Classic Videodig dug 5200.JPG (14171 bytes)Game Reviews
Atari 5200 and Atari 7800


Atari 2600 - Atari 5200 - Atari 7800

Colecovision - Intellivision - Nintendo - Odyssey II - TI99-4a - Vectrex

Note:These reviews are only my personal opinion. Yours may vary depending on taste, expectations, and other criteria. Mine is not the absolute, only what I like. These reviews are here for your enjoyment and to help give you an idea of what games are good and what games to avoid (again based on my personal opinion, worth about two cents, give or take a penny). All games are rated with the simple school grading method (with an "A+" being the best and an "F" being the worst). All games are rated in comparison to other games of the same era. In other words, a game on the 2600 may get a great rating compared to other 2600 games and comparable systems (Odyssey II, Emerson Arcadia, etc..) and may not be as highly rated if compared to a Nintendo game. So keep this in mind. Look for more reviews to be added in the future.  One of my passions is clearly gaming, which I think is an art form.   Please e-mail your favorite games, reviews you agree or disagree with, or reviews of your own. Thanks and enjoy!

ATARI 5200 GAME REVIEWS
Berzerk (B+) - If you like the arcade game, then this is as close a port as you can get. It looks and plays like the original. There is even the great taunting voice of the computer. Nothing gets you irked (in a good way) like having the computer say "Humanoid fight like robot." Or when he calls you a chicken, you just want to take it out on his minions. One of the reasons to put up with the 5200.

Blue Print (Grade B)-A good translation of an overlooked arcade game.  You have to grab pieces of a weapon and put them together to save your sweetie.  Grab a bomb and toss that bugger down the hole before it blows you to bits!   Fun little game!

Bounty Bob Strikes Back (Grade A)-If you liked Miner 2049er, then you will love Bounty Bob!  This game is proof that sequels can excel!  Of course the game will set you back in a big way, but who can put a price on quality? 

Centipede (Grade B) - A good game that is enhanced when played with the trackball. With the joystick it is alright, but put in the much faster, more reliable trackball and it is a fun game. Now I'm ready to kick some spider butt!

Congo Bongo (Grade D) - A terrible port of a decent game. It was the first version of the game I got and while I could tell it wasn't very good, I didn't realize how bad it was until I played the Coleco version. What happened to the second screen? What happened to the graphics? This is a major pooch.

Defender (Grade B+)-A great translation that is improved when played with a trackball.  Yes, you can really zip around and cause havoc with the trackball, once you get the hang of it.  Looks, sounds and plays like the arcade game. 

Dreadnaught Factor (Grade B+)-As much as I like the Intellivision version, I must admit that this version is the best (happy Doug).   Capture the feeling of Star Wars as you try to stop these massive ships from attacking Earth.  Pretty suspenseful as they get nearer and nearer to Earth.

Frogger/Frogger II (Grade C) - I put them both together because they both have the same flaw. Due to the analog joystick of the 5200, you have to press the button to move. This is irritating! The rest of the game is quite good, with all the features of the original. But this one major flaw makes the game a pain to play.

Galaxian (Grade B)-Another game that is enhanced when played with the trackball.  Why didn't Gorf add this feature?  It looks and plays like the arcade and that is the best compliment you can give a game like this. 

Gorf (Grade D)-Sad, sad, sad.  After playing games like Space Invaders, you must just shake your head and wonder what happened?   The controls on this game are terrible.  They are on par with Rosanne Barr's singing.  Yes, they are that bad.  Move the joystick one way and whoosh, you go all the way.  Too bad as it looks good. 

Gyruss (Grade B)-This 5200 stick actually works pretty good with this game.  You can really move yourself around and dodge the oncoming ships and bullets.  I hate to say it, but it may be better than the Coleco version.  All the great levels are included as you progress towards Earth.  One day I hope to finally reach Earth.

