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Classic Pac

Are 5200 Controllers As Bad As Everyone Says

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1 hour ago, tripletopper said:

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.

I'm not sure what "post" you're talking about, but the OP never mentioned "verticalness" of the CX-52.  He mentions their reliability, but not anything regarding "verticalness".

 

1 hour ago, tripletopper said:

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.

If by "well published", you mean that YOU have posted it probably 100 times, with no one inquiring about it or reacting to it...then yes I'd agree that it's "well published."

 

1 hour ago, tripletopper said:

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

I stand by my reply.

 

1 hour ago, tripletopper said:

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". 

 

No...a Paddle controller is perfect for games like Warlords, Super Breakout and Kaboom!...I'm not familiar with Kabion...so I can't speak to that game.  An analog joystick may "work" for games that were programmed for Paddle controllers...but they are a far cry from perfect.  

 

1 hour ago, tripletopper said:

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.

There is no Atari collection for the 5200...there are individual games for the 5200...which are original games, meant to be played with the controllers they were intended to be played with.  This comment has no bearing on this topic...once again.  

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2 minutes ago, doubledown said:

I'm not sure what "post" you're talking about, but the OP never mentioned "verticalness" of the CX-52.  He mentions their reliability, but not anything regarding "verticalness".

 

 

Post 6 in this chain, from GoldenWheels.

 

About that was a typo...  It supposed to be Kaboom.

 

Actually Kaboom, Star Wars Arcade Missile Command, and Super Breakout, all work well with a non-self-centering controller.  I admit it's not a dial but a non-self-centering stick for those games is better than a self-centering stick for those games .

 

And I was bringing up a way you could bring the paddle feel of the original 2600 panel controllers (kinda, it's the most important thing is a dial that does not recenter) on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Atari Flashback.  I know there's three volumes on PlayStation and Xbox but the Switch is one collection and the "paddle games" are distributed throughout all 3 game collections.

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3 minutes ago, tripletopper said:

 

 

 

 

Actually Kaboom, Star Wars Arcade Missile Command, and Super Breakout, all work well with a non-self-centering controller.  I admit it's not a dial but a non-self-centering stick for those games is better than a self-centering stick for those games .

 

 

Just stop!!

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They are really bad. There's something about the console and the carts that I find very appealing, but I absolutely hate the controllers. I also hate the way the power and rf cable are combined in a stupid switchbox, but that's a whole other issue...

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13 minutes ago, Noah98 said:

They are really bad. There's something about the console and the carts that I find very appealing, but I absolutely hate the controllers. I also hate the way the power and rf cable are combined in a stupid switchbox, but that's a whole other issue...

 

The later two port units do not require or have that funky switching unit for RF.  There are adapter cables to allow you to use a "REAL" analog joystick.  And a multicart will save you a boatload of space.

 

5200.thumb.PNG.9e9b0cdb699c88e7fdded4481e761bba.PNG

 

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When I was a kid in 1981 or whatever, and had a launch 5200 where the controllers degraded under heavy use until the buttons stopped working e.g. "Start". So I had all these games and I couldn't play 99% of them and I was unable at the time to fix them, so I am a veteran of this world. :lol: 

 

That said.. "bad" at what? 

 

Reliability? As far as the originals out of the box, yes. 100% 

 

Control? It depends on the game As long as they were functional, I had zero problems with the non-centering sticks. It's a myth that 5200 Pacman/Ms. Pac didn't work well with it. They play fine. However it did NOT work well for the tricky parts of Montezuma's Revenge for example. :)  So yeah it depends. I think they control fine at the end of the day.. if they worked (which is a big IF).  It was worthless to be able to start Space Dungeon but could not shoot to the X < 0 coordinates :lol:

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The potentiometers I don't think ever broke.  It was those Space Age buttons that don't feel substantial 

 

both the 5200 buttons and the super action controller buttons for the ColecoVision always had problems.

 

Best Electronics made a forever button mod but the joystick is relatively reliable,  assuming you assemble it correctly.

 

Also I thought of another use for that bohoki adapter you got for your PC joystick.  I'm hoping you could pad hack an NES Style PC 15 pin joystick and hook it up to a "naked" fight stick and you have a digital joystick for the Atari 5200 for games where you when you absolutely positively have to be neutral at a certain time.

 

Plus I found cheap 15-pin PC joysticks that I could use for those analog games where it's good to self-center.

 

Edited by tripletopper
Added extra thought.

