Atari 5200 FAQ
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
April 09, 2001
Maintained by Keita Iida
assisted by John Hardie
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John Vivian Matthews
Russ Perry, Jr.
Ralph Barbagallo (RB)
Edward A. Brunner (EB)
Clint Dyer (CD)
Kevan Hearn (KHe)
Kevin Horton (KH)
Keita Iida (KI)
Jeffry Johnston (JJ)
Todd Lawrence (TL)
John Vivian Matthews (JVM)
Daniel A. Mazurowski (DAM)
Dan Mowczan (DM)
Daniel Edward Reinholtz (DER)
Tony Salvaro (TS)
Mike St.Clair (MSC)
Jay Tilton (JT)
Casey Wales (CW)
Bert Whetstone (BW)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
by Sean Kelly
1.0) General Information
1.1 — What is the Atari 5200 SuperSystem?
1.2 — Did you know?
2.0) Cartridge Information
2.1 — Atari 5200 game list
2.2 — Label/game/box variations
2.3 — Games believed not to exist
2.4 — The best and worst 5200 games
2.5 — General software info, tidbits, cheats and easter eggs
2.6 — What’s the REAL story behind Cloak and Dagger?
2.7 — What games are compatible with the Trak-ball controller?
2.8 — What is the 5200 Multicart and how can I get one?
3.0) Hardware Information
3.1 — Hardware known to exist
3.2 — Hardware believed not to exist
3.3 — General hardware tidbits
3.4 — What was the top-secret “Puffer Project”?
4.0) Technical Info and Hardware Specifications
4.1 — Hardware specifications
4.2 — Hardware overview
4.3 — Memory map
4.4 — BIOS
4.5 — 5200 controller pinout
4.6 — Cartridge slot pinout
4.7 — Expansion port pinout
4.8 — What are the differences between the 2-port and 4-port
4.9 — How can the 4-port model be modified to work with the
VCS cartridge adapter?
4.10 – 2-port production modifications
4.11 – Logic board IC chip functions
4.12 – Differences between the 5200 and Atari 8-bit computers
4.13 – Chroma/Luma (composite video) and audio output
4.14 – How do I build a switchbox for the 4-port 5200?
5.0) Maintenance, Replacement and Repair Tips
5.1 — 5200 console
5.2 — 5200 controllers
5.21 — Cleaning and maintenance
5.22 — Replacing and repairing 5200 controllers
6.0) Alternatives to the Standard Controllers
6.1 — Third party joystick controllers
6.2 — Masterplay Interface
6.3 — Build your own 2600 joystick adapter
6.4 — PC analog joystick to 5200 adapter
6.5 — Converting a standard 5200 joystick to a paddle
6.6 — Where can I purchase replacement 5200 controllers?
Where can I get my 5200 controllers fixed?
7.0) Atari 5200 Emulators
8.0) Other Resources
8.1 — Internet Resources
8.11 — World Wide Web Pages
8.12 — USENET Newsgroups
8.13 — Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
8.14 — FTP Sites
9.0) Atari 5200 Dealers
BY SEAN KELLY
I don’t know that I would call myself anything of an expert on the
Atari 5200, but I have played virtually every game for the system and
actually like many of them whereas I’m not a real big fan of the
The one thing that comes to most people’s minds when the subject of
the 5200 is brought up is its God-forsaken controllers, and
rightfully so – they’re undoubtedly one of the worst controllers made
for any system in my opinion. However, the problem that I’d like to
address for a few here is the fact that its lousy controllers have
overshadowed the system overall which is NOT cool. Intellivision
fans have dealt with what most people consider awful controllers, but
they still enjoy many of the good games Mattel put out for the system
so it doesn’t make much sense why the 5200’s faults can’t be
overlooked in the controller department – or does it.
Atari launched the 5200 on the heels of what was (and still is) one
of the most popular videogame systems of all time – the 2600. A
system that set a standard for controllers to be followed for
decades. Mattel went in its own direction from day one and pretty
much went after people looking for a little more out of their video-
games. Not necessarily “more” overall, but in terms of involvement.
While the 2600 has several different types of controllers available
for it, the system’s basic capabilities just didn’t offer the
programmer much of a chance to get too far into their games no matter
what controller they programmed it for.
So as game systems advanced and Atari began to realize that there was
only so much that programmers were going to be able to get out of the
2600, they came up with what was called the “Video System X” in its
early stages of development. The system was to have a keypad like
Intellivision and Colecovision, probably an excellent idea on Atari’s
part as it allows for a much wider array of gameplay options, but
then they apparently felt they had to revolutionize the controller
industry once again and decided to attach an analog joystick to that
The 2600’s controllers are what’s called “digital,” meaning you are
either pressing a button or you’re not. The joystick itself is
simply a set of four buttons under the stick that you unknowingly
press when you move the joystick in a direction. An analog signal
measures HOW FAR you’re moving the joystick which, here again I have
to admit, does make for some interesting gameplay options, but since
the 5200’s sticks do not spring back to the center position when you
let go of the stick it’s difficult to get used to.
Who’s gonna complain about the keypad they came out with though?
Start, pause and reset right on the controller? Gotta like that a
Now the games made for the 5200 are a completely different story and
pretty much the whole point of my writing here. Most of the games on
the system are fantastic! If you look at the games released for the
Atari 400/800, which uses standard digital joysticks, they were
excellent in many cases. The computer didn’t have the controller
problems the 5200 had and the games and computer were very well
received. Since the 5200 is nothing more than an Atari 8-bit 400/800
with a few minor modifications, like games, for the most part, are
quite similar, if not exactly carbon copies! Of course, the 5200 had
many games that were not available on its 8-bit computer counterpart
(and quite a few games that were available for both systems were
superior on the 5200), so it’s definitely worth getting into if you
haven’t already. Some of the classic ports are excellent and still
not found on any other system. Space Dungeon immediately springs to
Some of the third-party controllers you will find described here
overcome the problems of Atari’s controller and could practically be
called life-savers for the system. Check into a Competition Pro or
Wico joystick if you absolutely cannot stand the Atari sticks.
Better still is the Masterplay Interface if you can get your hands
on one – they’re pretty hard to come by.
Judging the system by its controllers sucks in my opinion. Try and
work around them if you can’t deal with them and you’ll be treated to
a library of some of the very best games ever made!
1.0) GENERAL INFORMATION
1.1 — WHAT IS THE ATARI 5200 SUPERSYSTEM?
The Atari 5200 SuperSystem premiered in 1982, and was the successor
to the venerable VCS (2600) which dominated the first wave of
cartridge-based home videogame systems. The 5200 offered improved
graphics and several features not found on any other system during
When the 5200 was first unveiled, Atari had solid reasons for
optimism. After all, beneath the sleek, uncluttered exterior of the
unit lurked the throbbing power of a 16K computer designed
specifically to play high-quality games. The heart of the Super
System was, in essence, an Atari 400/800 computer, the most powerful
8-bit home computer system of its era, and thus games could
theoretically be easily (and rapidly) ported between the two
The controllers have a small calculator-sized numeric keypad and two
fire buttons are located at each side. The controller was a gallant
attempt at cross-breeding the trak-ball and conventional joystick. It
uses an analog control mechanism, offering a full 360 degrees of
mobility instead of the usual 4 or 8 positions. There is a speed
control built-in, which, on specific cartridges, allows the player to
speed up the action. The harder the stick is pushed to any given
direction, the faster the on-screen moving object will zip across the
playfield. Also found on the controller is a “pause” button which
enables the player to put any game on hold for as long as he likes.
This now-standard feature on modern systems was first pioneered on
the 5200. Atari’s attempt at revolutionizing the joystick, however,
turned out to be a mixed bag. The controllers do not self-center,
making games like Pole Position and Star Raiders a joy to play. On
the other hand, games that demand precise, 4-way input from the
player (like Pac-Man) can be an exercise in frustration for many
gamers. In addition, the joysticks are infamous for being among the
most unreliable controllers ever made.
In addition to the then-futuristic but flakey controllers, the
SuperSystem offered several other advancements in hardware design.
4-port 5200 systems utilized a special switch box where the power
supply plugs directly into the switch box and not the system itself.
Furthermore, the switch box was automatic, meaning the user was no
longer required to walk to the back of the television and select
between “TV” or “Game” each time to select the mode he or she
desired (later 2-port systems reverted back to the standard RF
switchbox found in just about ever other game console.) In
addition, a special feature only found in the 5200 put the screen
on silent black when you change cartridges (no more raspy white
Although the 5200 enjoyed moderate success during its heyday, the
gaming public never completely warmed to the SuperSystem, and the
“Great Videogame Crash of 1983” helped to seal its fate along with
the rest of the home videogame consoles. It should be noted,
however, that the 5200 was outselling the Colecovision when Atari
decided to pull the plug on its advanced video game system in 1984.
The software selection at launch consisted mostly of proven but tired
classics that failed to utilize the 5200’s audio/visual talents.
Titles such as Super Breakout, Galaxian and Space Invaders were
unsuccessful in generating excitement among gamers who were looking
for the “next wave” in console gaming. Once the system passed
through its introductory period, however, Atari began to liberally
salt the 5200 library with glittering new gems like Qix, Vanguard,
Robotron:2084, Space Dungeon, Pengo, Joust and Ms. Pac-Man. Atari
also had first call on games marketed by its coin-op arm, which
brought arcade hits such as Dig Dug, Pole Position and Centipede
home. By the time the 5200 was settled in with a respectable library
of quality titles, however, it was too late. The Great Crash of 1983
was well under way, and the 5200 joined the likes of Colecovision,
Vectrex, Intellivision and others as the home console market came
crumbling down. As a result, there is an inordinately high number of
prototypes which exist for the 5200.
Upon hindsight, the reasons as to why the 5200 never became the sales
success that Atari had hoped are quite apparent. Despite being a
large company for its time, not even a behemoth like Atari had the
means to support four product lines with quality games for each
(2600, 5200, 400/800 and coin-op). Resources which should have been
allocated for 5200 game development went instead to the 2600, a
system which was on its last legs and already saturated with software
from Atari and its third party publishers. In addition, the fact
that the 5200 was not compatible with the 2600 put off many 2600
owners who had accumulated a substantial library of games for the
system (a VCS adapter which allowed 2600 games to be played on the
5200 was later released). Furthermore, although the 5200 was a
quantum leap beyond the 2600 in terms of technology, the SuperSystem
was not that much better than Colecovision and Vectrex. But perhaps
the main factor that led to the doom of the 5200 — and, for that
matter, the entire home gaming industry — was the result of the
rapid price drop of affordable game-oriented computers like the Atari
800XL and Commodore 64, both of which were sub-$300 gaming machines
that also doubled as computing and productivity devices.
Today, the Atari 5200 is a favorite among retrogamers, nostalgists
and collectors. While many of the coin-op translations have
subsequently been improved upon by modern systems, there are
an abundance of compelling games that no gamer should be without.
Space Dungeon, Rescue on Fractalus, Qix, Beamrider, Gremlins, Bounty
Bob Strikes Back (the spectacular sequel to Miner 2049er), Pengo,
Wizard of Wor, Berzerk, Missile Command and Centipede are some of the
shining stars among the impressive repertoire of 5200 cartridges.
The latter two are especially enjoyable when played with the optional
Trak-ball controller. For those who are more gamer than collector
and have $125 to burn, he or she can purchase a 5200 multicart from
Sean Kelly. Not only does the multicart contain every released game
in the 5200 library, but virtually every prototype game known to
exist is included as well! And that’s a good thing when you consider
that the SuperSystem has an outrageously large amount of prototypes,
some of which are fantastic. (Jr. Pac-Man, Xari Arena, Meebzork,
Millipede and Track and Field come to mind).
Despite its relative small library of games and being a lukewarm
seller in the early 1980s (compared to the 2600), the Atari 5200
has a significant following of die-hard enthusiasts and collectors
who recognize its excellence as a gaming machine. And that, folks,
speaks volumes about a home videogame system that rode off into the
sunset over a decade ago!
1.2 — DID YOU KNOW?
The 5200 was originally conceived as Atari’s answer to Mattel’s
Intellivision, NOT the Colecovision as many people think. As an
example, the 5200’s analog joystick was a response to Mattel touting
its unit having 16 positions of movement compared to the 2600’s
eight. Atari’s plan was to upstage the Intellivision in this area by
creating an analog controller with 360 degrees of full motion
The 5200 was created at a time when poor marketing and questionable
company policy ran rampant within Atari. The 5200 controller was
developed by an individual who had NEVER even played a single video
game in his life! Response to the controllers from focus groups and
clinics were poor, but the marketing arm stubbornly insisted on
releasing the system with the “groundbreaking” elements intact. In
addition, the controller was partially influenced by corporate policy
where hardware designers and engineers were offered bonuses for
creating designs that received patents. Not surprisingly, many
engineers and designers developed hardware that were innovative
for the sake of being “original”, with complete disregard for
The engineers were so adamant in their disapproval of the 5200’s
controllers that they sent a petition to the director of engineering
in hopes that the non-centering joystick would not be released in its
The wedge-shape design of the 5200 was influenced mainly by the 2700
(aka. “RC Stella”), a prototype remote-controlled 2600. Other 2700
design features, such as the side-mounted fire buttons and the non-
self-centering joystick mechanism, carried over to the 5200 design as
The Atari 3600 (aka. “Silvia”) was originally planned as the
successor to the 2600. Silvia’s bizarre 10-bit chip set (similar to
the Intellivision) was designed in 1978-79. One must remember that
the shelf life of typical home videogame systems during this period
was generally two years at most, and Atari did not, in its wildest
dreams, foresee the 2600 becoming the awesome videogaming force that
it eventually became. The 3600 was killed by the game programmers
who complained that it was too difficult to program games for the
machine (as if 2600 game development was any cakewalk).
Code names had always been popular at Warner Atari. The VCS was
internally referred to as “Stella,” the 400 computer was “Candy,” the
800 was “Coleen” and the 5200 was nicknamed “Pam.” All of the
aforementioned machines were named after well-endowed female
employees who were working at Atari. The 5200 was unique in that
Atari strongly considered using Pam as the actual name of the unit
before changing it to “Video System X” and eventually deciding on
5200. Why? Because it would have been the abbreviation for
“Personal Arcade Machine.”
2.0) CARTRIDGE INFORMATION
2.1 — ATARI 5200 GAME LIST
Rarity Ratings are as follows:
C-, C, C+ —- Common
U-, U, U+ —- Uncommon
R-, R, R+ —- Rare
ER-, ER, ER+ – Extremely Rare
UR ———– Unbelievably Rare
PROTO ——– Prototype only
NR ———– Not believed to exist, even as a prototype
For example, an ER cart would be slightly more common than an ER+
and harder to find than an ER- game.
GAMES THAT WERE RELEASED OR HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED TO EXIST
Title Publisher Product # Rarity lay?
