Can You Be The Leader Of The Pac With Pac-Man 99?

Friends, while we fans of Ghostbusters were understandably freaking out yesterday over the release of a clip from the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, it seems that Nintendo and Bandai Namco dropped an exclusive new title for the Nintendo Switch. A 99-player online battle royale featuring an updated version of the iconic Pac-Man, appropriately enough entitled Pac-Man 99. Did I mention that it is absolutely free for members of Nintendo Switch Online?

I assume that Pac-Man 99 has been released as part of the continuing 40th anniversary celebration of Pac-Man, which began on May 22nd of last year, proving the arcade icon shows no signs of slowing down since his initial debut.

Considering that it is a 99-player battle royale, it shouldn’t shock you to learn that there are a few new bells and whistles added to the overall gameplay. For one thing you are going to have to be worried about more than just the likes of Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde. The biggest threat now will come from your fellow online players, who are going to be doing their level best to throw obstacles in your path such as the Jammer Pac-Man. Whenever a player gulps down a Power Pellet and then runs down and eats a ghost, a Jammer Pac-Man will be sent to one of the 99 other players. These moving obstacles resemble a ghost-like version of Pac-Man and roam freely through the maze, if a player comes in contact with one however it will slow them down considerably – making them the perfect target for the roving band of ghosts.

Also in the mazes are what Pac-Man 99 describes as Sleeping Ghosts, these smaller chain of ghosts can be gobbled up by the player at any time, with each one attaching itself to either Inky, Blinky, Pinky, or Clyde. After swallowing one of the Power Pellets though, all of the attached ghosts will also turn blue and can be gobbled up by the player, which of course sends a slew of the Jammer Pac-Man to an opponent.

Pac-Man 99 offers up power-ups for a player to use to keep in the game, like a speed boost, or even the option to hurl more of those Jammer Pac-Man to opponents who are on the verge of losing their match. There is more though, while the standard version of the game is available free of charge to Nintendo Switch Online members, you can pick up DLC packs – which offers additional play modes or even allows you to change the game theme to resemble other classic Bandai Namco titles like Dig Dug, Galaga, New Rally-X, and many others.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Nintendo.

So what are you waiting for, download Pac-Man 99 today and see if you can claim the title of leader of the Pac!

Godzilla: The Series Vs Kong: The Animated Series

Friends, with the release yesterday of the highly anticipated Godzilla vs. Kong from Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures, the promised confrontation hinted at in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters has arrived. As a matter of fact if everything had gone according to plan, you would be hearing a non-spoiler review of Godzilla vs. Kong on a new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast today, however it was not to be… you’ll just have to wait a few more days to learn what we thought of the new film.

Having said that though I thought today might be the perfect time to remind you of two animated series that featured the adventures of Godzilla and Kong. In this case that would be the late ’90s Godzilla: The Series as well as Kong: The Animated Series from the early ’00s, both shows interestingly enough found themselves being aired on Fox Kids.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY jigsaw332.

Godzilla: The Series ran for two season on Fox Kids beginning on September 12th of 1998, with the last new episode airing on June 15th of 2001. A continuation from the events that took place in the big budget reboot attempt by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin of Independence Day fame. While Godzilla was not a box office bomb, the amount of revenue earned by the live action feature wasn’t enough for TriStar Pictures to invest in continuing the film series. And while the movie wasn’t exactly met with open arms from longtime Godzilla fans, the animated series turned out to be surprisingly popular.

The show followed the exploits of Dr. Nick Tatopulos, voiced by Ian Ziering (Beverely Hills 90210), who it is revealed found one egg that was left intact after the bombing of Madison Square Garden. The egg hatches and the new Godzilla imprints itself on Nick, who as a founding member of H.E.A.T. (Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team) takes care of and trains the giant Kaiju to protect humanity from the increasing number of mutated creatures who have begun to appear all over the World.

