pro Joysticks. When I play 5200, that's what I do. Or get a Masterplay converter.

 

IMO 5200 controllers are the non-identical ugly twin of the CX-78 Pro Lines. They're kind of ugly, and clearly nowhere as good as your other kids. But if you rightly that point out...."hey dude, that's my kid."

 

5200 controllers were not well designed (vertical format+number pad, wow, double design dead end) nor were they great brand new, And they age about as well as milk left in the sun. At least the 5200 controller has great personality though. Maybe their badness rep has outgrown reality but...IMO it's well deserved.

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No.

 

10 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

Yes they require maintaining them to keep them working well...[snip]...even with the cheap method I use to refurb my personal ones (foil tape), I only have to refurb them every few years.

10 hours ago, Cafeman said:

After a while, you may give up the constant maintenance.

I've never had to give a controller a foil dot treatment more than once. 🤔

 

7 hours ago, GoldenWheels said:

I mean....you can play most games digitally correct? With a converter? What games are analog only? I'd get one of the Competition Pro Joysticks.

You might as well be playing an Atari 400. 🤷‍♂️ 😅

 

Don't forget that several "digital" games, like Galaxian, Star Raiders, and River Raid, have analog control that enhances the gameplay experience.

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Short answer? Yes, they are terrible and any suitable alternative will be more enjoyable to use on a whole.

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You'll never get 2 people to agree on any single opinion, much less a group of people. 

 

With that said, the 5200 die-hard fans will always say that the original CX-52s are perfectly fine, and the only proper way to play the 5200.  I'm not a 5200 die-hard fan, and my opinion is that the CX-52s suck out loud.  There are about 10-ish games in the 5200 library that can be, or need to be, played with an analog joystick, and even some of those are wrong.  The arcade game Gorf, used an 8-way digital joystick, but the 5200 port "adds" absolute analog positioning into the joystick controls, which means if you want to sit in one spot and shoot (not in the center of the screen), you have to hold the joystick at that position...why!?!  The arcade game Galaxian used a 2-way digital joystick, but the 5200 port incorporates relative analog movement, so that you can "slowly" move out of the way of an incoming missile...what the hell for!?!  

 

In the end, you have to decide what you want to play with, if you want a 5200.  Chances are, if you're not a die-hard 5200 fan...than you'll want something digital...so that you can actually enjoy the 90% percent of the library that is properly played with a digital controller.  

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11 hours ago, BassGuitari said:

🤔

 

You might as well be playing an Atari 400. 🤷‍♂️ 😅

 

Don't forget that several "digital" games, like Galaxian, Star Raiders, and River Raid, have analog control that enhances the gameplay experience.

Except with an Atari 400, there'd possibly be room left on my table.

 

It's good to know those traditionally digital games can be played in analog. The "enhancement" I suppose depends a lot on the state of your "controller".

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I didn't mind the functionally of them, but they didn't last long. I actually bought a second new system back in the day because the controllers were so tough to find. 

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The only original 5200 controller worth keeping is a Trak-Ball, and that one controller alone makes the 5200 worth owning. 

 

For playing nearly any vintage game, there are modern controller options that make the experience much more enjoyable: Scott Baker has developed a series of three PCBs for alternative designs - a self-centering analog thumbstick controller; a "Masterplay clone" board that lets you use any 4-way digital DB9 joystick or a 3-button Genesis pad (with second fire button support); and an adapter to use Sony PlayStation controllers. I have built many dozens of Scott's analog thumbstick controllers and love them for nearly all vintage titles (Star Wars Arcade being the sole notable exception); I have also built a pair of his Masterplay clone boards for my own use and like them too, but still prefer the thumbstick controllers. I have never built his PlayStation controller adapter so I have no opinion about it.

 

Further, I have it on very good authority (directly from Ed himself), that Edladdin still plans to produce his full-on Hall effect sensor analog arcade stick controller, which will also function as a Masterplay clone so you can use vintage sticks on games when you want to. 

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You know, a solution to this is to make a new 5200 joypad but make it based off of the Jaguar joypad. Somebody has already found a way to use the current style of analog stick that today's game consoles use so replace the D-pad with that and switch out the Jaguar keypad with the 5200's. Problem solved. Oh, and make a digital D-pad and D-stick version for those who want to go the digital route. I mean, there are already Pro Controller repros - why not alter it for the 5200. I think it would do very well.