—– ——— ——— —— —–
A.E. Atari PROTO NO
ASTEROIDS Atari CX 5201 PROTO NO
ASTRO CHASE Parker Brothers 9560 R+ NO
BALLBLAZER Atari/Lucasfilm CX 5255 R NO
BAR ROOM BASEBALL Atari PROTO NO
BATTLEZONE Atari CX 5239 PROTO NO
BEAMRIDER Activision FZ-009 ER- NO
BEHIND JAGGI LINES Atari/Lucasfilm CX 5254 PROTO NO
BERZERK Atari CX 5221 U NO
BLACK BELT Atari CX 5231 PROTO NO
BLUE PRINT CBS Electronics 80033 R- YES
BOOGIE DEMO CART Atari PROTO NO
BOUNTY BOB STRIKES BACK Big Five Soft. ER NO
BUCK ROGERS: PLANET Sega 005-02 R- NO
CENTIPEDE Atari CX 5215 C YES
CHOPLIFTER Atari CX 5253 R NO
CONGO BONGO Sega 006-02 R- NO
COUNTERMEASURE Atari CX 5210 C YES
CRAM CARTRIDGE Atari ? NO
DECATHLON Activision FZ-008 U NO
DEFENDER Atari CX 5218 C YES
DIAGNOSTIC CARTRIDGE Atari FD100144 ER NO
DIG DUG Atari CX 5211 C+ NO
DREADNAUGHT FACTOR, THE Activision FZ-005 R- NO
FAIL SAFE Atari CX 5210 PROTO NO
FINAL LEGACY Atari CX 5256 PROTO NO
FOOTBALL Atari CX 5207 C YES
FRISKY TOM Atari PROTO NO
FROGGER Parker Brothers 9530 C+ YES
FROGGER II: THREEEDEEP! Parker Brothers 9090 ER NO
GALAXIAN Atari CX 5206 C YES
GORF CBS Electronics 80013 R- YES
GREMLINS Atari CX 5257 ER- NO
GYRUSS Parker Brothers 9080 R NO
H.E.R.O. Activision FZ-007 R NO
JAMES BOND 007 Parker Brothers 9100 ER NO
JOUST Atari CX 5240 U- NO
JR. PAC-MAN Atari CX 5251 PROTO NO
JUNGLE HUNT Atari CX 5222 U- NO
JUNGLE RIVER CRUISE Atari PROTO NO
K-RAZY SHOOTOUT CBS Electronics 80503 ER+ NO
KABOOM! Activision FZ-001 U YES
KANGAROO Atari CX 5229 C+ NO
KEYSTONE KAPERS Activision FZ-006 U NO
LAST STARFIGHTER, THE Atari CX 5260 PROTO NO
LOONEY TUNES HOTEL Atari PROTO NO
MARIO BROTHERS Atari CX 5247 U+ NO
MEEBZORK Atari PROTO NO
MEGAMANIA Activision FZ-003 U NO
METEORITES Electra Concepts UR NO
MICRO-GAMMON SB Atari PROTO NO
MILLIPEDE Atari CX 5248 PROTO NO
MINIATURE GOLF Atari CX 5230 PROTO NO
MINER 2049ER Big Five Soft. BF1912 R+ NO
MISSILE COMMAND Atari CX 5202 C+ YES
MONTEZUMA’S REVENGE Parker Brothers 9460 R+ NO
MOON PATROL Atari CX 5241 U NO
MOUNTAIN KING CBS Electronics 80083 R YES
MR. DO’S CASTLE Parker Brothers 9420 ER- NO
MS. PAC-MAN Atari CX 5243 U- NO
PAC-MAN Atari CX 5208 C- YES
PENGO Atari CX 5236 R- NO
PETE’S TEST CARTRIDGE Atari PROTO NO
PITFALL! Activision FZ-004 U NO
PITFALL II Activision FZ-011 U+ NO
POLE POSITION Atari CX 5217 C+ NO
POPEYE Parker Brothers 9510 C+ NO
Q*BERT Parker Brothers 9500 C+ NO
QIX Atari CX 5121 U- YES
QUEST FOR QUINTANA ROO Sunrise Software #1603 ER- NO
REALSPORTS BASEBALL Atari CX 5209 U YES
REALSPORTS BASKETBALL Atari CX 5219 PROTO NO
REALSPORTS FOOTBALL Atari CX 5207 C YES
REALSPORTS SOCCER Atari CX 5213 C+ YES
REALSPORTS TENNIS Atari CX 5214 U+ YES
RESCUE ON FRACTALUS! Atari/Lucasfilm CX 5254 ER- NO
RIVER RAID Activision FZ-002 U YES
ROAD RUNNER Atari CX 5242 PROTO NO
ROBOTRON: 2084 Atari CX 5225 U+ NO
SOCCER Atari CX 5213 C YES
SPACE DUNGEON Atari CX 5232 U NO
SPACE INVADERS Atari CX 5204 C YES
SPACE SHUTTLE Activision FZ-012 U+ YES
SPITFIRE Atari PROTO NO
SPORT GOOFY Atari CX 5237 PROTO NO
STARGATE Atari CX 5252 PROTO NO
STAR RAIDERS Atari CX 5205 C+ YES
STAR TREK Sega 004-02 R NO
STAR WARS ROTJ: DEATH Parker Brothers 9060 ER+ NO
STAR WARS: THE ARCADE Parker Brothers 9040 R+ NO
SUPER BREAKOUT Atari CX 5203 C- YES
SUPER COBRA Parker Brothers 9550 R NO
SUPER PAC-MAN Atari PROTO NO
TEMPEST Atari CX 5220 PROTO NO
TICKER TAPE DEMO Atari PROTO NO
TRACK ‘N FIELD Atari CX 5258 PROTO NO
TUMBLEWEEDS Atari PROTO NO
VANGUARD Atari CX 5216 U- NO
WIZARD OF WOR CBS Electronics 80003 R- YES
XARI ARENA Atari PROTO NO
XEVIOUS Atari CX 5246 PROTO NO
YELLOW SUBMARINE DEMO Atari PROTO NO
ZAXXON Sega 008-02 ER+ NO
ZENJI Activision FZ-010 ER NO
ZONE RANGER Activision FZ-101 R+ NO
2.2 — LABEL/GAME/BOX VARIATIONS
As far as Atari releases are concerned, there are four main cart
label variations. All Atari-released 5200 carts are similar in that
there is only a front label, and no side or end labels.
1) Games with a copyright of 1982 have a large “ATARI” logo with the
5200 logo beside it. In addition, the trademark information and
copyright dates are on the bottom edge of the front label,
underneath the illustration.
2) Games with a copyright of 1983/84 are similar to the 1982 labels,
with a few exceptions. The “Atari” logo (with the 5200 on the
side) is smaller and is shifted to the top right side of the
label. To the left of the logo, it reads “VIDEO GAME CARTRIDGE”
and “ATARI 5200 SUPERSYSTEM,” both with rather small fonts. The
trademark and copyright information is on the left side of the
3) The labels on the 1986 Atari Corporation releases are exactly like
the 1983/84 Atari Inc. carts, but with one MAJOR difference–
the title of the game is not mentioned anywhere on the cart! The
illustration on the label is the only hint of what game the cart
actually is. Of course, the game titles are typed on the front of
the box and on the instruction manual. All Ballblazer and Rescue
on Fractalus carts have this label, and the following titles are
known to have this variation as well (along with the standard 1982
or 1983/84 label):
4) Another minor variation found on Atari-released 5200 carts are
the grayish labels (as opposed to the normal silver color) in
some of the Atari Corp. releases. The label is dull-gray in
appearance like the ones found in late release 2600 and 7800
A few other Atari-released label oddities exist. For example,
there is a 1986 release of Dig Dug which has the title on the
cart, which is unlike almost any other 1986 release or re-release.
5) Football was later renamed Realsports Football. The title for
Soccer was also later changed to Realsports Soccer. Differences
in titles and slight alterations in the cart/box art work
notwithstanding, the gameplay for both titles is the same.
Both Bounty Bob Strikes Back and Miner 2049er by Big Five Software
both have two different labels. The more common of the two
variations features a picture label on a red case. A precious few
have a silver foil label with plain text, which is much more
difficult to find than the picture label carts.
Zone Ranger by Activision comes in two flavors. The earlier release
has a regular illustrated label, the type used in all other
Activision games. The later, and more common version (mostly seen
being sold by Telegames) has a silver foil label with black text.
Masterplay Interface by Electra Concepts has two different boxes.
The Masterplay was originally packaged in a small black box with
red pinstripes and no illustration. Later (and more common) units
had larger boxes with pictures and illustrations.
Several late Activision releases for the 5200 have unusual box and
manual variations. Whether it was a result of a cost-cutting
initiative or merely a foul-up on their part, we may never know.
Quite a few of the late releases come in 2600 boxes! Although they
supposedly shipped that way from the factory as brand-new 5200 carts,
the box clearly states “for Atari 2600” and in some cases states
“for Colecovision.” Some of these boxes have “for Atari 5200”
stickers pasted on the box over where it originally stated a
That’s not all. Some of the manuals included with the game were
nothing more than photocopies with shrunken down text. Some of the
manuals were also made with instructions for more than one version of
that particular game (i.e., Pitfall for the 2600, Colecovision and
Atari 5200). Finally, quite a few of the Activision releases had
either manuals for the wrong system or had NO manuals packaged with
2.3 — GAMES NOT CONFIRMED TO EXIST
Title Publisher Product #
—– ——— ———
ASTEROIDS DELUXE Atari
(Same as Asteroids?)
ASTRO GROVER Atari CX 5233
BIG BIRD HIDE ‘N SEEK Atari CX 5235
BLACK WIDOW Atari
BRISTLES First Star Soft.
BUMP ‘N JUMP Sega
CAMPAIGN ’84 Sunrise Software
CHESS Parker Brothers
CLOAK AND DAGGER Atari
CRYSTAL CASTLES Atari CX 5223
DOMINO MAN CBS Electronics 80133
DONALD DUCK Atari CX 5244
DUKES OF HAZZARD Atari
ELEVATOR ACTION Atari CX 5250
ESCAPE FROM THE Starpath
FALL GUY, THE 20th Century Fox
FLIP & FLOP First Star Soft.
FOOD FIGHT Atari CX 5245
(For Video System X)
GALAGA Atari CX 5228
GRAVITAR Atari CX 5224
HIGHWAY Atari CX 5227
INDIANA JONES AND THE Atari
TEMPLE OF DOOM
JAWBREAKER Sierra On-Line
LASER GATES Imagic
LEGACY, THE Atari
(Renamed Final Legacy)
LOCO-MOTION Atari CX 5226
LODE RUNNER Broderbund
MADDEN FOOTBALL CBS Electronics 80123
MAD PLANETS Parker Brothers
MAJOR HAVOC Atari
MARTIAL ARTS Atari CX 5231
MS. PAC-MAN Atari
MUPPET GO-ROUND Atari CX 5234
OMEGA RACE CBS 80093
ORBITER Atari CX 5250
PARTY MIX Starpath
POLARIS Tigervision 700752
POLE POSITION Atari
PURSUIT OF THE PINK Probe 2000 (Odyssey)
QUICK STEP Imagic
RABBIT TRANSIT Starpath
RISK Parker Brothers
RIVER PATROL Tigervision 700452
SATAN’S HOLLOW CBS 80143
SCRAPER CAPER Big Five Soft.
SINISTAR Atari CX 5249
SOLAR FOX CBS Electronics
SPACE DUEL Atari
SPRINGER Tigervision 700652
SPY HUNTER Sega
STAR TREK III: SEARCH Sega
STAR TREK: THE MOTION Milton Bradley
STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE Parker Brothers
SUBTERFUGE Atari CX 5238
SUPERMAN III Atari CX 5222
SURVIVAL ISLAND Starpath
SWEAT: THE DECATHLON Starpath
TANK Atari CX 5210
TANK BATTLE Atari
TOY BIZARRE Activision
TUNNEL RUNNER CBS Electronics
TUTANKHAM Parker Brothers 9540
UP ‘N DOWN Sega
WARP WARS Activision
WINGS CBS Electronics
WING WAR Imagic
WRATH OF QUINTANA ROO Sunrise Software
2.4 — THE BEST AND WORST 5200 GAMES
5200 gamers were asked to rate each game that they played, in both
graphics and gameplay, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being best). Below
are the results (ranked in order of their average gameplay scores).
In an attempt to eliminate skew, the high and low scores are dropped
when a game receives enough ratings from contributors.
Only games that have been rated by at least three voters will be
included in the poll. Otherwise, the sampling error would simply be
too large for reliable scores.
If you would like to contribute as a game rater, by all means drop me
Gameplay Graphics # Raters
——– ——– ——–
1. Montezuma’s Revenge 4.71 4.43 (7)
2. Rescue on Fractalus! 4.6 4.2 (5)
3. Space Dungeon 4.5 4.08 (12)
4. Zaxxon 4.43 4.57 (7)
5. Pitfall II 4.33 4.33 (12)
6. Star Raiders 4.27 3.8 (15)
Qix 4.27 3.73 (11)
8. Ballblazer 4.25 4.5 (8)
9. Wizard of Wor 4.22 4 (9)
10. Defender 4.15 4 (13)
11. Gyruss 4.14 3.29 (7)
12. Centipede 4.13 3.6 (15)
13. Moon Patrol 4.1 3.9 (10)
Robotron: 2084 4.1 3.7 (10)
15. Jr. Pac-Man (Proto) 4 3.75 (4)
Millipede 4 3.5 (4)
Gremlins 4 3.8 (5)
Choplifter! 4 3.14 (7)
Miner 2049er 4 3.36 (11)
Frogger II: Threeedeep! 4 4 (7)
Mountain King 4 2.89 (9)
Pengo 4 3.89 (8)
23. Pitfall! 3.9 3.6 (10)
24. Joust 3.87 3.87 (15)
25. Ms. Pac-Man 3.83 4.08 (12)
Beamrider 3.83 3.5 (6)
27. Kaboom! 3.82 3.27 (11)
28. Bounty Bob Strikes Back 3.8 3.8 (5)
Zone Ranger 3.8 3.8 (10)
30. River Raid 3.79 3.64 (14)
31. H.E.R.O. 3.75 3.75 (4)
32. Mario Bros. 3.73 3.55 (11)
33. Dig Dug 3.71 3.71 (14)
Missile Command 3.71 3.36 (14)
35. Megamania 3.7 3.6 (10)
36. Xari Arena (Proto) 3.67 3.33 (3)
Xevious (Proto) 3.67 3 (3)
Star Trek 3.67 3.56 (9)
39. Pac-Man 3.6 3.73 (15)
40. Keystone Kapers 3.56 3.78 (9)
41. Berzerk 3.54 3.08 (13)
42. Jungle Hunt 3.5 3.83 (12)
Vanguard 3.5 3.58 (12)
Dreadnaught Factor, The 3.5 4 (8)
Pole Position 3.5 3.43 (14)
46. RealSports Baseball 3.44 3.44 (9)
47. Q*Bert 3.38 3.46 (13)
48. Last Starfighter (Proto) 3.33 3.33 (3)
49. Galaxian 3.31 3.38 (16)
50. Buck Rogers 3.3 3.3 (10)
51. Frogger 3.25 3.83 (12)
Gorf 3.25 3.38 (8)
53. Kangaroo 3.2 2.87 (15)
54. Blue Print 3.08 3.5 (12)
55. RealSports Tennis 3 3.33 (6)
Mr. Do’s Castle 3 2.86 (7)
Super Cobra 3 3.33 (6)
Super Breakout 3 2.71 (17)
59. Popeye 2.92 3.15 (13)
60. Star Wars: The Arcade Game 2.89 3.11 (9)
61. RealSports Soccer 2.88 2.62 (8)
62. Countermeasure 2.79 2.93 (14)
63. Astro Chase 2.75 3.62 (8)
Meteorites 2.75 2.25 (4)
Star Wars ROTJ: Death Star 2.75 2.75 (4)
66. RealSports Football 2.73 2.64 (11)
67. Space Invaders 2.69 2.62 (13)
68. Road Runner (Proto) 2.67 2.67 (3)
Zenji 2.67 2.67 (3)
70. Decathlon 2.6 3 (5)
71. Battlezone (Proto) 2.5 2 (4)
72. Space Shuttle 2.43 3.43 (7)
73. James Bond 007 2.29 2.57 (7)
74. Congo Bongo 2.27 2.27 (11)
75. Miniature Golf (Proto) 2 2 (3)
76. Quest for Quintana Roo 1.2 2.4 (5)
PROVISIONALLY RATED (not enough responses for these games yet)
Super Pac-Man (Proto) 5 5 (2)
Centipede (“Killer”) 5 3 (1)
Tempest (Proto) 4 5 (2)
Final Legacy 3.5 3.5 (2)
Track and Field (Proto) 3.5 3.5 (2)
K-Razy Shootout 3.5 2 (2)
Black Belt (Proto) 2.5 3.5 (2)
Sport Goofy (Proto) 2 2 (2)
Looney Tunes Hotel (Proto) 2 1.5 (2)
Micro-gammon SB (Proto) 2.5 3 (2)
Spitfire (Proto) 2 3 (2)
Asteroids (Proto) 1.5 2 (2)
RealSports Basketball (Proto) 1.5 1.5 (2)
Comments from the Gamers
The ratings after each comment are the scores given by that
A “5/4” would stand for Gameplay=4 Graphics=5.
(KI) – It’s no wonder Atari canned the game. Sloppy isn’t
a brutal enough description of the controls. (1/2)
(TL) – I don’t understand it. What’s the point? Graphics are
good though. (score not given)
(BW) – One of my all time favorites on any platform! (4/5)
(KI) – Split screen, first person perspective and two player
simultaneous gameplay. Who could ask for anything more?
(DM) – How did they manage to make this game so bad? Redefined
character sets made the tanks and obstacles unscalable,
and just made the whole thing look like a bad game you
typed-in on your own 8-bit from Antic magazine or
(KI) – No wonder this game was never released. (2/2)
(TL) – This cool game taught me how to fight like a robot
instead of chicken. (4/4)
(EB) – Best home version of this game. Speech is cool! (4/4)
(KI) – A very early and unfinished fighting game. Shows
promise but the lack of collision detection makes it
hard to judge the game. (2/3)
Bounty Bob Strikes Back
(KHe)- All I can say is “WOW!” I thought Miner 2049er was great
(and it still is), but Bounty Bob is king! This game is
incredibly fun AND challenging. It takes the best
elements of Miner, then expands on them. There is so
I like about this game: Lots-o-levels, tons of strategy,
humor, warps, and a special configuration page to boot.
