Atari 5200 System Review

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I review the Atari 5200 which came out in 1982. Some consider it one of the worst systems of all time.  So how is it really?

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About Gamester81

John "Gamester81" Lester started playing video games at a very young age. His first ever console that he played was a Colecovision, quickly followed by an Atari 2600, and his passion for video games hasn't stopped. In 2008 John decided to start a video game review show on YouTube called Gamester81 by reviewing rare and retro video game systems and games. His show quickly grew in popularity, and he became friends with many other gamers in the YouTube community. He is also one of the hosts of the All Gen Gamers Podcast which is a bimonthly podcast for people and video games of all generations. Some of John's other hobbies includes collecting Star Wars memorabilia (YouTube channel Starwarsnut77), playing classic arcade games (YouTube channel Gamester81Arcade), watching sports, and listening to music. John is a big fan of the 80's and 90's and in 2009 started a YouTube channel called NEStalgiaholic where he talks about nostalgic items and memories from his childhood. To see some of John's video's in 3D visit his YouTube channel Gamester81in3D. Favorite Systems: Colecovision, Commodore 64, NES, & SNES. Favorite Games: Donkey Kong Arcade, Atari Star Wars Arcade, Super Mario 3, Final Fantasy II, & Goldeneye 007
  • Kyle325

    Very ironic.. I literally gotthe 5200 at the beginning of this month, ha!
    Of course the 2 controllers that I came withit do not work at all, so I have a working system, 18 games and no way to play them currently. The games look like they look and run great. . Awesome review John!!

    • Mark Hayden

      There are several alternatives to the stock controller. The Wico, The Competition Pro, Masterplay. Then there are some aftermarket modifications people have posted. I have a cord that allows me to use PC Joysticks (old 15 pin). I have the Makopad PC. They made a nice on for N64 too. This one allows me to switch from analog to digital. This is the way I prefer to play. Wico’s are getting rare. You can find them on EBay.

  • Patrick A Crone

    I first played the 5200 around the same time the NES came out. A cousin’s friend had one. Lucky enough though, the controllers still worked pretty well. I remember playing Centipede, Joust and Pac-Man with little difficulty. The biggest problem with the 5200 was that it was more of the same. It had a lot of the games the 2600 had, just with better graphics. When you think of how much the system cost, it’s no wonder it was a commercial failure.

  • GeorgeCr

    Great in depth review Mr Gamester! A good controller is an absolute must for me. It can ruin the experience IMO. The Dreamcast is a good example. N64 isn’t that great either. So no 5200 for me.

  • lancep2014

    I never had an the Atari 2600, 5200, or 7200 systems. My bor had close match to the 7200; we both got a NES wean I was about age 6. I don’t reminder these to much since I was 1 year old wean 1983 video crash happened.Most of these I only saw behind glass and on shows like Mr Wizard’s World.

  • Mark Hayden

    I was 5 when I went to my Dad’s school, WPI. I got to play the Lunar Lander the astronauts used, except for the McDonalds on the moon. That was my taste of an addiction that I still have today. I have made a point to be hands on with everything I come across.

    That said, the 5200 remains a favorite of mine. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the other systems it competed with, including their own 2600. I believe in what Atari tried to do. Have stored controllers with number pads (Coleco,Intelivision also have horrid controls; they just work better). Have more directional range with an analog stick. One cord! No hitting the Tv/game switch. PAUSE the Mom button. Great in theory.

    I was 12 when I got one. I leaned to fix the controllers, as that was a bummer. Tin foil dots, thought I was a genius. Find out now lots of kids did the same.

    The games are solid. I loved the reworked games. I loved the ports. One game, Space Dungeon, cannot be found on any other (home) console. This game is enough reason to get a 5200. Qix is a great port.

    The 5200 is a hidden gem in the history of consoles.