The Games of the Atari Flashback Classics vol. 3: Part 2: 5200 Games

Most of the previous Atari collections out there had just arcade games and 2600 games.  So it’s kind of a big deal that this one includes 5200 games as well.  I was especially excited when I found out about this, because technically, the 5200 was my first gaming console.  So let’s take a look at the 5200 games on this collection!

But yeah, the 5200 was my first gaming console.  I had played the 2600 plenty of times at friends and neighbors’ houses, but I never owned one until many, many years later.  When I was a kid, my first home gaming system was actually an Apple ][+.  I didn’t dare ask my parents for an Atari 2600 because I knew how expensive they were, and I figured I should be happy with just our Apple.  And I really was, as I was playing near arcade perfect games on it, while 2600 owners were complaining about their crappy ports of Pac-Man and such.  But a few years later, I got a 5200 for Christmas and it was a total surprise, as I didn’t even ask for one.  I have a feeling now that my mom got it on sale during the video game crash, but back then I didn’t care.  I was just happy to have a home gaming console.  Speaking of the crash, when I was a kid, I didn’t really notice there was a crash.  I just noticed that for a while, there were fewer arcades than there used to be, and I could game games cheaper.  One time we went to the store after I got my 5200 and there were so many games on sale that my 5200 library more than doubled right then!  I know a lot of people say the 5200 was an awful console, and I’m sure it was.  But at the time, I was very happy to have one.  In fact, having the 5200 delayed me getting a NES by about a year, because I was perfectly happy playing games like Pengo on my 5200.  But anyway, here are the 5200 games on the Atari vol. 3 collection.


You know, even though the 5200 version of Asteroids looks and plays more like the arcade version, I think I liked the 2600 version better.  Sure it wasn’t as accurate, but it was more colorful.  The 5200 version’s graphics are all blue, I guess to simulate the monochrome look of the arcade game.  But the 2600 asteroids were all different colors, so it was like you were shooting at giant Trix cereal.  And it was just as fun.


The 2600 version of Centipede was pretty good for what it was, but the 5200 version is even better as the graphics really look closer to the arcade version and it’s just as smooth.


If Atari Combat had better graphics and was made into a single player game, this would be it.  It has a scrolling map, which they liked to brag about in the instruction booklet.  You drive a tank through jungle areas shooting turrets and collecting green spool looking things.  It kind of reminds me of when you drive the tank in Ikari Warriors.

Final Legacy

I think one of the reasons why we haven’t seen to many collections of 5200 games is because of the difficulties of translating the games’ controls to modern consoles.  The 5200 had a pretty weird controller.  Also, in many of these games, you had to read the instructions to really know how to play the game, as games back then didn’t have in-game tutorial modes and such.  This collection has scanned copies of the instruction booklets you can read, which is nice.  But the problem is that many of the instructions are not written very well.  I wish they could’ve added an extra instruction page on how the controls translate to the PS4 controller.  So if I don’t describe some of these games very well, now you know why.  In Final Legacy you view a map and can switch to modes where you can shoot down airplanes or fire torpedoes from a boat.  And that’s as far as I got before becoming disinterested.


It’s just Backgammon, a game I never learned how to play.  Looks like a more confusing version of Chess to me.


I don’t understand how the 5200 version of Centipede can play so smoothly, while the 5200 version of the sequel can be so choppy!  Yuck!

Miniature Golf

Oh man this game looks horrible.  The graphics are just two colors: purple and pink, and it looks like everything was made with ASCII characters.  Surely the 5200 was capable of more than this.

Missile Command

This was another 2600 game that I felt was pretty good for what it was.  The 5200 version improves upon it with graphics that more closely resemble the arcade game.  But both versions are just as fun.

RealSports Baseball

I guess the 5200 line of Atari sports games used a “RealSports” label, huh?  Anyway, while it looks like a typical early 8-bit baseball game, the voice work on it is pretty impressive for the time.  I couldn’t bat worth a flip, though.  Just like in real baseball I guess.

RealSports Basketball

Nothing much to say about this one-on-one basketball title, although it plays better than most of the other games.

RealSports Football

Eh, I’ve seen better early 8-bit football games than this.

RealSports Soccer

I don’t really have much to say about this one, mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to kick the ball at the beginning of the game!

RealSports Tennis

I’m not a big fan of video game tennis, as most of them play like glorified Pong to me.  But this one played fairly well for what it was, and looked nice, too.

Star Raiders

This is a first person space shooter game and I think it was also on the 2600.  It’s all right, but it didn’t keep my interest for long.  It didn’t help that the instruction booklet was more interested in exposition and story instead of actually explaining how to play.

Super Breakout

Aside from looking more like the arcade game, this was really wasn’t any better than the 2600 version.  I think I like the 2600 version more.  It’s also impossible to play without a paddle controller, too.

Xari Arena

This is another one of those games that you really have to read the instructions to know what’s going on.  It’s like a cross between air hockey and Breakout.  There’s a lot of things moving around on the screen, and it’s very colorful, so it’s a good demonstration on how much more powerful the 5200 was over the 2600.  I think if I could figure out how to play it better, I’d enjoy it much more.

And those are all the 5200 games!  I know that by my descriptions, it may make the 5200 sound really awful.  But I really had a good time with mine back in the day.  But then, the games I had were not Atari made for the most part, but they were from third parties.  The games I remember that I enjoyed back then were ones like Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Joust, Pengo, River Raid, and Q*bert.  Those were pretty good from what I recall.  Anyway, for the last part we’ll look at the rest of the games on vol. 3, which are from the 2600.  –Cary

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