The popularity of Godzilla: The Series led to two different Game Boy Color titles being released, with Godzilla: The Series published in 1999 and Godzilla: The Series – Monster Wars the following year. In addition there were plans for Trendmasters to produced a toy line for the animated series in ’99 but it appears the line was cancelled before it went into mass production. At the very least we have this unaired TV spot for the proposed toy line, featuring Godzilla and Cyber-Godzilla, the latter being the alien resurrected corpse of the Godzilla from the live action film!

VIDEO PROVIDED BY TRENDMASTERS.

As I understand it, the popularity of Godzilla: The Series did not go unnoticed, which is why Kong: The Animated Series was put into production. Airing as part of the BKN block of animated shows in 2000, the American-Canadian series would jump over to Fox Kids in 2001, where the first 13 episodes were aired over the Summer. Kong: The Animated Series would eventually be brought to Toon Disney in 2005, to take advantage of the hype for the then upcoming Peter Jackson helmed remake of King Kong.

Kong: The Animated Series focused on the friendship between a young man named Jason Jenkins and a cloned version of King Kong, from samples taken by Jason’s grandmother, Dr. Lorna Jenkins, after the tragic death of the Kaiju by the squadron of biplanes during the incident at the Empire State Building. Thanks to the Cyber-Link technology invented by his Grandmother, Jason is able to merge on a genetic level with Kong and lend his intelligence and martial arts skills to the giant ape. Interestingly enough the show explains that this merging is not an easy balance to maintain, each personality is attempting to become the dominant one, so this link cannot be maintained for a great period of time.

The main antagonist in the series is an evil scientist by the name of Professor Ramon De La Porta, who manages to steal Dr. Lorna Jenkins’ Cyber-Link, which he uses on various animals to create Kaiju strong enough to battle Kong. In addition the Professor is after the Primal Stones located on Kong Island, powerful artifacts that were originally used to imprison a demon named Chiros the Destroyer. With the Primal Stones in the Professor’s possession he would be able to take over the world, so it is up to Jason and his friends with the help of Kong to put an end to those plans.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY KONG – The Animates Series – Official Channel.

Kong: The Animated Series released two direct-to-video films after the television series came to an end. The first was Kong: King of Atlantis in 2005 and the second was Kong: Return to the Jungle and was released two years later. In addition the animated series managed to have two games developed and produced for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, the 2002 game was based on the television show while the 2005 title was based on the first animated film.

So there you have it, a look at Godzilla: The Series and Kong: The Animated Series. You might be interested to know that the latter is available to watch from that official YouTube channel link, a nice way to while away the hours before you can head out and see Godzilla vs. Kong for yourself.

Let us know in the comments if you remember watching these animated series, or if perhaps you preferred The King Kong Show from the late ’60s or even 1978’s Godzilla cartoon instead?

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out Parody By Studio C Is Hilariously Frightening

Friends, the other day on Facebook I was sent a link to this Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out parody video by one of my good friends from the arcade. The Studio C parody is a look at the classic NES game from the viewpoint of Little Mac – the boxer that Players attempt to help rise through the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association. Testing their video game boxing skills against the likes of Glass Joe, Piston Honda, King Hippo, Great Tiger, and others. All for the chance to earn the World Circuit title belt and a chance to take on Mike Tyson in “The Dream Fight” for global fame and glory. It is for that fight alone that I personally feel that Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out along with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Castlevania, Battletoads, and Ghosts ‘n Goblins – make up the 5 most difficult titles to be released for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY SpacedCobraTV.

As you will see for yourself, Studio C has decided to poke fun at some of the elements of the classic video game, such as the “helpful” advice from Doc Louis, the ex-heavyweight boxer turned trainer. Or pointing out the fact that Little Mac is put into the ring with towering and aggressive opponents who border on possessing super powers – to say nothing of the fact that Tyson can lay the Player out with a single hit.