Jungle Hunt (Grade B-) - I remember when it first came out at the arcades. Jungle King was pretty cool, with that Tarzan howl. But the lawsuit came and we ended up with Pith Helmet Pete or whatever is his name. Still the same game. Four fun screens to get through and a handful of different villains. Probably the only game where air bubbles are a major obstacle.

Kangaroo (Grade C+) - One of the many Donkey Kong inspired games. Help momma Kangaroo get to her Joey. But the awful baboons stand in the way. The graphics are a bit washed out and the game gets a bit repetitive. But it still is worth a go every so often.

Missile Command (Grade B+) - A very good remake of the arcade classic that is enhanced greatly by the roller controller. This is one of those games that just doesn't feel right with a joystick (except for Patriots for the Vectrex). I mean if you have to save those cities from imminent doom, you should at least have the right equipment.

Moon Patrol (Grade B) - One of my favorite games from days gone by. Zoom across the moon surface in your buggy and look out for alien craft from above, and craters and big boulders. Luckily you have a few weapons of your own or it would be a short game. Cool music too. You can also keep replaying so if you want to get to the end and suck, it is possible.

Pengo (Grade B) - I am a sucker for penguin games, something about those cute little waterfowl. Guess it is the Opus factor. Anyways, you control a cute penguin who kicks blocks of ice at weird snowbees that look more like mutated Tribbles. Fun little game (provided you have a working joystick).

Pitfall (Grade B)-If you liked the 2600 version, then you will like this version.  Most Activision games didn't feature much of difference from one platform to another.

Pitfall II (Grade A)-Here is the Activision game that is the exception to the rule.  The best version of Pitfall II available because when you finish the first level, you get a tougher and completely new level, not just the same one made a little tougher, like in the other versions.  Great game and one of the reasons to have a 5200.

Q*Bert (Grade D) - A great game ruined by the 5200. First you have to push the fire button to move. This is enough to turn me off, but there is more. You don't get the between level animations like you do on the Coleco and there are a few other things missing. How anyone can ruin a great game like this is beyond me.

Qix (Grade A) - Great game and a pretty darn good port. Fill in 65% percent of the screen to move on and avoid getting zapped. I like the later levels when you can split up the creatures and get double points. While it is a bit dangerous, it makes for a fun challenge.

Realsport Soccer (Grade B)-Out of all the Realsport games, this is probably my favorite!  Odd since soccer games are usually not my cup of tea.  But this one is easy to play and is quite fluid.  I really enjoyed it and wish I had someone to play against, but no one will sign my liability clause to use my 5200 joysticks. 

Robotron 2084 (Grade B) - A very good port mainly due to the joystick holder. With this simple device, you can connect two joysticks and shoot with one and move with the other, just like the arcade. You have to like a game that does what it can to make the gaming experience as close to the original as possible.

Space Dungeon (Grade A) - One of the great original games from Atari. One of two games to utilize the joystick holder (the other being Robotron). You move through different dungeons and blow away everything. Great fun, especially with both joysticks, where one shoots and one moves. One of a handful of reasons to own this system and put up with the bad joysticks.

Star Trek (Grade B+) - Possibly the best translation of the arcade game. The only flaw is getting used to the joystick, which is quite tough on the meteorite stage. Not as tough as the Coleco version and graphically superior to the 2600 version.

Super Breakout (Grade B) - While most people don't seem to like this version much, I play it quite often. The multiple versions (regular, progressive, etc...) add some life to it. Also the ratings you get at the end is a neat little touch.

Wizard of Wor (Grade B-) - An adaptation that would have a higher score except it isn't much different from the 2600. Still a very good game where you blast your way to the wizard. Much more fun with two players as this game was meant for two player.

ATARI 7800 REVIEWS
Alien Brigade (Grade B)-Much in the same vein as the many gun games that came later, Alien Brigade is pretty fun.  Sorta a version of Operation Wolf, with alien zombie like creatures.  Quick paced and quite fun.  Again I wish for a light gun.

Asteroids (Grade B+)-Take a classic and update the graphics and add two players simultaneously and you get a heck of a game. Like Centipede, Atari gives you the choice of having two players take turns or play at the same time, either cooperatively or competitive. Great way to breathe new life into an old game.

