Fans of retro video games are familiar with the Defender arcade game from Williams Electronics that was a hit in 1980s. Most are also familiar with the Atari 2600, especially as it was the king of home video game consoles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
But not so many people are familiar with the Atari 5200, the home gaming system Atari released in 1982. The Atari 5200 had better graphics than its 2600 cousin, but it never caught on well with consumers.
Still, the Atari 5200 had some cool video games. Including its ported version of Defender.
One thing that makes Defender on the 5200 so great is that the graphics are darn near the same as the arcade Defender, which is a good thing since Defender had sweet graphics for the time. Also, the sounds are the same as the arcade game, which is another good thing.
Most importantly, the gameplay itself is quite similar to the arcade Defender, and this is important because Defender is a video game in part dependent upon its controls and its gaming scenario for its awesomeness. Of course the controls here are different because the Atari 5200 utilizes a joystick with multiple buttons as compared to the six buttons and joystick of the arcade Defender, but once you become familiar with the 5200’s joystick you won’t have any problems with play.
Just like the arcade Defender, you control an onscreen spaceship that shoots at aliens while rescuing humans on the grounds. Also, like the arcade version, your ship can use warps and has a limited supply of smart bombs that destroy all the enemies on the screen.
Still, the biggest problem with Defender on the Atari 5200 are the controls themselves. The 5200 joystick just isn’t very good. Yes, you can get used to it, but it still sucks compared to other gaming controls of the day, including the Atari 2600 joystick, and even the Intellivision and Colecovision controls. So, if anything takes away from the enjoyment of this game, it‘s the sub-par 5200 controllers.
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