[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Rampant Inflation

July 5th, 2010 by Benj Edwards

Dig Dug Atari 2600 5200 Ad - 1983So that’s what belly buttons are for. (Dig Dug)

[ From Electronic Games, December 1983 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, which is the superior system: Atari 2600 or Atari 5200? And I’m not talking tech specs.

9 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Rampant Inflation”

  1. jjjiii Says:

    The Atari 2600, hands down, was a better system overall.

    Two main reasons:

    1) Game catalog. Atari 2600 had a vast catalog. Granted, a huge number of the games released for the 2600 sucked and contributed to the great glut of 1983. But if you look only at the great titles for the 2600, I’ll bet that that number is still larger than the total number of games released for the 5200. While many of the 5200’s titles were simply technically superior versions of arcade titles that also existed on the 2600, the 2600 had many unique games that never got ported to the 5200, and gave great gameplay.

    2) Controllers. The Atari 5200’s controllers were the bane of that system. They were awful, non-centering sticks, and broke frequently. They also used the 10-key pad, which was for some reason common on many systems of its era (Colecovision and Intellivision both incorporated 10-key pads into their stock controllers as well), but the additional 10 keys didn’t do much to improve gameplay. Someone should have told designers that when people play videogames, it’s not at all like dialing a phone. If the 5200 hadn’t been crippled with such inferior controls, it might have been more of a contest.

  2. t3hfr3ak Says:

    2600, It had so many games that I absolutely loved, DigDug, Taz, Donkey Kong, so many more that I will never ever remember, had like an RPG game to that was totally epic.

  3. Jurgi Says:

    @Game catalog. I believe, all 2600 games may be ported for 5200. Of course it’s not possible in reality, but maybe it is possible to automate this? Anyway, until it is done, game catalog argument is absolutely valid.
    @Controlles. I haven’t hold 5200 controllers in my life, but I can imagine, how unhandy and irrtating it may be.

    Summary: I must agree with jjjiii. 🙂

  4. Zoyous Says:

    Wasn’t the 5200 backwards compatible with the 2600?

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    Zoyous, the 5200 was compatible if you bought the CX-55 2600 Cartridge Adapter:


    The Atari 7800 was backwards-compatible with the 2600 out of the box.

    The 5200 was actually a consolized version of the Atari 8-bit computer line. Most of its games were barely modified ports from the Atari 800.

  6. GamesOgre Says:

    I think “jjjiii” hit the nail on the head with the faulty controller issue for the Atari 5200. For that reason alone, I rarely touch the 5200. Which game is better? The one you can play…thus, the 2600 wins!

  7. SirPaul Says:

    Honestly, I believe the 2600 is better because of all the reasons jjjiii said. It didn’t have the best hardware, even for its time, but the programmers managed to figure out how to take advantage of everything and use some crazy tricks to port all the good arcade games of the time. Granted, some of them aren’t that great (see Pac-Man), but that was mostly bad/lazy programming, rather than the hardware issue.

    Now, if we were to add the 8-bit Atari computers to the mix (400, 800, 600XL, 800XL, 1200XL, XE Line, et cetera), then it would be a toss-up.

  8. Van Says:

    Definitely the 2600! That ubiquitous, little woodgrain console is one of the kings of early gaming. I still find myself firing up “Yar’s Revenge” from time to time. I’ve even been known to play a little “E.T.” as well, believe it or not. Go VCS!

  9. barto Says:

    really cool blog with nice retro-stuff!!! 🙂

    found it through a link on wikipedias page about the r-zone!

    cheers from germany,


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