• Tag Archives 5200
  • Berzerk (Atari 2600/5200)

    Source: Atari Age – Volume 1, Number 2 – July August 1982

    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.

    berzerk_5200


  • Centipede (Atari 5200)

    Centipede (Atari 5200)

    http://darth-azrael.tumblr.com/post/172772493175/pandablu-centipede-atari-5200

    Centipede was another genre defining game by Atari. It was similar to Space Invaders in that you operated from the bottom the screen at things coming towards you. The differences are higher speed, more varied objects and the ability to move vertically to some degree. It was one further step towards the vertical scrolling shooters that would soon come along.

    In Centipede, the goal is to destroy centipedes and other bugs that infest your garden. The centipede weaves its way back and forth across the screen, changing directions whenever it encounters a mushroom. Periodically other menaces will come along like the spider that bounces across the screen, the scorpion that crawls across or the flea that dive bombs you. To make things more difficult, the centipede breaks into multiple pieces any time you hit a part other than the head or tail. As levels progress, the bugs get faster and faster.

    There were many home ports of centipede. The Atari 5200 version, which is essentially the same as the Atari 8-bit computer version, is a very good port and was a nice step up graphically from the Atari 2600 version. For the best experience you can use a trackball instead of a joystick to mimic the arcade experience.

    There have been a number of releases of the arcade version of Centipede and the Atari 7800 version has been released via the Atari Flashback consoles. However, as far as I am aware there has never been a re-release of the Atari 5200 or Atari 8-bit versions. To play these you will have to track down some original hardware and software or resort to emulation. If you have never played centipede (and I can’t imagine there are that many people who call themselves gamers that haven’t), you should definitely try at least one version. The arcade version is best of course but the vast majority of home ports are very good as well. Even the Atari 2600 version plays well even if the graphics are a step down.





  • Atari Club Christmas Catalog (1984)

    Atari Club was and Atari fan club of sorts you could join for $1. For your dollar you got a subscription to Atari Age and discounts on various Atari merchandise. This catalog was also mailed out to club members for the Christmas 1984 season and includes various discounts and deals. I’m not sure how these compared to what you could get at your local K-Mart (or wherever) though.

    Atari had so much cool stuff in 1984 but it is a shame they could not get their marketing and pricing right. Their lineup was too complicated and innovation in terms of new games was at a low point. It is interesting to look at this catalog and get an idea of what their strategy was though.

    That’s a pretty ugly cover. I don’t think the ceramic Christmas tree joystick topper was an actual product thank goodness.

    This page has various accessories and other Atari related paraphernalia. A few of those things would be neat to have today like that Atari mug (7), hat and scarf (5), and that VCS carrying case (9). I think I have one of those “Modular Cartridge Library” game holders (3). Trackballs, joysticks and other game and game system storage devices are here as well. Those remote control joyst