Even the high score entry and display pages are great.
This game is a definite 5/5 for graphics/playability.
Thank you Bill Hogue! (5/5)
(DER)- Game play is really different. Takes all the fun of
Miner 2049er out, sometimes it’s hard to tell the
difference between the two except for the different
colors. It’s really difficult to jump from one level to
another. I’ll say it again; game play is really
Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom
(DER)- A game I like except I wish they would have taken it
further and made the graphics a bit better a la
Ballblazer. A distant predecessor to games like 1942.
(DM) – My 5/5 rating is really based on the fact that this is a
port, it’s just a plain good 5200 version. Smooth moving
enemies, fantastic sound, and the trak-ball makes this
probably one of my favorite 5200 titles. (5/5)
(KHe)- Gameplay improves when using trak-ball.
(EB) – Different from (and better than) the Atari 8-bit Computer
(JJ) – Beats Atari Computer version by a mile. (5/5)
(JT) – Hate this damn game. Cheezy 3-D perspective doesn’t work
at all. (1/2)
(DER)- It’s an OK game. I liked playing it in the arcade, but
the 5200 version is kinda lame. The opening level seems
like a big splotch of yellow with some brown added to it.
(EB) – Awful, just awful. (1/2)
(TL) – The 5200’s version of Combat. (4/2)
(KI) – If you want to kill your joystick by playing this game,
be my guest. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you, though.
Decent enough game for those who don’t mind the risk of
thrashing their controllers. (2/4)
(DER)- I consider this game the “feel-good” game of the Atari
series. It seems no matter how bad you are playing, you
can always rack up a high score. I like Defender a lot,
it’s one of my all-time faves. (5/3)
(TL) – Not a big fan of the game but the graphics are
(KI) – Smooth gameplay coupled with the absence of flicker
(unlike the 2600 version) combine to make this one of
the most faithful ports of Defender on any classic
(DER)- I’ve seen better ports of this than the 5200 version, but
there’s something about Dig Dug I like that I can’t put a
finger on. An entertaining game. (3/3)
(KI) – None of the sub-games is good enough to stand on its own,
but judged as a whole it’s slightly more enjoyable than
(JT) – Friggin’ retarded control scheme. (2/5)
(TL) – What a sissy concept for a game. (2/3)
(KHe)- Looks good, but button/joystick combo that you have to
use to control Frogger’s movement is a pain. Keypad
controlling is even worse. (2/4)
(KI) – Play this game with the Masterplay and you’ll change your
mind, guys 🙂 (4/4)
Frogger II: Threeedeep!
(DER)- I like this game a lot. One of the last games I got
before they became impossible to get. As a matter of
fact, this game IS impossible to get. I like the
graphics and it’s a big improvement over the first one.
(KI) – Great sequel, but this game is bound to frustrate even
the best gamers with its absurd difficulty. (4/4)
(BW) – Looks and plays like Galaxian, but just lacks something.
(DER)- This game is haunted by the fact that the game play and
screens never change. (See also Space Invaders). I like
this better than Space Invaders, however. (3/3)
(TL) – I can’t give it a 5/5 because they forgot the Galaxian
level. Otherwise it is awesome! (4/5)
(JT) – Fantastic music. (4/5)
(KI) – Along with Ballblazer, Pengo and Moon Patrol, this game
is a showcase title of the 5200’s remarkable audio
James Bond 007
(KI) – An insanely difficult game, and an awful one to boot.
(KI) – A faithful home port of the Williams coin-op. (4/4)
(KHe)- Is it just me or is the final scene much more difficult
than in the original coin-op? (3/4)
(KI) – Most people either love this game or despise it. I’m
somewhere in between, however. (3/4)
(KI) – A decent ripoff of Berzerk on a system that already has
an (almost) pixel perfect port of the real thing. (3/2)
(DM) – Although many people believe playing Kaboom! without a
paddle is some kind of sacrilege, I love this version of
the game. With the 5200 joystick, you’re simply
controlling the same potentiometer in the controller, but
with a knob on the 2600 and a stick on the 5200. Output
is analog either way. Plus, the 1812 Overture really
gets me pumped up! (5/4)
(KI) – The option of allowing a second player to play as the Mad
Bomber is a cool feature not found in any other version
of Kaboom! (4/3)
(TL) – This game is downright stupid. The graphics are even
worse. I bet they had Commodore shaking in their boots
at the time. (1/1)
(KI) – Controlling Mama-roo is tricky with the standard 5200
joystick, but this game truly shines for those lucky
enough to have a third-party controller. (4/4)
(KHe)- Great port. Fun, especially with two players. (5/4)
(TL) – Cool graphics, but redundant as #@$%. (3/4)
(DM) – I love this game. Apart from the fact that this game
just feels a little different from the 2600 version that
we’re all used to, this game is terrific in every way.
And aside from the game, the label and box art are quite
superior to its 2600 counterpart. If this one had come
out first, they would have laughed the 2600 version out
the door. (5/5)
(KI) – A pretty decent Asteroids clone. Speaking of which,
whatever happened to Asteroids??? (4/3)
Micro-gammon SB (Prototype)
(DM) – I’m glad they used the highest resolution possible for at
least one game. The computer may not be a very good
backgammon player, but they really had a great idea here
and I’m sorry it wasn’t released. (3/5)
(KI) – Absolutely phenomenal. The trak-ball option puts this
version above the technically superior NES edition. (5/4)
(DER)- This game is everything that BBSB isn’t. Easy to play,
not too difficult, OK graphics, just a lot of fun. (4/2)
(KHe)- Great game! Was my favorite as a kid. (5/5)
(TL) – This game has it all! Easily my favorite 5200 game and
among my favorites of all time. Anyone have a trak-ball
for sale? (5/5)
(DM) – With two buttons and a keypad available, having only one
missile base is inexcusable. They even fit two bases
into the Atari ST version, using each button on the
mouse. Why couldn’t Atari port their own game worth a
(KHe)- Fun; are the higher levels winnable? (5/3)
Mr. Do’s Castle
(DM) – After seeing the Colecovision version, this is just plain
sad. The 5200 could certainly have moved the Do-meister
and the Chameleon Unicorns around better than it did.
(DER)- The successor to Pac-Man is more challenging than the
original, and gameplay is better. (4/3)
(TL) – The screen is just too wide. And what happened to the
great sound effects that were included in the 2600
(KHe)- Fun! I liked the arcade game, but wasn’t too good at it.
Played this version a lot! Great port (5/3)
(KI) – A pixel perfect port of the coin-op cult classic. (4/5)
(BW) – I actually like 2600 Pitfall better! (3/3)
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
(KI) – For an additional challenge, try the secret Adventurer’s
(BW) – Made me want a 5200 back in the day (4/4)
(TL) – Graphics leave a bit to be desired. (3/2)
(KI) – Never cared for Nintendo’s coin-op version, so the 5200
one doesn’t do much for me. (3/3)
(JT) – Retarded controls (like Frogger). (2/4)
(KHe)- Not one of my favorite games, but seems to be a good
port. Of course, it’s missing the “thwack” of the
original when Q*bert or Coily jumps off the side of the
(TL) – A true classic. Decent graphics. Great concept! One of
the best ever! (5/5)
(DER)- This game is fun! I like playing the higher levels,
because the easy level is too easy. On the easy level,
you can bunt for home runs. The voice in the game is
cool, but can get old after a long time of playing. (4/4)
RealSports Basketball (Prototype)
(DER)- I played this game for two weeks as part of an Atari
survey my Dad got in ’83 in the Northwest suburbs of
Chicago. The graphics were terrible and the gameplay
wasn’t too much better. I suppose it would have been
better if I had really good joysticks, or that I should
have played it on the two-port version. (2/2)
(DER)- This game is just above average. The playbooks are cool,
but I can run the same play over and over again and
demolish the computer. I don’t understand how a player
can run around the screen and end up on the other side.
(DER)- I’m a big fan of Soccer, and this game is an OK version.
It seems that most of the time the other players are out
just wandering around. (3/2)
Rescue on Fractalus
(KI) – The system of fractile geometry which was used to
generate the planetary landscape was a gaming first.
(BW) – I don’t like the jagged river edges, and the stick ruins
it for me. (4/3)
(TL) – Berzerk in outer space with a little more meat in it.
(JJ) – Simply put, this game rules! (5/5)
(KI) – Robotron meets Berzerk meets Zelda. A closet classic
that begs to be played by everyone. (5/5)
(DER)- I know it’s an older game, but Galaxian and Megamania
picked up where this one left off. Gameplay is OK and
graphics are weak, but that’s what it’s like to be an
(KHe)- Not really like the original but kind of fun. The mother
ship comes out constantly! (3/3)
(BW) – Great, even with the 5200 stick! (5/5)
(DER)- Predecessor to X-Wing and Wing Commander. Really
involved for a 5200 game. It had one of the largest
manuals for any game, 40-some pages. (5/3)
(KHe)- I guess this is considered to be a “classic,” but I just
can’t get into this game. Yuck! (1/1)
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
(EB) – Boring translation of a game that has no good home ports
(vector to raster). (2/3)
Star Wars: The Arcade Game
(DM) – After this guy got fired from Atari for Battlezone, he
must have went to Parker Brothers. Same crappy blocky
Battlezone graphics ruined this one too. (3/2)
(KI) – It (sort of) looks like the arcade version, and it sure
sounds like it, too. But it plays nothing like its
color vector parent. (2/3)
(KHo)- The 2600 version blows this one out of the water! (1/1)
(BW) – How do you rate graphics on Breakout? Of course they’re
(KI) – Absolutely superb. The graphics are sharp and colorful,
and everything that was found in the coin-op original is
featured in the SuperSystem adaptation. (5/5)
(KI) – Incomplete, but what’s there shows tremendous promise.
Control is spot-on, and the sound effects seem to have
been taken straight out of the arcade version. (4/5)
(TL) – I liked the 2600 version better but credit is due for a
great game like Vanguard. (3/5)
(KHe)- Captures the spirit of the original. Sadly, the four
fire button arrangement of the coin-op couldn’t be
duplicated. I hate how the ship doesn’t move easily
while firing. (3/3)
Wizard of Wor
(TL) – Cool game. Decent graphics. (4/4)
Xari Arena (Prototype)
(DM) – Good marks just based on originality. What a nifty game
this was. (5/4)
(KI) – If you liked Warlords, you’ll absolutely love this
prototype game. (4/3)
(KHo)- Blows away the Colecovision and C-64 versions by a mile!
(TL) – Playability is awesome. (4/4)
2.5 — GENERAL SOFTWARE INFO, TIDBITS, CHEATS AND EASTER EGGS
A box for this game was shown in a flyer for the “Video
An unreleased prototype that is similar to the Atari computer
version, one was recently auctioned off by Best Electronics.
Only a precious few are known to exist.
Recently discovered! The first Atari 5200 catalog
(Part #CO18270 Rev.1) shows a picture of the box as well as a
game description and screenshot. This game supports up to 4
players in head-to-head or cooperative play. After attempting
to play it, you realize what we’ve all suspected for some time:
The game is unplayable with the standard 5200 controller. Some
interesting notes – This cart was found with an actual
production label and a prototype 5200 Asteroids controller.
Only one is known to exist, and was demonstrated for the first
time at the World of Atari ’98 show in Las Vegas. For more
info on this game – including screenshots – check out
Atari Gaming Headquarters (http://www.atarihq.com).
Licensed from First Star Software. Designed by Fernando
Herrera, founder of First Star Software. An interesting note
on the origin of this company – Atari had a program called the
Atari Program Exchange (APX) which published user-written
software for their 8-bit line of computers. The submission that
was judged best by Atari each year was awarded the Atari Star
award. Fernando Herrera wrote a program called “My First
Alphabet” which was selected as the first-ever winner of the
Atari Star Award; hence the name: First Star Software.
Designed and programmed by David Levine, Peter Langston, David
Riordan, and Garry Hare. Contributions and support by Charlie
Kellner, Gary Winnick, and David Fox. According to sources at
Atari, the working title for this game was “Topsy Turvy”. One
of only two Atari released games that came in a white box
(Rescue on Fractalus was the other) instead of the standard
issue grey and blue box. This game is also one of the few Atari
titles that has no name on the cartridge label. Also one of the
first games musically scored by a recognized musician, Pat
Bar Room Baseball
This version of RealSports Baseball has been modified and was
intended for use in an arcade cabinet. The inclusion of a
timer limited gameplay to 3 minutes per credit. Arcade cabinets
with 5200 systems inside were sold in Mexico and other Latin
This version resorted to colorful backgrounds instead of the
arcade vector graphics. Has a 2 joystick option and most
likely would have been packaged with a controller holder like
Robotron and Space Dungeon.
Designed by Dave Rolfe. 5200 adaptation by Action Graphics.
Reaching sector 14 with 40,000 points or more got you a
Beamriders patch if you sent Activision picture proof and $1.
This and several other 5200 titles from Activision were later
packaged in 2600 boxes with stickers on them.
Behind Jaggi Lines
Working title for Rescue on Fractalus, Behind Jaggi Lines was
recently discovered and demonstrated for the first time at
World of Atari ’98 in Las Vegas. An exact duplicate of Rescue
except for the different title on the title screen.
The first console game that had built-in voice synthesis without
the need of additional hardware, 5200 Berzerk is a marvelous
translation of the coin-op original. Highly recommended,
particularly if you like to be taunted by Evil Otto with phrases
like “Chicken, fight like a robot!”
An interesting glitch exists that allows a player to make Evil
Otto (that’s the official name of “Mr. Happy”) go the opposite
direction from where you are on the screen, but this works only
on the left exit. Position your character until he’s just about
to exit the maze (that is, the next joystick movement to the
left will make him leave the maze). Evil Otto will start to
bounce towards the right instead of coming after you. If you
stand at the exit long enough, Evil Otto will wrap around to the
left side of the screen. Whether he kills you when he touches
you is uncertain; the wrap-around scenario has not been tested
as of yet. This glitch is extremely useful, especially when you
want to finish off the robots and Evil Otto comes in sooner than
you anticipate. It takes practice to precisely position your
character to make Evil Otto go the other way, but you’ll get it
right with practice.
Another tip that can help in mastering the game has to do with
your character’s neck. Or should I say lack thereof? The open
space below his head can be useful when facing robots straight
to your left or right. If you position the character just
right, the robot’s lasers will go right through without killing
him It’s very tough to master, especially on higher levels when
the lasers are traveling at the same speed that yours do.
And last but not least, it’s easier to avoid Evil Otto by going
to the left or right exits than using the top or bottom ones.
This is due to how Evil Otto bounces when he chances you. Of
course, there will be times that the top or bottom exits will be
your best retreat.
Similar to Karateka, Black Belt was to be Atari’s entry into
the karate genre. Impressive graphics, with several different
rooms. No collision detection and slow movement/gameplay keep
this one from being complete. This title probably evolved from
a title in the rumor mill called “Martial Arts”.
For more info on this game – including screenshots – check out
Atari Gaming Headquarters (http://www.atarihq.com).
Boogie Demo Cart
It’s difficult to tell if this one is anything more than
someone at Atari “screwing around” or if there was an eventual
purpose to this title. Not really a game, this music demo plays
a repeating “Boogie” tune. Only a precious few are known to
Bounty Bob Strikes Back
Designed and programmed by Bill Hogue, founder of Big 5
Software. Graphics designed by Curtis Mikolyski. A sequel
that’s better than the original? You bet! A follow-up to Miner
2049’er that could be the most enjoyable game ever made. The
box for this game is extremely hard to come by, as is the full
color poster that was packed in.
To transport to another screen, grab the item mentioned below,
then press and hold the number (also stated below) then press
start. You will warp to the level mentioned.
1. Bob’s Morning Flower pot / 1 / start = level 4
2. Utility Hoist Aliens / paint roller / 3 / start = level 22
3. The Suction Tubes Goblet / 4 / start = level 15
5. Jumping 101 Coffee Pot / 8 / start = level 18
10. The Gravity Lift Pitch Fork / 5 / start = level 14
16. Adv. Suction Tubes Tube 1 to left/ pie / 9 / start = level 19
26. The End……
“Congratulations, you are an expert! For getting this far, you
may start the game at any level you desire by setting special
codes 1-25 in the Game Adjustment Screen and then pressing
At the game adjustment screen, enter one of the following
special codes and press * for a few secret messages:
5 6 49 69 100 213 666 782 818 2049 6861
Centipede (released version)
Atari 5200 version designed by Frank Hausman and Sean W.
