This ad for the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 versions of Galaxian is from the August/September 1983 issue of Video Games Player. For more info on the Atari 2600 version of Galaxian, see this post. For the Atari 5200 version, see this post.
- Category Archives Atari 5200
Berzerk, as one of THE classic arcade games, of course received ports to Atari’s home video game systems of the day. First up was the Atari 2600 version in 1982 (the original arcade version had been released in 1980). Because Berzerk was a fairly simple game graphically speaking, the Atari 2600 manages a good representation. Sure, the colors aren’t quite as bright and the sounds not as rich but the game play is still there and it is easily recognizable as the same game. Game play is fairly simple as well. You control a stick figure that navigates simple single screen mazes while avoiding evil robots. You and the robots are armed with lasers and the walls are electrified. Getting touched by a laser, robot or wall will kill you. Your goal is simply to make it to the other side of the screen to progress to the next one.
The one big thing that the Atari 2600 version was missing, however, was speech synthesis. The arcade version of Berzerk was the first arcade game to feature speech synthesis but this was not something the Atari 2600 could easily handle. However, there was a hacked version of Berzerk for the 2600 released in 2002 that had speech added. When Berzerk was ported to the Atari 5200 the year following the 2600 release, speech was added. The Atari 5200 also features slightly better graphics as you might expect. However, because of the crappy Atari 5200 controllers, it really isn’t as much fun to play as the 2600 version despite its other advantages.
The only other official port of Berzerk was for the Vectrex. An Atari 8-bit port was planned that would have been identical to the Atari 5200 version (but with better controllers) but for some reason it was cancelled.
If you collect original cartridges for the 2600 or 5200 then this is definitely one to pick up. It’s a fun game and pretty easy to find. There aren’t a lot of options for playing this game as I’m not aware of any re-releases of the original. The Atari 2600 version or a hacked version for the Atari 8-bit computers is probably the best way to go to play on original hardware. Otherwise, the original arcade version is the way to go if you are using emulation.
The ad above is for the Atari 2600 version of Berzerk and is from the July/August 1982 issue of Atari Age. The screen shot is from the Atari 5200 version of the game.
Galaxian (Atari 5200)
Galaxian was the predecessor to the ultimately more popular Galaga. It was sort of a halfway point between the evolution from games like Space Invaders, to somewhat more advanced games like Galaga and had elements of both. The Atari 5200 was an excellent machine for this game because it had the power to deliver a near arcade experience. Having said this, the Atari 5200 version was not as good as it should have been.
The sound and graphics on the Atari 5200 version were very good, especially compared to the Atari 2600. Still, they probably should have been just a touch better. Especially since six 6 years had passed since the original arcade version came out in 1979 to when the Atari 5200 version was released in 1985. However, the real problem is with the standard Atari 5200 controllers. They were terrible and ruined many otherwise decent games. In the case of Galaxian, it can be played with the track ball controller and this is definitely the way to go with this game. So if you are playing on a real system, go the extra mile and hunt down a trackball controller. The other option of course is emulation. But in this case, you might as well play the arcade version. The Atari 5200 version is good but other than nostalgia for that machine and particular version of the game, there’s no reason to recommend it over the arcade version. However, for those preferring to play on the original hardware, this game is a pretty easy one to find and definitely worth picking up if you don’t already have it.