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Super Breakout - The Atari Times

Super Breakout

Doesn't exploit the power of the 5200
by Jonathan Rose

May 12, 2004
Atari has not exactly been legendary for it's smart business decisions. From refusing to upgrade the 2600 to refusing to release the 7800 when it had a chance to dominate the market, to releasing duds like Pac Man and E.T. for the 2600, Atari has definitely had it's share of dumb moves. Thanks Jack! Super Breakout for the 5200 is yet another in a long line of such foolhardy mistakes.

Now don't get me wrong, the game itself is not TOO horrible. Those of you who've played it on the 2600 will feel right at home. Basically it's an upgraded version of pong, where you bounce ball(s) at a colorful wall of bricks and try to take them out. Sort of a watered down, power-up deprived version of Arkanoid. Not exactly riveting fare, but a serviceable filler game. 

The only problem is, Super Breakout was the game that came with the system. Considering the vastly superior quality of 5200 arcade ports, why the flipping heck Atari decided to market the system with this yawn inducing Pong derivative (which technically is an arcade game that nobody played), instead of something great like Pac-Man or Defender, I have absolutely no idea. Back then, when the 5200 was costing the big bucks, advertising a game that looked like a straight port from the 2600 as a launch title was plain dumb. I have no doubt, to this day, that this was one of the pivotal reasons the 5200 never really took off. Eventually, Atari decided to market Pac Man with the machine, but the damage had already been done.

The graphics are lame, for starters, looking like the 2600 game of the same name. Square balls, square bricks, square paddles. Designed, no doubt, by block heads at Atari with square glasses. This would be like making a PS One game a PS2 launch title. Nice move, guys.

Sound. Ah yes. Boing. Thunk. Boing. Thunk. Wow! That's the single most realistic boing sound I've ever heard, I mean, IT SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE PONG!!! How did they ever emulate it? Who knows. Probably one of those legendary Mythicon or Froggo employees was working at Atari at the time....

Gameplay. Well, here's where the game redeems itself a bit. Although the controls are average, due to the 5200's joysticks, the gameplay is solid. I mean, the game was fun on the 2600, and it's fun on the 5200. Not jaw-droppingly so, but not bad either. It's good for the occasional game or two, but it's inexcusable as a launch title.

It's too bad Atari had to always make silly management decisions like this. Otherwise, they might still be making consoles to this day. Super Breakout is anything but, and while it's mildly fun, it's an insult to the 5200's capabilities. Get it because it's cheap, if for no other reason. 

Is this the most boring title screen for the 5200?
The game is awesome with the trak-ball!
Super Breakout
System: 5200
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 50%
Sound & Music Score: 50%
Gameplay Score: 70%
Control Score: 70%

Final Score: 60%

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