Atari 5200 – Nobody’s Hotter Than Atari This Summer TV Promo (1983)
Well, it’s hard to imagine how this commercial could be any more 80s. Based on the commercial, I’m not sure I agree with the premise that nobody was hotter than Atari. Certainly the market didn’t agree.
In all seriousness, the Atari 5200 should have been a killer console. It was based on the Atari 8-bit computer line (internally, they were virtually the same) which was a killer game platform at the time. Unfortunately, there were a few fatal flaws.
The biggest was probably the timing of its release. It came out when the video game market was going through its biggest downturn in history. No matter how good it was, it would have been hard to make up for that.
The 2nd biggest problem were the joysticks. Analog joysticks that gave you more control probably sounded like a good idea at the time but the implementation was horrible. They were non-self centering, unreliable and the games of the time weren’t really designed with analog in mind.
Another problem was the software library. Instead of moving more resources to develop games for the 5200, Atari was still expending the bulk of its effort in developing games for the older Atari 2600. Many of the games initially available for the 5200 were simply updates to 2600 games. The pack-in game was Super Breakout which is not exactly the kind of game that demonstrates technological superiority.
Finally, it was more expensive than it needed to be. It had extra bulk in part because of a controller storage area in the back, it had four controller ports which might have been nice for a very limited number of games but was probably an unnecessary expense, it originally had a weird auto RF adapter combined with power that I imagine was more expensive that a basic power adapter and RF switch and the analogy controllers were probably more expensive to make than they typical digital ones. Some of these things were later addressed by it was too little too late. The Atari 5200 was only on the market for a couple of years before being discontinued though it did manage to sell a million consoles which is pretty impressive all things considered.