by Adam King

Greetings, gamers. For this edition of the vault, we take a look at an advertising method most companies use: mud-slinging. Talking smack about a competitor's system is nothing new. Who could forget Sega's infamous "Sega Does What Nintendon't" campaign. Well this can even be found in the classicgaming era, folks.

The two ads I have this month are for the Atari 5200, but they also feature the Colecovision. When Atari was working on the 5200, it was first designed to go against the Intellivision. But soon the graphically superior Colecovision burst on the scene, forcing Atari to change gears. After they released the 5200 they soon targeted the Colecovision with several ads trying to prove they have the better system.

You can see both ads at the Atari Historical Society (

Commercial 1
This first spot shows people gathering to a movie theater for sneak previews of the upcoming arcade hits for the 5200. Once the curtain opens, we see several screens of 5200 games, such as Joust, Jungle Hunt, and the like. We also have a movie-style announcer narrate the spot.

"Here's what's coming from the arcades to the 5200 SuperSystem. Cartridges only the SuperSystem can play. And the SuperSystem versions are the best versions of the great arcade hits you can play at home. The Atari 5200 Supergames. You can't play them on Colecovision. Only on the Atari 5200 SuperSystem."


"Hurry guys, or we'll miss the game previews."

"Coming soon to an Atari 5200 near you."

"SEE! A man defend himself from evil ostriches."

"WATCH! As a driver attempts the win the cup."

"LOOK! At a Bugs Bunny impersonator."

"All this and more on the 5200 (not Colecovision)"

I have seen a slightly different version of this ad that doesn't mention the Colecovision. Does anyone know which came first?

Commercial 2
This ad takes a more direct approach, saying why you should buy a 5200 instead of a Colecovision. Why? Because their games are superior and you can't play them in a Colecovision.

"Do you think Colecovision plays all Atari games?"
"You mean it can't?"
"Here's Pac-Man on Colecovision (shows 2600 version). But here's Pac-Man for the 5200 SuperSystem (shows 5200 version)."
"Now you're talkin'."
"And it doesn't work on Colecovision."
"But won't their adaptor-"
"It won't play SuperSystem cartridges."
"Not Pole Position?"
"Not this Pole Position."
"Not Centipede?"
"Not this Centipede. Only on the Atari 5200 SuperSystem. "
"But aren't they hard to find?"
"They're everywhere."
"The Atari 5200 SuperSystem."

"Say have you heard the news? You can't play Atari games on a Colecovision."

"Isn't that your version of Pac-Man?"

See, it can't fit in a Colecovision...

... or their little adapter.

"Wow, thanks for clearing that up, Atari."


I almost busted a gut when they showed the "Coleco" Pac-Man. Who are they trying to fool, passing off their own crappy game as a Coleco game! Plus they fought against Coleco's 2600 adapter by saying it won't play 5200 games. This didn't stop them from forming the Atarisoft label and releasing versions of Centipede and Defender on that very same system. I though they said it couldn't play Centipede.

Don't forget you have a chance to contribute to the Top 20 Commercials of all time. Send me what you say your favorite commercials are. I will accept ads from 1977 to 1990, which deal with Atari, Intellivision, Colecovision, and the lesser game systems. If possible I'll also accept early Nintendo and Sega ads. This will run to November 30th. Once December rolls around I'll post the results in Issue 64. Let's hope your favorite makes the list.

The moral of this column: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force a 5200 cartridge into a Colecovision. Or something like that.

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