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When I tried my thrifted 5200 some time in the late 90's, naturally the controller needed some attention.  Only contact cleaning was really required, so I either lucked out, or maybe it took another decade or two for them to get *real* bad.  But after I did clean it, and get everything at least 'working enough,' I was so unimpressed with how some of my favorite a8 games handled on the 5200 that I never played it again after that one day.  

 

However, thanks to this thread, I'm hearing that star raiders has analog control--that alone makes me kind of want to give it another shot. That's probably going to be a lot of work, though.

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On 12/30/2020 at 11:15 PM, NE146 said:

When I was a kid in 1981 or whatever, and had a launch 5200 where the controllers degraded under heavy use until the buttons stopped working e.g. "Start". So I had all these games and I couldn't play 99% of them and I was unable at the time to fix them, so I am a veteran of this world. :lol: 

 

That said.. "bad" at what? 

 

Reliability? As far as the originals out of the box, yes. 100% 

 

Control? It depends on the game As long as they were functional, I had zero problems with the non-centering sticks. It's a myth that 5200 Pacman/Ms. Pac didn't work well with it. They play fine. However it did NOT work well for the tricky parts of Montezuma's Revenge for example. :)  So yeah it depends. I think they control fine at the end of the day.. if they worked (which is a big IF).  It was worthless to be able to start Space Dungeon but could not shoot to the X < 0 coordinates :lol:

I agree that platformers would suck with non-self-centering.

 

So would any game where the stick indicates where you go.  Either fight stick or 15 Pin PC controller with Bohoki adapter.

 

But games where the stick indicates where you are, like Kaboom, and Missile Command, are the games the 5200 stick are designed for.

 

Those buttons suck .

 

Strange that your x axis broke on the left of center. But not right.   Try disassbling and rebuilding it?

 

 

 

 

 

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They basically all break. That's the objectively bad thing about them. But they break in predictable ways that are easy and cheap to fix. I replaced both of my flex circuits because they were 100% dead - contact cleaner didn't even partially bring them back. These were controllers that had barely ever been used. $2 each and about 15 minutes total and both controllers are good as new.

 

The non-centering stick... eh, I don't much like it, but I can see it being something you'd get used to if you owned the system at the time and played it a lot. Most people don't like the Intellivision controllers either, but that's what I grew up with so I don't have any problem with them.

 

The keypad, fire buttons and overall feel of the stick I think are actually pretty good. I also like that they can use overlays like the Intellivision, although I don't know what games really took advantage of that well. Atari obviously had plans for the 5200 beyond the library it ended up with.

 

So my answer to the original question is yes and no. There are both good and bad things about the 5200 controllers. But they're not unusable... unless they're broken, which they will be unless you fix them.

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On 12/30/2020 at 10:43 PM, Omega-TI said:

 

The later two port units do not require or have that funky switching unit for RF.  There are adapter cables to allow you to use a "REAL" analog joystick.  And a multicart will save you a boatload of space.

 

5200.thumb.PNG.9e9b0cdb699c88e7fdded4481e761bba.PNG

 

I have an original four port system, and I've never been able to find an easy to follow guide to mod it for av and to separate the video and power. The two port systems are nice, but I barely have room for one 5200, let alone two! I did buy a cheap adapter here to use other controllers, so that makes the system playable. I still think the original controllers are terrible, mostly because they are unreliable and require a lot of maintenance. I wish there were affordable third party controller options.

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On 12/30/2020 at 4:07 PM, tripletopper said:

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". 

 

The 5200 sticks are not free floating, they are self centering in a half ass way with the rubber boots, which makes things even worse.  When brand new, they would return to center.  After a few hours of use, the boots breaks in and you get a partial return to center from whatever direction the stick was pushed.

 

Atari could have done much better had they used a spring return setup like on the Kraft PC joysticks.  And even better if they used latches to unlock the self centering and allow free floating on X or Y axis.

 

On 12/28/2020 at 6:38 AM, Classic Pac said:

"I heard a 5200 controller will break even if you look it at".

 

Lol! You don't even need to look at them.  Just being in earth's atmosphere causes the carbon dots to lose conductivity over several weeks.

Back in the 90s I painted the dots with the copper resin used in an automotive rear window defogger repair kit.  It worked great for several years but eventually broke down.

I then did the foil dots and haven't had to take a controller apart in probably 20 years.

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1 hour ago, Noah98 said:

I have an original four port system, and I've never been able to find an easy to follow guide to mod it for av and to separate the video and power.

What? This is a pinned thread right here in the AA 5200 forum. It’s the definitive guide.