For what it is worth, beating Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out back in the day was without a doubt one of my greatest video game accomplishments. I played the game for hours and hours every single day until I was good enough to stand toe to to toe with the digital version of Tyson. Then the game destroyed me with it’s punishing difficulty and I had to suffer the taunting smile and muscle flexing of the then heavyweight champion… over and over again. It was my Grandfather and Grandmother who while watching me play realized that the designers had given Tyson tells as to where he was throwing a punch – like winking a split second before throwing a jab. It still took me a ridiculous amount of tries but eventually my persistence won out and I was able to take out Tyson and win the game.

Without further ado, enjoy this Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out parody by Studio C – and don’t forget to join the Nintendo Fan Club today, Mac!

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Studio C.

It’s Super Mario Bros. For The Intellivision… Wait, What?

Friends, I am sure that most of you are well aware that Super Mario Bros., the smash hit video game from Nintendo – was NOT released to the Mattel Electronics’ Intellvision back in the mid-’80s. That is not say however that games were not still being produced for the iconic home console after the video game crash of 1983 – thanks to the INTV Corporation in fact the last published game was Stadium Mud Buggies and that was in 1989. Although it is not out of the realm of possibility that there could have been an attempt at a Super Mario Bros. port to the Intellivision back in the day. After all they did produce ports of such popular arcade titles as Pole Position, Dig Dug, Commando, Congo Bongo, and BurgerTime to name a few.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Consumer Time Capsule.

Of course when the homebrew community is making ports of Gauntlet, God of War, Gorf, Halo, for everything from the Atari 2600 to the NES – it is understandable why Matthew Kiel decided the Intellivision needed Super Mario Bros., right?

As I understand it, Matthew has used IntyBASIC to create a port of Super Mario Bros. – although I am under the impression this is just an exercise in fun. I highly doubt that Kiehl is going to attempt to make this port available to the Intellivision community. As Matthew explains himself on his video description there are still bugs in this current build of the game – but all of the stages have been implemented as well as the Warp Zones and bonus areas (the coin rooms found by way of the green pipes).

Matthew’s version of Super Mario Bros. for the Intellivision is quite impressive – from the music and sound effects to how the enemies behave just like in the original title. It might have been created just for fun but judging by this gameplay video – a whole lot of hard work has gone into it so far.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Matthew Kiehl.

Hold Onto Your Joy-Cons – Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection Is Coming To The Switch

Friends, if you are looking for one of the most celebrated as well as difficult video games from back in the glory days of the arcades – I would highly suggest you check out 1985’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins from Capcom. The original arcade game, which was designed by the legendary Tokuro Fujiwara (Pooyan, Bionic Commando), helped to spawn a franchise that includes 14 titles in the series so far. While the game difficulty is quite legendary – to truly beat the title you have to actually play through the entire game twice – there is something about the gameplay of this ‘run and gun platformer’ that keeps Players returning to it again and again. Not to mention the popularity of Ghosts ‘n Goblins has led to characters in the game to show up in other Capcom titles over the years – in addition to being adapted for manga and even the Worlds Unite comics series from Archie Comics. As a matter of fact, Ghosts ‘n Goblins was the subject of the eleventh episode for the Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins received an arcade sequel with Ghouls ‘n Ghosts in 1988… and the difficulty level wasn’t lowered in the least. The game series also received numerous ports to the popular home consoles of the day – and continues to be offered by Capcom on various current generation consoles. It has been said online that 35 years after the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins arcade title was released – the series has managed through the ports, reboots, and sequels to sell over 4.2 million games.

Just a few days ago though it was announced that a new title in the series is ready to challenge Nintendo Switch Players – when Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is released on February 25th of 2021.

Video and Article Image Provided by Nintendo.

I really dig the almost medieval tapestry art style featured in that announcement trailer for Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. Considering how I have seen Players react to the 1985 title at the arcade, you might want to pick up an extra set of joy-cons before you purchase the new game. In closing out this article, here is the official press release from Nintendo:

“Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a reboot that brings the beloved Capcom franchise back to life and into the 21st century. Paying homage to Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, the latest entry combines the franchise’s action platforming gameplay with storybook-like graphics and challenging new obstacles.