Ball Blazer (Grade B)-A great two player game and in my opinion, the only way to play it!  You have a ship, a ball, goals and a huge playing field!  Get out there and score some goals!  It looks and sounds great and will keep you and a friend busy, plus it is dirt cheap!

Centipede (Grade A)-The best home version of this game, bar none! Not only is it a very, very good translation of the arcade classic, but it surpasses the original with extra features. You can have two people playing at one time, either cooperatively or competitively. A great feature for people who have someone else to play with. This adds tremendously to an already great game.

Choplifter (Grade B)-A port from the computers and one I never played until recently (how a game as popular as this managed to hide from me is a mystery). Your mission is to save the people as they run out of the burning buildings because tanks are blowing them up. Fun little game as you try your hardest to save everyone. Nothing is more depressing than having your chopper full of hostages get shot down. For added fun, see how many people you can save without shooting. When I first played the game, I didn't realize you could shoot and played it this way. Adds some extra challenge.

Crossbow (Grade B-)-A decent port of the nearly forgotten arcade game. Would be better with a light gun (there is a 7800/XE gun, but it didn't seem to work accurately for me). You have to protect your party from all kinds of nasties who want to cut into their lifespan. A good game, just not alot of replay value.

Dark Chambers (Grade C)-Think of a watered down version of Gauntlet and you have Dark Chambers. Less monsters, less characters to choose from, less of everything. This may have been a decent game if there was no Gauntlet, but since there was, this looks weak. No wonder the Nintendo won out.

Desert Falcon (Grade B-)-A shooter in the Zaxxon mode (at least in the same perspective) but you are a big falcon shaped ship.   You fly through Egypt and fight all kind of stuff, including the Sphinx.  Not bad, especially considering the lack of shooters on the system.

Fatal Run (Grade B+)-Sorta in the Roadblasters vein.  You drive from city to city and shoot the daylights out of everyone in sight.  Some nice scenery and the cities are nice.  A good racing game that adds that little something extra, violence!

Fight Night (Grade C-)-A boring boxing game and unfortunately the only one for the 7800. You have twelve different boxers with strange names, but that is about the only redeeming factor. The fighting itself is lame and makes you dream of Intellivision boxing. Avoid unless you are a collector.

Food Fight (Grade A)-A great port of a great game and one of the reasons to own a 7800. You have to maneuver your kid around and dodge hostile chef who are out to get you. You can stop them by throwing food at them. Pop them with a tomato, pie or whatever. Great way to live out those grade school fantasies of starting and partaking in a food fight at school. The difference this time is you won't get suspended or grounded as you would have in your youth, and there is no mess to clean up!

Joust (Grade B+)-Another great translation of a arcade classic. Hop on your ostrich or stork and kick some buzzard butt! Another great two player game, which is one of the strong points of the 7800 system. Hurry up and grab them eggs!

Karateka (Grade C)-I will probably take some grief for this one, but after playing this, I could care less about the game. It just bored me, much like all of its predecessors, the fighting games that dominate the consoles. Again, a human opponent would probably have helped it, but if I don't care for the Mortal Combats of the world, I don't think this will change my mind. It is interesting to see the roots of the genre. If you are into this type of game, then you may have a field day with it. Just not my cup of tea. Go ahead and flame away, I have my fire proof suit ready.

Mario Bros (Grade B)-See Mario in only his third starring role and the introduction of Luigi. See many of the classic elements of the later Super Mario series get their start. This is where the jumping on your enemy and booting them gets its start. A decent one player game and a pretty good two player game. But it is the nostalgia of the game that makes it fun. Sorta a lesson in video game evolution (am I getting too deep with these games or what?).

