X-CulT: Atari 5200 Main Page
The Atari 5200 was the system meant to be a replacement to the then already outdated Atari VCS, otherwise known as the 2600. The system was basically a stripped down Atari 400 computer, sans keyboard, disk drive, and printer. The system also used revolutionary 360-degree joysticks, along with 2 fire buttons, a number pad like that of a phone, and select, pause, and reset built into the controller, of which select and pause, which would later become start when the Nintendo Entertainment System was introduced, would become standard for all controllers. Atari thought it had a big hit on its hands, with its near-arcade like graphics and gameplay, but as with all systems, it had its numerous flaws: the rubber hood of the controller wore out, leaving it unable to center itself, the system was not immediately backward compatible with the 2600, leaving the 5200 out of a big user base, and the power cord also plugged into the RF autoswitch, requiring a unique and hard to find cord. With its flawed controller, it left games like Pac-Man difficult to play. Also, its bulky size took up a lot more room than its predecessor, the VCS, due to its controller storage in the back. With its pause and select buttons in the controller setting the standard, it also set the stage for multiplayer games by having 4 controller ports, of which 3 or 4 were mainly not used as much, except for sports games. With the video game crash of 1983, the Atari 5200 was doomed to fail, starting a massive chain reaction that would bring the fall of the once mighty Atari.