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You have to understand what was going on in the minds of video game makers at the time with vertical controls.

Spoiler

There were very few established video game standards.  people were complaining that the Atari 2600 controller was right-handed only when arcades were offering ambidextrous layouts with buttons on both sides of the stick.   The Bally, Intellivision, and ColecoVision all had ambidextrous controllers.  The Bally didn't use the keypad so therefore it was easier and more intuitive way to make ambidextrous joysticks via the gun trigger handle.

 

The Intellivision and Colecovision had similar designs, vertical controllers exist to address the problem of ambidexterity    The new problem it introduced was arm asymmetry where your arms were in two different positions to manipulate the joystick and the buttons.  That's why most fight sticks are considered arm symmetric.  Of course they gave up ambidexterity to allow for that.

 

The joke is the reason the reason why those controllers CAN be either left or right-handed is because in a marathon record breaking session of a game, it'll eventually HAVE TO BE alternately left-handed and right-handed.  Using my muscles to actually hold the joystick and then the arm asymmetry makes those ambidextrous arm-asymmetric pre-crash controllers a workout.

 

 

throughout my life I've been trying to find a right-handed fight stick ever since be sure went out of business and no one made a six button right-handed joystick.  A lot of things are printed on my website sinistersticks.com.and to avoid scrolls to text I'm going to box the rest where you only open if desired.

Spoiler


 

In 1993 my original version of my Sinister stick was separable joystick and button panel held on by velcro tape.  Nyko made a version for Street Fighter 4 for PS3 in 2012.

 

In 2000 when playing around with my Dreamcast alloy stick from interact I found two things.  One is that if you could swap the buttons around you could easily ambidextrous a joystick by using button programming.  Unfortunately unless I explicitly show the button programming people disqualify the joystick because it has a potential of macros even if I don't use them.

 

And the second thing is that the main obstacle to the 180 method of ambidexterity was the opposite hand button contour layout.  If you ever tried the alloy stick the buttons smile at you and not frown it's like the joystick is mocking you for playing right handed by smiling at you for having to deal with an awkward button layout.

 

the easiest solution is just to use a straight eight layout (American perfectly rectangular two rows of 4).  I had a street fighter 15th anniversary stick, permenantly swapped to be rewired for right stick.  Later Qanba made a similar version that lets you switch back and forth with a flick of a switch or a press of a button.

 

There's three reasons why those 2 models failed.  One is contour.  Two was the fact there was no 360 version, the way more popular version in Europe and America where ambidexterity would sell better than Japan.  The third was lack of system licensing.


 

 

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@tripletopper, completely off topic, and all about your Sinister Stick, that nobody but you cares about...for the bazilliointh time here on AA.  I'm not sure if you read the first post in this thread, but the OP's question was about people's thoughts and/or opinions, of the 5200's controllers, the CX-52.  No where in your long-keyed post, do you provide your review or opinion or insight regarding the CX-52...but you do, for the bazillionth time here on AA, talk about ambidexterity in controllers...that again, nobody but you cares about.  Please give it a rest, and if you're going to post a reply in someone's thread, try to keep it on topic.  

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9 minutes ago, doubledown said:

@tripletopper, completely off topic, and all about your Sinister Stick, that nobody but you cares about...for the bazilliointh time here on AA.  I'm not sure if you read the first post in this thread, but the OP's question was about people's thoughts and/or opinions, of the 5200's controllers, the CX-52.  No where in your long-keyed post, do you provide your review or opinion or insight regarding the CX-52...but you do, for the bazillionth time here on AA, talk about ambidexterity in controllers...that again, nobody but you cares about.  Please give it a rest, and if you're going to post a reply in someone's thread, try to keep it on topic.  

I can explain how it's on topic:  this post list were talking about the verticalness of the 5200 controller which was similar to the intellivision and ColecoVision.  And I was talking about the primary purpose of verticality was ambidexterity but the side effect was holding the controller building your muscles and making ambidextrity a requirement to succeeding well if you play a marathon session.  That was my legitimate segue into SinisterSticks.

