"DEAR AGH" (March/April, 1997)

From: ochs@*.edu
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997
Subject: Baracuda

  • Cool page! I had a question about Baracuda. I've never seen it, but I've seen Pacman with the same mazes (except the one with no maze and only 6 tunnels). The ones I saw had the same first maze (the one with 6 tunnels and the 3 big circles on either side of the monster pen) and the screen that had 8 tunnels and no maze, they would alternate after the first intermission. (on the 2nd level, the maze would disappear after eating a ghost). Was this a variation on Baracuda, or an official Pac-man. It also had the Namco versions of the ghost names (Machibuse, Oikake, etc instead of Shadow, Speedy, etc) Most of the machines I saw also had a small sticker on the backlit marquee that said "modified."

    John Replies:

  • Given that Pac-Man spawned the most illegal ripoffs of any arcade game in history, your guess is as good as ours in terms of the name of the game in question. Barracuda and Puckman were among the most infamous clones, but believe us, there were tons more like them during Pac-Man's heyday.


    Date: Sat, 26 Apr 1997
    From: alleykat@*.com
    Subject: Hookup diagram

  • My son came into possession of an Atari 5200 system and he needs a diagram to show how to hook it up. It's probably very easy to do, but we have 2 other gaming systems hooked up also. Can you tell me where I can find the hookup diagram?


    Keita Replies:

  • The 5200 came in two flavors... The earlier, 4-joystick port model had an automatic RF switchbox, and the power supply plugs into this switchbox and NOT the system itself. Later 2-port systems hooked up to the television in the same fashion as most other contemporary game machines -- Power supply goes into the console, and switch box goes from the console to the RF (or composite) input on your television. Hope that helps.


    Date: Wed, 23 Apr 1997
    From: J. Lawson
    Subject: Re: atari interview if ya want

  • Hello. I am working for a school magazine at my university and am planning on running a feature on the history of Atari. I would appreciate any info you may have. Thanks for replying in advance and for any further info.

    Lawson Why didn't atari survive and thrive in the mid-80s since it had such a household name and been established as one of the most popular home videogame systems? (this may be a broad questions. if so, what major reasons.)

    Keita: There is no single correct answer. Therefore, I will throw out several factors which contributed to Atari's eventual demise.

  • While the Atari 2600 (VCS) dominated the late 70s and early 80s, in 1982 the Colecovision, Vectrex and Atari's own 5200 SuperSystem debuted and immediately posed a stiff challenge to the technologically inferior 2600.

  • Due to the enormous success of the 2600, a plethora of game publishers jumped on the bandwagon to produce games for the machine. Unfortunately, many of these companies were more interested in the bottom line ($) instead of releasing quality titles. Atari was also at fault here, as they rushed to get big-name titles out the door in time for the holiday seasons. Many consumers were put-off by the glut of subpar titles such as Pac-Man, ET, Amidar and M*A*S*H.

  • 1983 saw the rapid decrease in the price of home computers. The Atari 800 originally was close to a thousand dollars when introduced in 1979. By 1983, however, it listed for under $400. The Commodore Vic-20 and, in particular, the Commodore 64, were viable alternatives to the dedicated game machines, since not only could they play games, but they allowed users to program and use word processing, home finance and other software applications. The C64 came out in 1983 and cost just $299.

  • Players began to become sick of playing the "same old thing." There was increasingly a lack of originality in the games that were released in early 1982-83.

  • The playing field in the home videogame industry became too crowded. In 1982, you had over SEVEN game systems to choose from... The Atari 2600 & 5200, Colecovision, Vectrex, Intellivision, Emerson Arcadia, Bally Astrocade and Odyssey 2. Furthermore, there were too many companies releasing too many crappy games. They felt that they could make a nice profit regardless of what kind of games they brought out. (this is sort of similar to what I said in #1).

  • In 1984, Atari was preparing to introduce the Atari 7800 ProSystem, a brand new game machine that boasted superior graphics and was compatible with the 2600 without even needing an adapter. By this time, however, the video game market was in shambles, and Atari decided not to release the system. Instead, it placed its hopes on their computers. This turned out to be the wrong move, as in 1985, Nintendo proved to the world that home video games were not dead by bringing out the Nintendo Entertainment System. The rest is history. What if Atari had released the 7800, a system that was on par with the NES in terms of technology, a year earlier?

  • When analyzing the history of videogames in general and Atari in particular, however, you must realize that home videogames was an infant industry. There was no history to draw upon to assist in making wise and proper decisions. After all, Atari was not the only one responsible for the home videogame market crash of 1983-84. Nintendo undoubtedly benefitted from what occurred before they became a major playor in the home videogame industry, since they learned from the mistakes from those that came before them.

    Lawson: What should atari be credited with in the home videogame industry (in the beginning to present day)?

    Keita: Atari left a legacy which will never be surpassed by any company. Consider:

    1) Although Nolan Bushnell, Atari's founder, did not invent the video game, he single handedly created the Arcade and home videogame industry.

    2) Atari produced the first major Arcade hit in Pong.

    3) The Atari 2600 was the first home videogame system to capture the imagination of the youth in America. A total of 26 million machines were sold from 1977-1991.

    4) Atari's repetoire of past hits include Asteroids, Tempest, Centipede, Missile Command, Battlezone, Star Raiders, Adventure, Breakout, Pong, Warlords, are timeless masterpieces that are as fresh and exciting today as they were in their heyday.

    5) While not a commercial success compared to the Gameboy, the Atari Lynx was the very first color portable game system.

    There are many, many other things that Atari contributed to videogames, but I can't name them all.