The game follows the valiant knight Arthur as he runs, jumps and battles his way through eerie stages set in the Demon Realm, a demonic fantasy world. Brave knights will need to proceed with extreme caution as terrifying dangers await, including familiar enemies like Zombie, Skeleton Murderer, Pigman and Red Arremer.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a nostalgic, yet fresh adventure that welcomes back its faithful fans, while introduces a new generation of heroes to challenge one of gaming’s classic series.”

Stop Motion Donkey Kong With Perler Beads

Friends, while my time at the arcade has temporarily come to an end, thanks to the threat of the coronavirus, I can assure that one of the most popular classic games is still 1981’s Donkey Kong. Pac-Man might actually be the most popular title at Arkadia – thanks in no small part to the fact that it is a little simpler and easier to pick up in regards to gameplay. But Donkey Kong almost always has a Player stepping up and trying to guide Jumpman (Mario) safely through the various threats of the construction site where Donkey Kong has managed to abscond with the poor Lady (Pauline) – or vice versa in the case of Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition.

If I am being completely honest, it was Donkey Kong that was my go-to game back in the day if given the option between the two – however I really began to appreciate the strategy needed in Pac-Man as an early adult. Although I would most assuredly be lying if I said I’ve ever been proficient enough to be considered good at either of the classic games. However in my eight years as an employee of the arcade – I can tell you that we’ve been lucky enough to see the kill screen on both titles. In fact I recall Shea Mathis, the owner and manager of Arkadia, once shared a live feed of a Player reaching the kill screen on Donkey Kong – you might even still be able to see it on the Instagram account for the arcade.

Just be glad Donkey Kong isn’t this fast!

As I mentioned on the Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast when covering Nintendo’s extremely popular arcade game – Donkey Kong is not an easy game in the least – but it is still fun even when you keep getting creamed by a barrel, fireball, or spring. The question is… how do you make Donkey Kong even MORE fun? The answer to that question is you combine perler beads and stop motion animation to re-create three of the four stages from the video game!

Video and Article Image Provided by The Resellers.

1989 Report Covers The Launch Of The Sega Genesis!

Friends, in various Diary of An Arcade Employee podcasts I have discussed that back in the mid-’80s, my family was firmly entrenched on the side of Team Nintendo. Which of course meant that when the Sega Master System was released in ’86 – it was pointless in entertaining the notion of adding the home console to our collection – doubly so when three years later the Sega Genesis hit the market. Thankfully I had a best friend whose family was completely in the Team Sega camp – which meant on the weekends while visiting one another we could enjoy the games and consoles from the ‘rival’ companies. I realize that many of you of a certain age probably had a similar experience – the rivalry between Nintendo and Sega was quite real… and at times quite intense.

Video Provided by RGTV.

Now at the time the Sega Genesis was released, my best friend happened to have an after school job at the local pizza place – which naturally meant he was able to pick up the highly coveted new home console one night after work. We ended up staying up until the rooster crowed at the break of dawn – his parents had a small farm – the excitement of playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Space Harrier II and Golden Axe kept us up all night.

I am assuming that we missed this coverage of the 1989 launch of the Sega Genesis as covered by Movie Time – because we were too busy playing on the Sega Master System or something. Which is a shame as attending the event was none other than the late and great Harry Anderson (Night Court, Stephen King’s It) – who you will see for yourself was something of a video game enthusiast.

Video Provided by My Vintage Video.

In closing out this article, I will admit that I managed to get a Sega Genesis of my own – breaking that mindset of my family that it only had to be Nintendo. I received it thanks to winning the Phantom 2040 contest – which naturally included a copy of the awesome game based on the animated series.

What about you though – did you family also pick a side in the console war between Nintendo and Sega?

1983 Animated Nintendo Game & Watch Commercial

Friends, perhaps 1983 is the only time you will have the opportunity to see the likes of Snoopy, Popeye, Mario, and Donkey Kong together in a television commercial. The TV ad in question was for the line of Nintendo Game & Watch handheld electronic games – apparently being offered at your local Toys “R” Us back in June of ’83 – when this commercial originally aired in Chicago.