 

By the way,  I was trying to be polite by putting most of the stuff that was associated with the Sinister Sticks that is well published on Atari Age in the "hidden comments" so that if you read them before you don't have to read them again.  I thought that was a way to politely say this is babbling a little off topic but if you're interested click. If not don't.

 

Most of the comments that are not hidden in spoilers are pretty new from me and most relevant to the topic give-and-take.

 

@doubledown , would you like to take that back under that light?

 

 

Edited by tripletopper
@doubledown name corrected.

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The problem wasn't with the design of the controllers but the fact they just don't WORK....even a couple days after buying the very expensive 5200 console, which kept a lot of Atari Service Centers busy up until the Crash.

 

(And yes I bought a 5200 from an auction which wasn't much cause it came in a box of other crap that no one wanted)

 

If I were to play on a real 5200, then I'll have to have the trackball controller with a Masterplay converter (or clone of one) with a proper 2600 joystick.  That covers large majority of games.  For non-trackball supported games that do require absoulte analog control then I would get the refurbished 5200 joysticks from Best Electonics.

 

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21 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

 

 

Further, I have it on very good authority (directly from Ed himself), that Edladdin still plans to produce his full-on Hall effect sensor analog arcade stick controller, which will also function as a Masterplay clone so you can use vintage sticks on games when you want to. 

No offense to Ed but his ambidextrous layout is not ergonomically good. Why the choice to even go that route is beyond me. My 2 cents...

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5 minutes ago, MrMaddog said:

The problem wasn't with the design of the controllers but the fact they just don't WORK....even a couple days after buying the very expensive 5200 console, which kept a lot of Atari Service Centers busy up until the Crash.

 

(And yes I bought a 5200 from an auction which wasn't much cause it came in a box of other crap that no one wanted)

 

If I were to play on a real 5200, then I'll have to have the trackball controller with a Masterplay converter (or clone of one) with a proper 2600 joystick.  That covers large majority of games.  For non-trackball supported games that do require absoulte analog control then I would get the refurbished 5200 joysticks from Best Electonics.

 

another weird problem was that most of the games that were made for the 5200 were mainly arcade games and the "base controller" you got was an analog controller with no self-centering.

 

Why was it not self-centering? because that was perfect for games like Warlords and Super Breakout, and Kabion and similar games where you have to "dial a position".  And they expanded it from being one-dimensional to two-dimensional.  I prefer the 5200 controller for Missile Command because it has that dial a position mode where you can just point to where you want relative to the screen instead of relative to where you are currently, and get there inside.  the trackball takes time to get to where you need to go, even though it is a very quick time, it's still greater than one frame.

 

Actually that's a problem with modern controllers is if you're trying to play the Atari collection you can't play Warlords or breakouts the way you're supposed to because you're fighting the self-centering.  Wired up Retro, a YouTube channel I follow,  recommends buying one of those steering wheel controllers for the PlayStation 4 Xbox One, and do not "sand down" one of these teeth gears if you want the wheel to stay in place for games like Warlords Break out in kaboom. 

 

If you want one, they're like 10 bucks on eBay, though they don't make one for the Switch yet.

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, tripletopper said:

 

 

Why was it not self-centering? because that was perfect for games like Warlords and Super Breakout, and Kabion

 

 

Said no one in the history of the world!!!

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1 minute ago, AtariBrian said:

No offense to Ed but his ambidextrous layout is not ergonomically good. Why the choice to even go that route is beyond me. My 2 cents...

May I either see or can you describe what is not good about Edladdin's ambidextrous layout.  I want to give my aspiring-professional analysis once I see it.  Is it a  vertical layout, in which case I described that problem literally 30 minutes ago.  Something else I'll talk about later as I see it.

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2 minutes ago, AtariBrian said:

Said no one in the history of the world!!!

Actually it was an attempt to combine a paddle and a joystick in One controller but also turn a one-dimensional paddle into a two-dimensional one.  Except literally for Warlords, Breakout, Kaboom, and Star Wars Arcade, I see no purpose for a non-self-centering stick.

 

But that was Atari's logic at the time from where I see it.  The intellivision use the 16 ways to simulate a paddle by rotating your finger on the paddle.  The Colecovision had the Speed Wheel that wasn't used until the Super Action Controller.  You could see the direction in the industry was going in at that time.

 

Later we found out it was directly into a brick wall.

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