    Lawson: What do you believe atari's status is today now that has merged with JTS? is there an atari cult or underground following which is very alive or do you think the atari name will die off?

    Keita: Atari Corp. is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of JTS Corporation. They are currently not a participant in the home videogame industry. However, Atari Games Corp., the arcade division of the original Atari Inc. (the Arcade and Home divisions of Atari split up in 1984) is alive and well, producing such recent hits as Area 51, Primal Rage and the upcoming games Mace: The Dark Age and San Francisco Rush.

  • There are a large number of classic videogame enthusiasts who still own, collect, and play the old Atari game machines even till this day. There are also many Atari Jaguar and Lynx enthusiasts who still own, support, and even program games, for the systems.

    Lawson: From what i've read atari seemed to have the opportunity to withstand the crash of 84 and the rise of computers. do you think atari was doomed from the beginning after PONG?

    Keita: First of all, that is not a valid question. Pong came out in 1972, while the home videogame market thrived until 1982. Were they doomed in 1982? Of course not. Nintendo proved with the NES that many people love to play home videogames. Atari's premature pull out from home video games was their mistake. Even when that happened, they still had an opportunity to capture a large share of the computer market, but they lost out to IBM and Apple as a result of their unwillingness to market their machines, poor product planning and awful decision making.

    Lawson: In your opinion, why do a lot of people get excited about the old atari home videogame systems after more than a decade?

    Keita: Many of the games for Atari systems are incredibly addictive and fun, they can be had for relatively little money, and many adults today grew up with Atari when they were younger, so nostalgia also plays a role in their enthusasm for the Atari game machines.

  • That's basically it. Let me know if you have any further questions, and good luck with your article.


    Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996
    From: E. Cline
    Subject: God-like status,


  • Just wanted you to know that you have been elevated to god-like status for your atari 5200 webpage. Your names will be forever etched in stone in the halls of noble and honorable men, and one day I will tell my children of your greatness . . .

  • Screenshots of The Last Starfighter prototype ALONE make you worthy of a seat on Mt. Olympus. When I found that I stood up in the middle of my office and screamed "Mighty FUCK! I have found pictures of the unfindable!"

    I designed the Last Starfighter web-site:


  • And want you to know how much I appreciate all the work you've done on your page, and the nostalgic spirit in which it was made. (My Atari 2600 Shrine is at http://www.bga.com/~ernest/atari.htm :-)

  • I don't know how you got ahold of all these rare carts, but I truly thank you for sharing them with everyone.

    Again, thanks for the memories!

    Les Replies:

  • Coming from a man with an extraordinary web page such as yours, we are honored by hearing such compliments. Your Last Starfighter page brought me to tears... I think I'll go rent the movie tonight :-)

    Thank you again for your words of praise.


    Date: Sun, 20 Apr 1997
    From: storm@*.com
    Subject: on a video-game quest !

  • i am desperately seeking an atari 5200 game system !!!! if there's any way you know of for me to get one (and mario brothers and/or berzerk cartriges) i would be FOREVER endebted to you !

  • if you would be so kind as to read this short ABSOLUTELY TRUE story, you will see how despirate i am to find one. today, i took a day off of work to go to the local flea markets in search of one. after hours of searching i see a older man, standing in front of me WITH A 5200 IN A BOX !!!!!! i attepmted to ask him where he got it, only to find that he didn't speak english !!!!! i tried in vain to netgotiate with him for the machine but all i could get from him was that he paid $20 for it !!! i walked away frustrated ... i could not believe that life could be so cruel !!! :)

  • if you have a 5200 that you are willing to sell, please let me know how much you will sell one for. i would appreciate it more than words can express !

    please write back !

    Keita Replies:

  • Wow, does it suck to be you! What you should've done is pulled out thirty bucks and wave it in front of his face. Language should NEVER be a barrier to a 5200 purchase! Speaking of which, I just picked up a mint boxed 5200 machine the other day from a kind Hispanic fellow, might he be the same person you tried to negotiate with in vain? Thank heavens for my high school Spanish class, it paid off for me .


    From: markzia@*.com
    Subject: Hello
    Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997

  • I lost my power supply for the Atari 2600 and would like to know the voltage and polarity needed so I can pick up another adaptor somewhere.. maybe at radio shack? Any help appreciated!

    John Replies:

    Here are the power supply specs....

    4-Port: 11.5VDC @ 1.95A
    2-Port: 9.3VDC @ 1.95A

  • NOTE: You can ignore the power supply specifications. Both the 4-port and 2-port power supplies are functionally identical. As long as it's part #C018187, it will power either flavor 5200. Have trust in the console's voltage regulators to take care of things.


    From: Paradox17@*.com
    Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997
    Subject: Help

  • I was desperately looking for a version of the classic Atari 2600 cart. "ADVENTURE."

  • Is there a windows version/DOS version or is it in any of the game packs anywhere??? Help...

    Les Replies:

  • Craig Pell has an excellent PC version called "Indenture." You can download it from his page at:



    Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997
    From: gwhite@*.net
    Subject: Crystal Castles cart for the Atari 5200

    To Whom it May Concern:

  • I am trying to find the Crystal Castles game cart for my Atari 5200. Atari did manufacture this game for this system but I personally have never seen one or laid my hands on one. Where could I get one? Any information on this subject would be helpful. I have had my Atari 5200 Supersystem since I bought it new in 1983. I have added Wico joysticks and also have the optional trac ball controller plus about 20 games.

    Keita Replies:

  • Sorry to break your heart, but a 5200 version of Crystal Castles was never released. There might be a prototype cartridge of it floating around somewhere, but we have never laid our eyes on one either.

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