Atari 5200

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Atari 5200 Games can be played in LinuxMCE, thanks to the wonderful work by the MESS project.

Game Player Playing Ballblazer

Basic Definitions

  • The OK button is defined as the button normally pressed while the Options screen is visible to select items, and to enter into other menus.
    • If you are using the keyboard, the OK button is the ENTER key.
    • If you are using a joystick, the OK button is Button 1 on your joystick.
    • If you are using the Orbiter, the OK Button is the Play button on the bottom of the orbiter display next to the arrow keys.
  • The Escape button is defined as the button normally pressed while the Options screen is visible to abort selections, or to exit menus.
    • If you are using the keyboard, the Cancel button is the ESC key.
    • There is no cancel for the orbiter currently, (FIXME)
    • There is no cancel on the gamepad. You will need to define one if you want it, in the UI Controls subsection in the Options menu.

Putting ROMs into the system

Using Mac OS X Finder to drop ROMs into the system.

In order to play the games, you must acquire the ROMs. These can be found in a variety of ways, and they will not be detailed here.

Rom files for the Atari 5200 must end in .a52 (this is so that we can accurately find the ROM files and identify them as Atari 5200 ROMs.

Once the ROMs are acquired, place the .a52 files into a directory searchable by the filesystem. Normally, this would be under public/games/a5200. PAL games can go under a5200p, and will be played using the PAL TV standard.

You also MUST have the 5200.rom file, either by itself, or contained in a ZIP called, present in the same directory (see the above screenshot!), as this is a required BIOS ROM.

Once UpdateMedia finds the ROMs, the Game Database will be consulted, and imagery will be pulled from the Game Snapshot Database.

Playing Atari 5200 Games

Selecting a Game

Selecting a 5200 Game, the Cover art.

Games can be played by selecting the Games scenario in the main screen, and selecting Atari 5200 from the resulting list. If you have changed the sort order (under Options), you should change it to System, so you can see the Atari 5200 option.

If available, each game will be shown with their respective cover art. If you see a game and it doesn't have cover art, it would be wonderful if you at least filed a ticket, even better if you provided cover art.

You can of course use the Options page to filter, and search through games, the same as with other media. In search, games for all systems will be shown.

Playing a Game

Typically, once a game has been selected, the Game will appear, with artwork around the game screen (if available). Since these games are simulations of the actual game hardware and software, you will see the game "boot" its hardware and software. This will entail various "self test" screens which may look quite strange, but they will eventually give way to the Game's attract screen.

Select / Pause / Start

Selecting a Game Difficulty level

The Select, Pause, and Start buttons will select difficulty levels, Pause the game, or start a new game. The behaviour of these buttons varies from game to game. For convenience, the Start button will cause the menu to disappear, to only show the playing game.

The keypad

The on-screen keypad for Atari 5200

Since the Atari 5200 controllers had a keypad, this is visible on the Orbiter displays. For on-screen displays, this is visible when you press a mouse button or when you press a key on the keyboard. (TODO: work on this interaction, this needs to be seriously refined!).

The keypad will overlay atop the gameplay display, and if Alpha compositing is used, it will be slightly translucent to allow for the game display to show through if needed. Selecting a button on this display causes the keypad function to go to the appropriate game function.

In addition, if an infra-red or Gyration remote is being used to control game play, pressing the keys on the number pad will also have the same effect as if they were pressed on the controller. (TODO: Verify that this works!)

How Do I?

This section shows common issues that can arise while playing Atari 5200 games with the Game Player.

Configure your controller

Setting Atari 5200 options

You can configure a controller by pressing Options . Once the Options menu has appeared, you can use either the orbiter to select the folowing:

  • Input (General) - Changes in this menu affect every single system that MESS controls
  • Input (This System) - Changes in this menu affect the Atari 5200 (and every game that it plays)

Once you select this section, you can then select the button you wish to redefine, and then press the OK button, and then press the desired button on your keyboard or controller to define the new button. Repeat this for each button you wish to define.

A note about redefining buttons present on the Orbiter
Mapping buttons so Orbiter can work too.

Currently, because the Atari 5200 implementation uses MESS, and we are throwing keystrokes at MESS, these keystrokes are currently hard-coded into Game Player. We expect that 2 is player 1 start, 1 is select, etc, and we send keyboard events whenever you press a button on the Orbiter display when this happens. If you redefine these keys, the buttons on Orbiter will cease to function correctly. This is easy to solve. When you are defining your keys, define your new button, then repeat, the process, pressing the appropriate orbiter button. MESS will assign the button events to both keys, and your orbiter buttons will continue to work correctly.

Setting Analog Controller sensitivity

Setting controller options using Analog Controls

Since the Atari 5200 uses analog controllers, it is often necessary to recalibrate the settings in the Analog Controls menu, to better suit your target controller. For best results, it is highly recommended to use a controller that has analog pads, such as a typical gamepad with two analog controllers, however, only one will be used.

For each option, select, using the OK button, and adjust using the analog control on your gamepad.

TODO: We need to explain the relationship of the AD controls to gameplay. For now, just experiment and observe the results. Somebody please come back and fill this section out!

Technical Notes

Technical Notes for 2nd Generation Game Systems