Midnight Mutants (Grade B+)-The box alone makes this game worthwhile!  There on the cover is everyone's favorite vampire (if you said Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi, you are in for a major surprise), Grandpa Munster!  He is your guide of sorts and will give you tips in this roleplaying game.   Move along and pick up better weapons, search rooms and fight big bosses!   Tough at times, but a very good game and one that should be in all 7800 owners library.  It's not like there is a plethora of roleplaying games for this system.

Ms Pacman (Grade B+)-A near perfect translation of a great arcade game.  You get the food, the intermissions, the different mazes, heck you get it all and it only cost a handful of quarters to get a copy of this fine game!  Only in America!

Ninja Golf (Grade B)-I don't know if I should applaud the programmer for his originality or commit him? I would have never thought in a million years to combine golf with martial arts. Sad thing is that it actually works and makes a very unique experience. A game that has to be played.

One on One Basketball (Grade C+)-Maybe I am spoiled by Super Slam Dunk Basketball for the INTV, but I found this game only moderately fun. Sure, it is done well and you can choose between Larry Bird (yeah, the coach) and Dr J, but I like five on five. This one on one just doesn't cut if for me. Maybe if I had someone to play against, it would be better. If you played the computer version, you will feel a sense of deja vu, as they are the same game. I did give it higher marks on the fact that they had enough sense to not put the song from Hall & Oats of the same name in the background. ¶One on one, I want to play that game tonight. ¶(These are supposed to be musical notes, just use your imagination. If you can believe a block is a hero in Adventure, this should be a breeze) Dumb song, but would have made a interesting commercial.

Pete Rose Baseball (Grade D-)-This game is proof why games should be thoroughly tested before release. It wouldn't be a bad game, except for one really big flaw. There is a spot between the pitcher and the third baseman where if the ball stops, you cannot get it. I tried the pitcher, the catcher, the 3rd baseman and the shortstop, but to no avail. So, I had to stop the game and start over again. It doesn't happen often, but if it does the game is over. Terrible, just terrible.

Rampage (Grade B)-An enjoyable monster romp that is better in two player mode. Sure destroying buildings and eating people is fun, but whomping on your friend is much better. The only real flaw with the game is using the less than desirable Atari 7800 joysticks. Makes me want to whomp on them. Arrrgghhh!

Robotron 2084 (Grade B+)-Another arcade classic ported over to the 7800. Like the 5200, you can play with two joysticks. Unlike the 5200, you don't have a joystick holder. The 5200 holder can be used (I have tried it), but the joysticks are a little loose and tend to slip in the heat of battle. But, if you play with two people, one shooting and one moving, it makes for a real wild game! Takes a few games to get the feeling down, but after that it is a blastathon!

Scrapyard Dog (Grade C+)-This was Atari's answer to Super Mario Bros. A decent little side scroller, but nothing amazing. The graphics remind me of an Apple II game and it just didn't grab me. Call me a traitor, but I will take Super Mario over it any day.

Super Huey (Grade B+)-I tried to figure out what appeals to me about this game. I mean it is nothing special. Just your typical shooter in first person perspective. It is alot like Battlezone or Subroc, but I do enjoy it. I really like flying my chopper around and blasting everything to little bitties. Sure beats using the copter for weather reports. You may find the game a touch boring, but I can always play one more game.

Tower Toppler (Grade B-)-A fun little game where you have to maneuver up different towers and dodge all kinds of hazards. The only downfall of the game is that there are parts that will have you tearing your hair out. It can get really frustrating.

Water Ski (Grade C+)-One part fun, two parts frustration.  That is the best way to describe this interesting game from the company synonymous with dreck, Froggo!  Move your water skier around and dodge boats, rocks and other things as you try to do down the lake.  You can jump ramps and other cool stuff.  Problem lies in controlling the skier and the boat, not an easy task.   Graphics are nice and it is unique, just so darn tough.

Xevious (Grade C+)-While I enjoyed the arcade game of the classic shooter, something seems off here. I don't know if it is the subpar joystick or the game itself, but it just doesn't seem as fun to me. I have a Nintendo version and by golly, I love that one much more. Still if you have the system, it isn't a bad port.

Have a good game.

 

 

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