Atari 5200 controller - ahead of it's time?

Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

They didn't have a controller that worked quite like the 5200
controller until the dual shock controller came out for the Playstation
2 (an analog stick which moved an object at different speeds depending
on how far the stick was moved from the center).

There are those who say that the Atari 5200 controller rivals that of
the "trac-ball" when playing MISSILE COMMAND. Others even claim that it
is superior. In any case, one thing I will agree with is that it's a
vastly different experience from playing the game with a fixed stick -
there's no comparison.

The sad thing is, is that while the 5200 enhanced certain games
(Missile Command, Centipede, and Gorf come to mind), the same
controllers that were a blessing to some games made other games
downright UNPLAYABLE (Kangaroo and Frogger come to mind).
13 answers Last reply
More about atari 5200 controller ahead time
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    Before the Dual Shock pad for the Playstation one there was the Single
    Shock pad (was brought to the US without shock and called the Dual
    Analog Pad briefly before the DAP was released). Regardless, the
    analog Dual Flightstick (two analog sticks, not really a flight yoke)
    predates all of the analog pads and was out at the time of the PS1
    launch in 1994.

    The Saturn 3D pad was out when Nights was on the scene, I believe in
    fall of 1996. Sega was more prepared for the eventual switch to analog
    controls than Sony was at the time. Almost all of their games that
    could support analog controls did -- even when there was no analog
    controller yet to use them on! Check out Panzer Dragoon and
    Powerslave/exhumed with the 3D analog pad.

    It's worth noting the Vectrex analog controller was self-centering,
    which IMO was the biggest failing of the Atari 5200 sticks (other than
    their general reliability -- which was shitty). When the Tandy CoCo
    was released they were heavily criticized for having non-centering
    analog sticks, a stigma the computer still has to this day even when a
    MUCH better centering stick with trim controllers was available --
    Hayes/CH products made one as well as Tandy.
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    "The Space Boss" <drsmith666@aol.com> wrote in
    news:1120113070.842228.180150@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com:

    > They didn't have a controller that worked quite like the 5200
    > controller until the dual shock controller came out for the Playstation
    > 2 (an analog stick which moved an object at different speeds depending
    > on how far the stick was moved from the center).

    I didn't even have to read the rest of this message before I stopped
    becasue of your gross lack of information.

    Now, I'm not sure when the Saturn 3D controller came out, possibly pre-
    dates it, but the Nintendo 64 controller had analog input WAY before the
    Dual Shock was released for Playstation (ONE! not TWO). Not to mention
    the Vec has analog input as well. And IMO, Nintendo's analog stick on
    the N64 blows away the dual shock stick. Tighter and more responsive.


    --
    ___
    Chuck Whitby - Founder
    East Coast Gaming Expo
    http://www.ecgxpo.com
    "It's the games"
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    My two cents...

    I will state that the internal composition of the 5200 stick was in
    fact revolutionary. Instead of using a hard waferboard or something,
    Atari engineered the "flex circuit" membrane and used carbon dots to
    complete the circuits within. This technology has been manifestly
    copied in every controller since, and has allowed for a greater array
    of design freedom. Too bad they didn't work on the button "feedback"
    to cure that mushy feel. The non centering Joystick was incorporated
    to boast over the Intellivision's 16-position "pad", and in a moment of
    hubris, Atari thought, "hey, why not 360 degree movement? dudeee"
    For all the bitching, it's easy to get a Y adapter and a third party
    Wico or something and play the games that really demand a centering
    stick with authority ;)

    Jeff
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    Chuck Whitby <intvsama@verizon.net> wrote in
    news:Xns96854E1183D34intvsamaverizonnet@130.81.64.196:

    > "The Space Boss" <drsmith666@aol.com> wrote in
    > news:1120113070.842228.180150@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com:
    >
    >> They didn't have a controller that worked quite like the 5200
    >> controller until the dual shock controller came out for the Playstation
    >> 2 (an analog stick which moved an object at different speeds depending
    >> on how far the stick was moved from the center).
    >
    > I didn't even have to read the rest of this message before I stopped
    > becasue of your gross lack of information.
    >
    > Now, I'm not sure when the Saturn 3D controller came out, possibly pre-
    > dates it, but the Nintendo 64 controller had analog input WAY before the
    > Dual Shock was released for Playstation (ONE! not TWO). Not to mention
    > the Vec has analog input as well. And IMO, Nintendo's analog stick on
    > the N64 blows away the dual shock stick. Tighter and more responsive.
    >
    >

    the only bad thing i've found with N64 controllers is they break way toooo
    easy.


    --
    ----------------------------------==
    Double T the legally blind referee
    ----------------------------------==
    2005 RSPW RUMBLE winner

    mWO 4 a long time baby

    read my comix at
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/138comix/

    Trady Turtle for president
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    In article <1120360589.625317.113010@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
    "Crock" <delse@comcast.net> wrote:

    > Now if Atari had actually tested the technology it was trying to use
    > before throwing the piece of junk it had created on the unspecting
    > public, then you may have a valid argument. As it is, even after 9
    > revs the 5200 controller was still aweful....