Hennessy. One of the many games that is trak-ball compatible.
Named the best game (covering all systems), best 5200 game and
best graphics in a 5200 game in the first annual Videogame
Illustrated “Vista Awards.”
Centipede, (“Killer hard version”)
Recently discovered, this particular prototype is similar to the
released version of the same game, with the exception being that
it’s HARD! (as if the released version was a walk in the park to
begin with). The Centipedes slide down the screen at a frantic
pace, and the spiders have even better AI along with faster
movement. Definitely an in-house “pet” project and never
intended for release.
Based on the Broderbund computer game designed by Dan Gorlin.
The copyright on the back of the box has a printing error –
©1982 Dan Gorling. I’m sure Mr. Gorlin was thrilled. One of
the last games released for the 5200.
Cloak and Dagger
Announced by Atari but never released. In the movie of the same
name, the kid from ET can be seen holding a 5200 Cloak & Dagger
cartridge (most likely just a mock-up). For further details
surrounding the Cloak and Dagger mystery, see Section 2.6 of
Based on the Sega coin-op. The manual incorrectly claims that
after selecting 1 or 2 players, the game will ask you whether
or not you’re using a joystick. Needless to say, no controller
choices are given, although we’re at a loss as to what choices
they had in mind. As with most other versions of this game,
only 2 of the 4 arcade version screens are present.
An early prototype of this game has the name “Failsafe”
although the game appears to be identical. One of a few games
that never appeared on any other Atari system. Note the Atari
symbol on the soldier’s cap on the game box/cart picture. The
failsafe code was a combination of the following letters: L, E,
O. You have to wonder what the programmer’s name or sign was…
Here’s an interesting easter egg… When the skull and
crossbones appears, after you fail to enter the correct code,
take a look at one of the bones. You’ll see the initials “RM,”
which is initials of the programmer.
Cram is a nickname for the in-house version of the Atari 5200
Diagnostic Cartridge. Basically, it is a diagnostic cart that
has pin #18 shorted to Ground, which forces the 5200 to turn
on automatically when the cart is inserted. These carts were
used for assembly line testing where employees would “CRAM” the
cart into the machine to make sure they powered up and were
functioning. Actually, any cartridge can be made into a Cram
cart by shorting pin #18 as mentioned above.
Designed by David Crane. 5200 adaptation by Paul Willson.
Scoring over 8,600 points could get you a “Bronze” patch,
over 9,000 a “Silver” patch, and over 10,000 a “Gold” patch
by sending proof to Activision along with $1.
Programmed by Steve Baker. One of the many games that is
trak-ball compatible. Note the Atari symbol in the building’s
window at the top-left of the game box/instructions/cart
Second runner-up in the best 5200 game category in the first
annual Videogaming Illustrated “Vista Awards.”
Used by factory authorized service personnel to diagnose
malfunctioning systems. Selections included tests for RAM,
ROM, Video, Sound, Joystick Ports, Joysticks, along with the
ability to examine memory locations. Several revisions exist.
The 1986 Atari Corp. release has a label variation. The “5200”
at the top of the cart is printed in an elongated font. The
“vegetable”? for rounds 16 & 17 is a Galaxian.
Dreadnaught Factor, The
Designed by Tom Loughry. 5200 adaptation by Eric Nickell.
Defeating the entire fleet of Dreadnaughts on level 4 or higher
could net you a Dreadnaught Destroyer patch if you sent
Activision a picture of your TV screen (you didn’t have to
include $1 for this one).
This was one of the working names for Countermeasure. The game
is identical except for the name.
Recently discovered and demonstrated for the first time at
World of Atari ’98 in Las Vegas. Nearly identical to the
Atari computer version.
There were two versions of this game for the Atari 8-bit
computers. One had text for in-game selections while the other
used icons. This version uses text, probably since the 5200
wasn’t exactly an “international” success. Seems complete.
For more info on this game – including screenshots – check out
Atari Gaming Headquarters (http://www.atarihq.com).
Designed and implemented by Jim Huether, who years later also
designed the Sega Genesis game “Joe Montana’s Sportstalk
Football”. One of the many games that is trak-ball compatible.
Originally just called “Football”, Atari changed the name to
fit their RealSports line-up.
Score 199 points or more without allowing the other team to
score more than 3 during a practice game in regulation time.
You must also score the last touchdown with no time left.
Instead of seeing the usual “Game Over” message you will see
“DESIGNED BY THE WARLORD” on your screen.
Football (for Video System X)
Photos of this game, along with the Video System X (working
title of the 5200) were shown at trade shows and in magazines
before the 5200 was eventually released. The cart had a
completely different label from 5200 Football, and it is not
known whether this game is any different from the 5200 version
(or if it was just a cart shell mockup, for that matter).
An unreleased game based on the coin-op by Nichibutsu, this
game seems complete and is very playable. It even has the girl
in the bath-tub. Frisky Tom pretty much popped out of nowhere.
It was never mentioned in any magazines or literature and
until it was found with several other protos, no-one even knew
it existed. Only a precious few are known to exist.
Players have the option of using the keypad buttons to control
the direction of Frogger’s movement. Press button #2 to hop
Frogger forward, #8 to hop back, #4 to go left and #6 to go
Frogger II: Threeedeep!
Three distinctly different screens take Frogger on another
homeward-bound journey, but this time it’s underwater, over
water, and through the air. As in Frogger, the player can
choose to use the keypad buttons to control Frogger.
The manual mentions that after wave 10, the Galaxian fleet
may surprise you with some special screen graphics. The only
thing we’ve ever seen is sometimes when you destroy a Galaxian,
an Atari symbol will flash briefly in the explosion.
Programmed by Roklan Corp.
Designed and programmed by John Seghers. Animation by Courtney
Granner. Sound by Robert Vieira. This game is completely
different from the 2600 version.
Licensed from Konami. The game music is Johann Sebastian
Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”.
Designed by John Van Ryzin. 5200 adaptation by The Softworks.
H.E.R.O. stands for Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operation.
Scoring over 70,000 points got you an “Order of the H.E.R.O.”
patch by sending proof to Activision along with $1.
James Bond 007
Contains 4 movie scenarios: Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who
Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only.
The game appears complete, but it was not released commercially.
An absolutely phenomenal conversion of the coin-op. Smooth
scrolling and crisp sounds make this the best of the three Pac’s
in the 5200 library.
Jungle River Cruise
Designed for Atari’s unreleased “Puffer” exercise bicycle, a
prototype version of this game has recently been discovered.
Formerly titled ‘Riverboat’ and ‘River Rescue’.
Designed by Larry Kaplan. 5200 adaptation by Paul Willson.
The SuperSystem version is similar to the 2600 edition, but the
former has an added feature of allowing two players to take
turns playing the Mad Bomber (dropping the bombs), and catching
the bombs with the buckets. By Paul Wilson.
By scoring 1800 or more points in 1 player mode and sending in a
picture of the score, players were awarded the Bucket Brigade
Patch from Activision.
Designed by Garry Kitchen. 5200 adaptation by Alex DeMeo.
Announced but never released. Only a prototype box of this game
is known to exist. Furthermore, this box shares the same color
scheme as the 2600 version of the same name, and even the “CX”
number on the box is identical to the regular 2600 box
Last Starfighter, The
Programmed by Gary Stark. This title went through a name change
and became Star Raiders 2; only seeing release for the Atari
8-bit line of computers. Apparently, Atari purchased the rights
but decided a sequel to Star Raiders would be better embraced
by the masses. Also, it is possible that this title began its
life as a game called “Orbiter”. The game seems complete except
for the lack of shields.
Mattel had at least the Intellivision rights to this game, but
a prototype box of this game from Atari exists. No word on
whether a prototype cart exists at all.
Looney Tunes Hotel
Utilizing the Warner Bros. cartoon licenses, this game
featured Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and Devil
(Tasmanian, we assume). The game seems to be in the early to
middle stages of development. You control Bugs as he tries to
get the carrots while avoiding the bombs, etc.
An adventure game for the 5200 with 6 stages of fun. This proto
still has a few bugs that cause screen freezes and blackouts.
Also, the game requires some precise movements which is almost
impossible with the standard 5200 stick. Graphics aren’t bad
and include a nice 3-D effect on the Phoenix stage.
Designed by Steve Cartwright. 5200 adaptation by Glyn Anderson.
Activision would send you an official MegaManiacs emblem if you
sent them proof that you scored 45,000 points or more.
Now here’s an interesting tidbit. The working title of this
Asteroids clone during its development stage was ‘Disasteroids’!
However, when Atari learned of the name upon visiting Electra
Concepts’ booth at the 1983 Summer Consumer Electronics Show,
they quickly threatened to sue unless Electra changed the game
title. Both Meteorites and the Masterplay Interface are
sometimes listed as being made by a company called Intellicon.
In actuality, Intellicon was nothing more than a mail-order
company that bought and sold off the remaining inventory from
Programmed by Steve Baker. A nice backgammon game for the
5200. This game uses the keypad and fire buttons only; no
joystick. The SB stands for Super Brain (not Steve Baker) and
is one of the IQ settings for the computer opponent The game
seems essentially complete.
Complete. Exceptional port of the coin-op hit. Especially fun
when played with the trak-ball.
Programmed by Bill Hogue. Graphics and Audio Visual Displays
designed by Curtis Mikolyski and Bill Hogue with Jeff Konyu and
Kelly Bakst. Circuitry designed by Bill Hogue. Package Artwork
by Scott Ross.
Start a zone. Jump onto the first platform and position Bounty
Bob so that no creatures will touch him (do NOT pause game).
Hold the UPPER red fire button down while entering Big Five’s
phone number (2137826861) on the keypad. You will know you did
it right because it will immediately restart the zone again when
you enter the last digit of the phone number.
Congratulations, you now have a way to “warp” to any zone or
station in the game!
HOW TO USE IT
Push the reset button on the joystick and select 1-0 on the
keypad for the zone you want to play.
(1=zone 1, 2=zone 2, … 0=zone 10).
Now, hold the upper red button down while pressing 1-0 on the
keypad. This will allow you to select which station to play.
You will immediately warp to the selected station! The warping
ability will work at *ANY* time during the game! This is
extremely useful for getting “unlimited” lives. (HINT: If you
die on a level and IMMEDIATELY warp Bounty Bob, the game will
keep track of your score, but won’t take away a life!)
NOTES: Miner is great fun at the difficult levels. Some levels
are NOT clearable. After lots of playing, the following levels
have been found to be possible to clear.
10 1-4, 8, 9
Zone 8/station 10 is the hardest, but IS possible.
Zone 10/station 4 requires a lot of thinking/strategy to clear.
Try it, it’s fun!
For some reason on Zone 10, Bounty Bob walks very fast and jumps
a LOOONG way. This makes certain levels difficult and others
impossible. However, on Zone 10/station 10, the creatures just
move too fast to make it possible to clear. It’s a shame, we
will always be left wondering what would happen if it had been
Programmed by Steve Baker. Looks to be complete. So-so
graphics, with 18 holes and varying layouts. What’s there is
Designed by E.F. Dryer.
When first starting Mountain King, let it go through the
“opening demonstration” where the MK guy jumps/dances to the
music and eventually jumps to the top of the hill where the
flame is. Once the “show” ends, maneuver the guy to the very
bottom where the spider’s “cave” is. Stand on top of where the
spider comes out. Make the MK guy (does he have a name?) stand
on the far right of the cave so that he is mostly balancing in
mid-air with only his left foot barely touching the top of the
cave. (See diagram 1… hopefully it will look right when viewed
on your computer.)
0 <– mk guy ->_ _
Ok, once you have him in position, pull down briefly/slightly
(like you were going to make him squat) on the joystick once or
twice and the guy should walk PART WAY DOWN the side of the cave
and “hang” there. If he goes all the way to the floor, then try
it again. (See diagram 2.)
Now walk to the left. He should fall through/into the cave.
Keep going left… you might have to jump to the left to get him
to fall THROUGH the bottom of the screen. As you are falling,
you should see a special message that tells who programmed the
NOTES: When you do this, there is no way back out. Actually, I
think you can catch on fire and die. 🙂 This doesn’t work right
if you don’t let the game do the demonstration/music sequence at
Ms. Pac-Man (“Puffer” Edition)
Designed for Atari’s unreleased “Puffer” exercise bicycle, this
game was never planned for release. It was only developed for
internal testing purposes as an example of a type of game that
was not well-suited for the Puffer.
This version includes the arcade intermissions. The Galaxian
bonus item in the arcade version has been replaced with an Atari
logo. Pac-man later replaced Super Breakout as the pack-in game
for the 5200.
On the Cherry screen, take off to the right and head straight up
and into the right-hand tunnel. As you go off-screen, you’ll
hear a chomp. Pause the game and examine the dots to the left
of the starting point. You’ll find a missing dot.
On the fifth key round, the ghosts start flashing immediately
after Pac eats a power pellet, and they don’t stop. Unless Pac
eats them, they stay in a vulnerable state for the entire round.
It doesn’t happen in the sixth key round (after the
intermission), but does for the seventh key and beyond. You
have to be pretty stupid to die accidentally from there on.
Named first runner up in the best 5200 game category and best
arcade adaptation (all systems) in the first annual Videogaming
Illustrated “Vista” awards.
Programmed by Sean W. Hennessy.
Pete’s Test Cartridge
Recently discovered, this system utility essentially tests for
defects in key areas. Using a standard 5200 controller to select
various options, you can test for brightness (or dimness), color
balance, color contrast and joystick calibration, among other
things. And no, we have no idea who Pete is.
For more info on this demo – including screenshots – check out
Atari Gaming Headquarters (http://www.atarihq.com).
Designed by David Crane. 5200 adaptation by Beck-Tech. Scoring
over 20,000 points could get you an “Explorer’s Club” patch by
sending proof to Activision.
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Designed by David Crane. 5200 Adventurer’s Edition by Mike
Lorenzen. What makes this version “The Adventurer’s Edition”?
The fact that once you completed the game, you could play a
second, even more difficult mission, with a completely
different maze (Write us for a layout). Scoring over 99,000
points could get you a “Cliff Hangers” patch by sending proof
to Activision along with $1.
This game came with a scratch-off “Spinach Can Game” card which
gave you a chance to win a full size Popeye Arcade game or a
Missing the Sea Hag found in level 3 of the coin-op.
Pole Position (“Puffer” Edition)
Designed for Atari’s unreleased “Puffer” exercise bicycle.
Unlike Jungle River Cruise and Tumbleweeds, however, a prototype
version of this game has not (yet) been uncovered.
Pursuit of the Pink Panther.
Originally slated for an early 1984 release, the lack of
adequate supplies of ROM chips was blamed by Probe 2000 as the
reason for the cancellation of the game. 2600 and Colecovision
editions were also announced but they too never saw the light of
Invisible Pyramid — On the first screen, hop down four squares
and onto the disc. As soon as the disc turns yellow, press
PAUSE and then the START key to start the game over. Keep
pressing the HOP button the whole time you are doing this. When
the game starts again, jump down 2 squares to the right, then
back one square. Jump onto the middle square and then change
the colors of the squares opposite the one on the right. Now
hop up to the top square and off to the left onto the invisible
Quest for Quintana Roo
“Help Yucatan Sam explore the dozens of terror-filled chambers
that create the mystical temple of Mayan god Quintana Roo. You
must use your supplies as well as your cat-like reactions to
avoid the sleeping snakes, overcome the mummy’s curse, and
eliminate the other adversaries while attempting to solve the
mystery that will deliver this hidden treasure to you and
Yucatan Sam. Do you dare to get involved?”
Level 2 — 1830 Level 3 — 8817
Designed and programmed by James Andreasen and Keithen. One
of two Atari releases to feature voice synthesis (Berzerk being
the other.) The 0 key toggles the voice on and off.
Programmed by Patrick Bass. This game was in the early stages
of development and needs some polishing. The game is playable,
however, the real beauty of this proto lies in the easter eggs.
As a side note, we’ve seen 2 versions of R.S. Basketball, one
dated 13 Oct. 83 and the other 31 Oct. 83. The easter eggs
listed below only work on the later version.
Start the Demo and press the number 5 key for a secret message:
“When Running Into the Tropical Entropy Nightly, By Yourself,
Project And Try Reaching Into Circles Killed Because All Seems
The first letter of each word in the sentence spells out….
“Written by Patrick Bass.”
Also during the demo, the “*” key toggles the word RealSports
on or off.
The tones generated by the keypad are actual telephone dialing
tones. Try it!
Designed by Sean W. Hennessy. One of the many games that is
Rescue on Fractalus
Designed and programmed by David Fox, Loren Carpenter, Charlie
Kellner, and Peter Langston. Contributions and support by Gary
Winnick and David Levine. One of only two Atari released games
that came in a white box (Ballblazer was the other) instead of
the standard issue grey and blue box. This game is also one of
the few Atari titles that has no name on the cartridge label.
