"DEAR AGH" (March/April, 1997)
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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 !
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 .
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!
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.
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997
I was desperately looking for a version of the classic Atari 2600 cart.
Is there a windows version/DOS version or is it in any of the game packs
Craig Pell has an excellent PC version called "Indenture."
You can download it from his page at:
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997
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.
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