    The main problem is that someone at Atari didn't understand what
    oxidation would do to those contacts. Or someone did understand, but
    Atari was too cheap to use actual gold plating on the contacts.

    That being said, there was ONE version of the flex circuits that worked
    great. Six or so years ago I found a pair of controllers at a thrift
    store that worked when I got home and tried them. So I opened them up
    to see what the deal was. They had a rev 8 flex circuit in them, but
    unlike most rev 8's, there was some kind of black coating on the flex
    circuit contacts, probably graphite-based.

    By the time they made those sticks, I doubt that anybody at Atari cared
    enough to notice that particular version working well, much less cared
    enough to act on that information.

    Not that there weren't other problems. Fire buttons on the left and
    right sides is un-ergonomic, but at least they put both buttons on both
    sides so you could use either hand, unlike Colecovision. And those
    horrible non-centering analog sticks, when most of their games needed
    8-way control.

    And the 15-wire cable meant three times as many wires that could break
    with wear and tear. I've repaired (or attempted to) enough 5200
    controllers to find a not insignificant number of bad cables.
    Controllers from all Nintendo systems, and most modern systems since the
    PS1, use a serial interface of some sort, with the latter being a full
    communications bus of some sort, which means more functions with less
    wires.
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    VectorGen wrote:


    > For all the bitching, it's easy to get a Y adapter and a third party
    > Wico or something and play the games that really demand a centering
    > stick with authority ;)

    You mean the ones that let you use a 2600 controller? What of the
    second button? How will you play Defenders?
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    "Chuck Whitby" <intvsama@verizon.net> wrote in message
    news:Xns96854E1183D34intvsamaverizonnet@130.81.64.196...
    > "The Space Boss" <drsmith666@aol.com> wrote in
    > news:1120113070.842228.180150@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com:
    >
    >> They didn't have a controller that worked quite like the 5200
    >> controller until the dual shock controller came out for the Playstation
    >> 2 (an analog stick which moved an object at different speeds depending
    >> on how far the stick was moved from the center).
    >
    > I didn't even have to read the rest of this message before I stopped
    > becasue of your gross lack of information.
    >
    > Now, I'm not sure when the Saturn 3D controller came out, possibly pre-
    > dates it, but the Nintendo 64 controller had analog input WAY before the
    > Dual Shock was released for Playstation (ONE! not TWO). Not to mention
    > the Vec has analog input as well. And IMO, Nintendo's analog stick on
    > the N64 blows away the dual shock stick. Tighter and more responsive.
    >

    I believe the order of introducing analog controls to the mainstream is
    Nintendo 64, Playstation, then Saturn.
    Also, any modern system with an analog stick (or two) on their controller
    blows away the mushy Playstation 1/2 sticks:
    N64, Saturn, Dreamcast, Xbox and Gamecube.

    >
    > --
    > ___
    > Chuck Whitby - Founder
    > East Coast Gaming Expo
    > http://www.ecgxpo.com
    > "It's the games"
    >
  8. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    In article <FV3ye.741$gD5.456@trndny06>,
    "Tempora" <tempora@nowhere.com> wrote:

    > I believe the order of introducing analog controls to the mainstream is
    > Nintendo 64, Playstation, then Saturn.

    Point of order (or out of in this case), I believe Knights on the Saturn
    & it's controller predates the psx Dual Shock controllers.

    jt
  9. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    NO, a Wico joystick has more than one fire button, and works just fine
    for Defender.
  10. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    Mattel Intellivision used the "flex circuit" membrane
    way before Atari ever did....

    ...and weren't those controllers equally fabulous? :)
  11. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    When you think about it, almost the entire design of the CX-52 was
    originally found on the Emerson Arcadia. Or at least the non-centering
    analog stick and 12 key numeric keypad was, anyway. I can't remember if
    the Emerson had dual fire buttons or not, but I am confident that Atari
    did at least innovate the inclusion of function keys on their
    controller.

    As for modern analog sticks... funny thing about them is, they are
    actually DIGITAL. Ha.
  12. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    Well, of course eveything we're talking about is digital in some sense.
    The outputs of the 5200 controllers go through an A-to-D converter
    inside the 5200 itself. In modern systems, this A-to-D conversion
    happens inside the controller rather than inside the console....
  13. Archived from groups: rec.games.video.classic (More info?)

    >In modern systems, this A-to-D conversion
    >happens inside the controller

    Actually, I was referring to the fact that the "analog" sticks on
    modern controllers use digital encoders to track their movement (such
    as you find in a trakball or mouse), while old fashioned analog sticks
    (everything prior to the N64) used potentiometers, which are truly
    analog devices.

    Of course, the end result is the same either way.
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