Saturday, June 12, 2010

Intellicon Fixes the Atari 5200

Clearly, Atari didn't do everything right with the release of the Atari 5200 Supersystem, meant to be the obvious successor to the hugely popular 2600.  Third-party company Intellicon (unlicensed, but in the pre-Nintendo days every third party publisher was unlicensed) saw a couple of opportunities and decided to fill the most prominent gaps in Atari's own product line:

The Masterplay 5200 simply mapped an Atari 2600-style joystick to full-throttle cardinal directions on the 5200's analog joystick -- which was exactly what gamers needed for arcade games like Pac-Man that didn't work well with the 5200's floppy, non-centering stick.  And durability was always a problem -- I can't remember the last time I ran across a 5200 with joysticks in working condition -- so this device would be a welcome addition to any modern collection.

And for some reason, Atari opted not to release its 5200 version of Asteroids, leaving a major hole in the software lineup where one of the company's most popular games ever should have been.  So Intellicon produced its own version called METEORITES, and was cheeky enough to include a review quote here, calling it "a dead ringer" for Atari's original game.

Both of these products actually did come out, albeit primarily via mail-order, and Intellicon likely benefited engineering-wise from its proximity to MIT.  And the marketing department knew enough to write a credible ad appealing to the knowledgeable -- bypassing the Atari 5200 player/missile system to get more moving objects on screen was a clever idea.

Which means... wow.  I have actually found nothing snarky to say about this vintage advertisement.

Oh, wait... here it comes.

Atari! WTF?!?

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