"DEAR AGH" (September/October, 2000)

Subject: Help me! What kind of Atari system is this??????
From: Philip K.

I've been looking around your site (and a damn good site I might add), and I noticed that you talked about all the Atari systems, and I also noticed that several other Atari sites talked about all the systems. But if those are all the systems, then what the heck in in my basement? I have something called the Atari XE System? I cannot supply a screenshot, but I can describe the look. It's grey, it's a LOT more bigger then an Atari 2600 Jr., the port for the cartridge is slanted (not vertically, but horizontaly), the plugs for the controllers are on the side, and you can attach a keyboard and a light gun on the side too (have both), and can attach a printer in the back. And there's a HUGE transformer in the middle of the power plug line. Is 'it' rare or something?

What you have is the "XE Game System" by Atari. It is cream colored, with pastel buttons on the console, correct?

Basically, it was released in the late 80's as a stripped-down Atari 8-bit computer (400/800/XL/XE series) that was marketed strictly as a game machine.

The reason it isn't often mentioned is because of its lack of impact both in originality (it's compatible with computers that were out more than 10 years before it) and because it didn't exactly set the world on fire, sales wise.

It's somewhat rare, but not something that will allow you to retire in Tahiti :)

Subject: 4-Player Games On 5200
From: P. Slocum

Were there ever any 4 player games created or planned for the 5200?

I've read just about everything on your 5200 page, and I can't find anything about why there are 4 ports on the original. Maybe I'm just missing it. Also, I assume it was mainly for the unreleased puffer, but was the expansion port ever used for anything?

Thanks. Your page is fabulous. I just got a 5200 for $6 (I've been scouring thrift stores forever) and it's so much fun to play.

The four ports on the original 5200's were indeed designed with multiplayer gaming in mind. The first game planned to take real advantage of this was Asteroids. However, that game got canned due to it being unplayable with the non-self-centering joysticks. RealSports Tennis also allows simultaneous four player gaming in doubles mode. Most other games don't really require four joysticks -- In Super Breakout you can take turns playing in 4-player mode, but it's really not necessary since it's inherently a solitaire game.

Nothing was ever actually released that plugged into the 5200's expansion port. A keyboard module and laserdisc add-on were planned, but neither ever saw the day.

Subject: Super Breakout Not #1
From: Travis S.

I am sorry, while I agree that Super Breakout is one of the greatest games ever, I would have to argue with the fact that you rated it #1. I was disappointed to see that Pitfall was left off your list of the 10 best as well as Dig Dug.

My personal top ten Atari console list is a list of my personal faves, and it's 100% subjective. If everyone liked the same games, I'm sure the industry can make do with about 50 games instead of the hundreds that come out every year for consoles and computers. Given that there are way more than 10 great games on Atari systems, it was indeed a difficult list to put together. In fact, my favorites tend to change from time to time, and if I had to redo my list it might look quite different now.

As for Pitfall, I'd rate it personally as one of the most significant Atari console games and I spent hours playing the game during my youth. That said, I don't think it's held up well -- nor does it possess the type of playability -- that some of the other 2600 games do.

By the way, Travis submitted his own top ten list that you can check out (and even critique if you so desire.) Check his list as well as those of others on our top ten Atari console games page.

- Keita

Subject: Black Label 2600 Crazy Climber
From: J&P

I have an atari 2600 question that I was wondering if you can help me with. I saw in an Atari Age magazine from Jan/Feb 1983 an article about the game Crazy Climber (Cx-2683.) It was a game only available though the Atari Club, and it had a picture of the game with a black picture label like you would see on Combat or Breakout. But the one I have is with a silver label like the one listed in the Nexus Rarity guide. Would you know anything about the black picture label? Is it another varation of the label or what's the deal on that? Is there a place I can contact? I found out hasbro knows nothing about Atari with the buyout and I can't ask Atari because they no longer exist. Can you help me with this question? thanks!

The black-label Crazy Climber as seen in the Atari Age magazine was an early version that never made it into production. Right at the time when Crazy Climber was to come out, Atari overhauled its 2600 game label template and made all the cart labels silver. Thus, Crazy Climber can only be found with a silver label, while the black label version got left on the cutting board. By the way, you might want to take a deep breath from time to time :)

Subject: Atari 5200 Back Port
From: Brian B.

On the back of my 5200, I remember there was a plastic plate that popped off. Under it, there was a printed circuit slot.

What was this for? Did anything ever plug in back there?

Both a keyboard (computer) module and a laser disc add-on were planned for the SuperSystem and would have plugged into the back expansion port. Alas, neither of them ever made it to market.

Subject: OMC Games
From: T68000

Have you guys heard anything from OMC about The Assassin. I really want to get it. Have they taken any orders? They haven't updated there site in almost 2 months.

Considering that OMC is doing the game as a hobby, don't expect to see the game finished anytime soon. Keep in mind that three dedicated experts took over four years to finish BattleSphere. Jaguar development is far from being a trivial task.

Subject: Your Review Of Solar Fox
From: Brice B.

I did complete all six of the "Challenge" boards. However, I knew nothing about unscrambling the letters you received at the end of each successful completion. In fact, if you take the letters from each board in the order they are completed, they spell "HELIOS," which in Greek Mythology is the god of the sun, consistent with the name "Solar Fox."

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