Video and Article Image Provided by The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Now how I stumbled across this Game & Watch commercial is because of a Toy Tomb video by Willie of Arcade USA. He took the time to record himself playing 1981’s Octopus, which was part of Nintendo’s Wide Screen series – and featured Mr. Game & Watch attempting to steal treasure that is being guarded by an Octopus.

Video Provided by ArcadeUSA.

For myself, I was never fortunate enough to collect any of the titles in the Game & Watch series, although I was aware of them thanks to my local ShowBiz Pizza, which offered a few as prizes if you collected enough Skee-Ball tickets. Off the top of my head I can remember seeing the likes of Mario’s Cement Factory, Donkey Kong II, and Greenhouse at that fabled ShowBiz Pizza of my youth.

As I understand it, we have the late and great Gunpei Yokoi to thank for coming up with the Game & Watch. It has been said that the video game designer happened to take notice of a businessman who to waste time pulled out his LCD calculator and began playing with it. So it was that Yokoi felt that perhaps an LCD gaming device that also doubled as a watch might catch on. From 1980 until 1991 Nintendo produced 59 Game & Watch titles – with different ‘models’ like the Multi Screen, Tabletop, and Panorama to name a few.

Video Provided by Hipotalamo Films.

I think that it is safe to say that it caught on – especially as Nintendo is releasing a Game & Watch for Super Mario Bros. on November 13th!

1988’s Incredible Sunday And The Nintendo Video Game Contest

Friends, those of us of a certain age probably remember the popular That’s Incredible! series on ABC – an early reality television show that featured Cathy Lee Crosby, Fran Tarkenton, and John Davidson as co-hosts. The series would share segments ranging from human-interest stories to displaying feats of extraordinary human feats and even reports on paranormal activities. That’s Incredible! was a series that my Family would never miss back in the day, generally we found ourselves sitting in the living room eating dinner off TV trays while watching the program. The show managed to nab the #3 slot in the Nielsen ratings for it’s first season beginning on March 3 of 1980 – staying in the top 30 for four season before it slipped to #58 in it’s fifth and final season. Were you aware though that the series attempted a comeback in 1988 as Incredible Sunday?

Video Provided by Sean Mc.

This new series featured John Davidson returning as co-host along with Cristina Ferrare (The Impossible Years) as well as Tracey Gold (Growing Pains). While Incredible Sunday only lasted a single season it did feature the Nintendo Video Game Contest – a challenge that pitted three Players to compete against each other on Super Mario Bros. 2, Ice Hockey, and Rad Racer. I assume the cartridges were specially designed for this particular television event – a precursor as has been stated online to the 1990 Nintendo World Championships.

The three contestants for this Nintendo Video Game Contest were Jason Reynolds, Shaun Spadaforr, and Michael Williams. In addition the referee for the television event was Donn Nauert – who was the Captain of the U.S. National Video Game Team. In fact Nauert was no stranger to being seen on television as he was featured in Atari 7800 commercials – as well as a series of VHS tapes entitled Secret Video Game Tricks, Codes & Strategies.

Video Provided by Patrick Scott Patterson.

So without further ado, let us take a quick journey back in time to 1988 and see who takes the top spot in the Nintendo Video Game Contest.

Video and Article Image Provided by Grooveraider.

The Atari 5200 – The Maligned System that Brought Father and Son Together

July 24th, 1978 saw the birth of Javier Ojst (that’s me!) in the small densely populated country of El Salvador, named after “The Savior” Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly I was a cute baby, and it was a day of revelry for all. Of course, I have no recollection of any of it, and it was revealed to me much later that a dear friend of the family immensely enjoyed pegging the nickname “lizard boy” on me when they saw my squirming in my crib. I guess to him it resembled more like a cage. So perhaps, Is it possible that I wasn’t that cute after all? Thanks to some dingy pictures from my parent’s photo album, I learned that the doctors assured my mom that her seven-month-old baby (yes, I was determined to see the world two months ahead of schedule) would be a girl. Either that, or she had an affinity for pink rooms. I’m rather pragmatic, so I’d like to think that the hardware store simply ran out of blue.

