Before PlayStation and Xbox took the console throne, there was Atari.

In 1986, Atari released the Atari 7800, successor to their successful Atari 2600 and the not-so-popular Atari 5200. They had big plans for the console that was a clear upgrade in terms of graphics and performance. 

Sadly, the console lacked games and was not a huge success on the market, however, one unique selling point about the Atari 7800 is that it was backwards compatible with the games made for the 2600 model. This way, apart from only playing the 59 new releases, the player had another 400 games to choose from. 

The Atari 7800 was one of the first consoles with such a feature, which was great. But the question we are interested in today is whether this model was capable of running the Atari 5200 games. So, let’s find out!

Is The Atari 7800 Compatible With 5200 Games?

No. Sadly, the Atari 7800 is not compatible with the games from the Atari 5200 console, But it can play Atari 2600 games.

Since the Atari 7800 supports games from the Atari 2600 it would be a logical question to think the same stands for the 5200’s games. But the problem comes down to hardware changes.

Game cartridge for Atari 5200

The most important fact is that the 7800 and the 5200 are quite different models. The Atari 7800, despite being a much newer model, has a lot of the same parts used in the 2600, which is a clear reason why it supported its games. However, with the makings of the 5200, Atari took another route and used the chipsets from their 400/800 8-bit computers.

This way, the Atari 5200 was much closer to the computers than the other console version. The most evident proof is that the games on the computers and the 5200 console looked identical.

An interesting fact is that there was a prototype adapter that could let the players enjoy the 7800’s games on their 5200 consoles. An adapter that would solve this problem but was never released.

5200 vs 7800, The Differences In Hardware 

When it was released, the Atari 5200 was the most powerful 8-bit gaming machine and had better graphics, which were a much-wanted upgrade. However, since it lacked backward compatibility, it received a lot of backlash from players who owned a huge library of 2600 games. Apart from that, the Atari 5200’s controller wasn’t its best either and was one of the main reasons many players don’t like this console.

As mentioned before, the Atari 7800 came with backward compatibility but was limited to the 2600’s games, which was great news for the fans of the older console.

The hardware compatibility of the Atari 7800

The 7800 controller featured two buttons and a joystick and while it offered a fine gaming experience it was labeled as uncomfortable. In response to this, Atari released a joypad controlled for the European market.

The Atari 5200 had a better game catalog than the Atari 7800 which is one of the things that may make the 5200 a better option for retro gamers. While this catalog contained most of the games the fans have already played on the 2600, it offers better versions of titles like Pacman, Jungle Hunt, and Centipede giving the perfect arcade experience.

Last Thought On The 7800’s Backwards Compatability

There is a lot more to be said about the Atari 7800’s advantages, disadvantages, and overall experience. But our main point of interest here was the question of whether or not the Atari 7800 can run games from the Atari 5200. While it’s a big plus that it supports games from the older 2600 version, the Atari 7800 isn’t compatible with the games made for the 5200.

The Atari consoles were one of the must-haves for all gaming fans in the 80s. Today, almost 40 years later, as far as gaming is concerned, there aren’t many gamers who would play their Atari daily. However, these consoles can still be found in the possession of many fans like us who grew up loving their games.