Working titles were “Behind Jaggi Lines”, “Rescue Mission” and
Designed by Carol Shaw. Scoring 40,000 points or more entitled
you to a River Raiders patch if you sent a picture of your TV
screen to Activision.
If you’re thinking of the arcade game, forget it. This game
resembles a sliding piece puzzle. We’re not sure if the
object of the game is to help the coyote to catch the Road
Runner or to keep the two from colliding while eating all the
birdseed, etc. There are 2 versions of this prototype around.
One has sound (although minimal) and different colors on the
opening screen while the other has no sound at all. Still
some work to be done on this one.
Not as good as the 7800 version, but is actually more enjoyable
because of the joystick connector that allows you dual-joystick
action like in the coin-op. Packaged with the joystick
The box for this game was shown in a flyer for the “Video
Designed by John Seghers. One of the many games that is
trak-ball compatible. Originally just called “Soccer”, Atari
changed the name to fit their RealSports line-up.
On par with NASL Soccer for Intellivision. Particularly
enjoyable when played with the trak-ball controller.
The only home console port of Taito’s little-known gem of a
coin-op. Packaged with a joystick connector which enables dual
joystick control a-la Robotron: 2084.
One of the many games that is trak-ball compatible. The game
screen on the back of the box, and in the instruction manual
is not an actual screen shot. In trying to re-work this
classic, Atari dropped the ball. The saucers appear one right
after the other and their max value is 60 points. Your shields
don’t reset after each wave. After every 7th wave, the mother
ship comes out and flies off with your cannon. The game then
resets the shields and the invaders start back at the top of
the screen. The 1986 release of this game is one of the few
Atari titles that has no name on the cartridge label. It’s
harder to find than the standard label version.
Designed by Steve Kitchen. 5200 adaptation by Bob Henderson.
Steve Kitchen apparently consulted with NASA to make this game
as accurate as possible. Like many other Activision titles,
this game was later released in a 2600 box w/ photocopied
instructions. Dock your shuttle 5 times and land with at
least 4500 units of fuel and you were entitled to a “Space
Shuttle Pilot” patch. Dock 6 times and land with at least
7500 units of fuel and you earned a “Space Shuttle Commander”
patch. Just send the usual TV picture proof to Activision.
This seems to be a Zaxxon style game, but with full 360 degree
movement and “Crystal Castles” style structures. Obviously in
the very early stages of development.
In it’s current form, this game consists of two separate
“events”. One is a platform Sky Diver type game where you
guide Goofy to the top of a structure and then when he jumps
off, you guide him into a waiting raft below. The other game
is a Q*bert type game where you try to pop the overhead
balloons as you hop between squares.
Programmed by Steve Baker. The sequel to Defender suffers
from screen flicker and poor control. Let’s hope it was still
in the early stages as we would hate to think this was almost
ready for release.
Originally a smash hit on the Atari 400/800 computers, Star
Raiders is enshrined in the Electronic Games Magazine Videogame
Hall of Fame.
One of the few games that supports 4 players on the older
4-port models. Also one of the many games that is trak-ball
compatible. This game was initially packaged with the Atari
5200 console, but was later replaced by Pac-Man.
A box for this game exists, but an actual prototype game of
Superman III has not yet been recovered. A prototype version
for the Atari home computers does exist, however.
Recently discovered! Was demonstrated for the first time at
World of Atari ’98 in Las Vegas. An absolutely fantastic
translation — nothing from the coin-op is missing in this one.
For more info on this game – including screenshots – check out
Atari Gaming Headquarters (http://www.atarihq.com).
The original (tentative) name of Countermeasure before its
release. Who knows, perhaps a prototype of this version exists
The box art of this game was shown in a flyer for the “Video
It’s been found! Demonstrated for the first time at World of
Atari ’98 in Las Vegas, the only prototype cartridge known to
exist is 90% complete, with only the Superzapper, several
enemies and collision detection missing. For more info on
this game – including screenshots – check out Atari Gaming
Ticker Tape Demo
Recently discovered and shown for the first time at World of
Atari ’98 in Las Vegas. Basically just a generic 5200 title
screen, except that after seeing Rubio’s copyright info, the
phrase “Again Rubio Scores!” replaces the top line and begins
to scroll and move side-to-side, banging on the left and right
edges. Each time the phrase hits the outer edge of the screen,
one of the letters on the outside disappears. This continues
to occur until the word “Rubio” is left. This custom scrolling
demo was done internally for Dan Kramer and DK Enterprises.
Only one is know to exist. For more info on this demo, check
out Atari Gaming Headquarters
Made it to the C64, but not 5200.
Track ‘N Field
Licensed from Konami. This one was probably ready for
production. Seems very complete with no noticeable bugs or
Designed for Atari’s unreleased “Puffer” exercise bicycle, a
prototype version of this game has recently been discovered.
This game would have been perfect for 2 joystick control a-la
Space Dungeon and Robotron. The 1986 release of this game is
one of the few Atari titles that has no name on the cartridge
label. It’s harder to find than the standard label version.
Warp Wars was the working title for the game Zone Ranger.
Wizard of Wor
Programmed by Roklan Corp.
Programmed by David Seghers. This game seems to be an updated
Breakout type of game. What are those flying things in the
middle of the screen? Haven’t figured out how to play it yet
but it looks good.
Programmed by Jim Huether. This very nice conversion of the
coin-op utilizes both fire buttons. No noticeable bugs or
Yellow Submarine Demo
Not really a game, but rather a graphics demo where you
control a submarine on the screen with your joystick. Only a
precious few are known to exist.
Warp Wars was its working title.
2.6 — WHAT’S THE REAL STORY BEHIND CLOAK AND DAGGER?
Many die-hard collectors and 5200 fans are aware that a Cloak and
Dagger (and, for that matter, Tempest) cartridge was shown in the
move of the same name as sort of a tantalizing preview of the game.
What nobody knew, however, was whether Cloak and Dagger existed as
a prototype, or if the game code even existed in any form.
Alex Rosenberg gave us the definitive answer in 1994 when he posted
to rec.games.video.classic. Here are some snippets from his
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Rosenberg)
Re: 5200 Cloak and Dagger cartridge
Date: Mon Sep 12 1994
I can give the definitive answer here. I used to work with the author
of the 5200 version of Cloak and Dagger. I’ve previously asked him
about it, and he had sent me the
— CUT HERE —
Yes, I can answer your question about the Atari 5200 version of Cloak
When Warner Communications sold the consumer side of Atari to Jack
Tramiel (who founded Commodore) in mid-1984, I was working on the
Atari 400/800/1200 version of Cloak & Dagger. Since the Atari 5200
was basically just an Atari 400 with a different controller, when I
completed the home computer version, I was supposed to modify the
game to use the “360-degree” 5200 controller (as opposed to the
9-position home computer joystick).
By the way here’s a little known fact about Cloak & Dagger: someone
at Atari actually explored doing an Atari 2600 version of Cloak &
Dagger, but very quickly decided that it couldn’t be done, even with
If you’ve ever seen the Cloak & Dagger movie, you’ll know that the
cartridge shown in the movie was a 5200 cartridge. Actually, the 5200
cartridge didn’t even exist: it was a 5200 cartridge of another game
with a “Cloak & Dagger” label slapped on it. Also, in the game store
scenes, there were Atari 5200 Cloak & Dagger boxes shown. Those were
also just mockups made for the movie.
But wait a second! Wasn’t the Atari 5200 Cloak & Dagger game actually
PLAYED in the movie (and didn’t it look damn good)? Hollywood movie
magic! They took the output of the coin-operated game, converted the
signal, and piped it to a TV set. So if you thought it looked a lot
like the coin-op game, you were right. Another interesting fact:
Henry Thomas wasn’t really playing the game; instead, Atari sent down
the game’s software developer, Rusty Dawe, to play the coin-op game
for the movie! So they showed Henry Thomas furiously working the 5200
controller, cut to the television showing Rusty’s progress in the
game (sometimes even with Henry’s reflection in the screen), and back
again. Rusty — er, make that Russell B. Dawe — got his own full-
screen credit at the end of the movie for the game design.
Although the rest of the game shown in the movie was taken from the
real coin-op game, the spectacular 3D “secret plans” finale of the
game was pure Holywood animation: the real game ends somewhat anti-
climactically with one of several static, crudely-drawn blueprints. I
don’t recall whether Rusty ran short of ROM space or time, but the
secret plans weren’t up to the quality of the rest of the game, much
less the movie game’s ending.
Oh, and another piece of trivia: the original name of the Cloak &
Dagger coin-operated game was actually…Agent X (hence the name of
the protagonist in the game and the off-hand comment by Dabney
Coleman in the movie that he “used to be known as Agent X”). The game
had been under development at Atari as “Agent X” for quite a while,
and was nearly completed. The movie studio (can’t remember which one
off-hand, but I have the Laserdisc) had the movie under development
as Cloak & Dagger. The game cartridge that was in the original
screenplay was…Donkey Kong (at the time, the most popular home
videogame)! Someone at either the movie studio or Atari found out
about the other, “the secret agent recovers secret plans from bad
guys” plots sounded like they were made for each other, the deal was
signed, and the Agent X game was renamed Cloak & Dagger.
Anyway, back to the layoff. My half of Atari (the half that just
released the Jaguar videogame system; it’s still known as “Atari,
Inc.”) got sold, and they laid off almost all the game developers who
didn’t have experience writing operating systems, myself included.
When the layoffs happened, I was close to halfway done with the game.
The basic structure of all the levels was done (conveyor belts,
boxes, bubbling acid pits, box manufacturers, minefields) and you
could move Agent X around, pick up boxes, and die from touching red
boxes, being crushed by the box manufacturing thingies (what the hell
were they called?), stepping in an acid pit, or touching a landmine
(although the death animation wasn’t in yet, so you just turned pitch
But none of the enemies were done, you couldn’t shoot yet (although,
without enemies, you would only be able to shoot the boxes anyway),
and the bomb in the center didn’t explode (the animation of the bomb
exploding in the coin-op game is fast, but it’s actually pretty
crude). No elevator scenes yet, either, although since the cartridge
was supposed to be the first Atari home computer cartridge to reach a
whopping 32K (all previous cartridges had been 16K or less!), there
was enough room for many — if not all — of the elevator animations.
(If you look closely, you’ll notice that very little of Agent X
actually moves in the elevator scenes: an arm, a facial expression,
smoke, an arm and a yo-yo, etc.)
In 1983, at one of Atari’s periodic auctions of prototype and no
longer needed coin-operated machines (including games like DigDug and
Berzerk whose translations to Atari home computers and/or videogame
systems had already been completed), I bought one of the original 25
(I believe) Agent X machines. These prototypes, which had been sent
to arcades for test-marketing, had stereo sound (Atari went with mono
sound for the final hardware) and the pre-Cloak & Dagger faceplates.
The ROMs were upgraded to reflect the name change, however, so, on
the inside, my machine is a real Cloak & Dagger!
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the history and stories. I’d always wanted
to finish the home computer version of Cloak & Dagger, but over the
years, my free time has almost completed vanished. The Atari 5200
version of Cloak & Dagger, as well as versions of many other classic
Atari games — Crystal Castles (which was nearly finished when the
layoff happened), Major Havoc (one of my favorite coin-op games, but
the home computer conversion was barely started at the time of the
layoffs), and Jr. Pac-Man (completed, but not released), to name just
a few — were all casualties of the sale of Atari’s consumer business
to Tramiel and the resulting layoffs. Everyone who was left
immediately switched from developing games (new as well as
conversions of coin-operated games) to working on the operating
system for the Atari 520ST and 1040ST.
Sorry to dash your hopes about the Atari 5200 Cloak & Dagger…
— Dave Comstock
2.7 — WHAT GAMES ARE COMPATIBLE WITH THE TRAK-BALL CONTROLLER?
* — Plays best when used with the trak-ball
# — Some gamers prefer to play it with the trak-ball, others don’t.
X — Works with the trak-ball but is not recommended.
# Football/RealSports Football
X K-Razy Shootout
* Missile Command
X Pole Position
X RealSports Baseball
# Soccer/RealSports Soccer
X Space Invaders
# Super Breakout
2.8 — WHAT IS THE 5200 MULTICART AND HOW CAN I GET ONE?
The Atari 5200 multi-cart is a single cartridge with virtually
the entire Atari 5200 game library on it — even prototypes. It
comes packaged in a regular 5200 cartridge casing. Very basically,
it can be looked at as a comparatively inexpensive way to be able to
play all the 5200 games in one handy cart. Titles such as
Meteorites, Star Wars: Death Star Battle, and others are going to
cost you and arm and a leg if you are able to locate someone with a
copy of them, but they are all included on the multi-cart, in their
entirely mind you, for one flat-fee.
As far as collectibility goes, the multi-cart is still being made and
will continue to be for the foreseeable future so it’s worth exactly
what you pay for it – no more.
If you are interested in purchasing one or would like additional
information about it, you can e-mail Sean Kelly at email@example.com or
pay a visit to his web page at http://www.xnet.com/~skelly/ where he
has information about the multi-cart and all other multi-carts he
3.0) HARDWARE INFORMATION
3.1 — HARDWARE KNOWN TO EXIST
Name Company Product # Rarity
—– ——- ——— ——
ASTEROIDS CONTROLLER Atari PROTO
ATARI 5100 GAME SYSTEM Atari CX 5100 PROTO
ATARI 5200 CARRYING CASE Atari
ATARI 5200 HOTEL UNIT Spectravision UR
ATARI 5200 JOYSTICK Atari CX 52
ATARI 5200 JOYSTICK Atari PROTO
ATARI 5200 JOYSTICK COUPLER Atari C021811
ATARI 5200 SUPERSYSTEM (2-Port) Atari CX 5200
ATARI 5200 SUPERSYSTEM (4-Port) Atari CX 5200
ATARI VCS CARTRIDGE ADAPTER Atari CX 55 R
ATARI VIDEO SYSTEM X Atari PROTO
COMPETITION PRO JOYSTICK Coin Controls ER
CONTROL GUIDE Entert. Systems UR
DUST COVER Classic Covers 20027
FIRE COMMAND JOYSTICK GIM Electronics UR
KID’S CONTROLLER Atari PROTO
MASTERPLAY INTERFACE Electra Concepts UR
PADDLE CONTROLLER Atari PROTO
TRAK-BALL CONTROLLER Atari CX 53 R
TRAK-BALL CONTR. (Transparent) Atari PROTO
TV/GAME SWITCHBOX (4-Port) Atari CX 522
WICO COMMAND CONTROL JOYSTICK Wico R+
WICO COMMAND CONTROL NUMERIC Wico ER-
3.2 — HARDWARE NOT CONFIRMED TO EXIST
ATARI 7800 CARTRIDGE ADAPTER Atari
COMPUTER MODULE Atari
FROB, THE FrobCo
LASER DISC PLAYER Atari
PUFFER EXERCISE BICYCLE Atari
TRIGA ELITE JOYSTICK Electra Concepts
VOICE COMMANDER MODULE Atari/Milton Bradley
3.3 — GENERAL HARDWARE TIDBITS
5200 Hotel Unit
A console made by Spectravision (not to be mistaken for the
third party publisher of 2600 games, that’s a different
Spectravision) that was used in hotels and motels. This unit
had a selection switch for television, movies and games. Game
boards were able to be added by placing them into a 4-game
internal cartridge board rack.
Recently discovered, this device was planned to compliment
5200 Asteroids. The control layout is identical to the
coin-op. Only one of these items is known to exist.
A prototype system that is completely compatible with the
(4-port) 5200. It was a trimmed down version of the 5200, much
like how the 2600jr. was a low-cost redesign of the woodgrain
Atari 5200 Carrying Case
Made of durable hard plastic and shaped like a suitcase, it can
store the console, power supply and two joysticks. Similar to
the cases found in Blockbuster video for systems that it rents
out to its customers.
Atari 7800 Cartridge Adapter
Announced but never released. This adapter would have allowed
5200 owners to play 7800 games without buying the 7800 system
separately (although the savings would probably have been
Atari 5200 Joystick Coupler
Allowed dual-joystick action for Robotron: 2084 and Space
Dungeon by snapping two 5200 joysticks into place using this
connector. Packaged with both Robotron: 2084 and Space Dungeon,
and was not sold separately.
Atari Video System X
The working title of the 5200 before Atari opted for a
numerical designation for its “third wave” videogame system.
Actual photos of the VS-X, which looked almost exactly like the
5200 with the exception of a few cosmetic differences such as on
the face plate, were shown throughout contemporary magazines
for much of 1982.