In 1980, my parents – who luckily decided to take me with them – fled to the United States because of the ongoing civil war that ravished everything around us. An incident that certainly motivated us to pack our stuff and move was when guerillas placed a bomb under the family car’s hood. They informed my dad in no subtle terms that he was persona non grata because he had a steady job with an established company and owned a car.

By 1992 both sides agreed to a cease-fire, not before approximately 75,000 Salvadorans were no longer with us. And nearly a decade later, many parts of the countryside were uninhabitable thanks to all the leftover landmines.

In 1986, my dad – who wasn’t a big fan of the American lifestyle and social life – wanted to return to El Salvador despite the civil war still in full force. I loved my Transformers, GI Joe, MASK, Star Wars and pro wrestling, but I soon found myself living in El Salvador once more and barely able to speak the language.

1986 was very different from how things are in 2020. No, I’m not referring to adapting to the worldwide pandemic that is COVID-19. I’m talking about things we take for granted, like the internet. Instant information and entertainment at our fingertips, obtained in a blink of an eye or even faster! When moving to another country, one can learn about its situation in a matter of minutes. Unless you choose to, it’s almost impossible to be blind to global news and current events with today’s technology.

At the time, most of our news about El Salvador came from family members who’d remained, and by perusing the local newspaper (remember those?), which was The Miami Herald. My dad is a person who prides himself as a realist and believes that no scenario is implausible. He had the foresight to record many TV programs, with our fancy new Sharp Video Cassette Recorder with a 3-speed function remote nonetheless! When planning our trip back to El Salvador, he was told everything on TV was in Spanish, and cable was unreliable, not very accessible, and rather pricey. So much of our entertainment would be in the form of rewatching these recorded programs. I saw Star Wars for the first time thanks to my dad recording it off the TV. Saturday Night’s Main Event, also recorded by him, became my gateway into pro wrestling, and I never looked back. Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster and many other kaiju films became regular viewings for myself and my two younger brothers.

One item that made the trip to El Salvador with us was a magnificent machine – well I certainly thought so at the time – called the Atari 5200. My earliest memories of Atari or any videogame were around 1983 with a neighbor who had an Atari VCS (later known as the Atari 2600). He proudly unveiled to all how he played games like Combat, Smurfs, Spider-Man, and E.T. Yes, HE played while everyone else watched. Years later, an uncle showed off his Intellivision to us, which claimed in advertisements as being “the closest thing to the real thing.” At the time, I agreed that it was a step up from the original Atari, but I was perfectly content watching cartoons and playing with my various action figures.

In El Salvador, to help our cultural transition not spill into all-out culture shock, my father thought this massive videogame console would help us feel at home while residing in my grandparent’s old house for a couple of months. Other than shaking the curtains and pouring scalding hot water down the shower drain to keep the ginormous roaches at bay, the 5200 would serve as family entertainment.

Video Provided by Daves Archives.

In November 1982, Atari introduced the Atari 5200, which contained the same processor as the Atari 400 and components of the Atari 800 home computer. In its prototype stage, it went by the name “Atari Video System X-Advanced Video Computer System.” The promising console never reached its potential, and only endured an 18-month lifespan. By May 1984, Atari discontinued the 5200, but not before eking out 69 games. Unfortunately, Atari’s programming team could not devote its full attention to the new console because they were still making games for the 2600. Surprisingly, the relatively primitive 2600 that most estimated would become extinct by the early ’80s proved that it was the “little console that could,” and continued producing titles until late 1991. It made cosmetic changes to their console once competitors like Nintendo came onto the scene, but it was all for naught.