 

 

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11 hours ago, tripletopper said:

Strange that your x axis broke on the left of center. But not right.   Try disassbling and rebuilding it?

Well, that was almost 35-40 years ago at this point :lol: Those sticks are long long gone.  I have a good pair of functioning 5200 controllers today of course. Actually I don't fully remember exactly which direction it couldn't move.. however it could not move in a certain direction and this seemed to be common (maybe it was UPWARDS?). It's been a while :)   

 

But regarding that, when I was a kid I had about 6 controllers (all of them my mom bought me in an attempt to help), none of which worked and I also had a Wico joystick, but I didn't have the keypad so getting games to start was still a problem 😛

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To quote Scotty from Star Trek 3: the more they overthink the plumbing,  the easier it is to stop the drain.

 

The 5200 joystick was Atari overthinking the plumbing.

 

I always assumed the 5200 controllers were DESIGNED as non self centering joysticks ( only hearing horror stories until I picked up one on a Ken Awesome thrift trip, )  for use with Kaboom and Super Breakout and Star Wars Arcade.  It turned out to be an accident from a poor centering mechanism that broke.

 

 

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On 12/28/2020 at 9:56 PM, doubledown said:

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!?! 

I suspect that GORF may have been a case of the port being rushed before the analog control could be implemented in a more sensible way. Or that maybe it was a deliberate, albeit ill-advised design choice with the idea that you can move and aim more freely and precisely--in theory. It makes for a weird port of GORF, but it can be gotten used to by gamers with the inclination, and I appreciate that the game has a different wrinkle to it.

 

As for Galaxian, I think the variable ship speed is helpful for both lining up shots (slow) and evasive maneuvers (fast). 🤷‍♂️ 

 

Different strokes, I guess!

On 12/28/2020 at 9:56 PM, doubledown said:

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.  

If you're not a die-hard 5200 fan but you want to play that 90% of the 5200 library with a digital controller, what you really want is an Atari 400/800.

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4 hours ago, BassGuitari said:

If you're not a die-hard 5200 fan but you want to play that 90% of the 5200 library with a digital controller, what you really want is an Atari 400/800.

Or just build yourself a proper controller for the 5200...and then enjoy the 5200:

 

rOfk1J.png

 

🙂

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13 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

What? This is a pinned thread right here in the AA 5200 forum. It’s the definitive guide.

 

 

I've seen this. Maybe I'm missing something, but it doesn't look like a step by step guide to me. I've modded a Colecovision and Atari 7800 before, and for both, there were guides that walked you through. I guess I just don't feel confident messing with my system based on a couple screenshots.

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5 hours ago, doubledown said:

Or just build yourself a proper controller for the 5200...and then enjoy the 5200:

 

rOfk1J.png

 

🙂

if those are self-centering analog controls then you got everything a proper 5200 needs, either a left-handed, right-handed or two-handed joystick that centers properly, with two action buttons and a keypad. (Can the buttons be reversed for games like tutankham, with a left and right fire?  If using index to index mapping, one of the 2 hands would be backwards for tutankham.)

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19 hours ago, doubledown said:

Or just build yourself a proper controller for the 5200...and then enjoy the 5200:

 

rOfk1J.png

 

🙂

Wasn't Space Dungeon ported to the 400/800? 😜

 

(Very nice build, though! 👍)

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42 minutes ago, BassGuitari said:

Wasn't Space Dungeon ported to the 400/800? 😜

 

(Very nice build, though! 👍)

Not originally, somebody converted the 5200 (and only ever official) version at some point.  And seeing as that I had already built a Robotron: 2084 themed controller for the 8-bit / 7800, I wanted to make something different and appropriate/unique for the 5200.  

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To answer the original question, as someone who got a brand-new 5200 for Christmas 198x that was practically DOA (controller-wise) fresh out of the box:

 

The sticks weren't as bad as people say, but the buttons were much worse, and the ergonomics stank.

 

If I still owned a 5200, I'd probably look for a Jaguar-to-5200 controller adapter. Back in the day we eventually got an Electra Concepts Masterplay 5200 Interface, and that turned the 5200 from a near-doorstop into a fun system.

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Copper foil dot the contacts....never have to worry about it again......Also, for games that use analog style controls they work very well....but games that need digital style control they're not as optimal.  For what they are inclined to do well with YES they do very well......in spite of that, a fixed one will still work for digital games...The 5200 should have come with 2 types of controllers....the original for analog style control, and another for digital.

 

Missile Command is for example...best played with the Trak-ball.....but if not...a 5200 controller will destroy any digital controller in that context.

Edited by inthe80s

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