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The Atari 5200 SuperSystem


The 5200 was the follow up to the Atari VCS and was meant to compete with the likes of the ColecoVision and Intellivision. Originally called the "Video System X" it was renamed about the time Atari began calling the VCS by it's model number: 2600. The thinking was that this system was twice as powerful as the 2600 thus the name change to 5200.

The 5200 sports some very unique features, even though it's hardware is based on the Atari 8-bit computer line. The early model 5200's included a unique TV/Game box that automatically switched when the system was turned on. Also, this was first system Atari used the "silver and black" styling. The 2600 Jr. and Atari 7800 would also use this style. One aspect of this system is it's size. Why is it so big, you may ask? Because bigger means better of course! The bigger size also allowed for a hidden compartment for storing the controllers.

The Atari 5200 controllers are some of the most unique ever created. They are also the most hated Atari controllers. Primarily because they do not auto-center when released making games like Pac-Man much harder to play. On the plus side, they do have a Pause button (the first for any system), two separate fire buttons, and a 12-button keypad for more complex gameplay.

According to Atari alum Jerry Jessop, the 5200 controllers were designed in response to the claims that Intellivision controllers had 16-degrees of motion as opposed to 8-degrees for a 2600 controller. Marketing at Atari decided that they needed to trump that and thus the 360 degree motion of the 5200 controller was born.

While the 5200 does share many games from the 8-bit computer, it does have several notable ones including Countermeasure, Rescue on Fractalus, Star Raiders, Berzerk (with voice!), Qix, Gremlins, and the much improved version of Pac-Man.

The Atari 5200 SuperSystem

Atari 5200 Specs:

Processor: 6502C (8-bit @ 1.79 MHz)

Sound: 4 channel

Resolution: 320 x 192

Colors: 16 colors onscreen of 256

Memory: 16K

Original 1982 price: $299

Special Features: Hidden compartment for storing joysticks, first system to include a pause feature, 12-button keypad, first system with an analog 360 degree joystick.

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