So, in the glorious summer of ’86, presumably, my dad got the console and all the games it came with at a bargain-basement price – or so you’d hope! In my grandfather’s musty aged house, I enjoyed countless late nights in the dark living room in front of the glowing TV, alongside my dad. We played Super Breakout, Missile Command, Joust, Pengo, Space Invaders, Berserk, Star Raiders, Galaxian, and Dig Dug until our eyes felt crossed and dry, staring at the TV screen for hours on end. Maybe this was when I permanently ruined my peepers and wound up using glasses for years. All the previously mentioned games are classics, but all games had seen previous releases by Atari and other home consoles.

A consumer gripe, and a factor that buried the 5200, was that people who purchased the console, were paying a premium to play games the 2600 and the arcades had been offering for years. It wasn’t backward compatible with 2600 games or any of their home computer’s software, despite having similar specifications. Although the 5200 had marginally better audiovisual capabilities than the 2600, it wasn’t enough to keep the system alive, and most of the games, as mentioned, weren’t exclusive to the console. Amidst heavy competition from Intellivision, ColecoVison (cheaper than the 5200 and more attractive graphics), and the emerging home computer market led by the Commodore, IBM, and Apple, the 5200 failed.

The 5200 would be the last console Atari would produce as a profitable company. The later 7800 proved that Atari could still make quality consoles. Yet, internal strife and leadership changes pushed the console’s release to 1986 instead of the targeted 1984, which gave Nintendo enough time to push Atari off its videogame throne.

According to the experts, like IGN editor Craig Harris, the real culprit of its failure stems from the poorly designed controllers. He pulled no punches when describing the Atari 5200 controller in a 2006 article titled “Worst Game Controllers.” In the said write-up, he claims Atari’s effort was subpar in the manufacturing of the controller that “didn’t even center itself, and the buttons used materials that seemed to deteriorate at room temperature.” Former executive editor for Electronic Games Bill Kunkel described them as “Dead fish floppo joysticks” in The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven L. Kent.

Atari 5200 Images Provided by Evan-Amos of Wikipedia.

Although innovative for its time with four side buttons, a reset, and pause function, the 5200 joysticks fell over without self-centering springs. Decades later, collectors now face an uphill battle trying to find functioning joysticks for what some would call this “ill conceived” videogame console that was the 5200.

Mark Bussler from Classic Game Room says, “There are a lot of excellent games available for the 5200, however, this is the last game console I’d recommend to anyone- unless you grew up with one in the past and want to relive the experience- or unless you’re a diehard collector or you’re crazy, you don’t want one of these.”

In episode 20 of AVGN, James Rolfe could not correctly demonstrate the system because, in typical 5200 fashion, the original controller was faulty, and the Wico Command Control joystick he bought off eBay for $20.00 plus shipping was incompatible with the console’s controller port.

I’ll tell you, though, as an 8-year old kid, I never noticed. I enjoyed every single one of those games with my dad. Maybe all except Star Raiders, which for an eight-year-old, was difficult to grasp. I guess, at the time, the side buttons were somewhat unresponsive in those crucial moments when trying to defend your cities in Missile Command, or blasting those dreaded giant insects and arachnids in Centipede. But I only noticed this years later when someone brought it up. In 1986, perhaps we just accepted the way things were, rolled with those punches, and made the best of our videogames. I preferred the “mushy” 5200 joysticks over the stubborn, almost immovable 2600 joystick.

Video Provided by Video Game Quick Clips.

But mostly, I remember playing with my dad. I’d sometimes let him win, but it was worth every bit of taunting to see him smile and laugh out loud. That was worth tarnishing a winning streak. I later moved onto the NES and SNES. I went hardcore with those consoles and lived for those games. Then dabbled briefly in the N64 pond. But the Atari 5200 holds a special place in my heart and tints my nostalgic rose-colored dreams. I no longer own my 5200 from childhood, thanks to a disgruntled cat who used it as a litter box in 1992. But I wouldn’t mind dusting one off from a garage sale or at a flea market to see my dad play Super Breakout with me one more time. Of course, now that we’re both adults, I wouldn’t let him win! Or maybe I would actually, only from time to time though…