Competition Pro Joystick
An excellent third-party controller, the Competition Pro is
micro-switch based, giving a satisfying “click, click” response
to movements in the joystick. (Arguably) Better than the Wico
Command Control Joystick, but harder to find.
Here’s a novel approach. Since games like Pac-Man require
pin-point precision control (something the 5200 sticks are
incapable of), Newport Controls decided to limit the movement
of the stick. They designed a piece of plastic that goes over
the top of a standard controller. It has grooves that only
allows the stick to go up, down, left, and right. A steal for
the $6.95 they originally sold for; so how come there aren’t
more of these floating around?
Fire Command Joystick
Offering a slightly different feel than its non-analog cousin
for the 2600, the 5200-compatible version featured two buttons
and a y-adapter that must be connected to the keypad for full
compatibility (like the Wico and Competition Pro).
Allowed its owners to program 5200 games using an Apple
Similar to the 2600 Kid’s Controller, only one prototype of
this peripheral is known to exist. Astro Grover and Big Bird’s
Hide & Seek are but two of the titles believed to support this
Without a doubt, this is the ultimate solution to your
5200 joystick woes. Quite simply, this handy little box allows
you to use 2600 compatible joysticks on the 5200 and has a port
to plug in a standard Atari joystick for keypad functions, etc.
For games that required the top fire button on a standard
stick, the Masterplay comes packaged with an auxiliary fire
button that does the job very well. There are two different
boxes available for the Interface; one is similar to a cartridge
box and the other is a smaller yet wider box. Both the
Masterplay Interface and Meteorites are sometimes listed as
being made by a company called Intellicon. In actuality,
Intellicon was nothing more than a mail-order company that
bought and sold off the remaining inventory from Electra Concepts.
Recently discovered, this device is identical in appearance to
the standard 5200 joystick controller, except that a paddle is
found on the top of the controller where the joystick is
POP Demo Kiosk
POP stands for Point Of Purchase. These demo units allowed
gamers to sample several 5200 carts. Much like the demo kiosks
for newer systems.
A home exercise bicycle with two hand grip controllers, a wheel
speed pickup, and the necessary interfacing for an Atari
computer or 5200. For detailed information, see the Puffer
section elsewhere in this FAQ.
Trak-Ball Controller (Transparent)
Recently discovered, the clear Trak-Ball was used for
promotional purposes only and was never planned for release.
Triga Elite Joystick
Only a very few of these were made. It is not known whether
they made it past the prototype stage and onto store shelves.
This joystick had two fire buttons, an adjustable rapid-fire
button, and a digital – analog switch. A picture can be seen on
the back of the Masterplay Interface box (2nd stick from the
Voice Commander Module
Milton Bradley and Atari were jointly associated with this
speech synthesis/recognition device, where Milton Bradley was to
develop the add-on while Atari was responsible for developing
games for it. However, Atari canned the idea shortly
thereafter. A module for the 2600 was also planned, but it too
was axed before development went too far. Milton Bradley later
sued Atari for breach of contract.
Wico Command Control Joystick
An analog (but self-centering) controller that featured two
fire buttons and the ability to calibrate the joysticks. Came
packaged with a y-adapter cord which enabled the use of keypad
functions of the standard 5200 controller.
Wico Command Control Numeric Keypad
A stand-alone keypad which substituted for the 5200 joystick
keypad when used in conjunction with the Wico joystick.
Although this item had a 9-pin connector, it was only compatible
with the Wico controller. Sold separately from the joystick.
3.4 — WHAT WAS THE TOP-SECRET “PUFFER PROJECT”?
Sensing an opportunity to bring health fitness and videogames
together, in 1982 Atari embarked on “Project Puffer,” a top-secret
mission to develop a home exercise bike with two hand grip
controllers, a wheel speed pickup, and the necessary attachments
for an Atari computer or 5200. By interfacing their machines to an
exercise bicycle, Atari planned to make exercising fun.
The Puffer featured hand controllers which easily attached to most
existing exercise cycles and gave the conscientious user directional
control. The act of peddling was to give the imaginary vehicle
motion and the rider exercise. Therefore, no peddling–no motion.
For the overzealous cyclist, a pulse rate sensor could be added to
monitor excessive heart beat activity.
The two hand controllers replaced the original hand grips on the
exercycle. The Puffer controllers were designed to fit as many of
the current exercycles as possible while at the same time remaining
inexpensive and durable. A magnet attached to the wheel monitored
the wheel speed and a Hall effect sensor detected the passing magnet
which can be read by the computer to calculate the wheel speed. The
housing for the sensor was also the junction box for the hand
controller cables and the computer cable. The computer required only
one cable to be connected to a joystick input.
Three new programs were developed to show Puffer’s capabilities in
particular applications, and one more was modified to show its
limitations. The games were Jungle River Cruise (originally called
“Riverboat”), Tumbleweeds, Pole Position, and Ms. Pac-Man, all for
the 5200 and 400/800 (a 2600 game appears to have never been
In order to reach a wide spectrum of consumers, Atari planned on
producing three Puffer models – the Pro Model, an Arcade Model and a
Home Model (for the 2600, 5200 and 8-bit computers)
The Home Model consisted of two types — a folding exercise bike
sourced on an OEM basis with Atari controls mounted on them, or an
add-on module for those who already own an exercise bike. The Home
Puffer was to plug into the joystick port of a 5200, 400/800 or VCS.
The suggested retail price was to be $150 with one game packaged with
the Puffer. Atari had plans on releasing controllers to fit other
exercise instruments such as rowing machines and foot pads if the
Puffer proved to be a success.
Just as Atari was ready for production of the Puffer and its
compatible software programs, the project was put in the back burner
as Atari began to lose an incredible amount of money in the
marketplace. The Puffer was resurrected in early 1984, and Atari
planned to aggressively market and sell the Puffer in the summer of
1984, with a full-scale marketing campaign that was to coincide with
the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics.
However, the purchase of Atari by Sam Tramiel in the Spring of 1984
brought an end to the ambitious product, as the new regime under
the Tramiels sought to identify Atari as a professional home computer
For more detailed information about the Puffer, including pictures,
schematics, game information and internal corporate documents, please
visit the Project Puffer Page at..
4.0) TECHNICAL INFO AND HARDWARE SPECIFICATIONS
4.1 — HARDWARE SPECIFICATIONS
CPU: 6502C (8-bit), 1.78 MHz
Memory: 16K RAM
Colors: 256, 16 on-screen
Power Supply: 4-Port: 11.5VDC @ 1.95A
2-Port: 9.3VDC @ 1.95A
Note: You can ignore the power supply specifications. Both the
4-port and 2-port power supplies are functionally identical.
As long as it’s part #C018187, it will power either flavor
5200. Have trust in the console’s voltage regulators to take
care of things.
4.2 — HARDWARE OVERVIEW
The Atari 5200 is essentially a console version of the Atari 8-bit
Computers (400/800, XL, XE, XEGS). The functions of the system are
divided up between four major IC chips:
The CPU in the 5200 is a modified 6502 processor. The only
difference is that Atari’s version of this CPU has some extra
hardware on board that allows the ANTIC chip to take over the bus to
do Direct Memory Access (DMA).
POKEY’s main job is to generate sound and to perform a variety of
other miscellaneous functions. The POKEY chip has four separate
channels, and the pitch, volume and distortion values of each of
these channels can be controlled individually. POKEY is also used to
read the position of each of the joysticks, and scans the keypad on
each controller for key presses. Its other functions include the
random number generator, IRQ handling, and 3 high-speed counters.
POKEY also has a serial communications port that is connected to the
5200’s expansion port.
ANTIC can be thought of as the 5200’s graphics co-processor. ANTIC
has direct access to RAM where it reads a special program called the
display list. The display list tells ANTIC exactly how to draw the
display and then sends information to the GTIA which generates the
actual video signals. The 5200 supports 17 seperate video modes;
some are character modes, others graphic. Each mode has a different
combination of vertical size, horizontal size, and number of colors.
Using the display list, these modes can be mixed freely on a single
screen, so for example a screen could have a couple lines of text
mode at the top, a block of hi-res graphics in the middle, and more
text at the bottom. The location in memory that the display date
comes from can easily be controlled through ANTIC. The display data
can be almost anywhere in memory, and it is even possible for the
data for each line to come from totally different places in memory.
This allows horizontal and vertical scrolling to be implemented very
easily. ANTIC is also responsible for controlling Non-Maskable
Interrupt to the processor.
The GTIA’s main responsibility is to generate the video signals to
the TV and to handle sprites. The GTIA is where the actual colors
are put into the video signal. The 5200 has a palette of 256 colors.
Most video modes only allow four colors, but a facility in the ANTIC
chip allows the values of these colors to be changed on each line of
the screen, so it is possible to have all 256 colors on screen at
once. The 5200 has four player and four missile sprites. Player
sprite are eight pixels wide and either 128 or 256 pixels high,
missiles are two pixels wide and either 128 or 256 pixels high. Each
sprite can have its on color, independent from the normal screen
colors. The GTIA chip can detect collisions between players,
missiles, and the playfield. This chip is also responsible for
reading joystick trigger buttons, and controlling which controller
is being read by POKEY.
4.3 — MEMORY MAP
$0000 – $3FFF RAM
$4000 – $BFFF Cartridge ROM
$C000 – $C0ff GTIA
$D400 – $D5FF ANTIC
$E800 – $E8FF POKEY
$F800 – $FBFF Character Set ROM
$FC00 – $FFFF System ROM
4.4 — BIOS
The 2K BIOS has three functions:
1) To initialize the system, draw the Atari rainbow logo, and
transfer control to the cartridge. Note: Some cartridges bypass
the Atari logo and init the system on their own.
2) To service interrupts.
3) To maintain RAM copies (shadows) of important hardware registers.
4.5 — 5200 CONTROLLER PINOUT
1 Keypad — right column
2 Keypad — middle column
3 Keypad — left column
4 Start, Pause and Reset column
5 Keypad — third row and reset
6 Keypad — second row and pause
7 Keypad — top row and Start
8 Keypad — bottom row
9 Pot common
10 Horizontal Pot (POT0, 2, 4, 6)
11 Vertical Pot (POT1, 3, 5, 7)
12 5 Volts DC
13 Bottom side buttons
14 Top side buttons
15 0 volts — ground
4.6 — CARTRIDGE SLOT PINOUT
D0 1 36 Interlock
D1 2 35 A11
D2 3 34 A12
D3 4 33 A10
D4 5 32 A13
D5 6 31 A9
D6 7 30 Audio In (2-port)
D7 8 29 A8
Enable 80-BF 9 28 Not Connected
Enable 40-7F 10 27 A7
Not Connected 11 26 +12VDC directly from the power adapter
Ground 12 25 Ground
Ground 13 24 Ground (Video In on 2-port)
A6 15 22 A4
A5 16 21 A3
A2 17 20 A1
Interlock 18 19 A0
4.7 — EXPANSION PORT PINOUT
+5V DC 1 36 +5V DC
Audio Out 2 35 Not connected
Ground 3 34 Ground
R/W Early 4 33 Not connected
Enable E0-EF 5 32 D7
D6 6 31 D5
D4 7 30 D3
D2 8 29 D1
D0 9 28 Ground
IRQ 10 27 A0
Ground 11 26 A1
Serial Data In 12 25 A2
In Clock 13 24 A3
Serial Out Clock 14 23 A4
Serial Data Out 15 22 A5
Audio In 16 21 A6
A14 17 20 A7
System Clock 01 18 19 A11
4.8 — WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE 2-PORT AND
The 4-joystick-port model comes with an automated RF switch box that
is not found in the 2-port machine. The 4-port unit has a unique
power setup. The power supply plugs into the TV switchbox and the
TV wire from the 5200 carries power to the system from the switchbox
while also providing the video display to the TV. In addition, most
4-port 5200 systems cannot use the VCS cartridge adapter without
modifications. Several other minor differences also exist between
the two machines.
(Taken from ANALOG Magazine)
Later releases of the 5200 incorporate some minor hardware changes.
Controller ports 3 and 4 have been eliminated, making POT7, TRIG2,
TRIG3, and bit 1 of CONSOL useless. A few of the connector pins
have been redefined. Pin 2 of the I/O expansion connector now
carries POKEY’s Audio Out signal. Three pins on the cartridge
connector have changed to accommodate the new 2600 adapter. The
system clock, 02, is output on pin 14, isolated through a diode. An
alternate video input is taken from pin 24 and is also isolated
through a diode. Pin 30 provides an alternate audio input.
There is space on the newer boards for circuitry for a PAL (European
TV standard) version of the 5200. Also, on power-up, the monitor
program checks for the PAL version by examining the GTIA register PAL
after step 2 of the initialization routine. It also checks the
cartridge program for PAL compatibility. The byte at $BFE7 should
read $02 if compatible, or $00 if not. This is the only important
change to the monitor program. There are some additional hardware
changes, but none affects the machine’s operation from the
4.9 — HOW CAN THE 4-PORT MODEL BE MODIFIED TO WORK WITH THE VCS
Early 5200s that have four joystick ports cannot accept the VCS
(2600) adapter unless modifications are made. However, Best
Electronics offers an adapter kit which allows the use of the VCS
adapter on 4-port models.
*** NOTE — Owners of 4-port 5200 machines with an “*” as part of
the serial number are in luck. Atari apparently made a small run of
VCS-compatible 4-port units before changing over to the 2-port units.
4.10 – 2-PORT PRODUCTION MODIFICATIONS
There are three production modifications to the logic board of 2-port
5200 systems. A number of people have seen these mods on their 5200s
and the mods appear to have been factory installed.
1. Pin 11 of A5 (GTIA) is lifted out of the socket. This pin on the
GTIA is the trigger 3 input which is unused on the 2-port model.
When it is in the socket, it is connected to trigger 1. This mod
probably had something to do with the change from 4-ports to 2.
2. Pins 8,9,10 and 11 of A7 (POKEY) are connected to pin 1 of A7 on
the back of the board. This mod connects the paddle 4,5,6 and 7
inputs to ground. This mod also had something to do with the
change from 4-ports to 2.
3. A wire is run from the feed thru below C94 to A27 pin 1, pin 1
and 2 of A27 are connected together on the back of the board, pin
10 of A15 is lifted, and connected to A27 pin 3. This
modification alters the timing of CAS to the dynamic RAM.
4.11 – LOGIC BOARD IC CHIP FUNCTIONS
(Locations refer to the 2-port version, these may be different on the
Video signal buffer
A2 C014806 CPU 6502C
This is a custom version of the standard 6502 microprocessor. It is
functionally identical to a standard 6502, except that hardware has
been added to it that allows the ANTIC chip to do Direct Memory
A3 C012296 ANTIC
This chip is a microprocessor that reads data directly from RAM to
determine how the screen should be drawn and controls the GTIA to
actually generate the graphics. The ANTIC is also responsible for
A5 C014805 GTIA
This chip is responsible for generating the video signal to the TV,
generating sprites, reading the joystick trigger buttons, and
controlling the reading of the joysticks and keypads (the actual
reading is done by POKEY).
A7 C012294 POKEY
This chip is responsible for generating sound, reading the position
of the joystick, reading the keypad buttons, processing IRQ’s and,
controlling the serial I/O port which is accessible through the
A8 C019156A ROM BIOS
This is a 2K ROM chip that holds the character set and the BIOS
software. The BIOS initializes the system and to service interrupts.
Keypad scanning multiplexers.
Control signal buffering.
DRAM control signals.
DRAM address multiplexers.
A18-25 MK4516 1x16K DRAM
Power on/off switch latch.
4.12 – DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE 5200 AND ATARI 8-BIT COMPUTERS
The 5200 is basically an Atari Computer without a keyboard. It has
all the major chips that the computers have with the exception of the
PIA chip, but most of the chips are at different memory locations.
The differences between the two machines are as follows:
The 5200 has a fixed 16K of RAM. Memory locations $00-$18 and
$200-$21B are reserved for the BIOS to use.
The BIOS ROM of the 5200 is only 2K instead of 10K. Virtually
none of the computer’s BIOS functions are implemented on the 5200.
The 5200 does not have a System Reset key, so bit 5 of NMIST is
The trigger inputs, TRIG0-TRIG3 are connected to the bottom
buttons of the controllers. The 5200 does not have Start, Select,
or Option buttons, so these lines are used as outputs. Bit 2 of
CONSOL enables and disables the joystick pots. Bits 0 and 1
control which keypad controller is being read. This only affects
the keypad buttons, and the top trigger buttons.
