The Atari 5200 Emulators

The Atari 5200 is a gaming console that was manufactured by Atari in 1982. Even though it had a short lifecycle, it has some amazing capabilities as well as some fantastic games which are still talked about to this very day. Many people who didn’t get a chance to play an Atari 5200 in the 1980s can do so by downloading an emulator.

Atari 5200 ROMs
Emulators run ROMs and these are simply binary versions of some classic games. ROMs are known to contain a code of the original cartridge of a particular game and these can be downloaded online. Some of the accepted file extensions of Atari 5200 ROMs include .a52 .bas .bin .car .xex .atr .xfd .dcm .atr.gz .xfd.gz. You need to put all your ROMs in /home/pi/RetroPie/ROMs/atari5200 so that they are easy to find.

Best Atari 5200 Games
Dig Dug
This is a game that puts the player’s character in a maze and their goal is to kill the enemies on screen to progress to the next level. Enemies can be defeated using a pump to inflate them till they explode or players can use the rocks around the level to squash them.

This is a fixer shooter where players have to fight off waves of fleas, scorpions, spiders, and centipedes. It is one of the most popular and commercially successful games to come out on the Atari 5200.

Not many game characters are as instantly recognizable as Pac- Man. In this iconic game that is still popular today, players take control of Pac-Man and try to guard through a level. The main goal is to eat all the dots on the screen while avoiding the 4 ghosts in the game. These 4 ghosts are Clyde (orange ghost), Blinky (red ghost), Inky (cyan), and Pinky (pink). They pursue the player all through the level and contact with them leads to losing a life.

Space invaders
This is a wonderful shooter where players take control of a laser cannon they move horizontally across the screen and shoot aliens before they reach the bottom. When all aliens on-screen are defeated, players move to the next wave which is more challenging than the previous one.

Altirra Emulator
This emulator is a wonderful choice for anyone who wants to run the Atari 5200 on their computer. Some of the great features of this emulator include
Frame rate enhancement and capturing
Video RAM
Audio output
Memory dump
FM Synthesiser
Save, load and VRCD back up
Game Boy Advance enhanced
Advanced cartridge emulator
Game Genie cartridge emulation
Multiple screens

All the features highlighted offer gamers a great chance to experience some of their favorite Atari 5200 games however, they can affect performance sometimes. Most gamers have reported experiencing crashes and lag. While this doesn’t happen often, it can be frustrating when it happens.

If you install this emulator, there are a few things you can do to ensure it runs smoothly on your computer. The most important thing is to make sure that the emulator version of Altirra you’ve downloaded is up to date. This can be done on the official site of the system and also, you have to save your settings.

You need to save the flash memory size, the EPROM size, the floppy drive size, video mode, and the sound driver. These settings can be found in the windows device manager and the popular computer systems to run this emulator include Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows XP.

Atari 5200 Retropie
Retropie allows gamers to turn their computer into a home retro-gaming machine. It is known to build upon several projects that allow gamers to play some of their favorite games on a computer.

These projects include RetroArch, EmulationStation, Raspbian, and more without needing much set up requirements. Gamers can also customize the system to their liking thanks to a large variety of configuration tools at their disposal.

Atari 5200 Bios
To be able to run the Atari 5200 properly, there are 5 BIOS you need to be aware of, and below is a table showing all 5 of them as well as their purposes.

This is a BIOS for the Atari 5200
This is a BIOS for the Atari XL, XE OS
This is a BIOS for the Atari 400/800 NTSC
This is a BIOS for the basic interpreter
This is a BIOS for the Atari 400/800 PAL

On the emulationstation, navigate your way to Atari 5200 and pick a game and this will open a page with cartridge options. Any gamer that wishes to play 5200 games needs to choose 5200.rom on the cartridge option as it is the one that works best. On the screen, you will get a message which says “you must legally own the 5200 hardware to have the BIOS”.

When you see this message, you have to press F1 on your computer and this brings up a menu. Scroll down to the option which says “emulator configuration” then press the enter button. Then go down to the system ROM settings and press enter again.

To go back one step, you need to press the escape button. There is an easier way to do this too, you can just select the “Find ROM images in a directory” option then scroll to the BIOS directory. Once there, you press the space bar button. If you have named your files correctly, your BIOS file should be easy to find without breaking a sweat.

Final thoughts
While the Altirra emulator isn’t perfect, it is one of the most polished when it comes to running Atari 5200 games. The Atari 5200 library has some fantastic games and the mentioned above in this article are some of the most highly praised for this system. They all run smoothly with great graphics and top quality sound on the Altirra emulator as long as you have downloaded the latest version.

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