Arcade Hits on the 5200 Part 1 – Joust, Jungle Hunt, Pole Position

Real arcade graphics, real arcade action. That’s what the Atari 5200 promised gamers in 1982 and damn if it didn’t actually deliver. “Joust”, “Jungle Hunt” and “Pole Position” all look incredible on the 5200 when compared to their 2600 brothers, as they should. Thankfully, the standard Atari 5200 controllers don’t detract from the overall enjoyment of these titles like they do for some other games on the system, e.g. “Pac Man” (which I still really enjoy) and “Frogger” (which I don’t really enjoy).

“Joust” is the game where you ride an ostrich while holding a spear in your hand and you must hit your opponents from a higher position in order to knock them off their ostriches. Some ostriches lay eggs which you then must collect before they turn back into live opponents. As the levels progress, more enemies appear, less platforms are available, which means you’ll need to fly and float with more precise control, and sections of the bottom platforms give way to lava and the lava monsters that live inside it. The Atari 5200 version of “Joust” is very nice looking and plays well but the standard controller’s side button position does make it a bit difficult to press rapidly for extended periods of time, which is important to be successful. I don’t have many negatives to gripe about “Joust” on the 5200 as its a fun game and is still fun on this system in spite of the standard controllers.

“Jungle Hunt” or “Jungle King” as it was known in the arcades, looks phenomenal on the 5200 compared to the bare bones 2600 version. Each level, vine, river, boulder, and rescue levels, have vibrant colors and detailed backgrounds but I question the hit detection for your character’s knife when you attempt to stab upwards into the crocodile’s mouths. I died way more than I would have expected trying to pull off this move. I tend to just avoid the crocodiles instead of going for the extra points that killing them provides.

“Pole Position” is, of course, the racing game forefather where you take your Formula-1 race car for a spin around the course, avoiding cars and obstacles, including billboards that advertise nothing at all, along the road in an attempt to gain more time and ideally, win the race. It’s never been an easy game for me on home consoles as utilizing a stick shift, brake and gas pedals and of course, a steering wheel is the ideal way to play but the 5200 version of “Pole Position” is about as good as one should and could expect in 1983. I just don’t find “Pole Position” to be nearly as fun as some of the other classic arcade games available on this system. Huge fans of the game should have no significant issues with the 5200 port, however.

Currently in my collection:

Joust – game and manual A-

Jungle Hunt – game and manual B+

Pole Position – game and box B-

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