The eight paddle inputs from the computer are now wired to the
joysticks, 2 to each stick, one for vertical position and the
other for horizontal position. The joysticks are read in the same
way that the computer’s paddles are read. On the 5200 the KBCODE
register bits 1-4 hold the scan code from the currently selected
keypad controller. Bit 6 of KBCODE is used to read the top button
of the controllers instead of the SHIFT key. They also cause the
BREAK-key interrupt. The POKEY’s serial lines are connected to
the expansion connector.
The cartridges can be up to 32K. There are two interlock
connectors that are wired together on a cartridge board. The 5200
uses this as a switch for the cartridge’s power connections and as
a Reset signal. Therefore, a cartridge may be safely removed or
inserted while the 5200 is powered on.
4.13 – CHROMA/LUMA (COMPOSITE VIDEO) AND AUDIO OUTPUT MODIFICATION
Differences between 2-port and 4-port consoles:
Not surprisingly, there are very few appreciable differences
between the 2-port and 4-port variations of the 5200. For the
purposes of this article, they are considered to be identical.
Where to get signals:
Most of the components do not have visible labels on the board’s
silkscreen, so giving component numbers is not useful. In the
upper right corner of the area of the board that’s covered by the
shielding, there is a horizontal row of components.
o o o o o o o o o o o o
| | | | | | | | | | | |
C R3 R2 R1 D R R R R R R R
| | | | | | | | | | | |
o o o o o o o o o o o o
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
| | | | | `-Chroma
| | | | `—-Luma 1
| | | `——-Sync
| | `———-Luma 0
| `————-Luma 2
There is a row of components to the right of the GTIA (C014805)
and below a cluster of inductors and transistors.
o o o o o o o o o o o
| | | | | | | | | | |
R40 R R R R R C R R C C
| | | | | | | | | | |
o o o o o o o o o o o
The Luma signal needs amplification to be useful. After probing
around on an Atari 800 (a close relative to the 5200 that
conveniently has Croma/Luma outputs built-in), I realized the
amplifier circuit they used is remarkably similar to the one
attributed to Thomas Clancy in the Classic Atari Game Systems FAQ.
Rather than try to copy the circuit on the Atari 800 or design one
from scratch, I decided to use the one given there. The only
significant difference is the addition of another level of
(2) 75ohm – an 82 ohm works well (RS 271-1107)
CR – low power silicon diode (RS 276-1122)
Q – 3904 or equivalent (RS 276-2016)
| 100uF |
| \/ GND
CR1 750 1.6K | 10 | + |
Luma 2 —/\/\/—–| | \|\e/ 75 __
18K | | \—–,—/\/\/—–O__ LUMA
Luma 1 —/\/\/—–| | 2K | | OUTPUT
36K | `-/\/\/—-/\/\/–` GND \/
Luma 0 —/\/\/—–` | 75
In my experience, the 5200’s chroma signal is sufficiently strong
that it can be used without amplification. On my own 5200, I
ran the chroma through a 2kohm resistor to “take the edge off,”
then a 1uF capacitor to filter the DC voltage off. Play around
with the resistance there to find what suits you.
2k 1uF __
Chroma —/\/\/—|(———————————–O__ CHROMA
This is just a capacitor to filter out the DC voltage.
Audio ——|(—————————————–O__ AUDIO
Composite video output:
To gain composite output, just tie the Luma and Chroma outputs
together into a single output.
Where to put it:
I mounted the circuits on a small project board from Radio Shack,
tapping into the appropriate points on the 5200 board with a
length of ribbon cable. I then tucked the board into the
controller storage space at the back of the console and ran the
output signals to three RCA jacks I had mounted in the removable
expansion interface cover. That way the only permanently
modified/damaged piece (the cover) is also one that is easily
4.14 — HOW DO I BUILD A SWITCHBOX FOR THE 4-PORT 5200?
The early Atari 5200’s came with an unusual switchbox which supplied
power to the 5200 down the same wire the 5200 uses to send the video
signal to your TV. The power supply plugged into the switchbox.
Unfortunately, these switchboxes seem to have gotten lost over the
years and are difficult to come by. Newer 5200’s (the one with only
two controller ports) had the power supply jack on the console
itself. Fortunately, it is not difficult to construct your own
RF/power supply box for the 5200. There is one difference, though.
The original 5200 switchbox would automatically switch from your TV
antenna/cable to the 5200 when you turned the console on. With the
RF/power box described below, you will need to use a standard
The following parts are needed to construct the box. Where
applicable, Radio Shack part numbers, and prices, have been
provided (these may be outdated). You may use another RCA jack in
place of the F jack if you wish. I chose to use the F jack to avoid
ever accidentally plugging the 5200 and TV cables in backwards,
which would result in 11.5 volts DC going into your TV set,
possibly damaging it.
RS# Part Price
——– —————————- —–
270-235 2″x2.75″x1.625″ Aluminum Box $1.99
274-1563 Coaxial DC power jack $1.79
278-212 Cable TV type F jack (2 pack) $0.99
(optional, see above)
274-346 RCA type phono jack (4 pack) $2.49
272-131 0.01 uF Ceramic Disc capacitor (2 pack) $0.59
Small metal bolt (1″ long, 3/8″ diam, approx)
22 guage solid wire (14″ or so)
Total $7.85 + local tax
Drill holes in the aluminum box for each jack to match the diagram
below. The box itself forms the common ground connection to all
three jacks. To reduce signal loss and ensure the common ground, it
is recommended that chrome or gold plated type jacks be used.
F jack (to TV)
| |__| |<— aluminum box>of the F jack and the RCA jack.
| \/ | jack. Make the choke by winding
| \ | at least 10 turns of 22 gauge
| Choke \ | solid, insulated wire around a
| —|/////|—\ | 3/8″ (approx) diameter bolt.
| _L _L | Wrap tape around the completed
+——| |———-| |——+ choke to prevent it from
|__| |__| unwinding. Strip the insulation
DC power jack RCA jack off of each end of the choke
(to pwr supply) (to 5200) leads. Solder the leads of the
choke to the center pins of
the DC power jack and the RCA
jack. Screw the box shut.
The switchbox works as follows. The capacitor transparently passes
the video signal from the 5200 to the TV output jack, while at the
same time preventing the DC power from the power supply jack from
going into your TV. The choke (inductor) transparently passes the
11.5 volt DC power to the 5200 via the RCA jack while at the same
time preventing the video signal from escaping back down the power
supply wire. The bolt around which the choke is wound helps to
increase the choke’s inductance to block more of the video signal
from going back into the power supply than it otherwise would. The
aluminum box itself helps keep the video signal confined to where
it belongs to prevent possible interference and to ensure that as
much of the signal as possible gets to your TV. For this reason,
plastic boxes are not recommended.
Finally, another note about the 5200 power supply. The 5200 power
supply is 11.5 volts DC @ 1.95 amps and has a standard type coaxial
plug (center positive 5mm OD, 2.1mm ID). Or you could construct one
from a transformer, 4 diodes, two capacitors, a resistor, a 3A adj.
voltage regulator, heat sink, case, and cabling, or find a 12V 2A
power supply and add a diode inline to drop the voltage by 0.5V.
5.0) MAINTENANCE, REPLACEMENT AND REPAIR TIPS
5.1 — CONSOLE
Repairing 5200 consoles:
Bob Ayik found one console that just would not turn on. He checked
the board and power was appropriately present. Easy fix – soldier a
SPST switch – one end to Pin 18 of cart. slot, the other end to
ground. Plug a cartridge in and flip switch and you are set.
Repairing power supplies:
If you have a dead power supply, there is a fuse in it. Remove
the screw on the bottom and then check the fuse. Oftentimes, the
insulation on the cord cracks where it goes into the power supply.
Easy fix – open the power supply, disconnect the cord wires, cut
the wires, strip off some insulation, reconnect them and then change
The 4-port power supply (CO18187 – 9.3V DC@1.95 amp) has 2 screws on
the bottom allowing easy access. The fuse is on a board inside.
The fuse is 5A 250V slow blow (Radio Shack part #: 270-1027) and is
easy to change.
The 2-port PS (CO18187 Model #: DV-9319-A – 11.5V DC@1.95 amp) does
not have visible screws for access. A good guess is that they are
hidden under the rubber feet on the bottow. It is assumed that the
fuse is similar.
5.2 — CONTROLLERS
5.21 – CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Atari 5200 controller buttons, mainly the fire and start/pause/reset
buttons, wear out prematurely, either by repeated use or by periods
of non-use. Here’s the easy way to fix the 5200 controller buttons.
The buttons work by pressing a carbon coated disc against a set of
circuits. The two circuits are interweaved and a connection is made
when the carbon touches both traces. The traces look like this:
The carbon coated discs are located on the underside of the rubber
you press. What makes them quit working is the exposed circuit
traces which corrode and get dirty, not allowing the connection to be
made. This is especially true if the controllers are stored for some
time in a damp place (or just unused for a long amount of time) (or
especially if you spill pop on them :). The quick way to fix them is
to clean the traces. This can be done by rubbing (gently!) with a
pencil eraser until shiny clean. This will remedy the situation, but
they will soon corrode again, depending on use. (some versions of the
controllers used different coatings on the traces to avoid this, but
these only slightly prolong the life of the buttons; I haven’t seen
any that don’t need some periodic cleaning). To open the controller
to clean, follow these steps EXACTLY:
1) With a small screwdriver, pry up the bezel surrounding the start/
pause/reset buttons. Remove the rubber buttons if they don’t
come out with the bezel. Now peel the printed circuit off the
plastic case; it’s just glued onto it. Lift the right side, as
the left side has connections into the controller. Do NOT rip or
remove the circuit, just unglue it from the case.
2) Remove the three screws from the bottom of the case. Center the
joystick, and leave it there. Now seperate the case halves by
first starting at the start/pause/reset end. The other end is
pressed together; it will snap apart if you seperate the cases.
Don’t move the potentiometers in the bottom of the case for the
stick won’t mate back up when you put it back together.
3) Remove the fire buttons and their bezels. Now the traces for the
fire buttons are exposed. Clean them by rubbing with an eraser.
Wipe off with a clean napkin or something similar afterwards.
4) Place the fire buttons and their bezels into the lower half of
the case. Guide the start/pause/reset circuit up through the
upper case half where it belongs, and bring the two halves
together. By centering the stick before placing the halves
together, its receptacle will automatically fit into the bottom
of the case, and the two directional axis plates will
automatically hook up with the potentiometers. It’s best to
place the numerical keypad end together loosely first, as this
will allow peering into the joystick end as it goes together to
make sure everything lines up. The end of the joystick has to go
into the hole in the bottom case, and the posts on the two arms
on the potentiometers have to go into their respective holes on
the plates in the upper case. After aligning everything
together, make sure the stick moves in all directions freely and
completely. If so, you can screw back in the three screws.
5) Re-stick the start/pause/reset circuit to the case, then clean
these traces as described above. Replace the buttons and the
You can also clean the keypad traces while it’s apart, they don’t
seem to get used as much, so will usually work a lot longer. The
flex circuits with the traces on them are fragile, so be gentle
around them. A hairline crack in a trace can cause certain buttons
not to work at all. These cracks can be repaired by soldering a
bridge over the crack. Careful, the flex circuit often melts before
the solder does!
The permanent way to fix these buttons is by soldering sealed,
surface-mount micro-button switches onto the circuits. This not only
makes the buttons ALWAYS work, but also gives them a ‘snap’ action,
compared to the mushy feel of the original buttons. The switches I
use are small enough to fit under the original rubber buttons, so
expect for them to work and feel different; you can’t tell from the
outside that any change has been made. If anyone is interested in
having their sticks retro-fitted with these superior buttons, let
5.22 – REPLACING AND REPAIRING 5200 CONTROLLERS
One of the most “beat upon” parts of the joystick are the “fire”
buttons. The good news is that they can be replaced easily.
First you will need to order replacement parts. I recommend
replacing all the internal parts except for the pots (unless you
experience specific difficulties with them). Best Electronics offers
Description Quantity per joystick Part # $$$
———– ——————— —— —
Fire Buttons 2 (provides 4 buttons) C020501 $2
Start/Pause/Reset Buttons 1 C018128 $2.50
Numeric Keypad 1 C018126 $2.50
Internal Flex Circuit 1 C018124 $2.50
Controller Boot 1 C021084 $0.50
Boot Retaining Ring 1 C018116 $0.20
Total per joystick 7 $10.20
1. Use a knife to remove the plastic bezel containing the Start,
Pause & Reset buttons.
2. Remove the 3 screws holding the joystick together.
3. Use a screwdriver, at the base, to seperate the two halves of the
4. Remove the fire buttons from each side, making sure to save the
plastic bezel that holds them in (you’ll need this when
installing the new Fire buttons).
5. Remove the old flex circuit. It was probably attached with
double-sided tape. Replace this tape when installing the new
flex circuit. First make certain the new circuit fits well, then
add the tape.
6. Replace the fire buttons mounted in their plastic bezels.
7. Center the numeric keypad on top of the flex circuit. Use the
top half of the joystick to estimate where it should fit. Also
use the guide pegs that align the FC into place.
8. Before re-attaching the joystick, make sure the pots are oriented
correctly so that you maximize the chance that the stick will
line up properly.
The correct position of the pots are:
Top pot peg positioned at 10 O’clock.
Bottom pot peg positioned at 6 O’clock.
9. Re-attach the top half of the joystick. Make sure you feed the
flex circuit for the start/pause/reset buttons through the slot
on the left. Also make sure the joystick handle fits into the
cup in between the two pots.
10. Before replacing the screws in the bottom, slowly move the
joystick handle around to see if it “feel like it’s in place.
11. If it feels good, replace the screws.
How do you tell if it is lined up properly?
Play a game like Missile Command or any game that features up/down
movement as well as side-to-side. If one or more dircections fail
you will need to reopen the joystick and follow from instruction #8
6.0) ALTERNATIVES TO THE STANDARD CONTROLLERS
5200 gamers, rejoice! For individuals who have long suffered at the
hands of the unreliable and imprecise (for some games) standard 5200
controllers, there are a slew of alternatives which are mentioned
6.1 — THIRD PARTY JOYSTICK CONTROLLERS
Wico Command Control Joystick (by Wico)
A decent alternative to the original controllers, the Wico is an
analog stick which comes with a Y-cable which enables the 5200
joystick to be used for keypad functions.
Competition Pro Joystick (by Coin Controls)
An excellent alternative to the standard 5200 joystick, this
controller is a ball-handled microswitch joystick that offers
tremendous feel and control for most games. Highly recommended.
Fire Command Joystick (GIM Electronics)
Unlike the aformentioned two “hand held” controllers, the Fire
Command Joystick is an arcade-style tabletop joystick with a
sturdy metallic base. It features two fire buttons on each side
of the joystick, allowing for lefties to get in on the fun. The
fire buttons are carbon copies of arcade buttons as well. A
6.2 — MASTERPLAY INTERFACE (by Electra Concepts)
This is THE device to have for any collector or die-hard gamer. The
handy plug-in unit allows 5200 owners to replace the system’s analog
joystick with any number of 2600-compatible, digital joysticks. In
addition, the Interface features a slide switch so that a digital
joystick can be used in either a remote ‘start’ mode or a ‘fire’
model depending upon the game. A second slide switch lets you keep
the unit permanently connected to the console so that the analog
controller functions, including the use of the keyboard portion by
itself, can be accomplished simply and easily. The Masterplay
Interface originally came packaged with a second fire button for
games that require it. This button can either be taped or velcroed
to the 2600-compatible controller.
6.3 — BUILD YOUR OWN 2600 JOYSTICK ADAPTER
* (1) 4069 (Hex Inverter)
* (1) 4066 (Quad analog switch)
* (2) PNP 3906 transistor or similiar
* (2) silicon diodes
* (4) 4.7 kohm resistor
* (2) 10 kohm resistor
* (2) 250 kohm resistor \ Values of these resistors are critical.
* (2) 500 kohm resistor / Get as close as you can by stacking.
Don’t trust the stripes on those resistors;
take the time to actually measure them.
