Atari 5200 SuperSystem

Dear visitor,

Welcome to the Atari 5200 game cartridge database.

Because it’s our goal to make it as complete and accurate as possible, we urge you to do the following: if you own rare Atari 5200 game cartridges, please send us pictures of their front and (readable) end-labels and we will add the titles to our database.

Also, if you own good quality scans of carts and / or boxes not already in the database, please let us know.

We hope you’ll have fun browsing through our database.

The Atarimania Team

Some historical facts about the Atari 5200 game console:

The Atari 5200 ”SuperSystem” was launched in 1982.

It had a futuristic design, and was much larger than its predecessor, the 2600. The game cartridges for the system were also unusually large for a system of the time.

Originally named ”Atari Video System X”, the 5200 was based on the proven hardware of Atari’s 8-bit line of computers.

Like the computers, it used the custom ANTIC and GTIA chips for graphics, and the POKEY chip for sound; the first version followed the computers in having four controller ports, although the later version had only two. The original version was incompatible with games produced for the Atari 2600 console, but the ”two-port” version was sufficiently altered to allow the production of an adaptor which gave the 5200 the ability to play game cartridges designed for the 2600.

Another oddity of the original ”four-port” version was that it had one of the earliest automatic TV switchboxes of any videogame system. For most consoles of the age, a manual switchbox was used, meaning that the user had to flip a switch in order to change from game-playing to watching TV. Unfortunately, the switchbox was also used to provide power input to the console, and this unwieldy configuration meant that spare parts were expensive if there was a problem. The ”two-port” system returned to a more conventional separation between TV output and power input.

Despite being based upon the Atari 400/800 computers, the SuperSystem could not use the computer software directly. This was because of some important differences in internal engineering. The 5200 had only 1K of ROM compared to the 10K of the computers, and the memory addresses of some registers, and of the custom chips, were changed. However, many games that had been successful on Atari home computers were ported to the system.

The 5200 had unique controllers, featuring an analog joystick and numeric keypad, together with Start, Pause and Reset buttons. Unfortunately, the controllers had a remarkable propensity for failure, and many of the controllers that have survived to the present are non-functional. Atari revised the 5200 controller design several times, and had plans to release completely redesigned controllers. However, these did not materialize before the system became defunct. Another problem with the controllers was that the joystick was not self-centering, and this made it very difficult to use with some of the most popular games of the time.

As a commercial game platform, the 5200 had a short lifespan. Because of this, it has a limited game library. This means that it is quite possible to obtain a complete game collection for the system, and many people are attracted to 5200 collecting as a result. Another consequence of this is that the majority of titles available for the system were produced by Atari itself, and most are of high quality. The short-lived availability of the system meant that there was little time for third-party games to be produced, and these games, therefore, had short production runs, and are generally the most difficult to acquire.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Atari 5200 was only produced with NTSC television output; there was no PAL version, let alone SECAM. It was only available in North America. The 5200 has a small but loyal band of enthusiasts and collectors in Canada and the USA, but is little known further afield.
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