* (1) 9-pin male Dsub connector (for 2600 joystick connection)
* (1) 15-pin female Dsub connector (for 5200 port connection)
5200 port 2600 stick
pin func pin func
12 +5V———————+–7 +5V (2600 sticks)
`–5 +5V (Sega sticks)
15 Ground———————8 Ground
13 Bottom Fire—————-6 Fire (2600 fire, or Sega B button)
14 Top Fire——————-9 Fire (Sega C button)
PNP \|___/\/\_____3 West
3906 ^| |
9 Pot ________/ |
PNP \|___/\/\_____1 North
3906 ^| |
9 Pot ________/ |
12 +5V—-+–/\/\—+———4 East
| 4.7K |
| | _________
| +————|1 \/ 14|–+5V
| | | |
| | +———|2 13|
| | | | |
| | | | |
| | | +——|4 4069 11|
| | | | | |
| | | | |5 10|
| | | | | |
| | | | |6 9|
| | | | | |
| | | | GND–|7_______8|
| | | |
| | | |
| | | `—————————+
| | `—————————+ |
| | | |
9 Pot | | 500K _________ | |
Common———–|–|–+—/\/\–|1 \/ 14|–+5V | |
diode | | | | | | |
10 H-Pot—|<——-><—->| |
| | `–|———|5 10|–+—–|–+
| | | | | | | |
| `—–|———|6 9|–‘ | |
| | | | 250K | |
| | GND–|7_______8|–/\/\–+ |
| | | |
| `—————————-‘ |
Notice there are four unused inputs on the 4069. These could
potentially be used for other things, like a rapid-fire circuit.
If you’re not going to use them, tie the inputs (pins 5, 9, 11,
and 13) to ground.
* Pushing east on the stick grounds the horizontal circuit, mimicking
the effect of infinite resistance between pot common and H-pot.
* Pushing west causes a short circuit between pot common and H-pot,
i.e. zero resistance.
* The fire button works exactly like it does on the regular 5200
* If you’re using a Genesis controller, button B functions as the
bottom fire button, and button C as the top.
* No more problems with games that were unplayable with your non-
centering 5200 sticks.
* Cheap! It only costs about eleven dollars on the raw materials for
one of these, including some rather fancy touches (Y-adapter,
switchable analog stick, etc.)
* It should work with every 2600 joystick there is. I’ve tested it
with my mechanical switch sticks, my Genesis-to-7800 pad, my
NES-to-7800 pad, and my 2600 remote control joysticks, and they all
work peachy keen.
* 2600 sticks don’t have two fire buttons. If you want, you can glue
an extra fire button onto your 2600-compatible stick of choice.
Just wire it up between port pins 14 and 15.
* Won’t work with games that require the analog capabilities of the
5200 stick, like Missile Command. A few other games like Galaxian
and Centipede make limited use of the analog-osity of the regular
stick by giving two movement speeds depending on how far you push
the stick. With the adapter, you can only get the fastest speed.
It’s not a huge handicap, but it’s probably worth mentioning.
* Neither this adapter nor the Masterplay Interface gets along well
with three particular games: Qix, Vanguard and Ms.Pac-Man. There
are others, but I haven’t gotten around to trying it on all the
games yet. They will respond to pushing east (or south) on the
stick as if you’re pushing west (or north). No real clue exactly
why this happens, but you may be able to make them work by starting
up a game, thrashing the digital stick around until the game
behaves itself, then starting a new game. It might work for you,
and it might not. YMMV.
6.4 — PC ANALOG JOYSTICK TO 5200 ADAPTER
Yes, you can build an adapter Y-cable for the 5200 to allow the use
of a PC analog joystick. You plug the Atari 5200 controller into one
connecter to use its keypad. You plug a PC joystick into the other
connecter for movement and buttons. Great for Star Raiders and
Galaxian. OK for Super Breakout if you have a steady hand.
How to Connect a PC Joystick to an Atari 5200 System
This is an adapter for connecting a PC joystick to an Atari 5200.
It’s a small cable with two 15 pin connectors on one end and
one 15 pin connector on the other. The single connector end plugs
into the A5200. One the other end, one connector is for a PC
joystick and the other is for an Atari 5200 controller. The keypad
and top row buttons are used on the 5200 controller as usual. The PC
joystick replaces the A5200 direction control and fire buttons.
Any PC compatible joystick will work, but some PC compatible
joystick are digital instead of analog. These seem mostly of the
joypad variety. You can still use digital joysticks, but some games
will not work. Super Breakout is the big one that is impossible to
play with a digital PC joystick (Well you can, but the paddle can
only be all the way left, all the way right, or in the middle).
Games like Pac-man and Defender play no different with a digital PC
joystick. However, I have noticed, that games like Galaxian and Star
Raiders play better with an analog joystick. For example the ship in
Galaxian has two speeds in each direction. Moving the stick a little
to the left will move the ship slowly to the left and moving the
stick all the way to the left will move the ship at a faster speed.
So these games are still playable with a digital joystick but won’t
have the same feel as an analog joystick.
For the serious gamers, I would recommend an analog joystick
with trimmer controls. The trimmers allow optimum sensitivity
adjustment and as a bonus you can play Super Breakout with just the
trimmer control. There’s one from Quickshot called the Warrior 5
that is only $10. If you have a joystick without trimmers like the
Thrustmaster, it still works, but it seems more sensitive in one
direction than another. This can be fixed by playing with different
Some of you may be wondering about calibration. I can’t confirm
this, but from my observations, there is some auto calibration going
on. For example, I put in Galaxian, and press start. My ship starts
moving right even though I’m in the neutral position. However, If I
move all the way left and all the way right, the ship always stops
when I’m in neutral position. I have observed this behavior with my
adapter as well as the Atari 5200 controller.
I have also been asked about the Gravis PC Gamepad. I don’t know
for sure, but I believe the Gravis PC Gamepad is digital. Feel
free to correct me if I am wrong. If it is, it comes under the same
restrictions discussed above.
If anybody is interested in making these adapters to sell, you have
my permission. All I ask is that somewhere you give me credit for
Now the Disclaimer. I am not responsible for:
1. Any damage done to your A5200
2. Any damage done to your PC Joystick.
3. Any errors in these instructions or schematic.
I’m not going to give step by step instructions. I’m going to
assume that the reader has some basic knowledge of electronics and
can figure out what to do with the schematics and info presented
here. I will, however, answer questions if asked.
Now that I covered my backside, here is how to do it:
2 15 pin Female Sub-miniature D connectors
2 15 pin Male Sub-miniature D connectors
2 .22uF Ceramic Capacitors
1 ~1 ft. 15 pin cable
| | | |
| 1 1 |_________________________| 1 1 |
| 5 | | 5 |
| 2 |_________________________| 2 |
| P | | P | A5200
| I 3 |_________________________| 3 I | Controller
A5200 | N | | N |
| 4 |_________________________| 4 | No connection
| F | | M | on pins 9-15
| E 5 |_________________________| 5 A |
| M | | L |
| A 6 |_________________________| 6 E |
| L | | |
| E 7 |_________________________| 7 C |
| | | O |
| C 8 |_________________________| 8 N |
| O | |________|
| N |
| | ________
| | | |
| 13|_________________________| 2 1 |
| | | 5 |
| 14|_________________________| 7 |
| | | P | PC
| 9 |_________________________| 1 I | Joystick
| | | N |
| 10|_____x___________________| 3 | No connection
| | | | F | on pins 5, 8-15
| 11|_____|_________x_________| 6 E |
| | | | | M |
| | _|_ _|_ | A |
| | ___ ___ | L |
| | | .22uF | .22uF | E |
| | | | | |
| 15|_____x_________x_________| 4 C |
| | | O |
| | Gnd | N |
1. Wire up one end of the cable to a 15 pin female connector. This
will be the connector that goes to the Atari 5200. Wire the
other two connectors to the other end of the cable.
2. The value of the capacitors is not critical. If the PC joystick
has a trimmer, a slightly smaller or larger value should work.
3. The type of capacitor is not important. If polarized caps are
used, connect the negative leads to the 15—4 wire.
4. Because the Atari 5200 joystick connector is so deep, using a
clam shell cover for this adapter connector makes it very loose.
I recommend heat shrink tubing or electrical tape on this end.
6.5 — CONVERTING A STANDARD 5200 JOYSTICK TO A PADDLE CONTROLLER
The analog 5200 joystick makes it perfect for a paddle conversion,
right? Now there’s a way to convert your joystick into a paddle
PARTS required: at least one *paddle* from an Atari 2600 (not from
the driving controller) and one 5200 joystick controller.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This project disables the horizontal capability of
the 5200 stick which is assumed by the paddle controller. This
works great for games like Breakout and Space Invaders but is less
useful for things like Mario Brothers… Although the process is
potentially reversible, it is recommended that you use a spare 5200
Take the 2600 paddle and cut one of the control cables right behind
the end of the 9-pin connector. (I’m not sure if cutting off one
paddle will still leave the other active for one-player games since
I was operating with a defective pair. If anyone experiments with
this, drop me a note.)
Open up the paddle and note the color of the wire connections to the
pot (two wires) and fire button (two wires.) There should be three
terminals on the pot. Unsolder the wire on the outside terminal
(i.e. not the middle one) and solder it to the opposite side. If you
don’t do this, the paddle will cause the cursor to move in the wrong
Close up the 2600 controller and open up the 5200 controller. I
used a small file to make a notch in the top half of the 5200
controller just below the silver logo plate. The U-shaped notch I
made allows for the paddle cable to slip into it and be held in place
when the 5200 controller is reassmbled. One you have a satisfactory
test fit, you are ready to wire the controllers together.
For convenenience, I will use the following colors based on the
paddle I used. If your colors are different, make the appropriate
red- paddle pot, center terminal
yellow – paddle pot, “outside” terminal
brown – fire button
black – fire button
Take the open 5200 contrller and detach both wires from the
horizontal pot (the “lower” pot, closest to the numeric keypad.)
Connect the paddle yellow wire to the black wire from the 5200 pot
(although removed from the horizontal pot, it will remain connected
to the other pot.) Connect the red paddle wire to the brown wire
from the 5200 pot.
The remaining two paddle need to be connected “across” one of the
lower 5200 buttons (to allow the paddle button to fire the ball in
breakout.) You can do this by carefully scraping off the plastic
from the traces going to each side of one of the lower buttons and
carefully soldering the black and brown paddle wires to each side of
the button. I chose to locate the on the outermost trace running
down the left side of the numeric keypad and the brown wire on the
next to outermost trace running down the right side of the numeric
keypad. You may have to trim the keypad gasket edges slightly to
clear these wires and allow it to lie flat.
The new paddle-joystick may be tested before reassembly. Pop in the
Breakout cartridge and select a game. The button on the paddle
should fire the ball to start the game and the paddle (which can also
be tested before the game is started) should move the onscreen paddle
left and right just like on the 2600.
If everything seems to be working ok, reassemble the 5200 stick with
the paddle cable threaded out the side and enjoy! Be careful to
route the paddle wires so they aren’t crushed by any of the plastic
supports in the 5200 stick and aren’t in the way of the screw holes!
If you’ve felt that the joystick just doesn’t cut it for 5200 Super
Breakout, Kaboom and others, you now have a solution! Contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about this conversion.
6.6 — WHERE CAN I PURCHASE REPLACEMENT 5200 CONTROLLERS? WHERE CAN
I GET MY 5200 CONTROLLERS FIXED?
As of this writing, both 4Jay’s (http://www.4jays.com) and Video 61
(http://www.atarisales.com) both sell and service Atari 5200
controllers. Complete contact information for both dealers can be
found in Section 9.0 of this FAQ.
7.0) ATARI 5200 EMULATORS
VIRTUAL SUPER SYSTEM (VSS)
Dan Boris’s Emulator Page
VSS (Virtual SuperSystem) is arguably the best Atari 5200 emulator
among those that are currently available. It’s for MS-DOS, and
it’s FREE. The current version runs about 95% of the ROM images I
have almost flawlessly, and at a reasonable speed even on a 486
DX2/66. On a Pentium system the emulator gets close to, or better
than full speed on a lot of games. To use this emulator you will
need a copy of the 5200’s 2K BIOS ROM, and 5200 ROM cart images.
Unlike all the other emulators in this roundup, VSS is a dedicated,
Rainbow Emulator Page
Rainbow is an Atari 8-Bit Emulator that allows Atari 8-bit Computer
and 5200 game images to run on the Macintosh or Windows95/NT.
Currently, only a preview demo is downloadable for Win95/NT, with
the shareware version expected momentarily. A full shareware
version for the Macintosh has been available for some time.
Here’s a quick rundown of key features in the full shareware version:
* Accepts 16K and 32K ROMs for 5200.
* Fast full and medium screen displays.
* True 256 Atari colors.
* Full ANTIC/GTIA graphics, namely all ANTIC modes, Player/Missile
Graphics, fine scrolling and Display List interrupts.
* Four joysticks (via keypad) and four paddles (using mouse)
Pokey Emulator Page
Pokey, like VSS, is a free Atari Computer emulator for DOS that
can also emulate the 5200 if you have the 5200’s 2K BIOS ROM.
It is one of the earlier Atari 5200 emulators and is quite
outdated. For instance, the only way you can get sound is if
you build yourself a Pokey sound card and install it.
Current Pokey features:
* 320 X 200 screen (scrollable) or Mode X (320 X 240 or 360 X 240)
* Supports two PC joysticks (swapple on the fly or upon loading)
* DLI and VBI supported.
* All ANTIC modes.
* Player-missile graphics with collision detection
* GTIA graphics
* Horizontal and vertical fine scrolling
* System monitor.
Atari800Win Emulator Page (Windows 95/98/NT)
This is a fine Atari 8-bit computer and 5200 emulator for Unix,
Amiga, MS-DOS and Falcon and was originally written by David Firth.
The 5200 mode currently support about 80% of all ROM images, which
is slightly less than what VSS currently manages to achieve. With
sound turned on, you will need a fast (Pentium II) PC to run at
JUM’S 5200 EMULATOR
The official Jum’s 5200 Emulator Home Page
This is an up-and-coming DOS emulator that is constantly
being tweaked and refined by James (who calls himself “Jum” for
some reason), and it has recently been ported to the Windows, BeOS
and Mac operating systems. Definitely worth a look.
The Official MESS Page:
Call MESS the MAME for the home. MESS is a free emulator
that supports a TON of home game consoles and computers, including
the Atari 5200. The current release supports almost 100 systems! It
is written in C and the source code is available for download.
Ready-made binaries are available for a variety of systems.
8.0) OTHER RESOURCES
8.1 — INTERNET RESOURCES
8.11 – WORLD WIDE WEB PAGES
— 5200 Instruction Manual Archive
5200 Instruction Manuals in ASCII format.
— 5200 SuperSystem Homepage
Your one stop resource for 5200 information. Home of the 5200
FAQ and rarity list.
— Atari 5200 Museum
Tons of screenshots and pics of rare and unusual hardware,
games and accessories.
— Atari Gaming Headquarters
Your complete online Atari resource.
— Chris Knape’s CVG Page
Has a section on the SuperSystem along with several reviews.
— Dan Boris’ Home Page
The man behind VSS — a 5200 SuperSystem emulator. His site is
also home to the 5200 Tech Page.
— Digital Press
The venerable classic gaming fanzine devotes a sizeable portion of
its content to coverage of the Atari 5200.
— History of Home Videogames Homepage
A comprehensive look at all the significant home videogame
systems, from past to present.
— Pete’s Vintage/Classic Games
Includes coverage of the 5200, as well as a section on how to
build your own arcade-quality joystick for the 5200.
— Zophar’s Domain
Terrific emulation site that has a nice section on the various 5200
8.12 – USENET NEWSGROUPS
Discussion about any and all classic (pre-NES) games,
Focuses primarily on home console videogames. (For coin-op
enthusiasts there’s rec.games.video.arcade-collecting).
Discussion about any and all classic (pre-NES) game
hardware and software. Less activity than in rgvc.
A videogame newsgroup for those who wish to buy/sell/trade
videogames. RGVM is not limited to classic systems, so be
prepared to sort through piles of sale/trade posts for
newer systems and games.
Although RGVA is primarily a Jaguar-centered newsgroup,
other Atari game machines (5200 included) are periodically
involved as topics of discussion.
8.13 – IRC (INTERNET RELAY CHAT)
#RGVC is the official IRC channel of the
rec.games.video.classic newsgroup. #RGVC was created in
February, 1996 for people who enjoy classic games to
chat about more or less anything, in a real time
environment. There are usually people around 24
hours a day, so drop in and say hello anytime.
If you’re curious about learning more about the
channel, point your browser to:
You’ll find info about #rgvc’s origin, some of the
people who visit there, and tips on how to join.
9.0) ATARI 5200 DEALERS
If you have a large inventory of Atari 5200 items and would like to
be mentioned here, please drop me a line.
519 W. Fourth Street, Antioch, CA 94509
5917 Stope Way, El Dorado, CA 95623-4716
2021 The Alameda, Suite 290, San Jose, CA 95126-1127
387 Piaget Ave
Clifton, NJ 07011
5789 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60646
Box 901, Lancaster, TX 75146
22735 Congo St. NE, Stacy, MN 55079
Video Game Connections
2434 Rt 9, Howell, NJ 07731
Video Game Depot
54 Clinton Street, Center Moriches, NY 11934