Nick DeMarco

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Space Dungeon’ is an arcade shoot ’em up done right on the Atari 5200

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Space Dungeon’ is an arcade shoot ’em up done right on the Atari 5200
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I’m not one to simply take the words of other critics to heart. If I’m told, in this case, that a game is the “best game on the Atari 5200,” I’m not going to accept that as truth and be done with it, oh no. I owe it to you, loyal readers, to discover whether or not all the hype and positive word of mouth today’s game received is truly worthy of it all.

Today on Turn to Channel 3, we enter “Space Dungeon” on the Atari 5200, so get your weapons ready, star voyagers, as “Atari August” continues!

“Space Dungeon” (Atari 5200)


Like many games of the era, “Space Dungeon” doesn’t possess a thick catalog of tunes, but what it does have are some great sound effects for exploding enemies, treasure obtained, and weapons fired. While this may not seem like a lot, it fits the frantic nature of the game quite well, and when you’re playing an arcade conversion on a home console, you can’t ask for much more, or any better.


Highly simplistic, “Space Dungeon” harkens back to the likes of “Robotron: 2084,” “Tempest,” and “Asteroids,” when less was more, and what was there was plenty for the eyes to feast upon. In addition, each enemy has a distinct way of exploding and being taken out, and that in itself is pretty cool to watch.


“Space Dungeon” doesn’t overwhelm you with a killer soundtrack or stunning graphics. It does what any good pre-NES game does, and that’s lure you in with the hopes of a high score and a frantically addicting game that keeps you coming back for more.

In “Space Dungeon,” you enter each room, take out enemies, and obtain treasure that is placed in a treasure room that you must make your way to in order to end a level and collect the points from said treasure. Should you perish on your way to the room, the treasures will remain, but a thief will be sent in pursuit of your treasure, making your journey to your treasure room that much more important. In this, “Space Dungeon” is a frantic race for points while averting defeats that amp up the game’s difficulty.


At the inexpensive price of just $7, but with both controllers and special holders for them necessary, “Space Dungeon” is an experience all serious collectors of the Atari 5200 should have. The main fault of the Atari 5200 was its lack of quality titles that were not simply updated versions of Atari 2600 games, so “Space Dungeon” is a welcome exception and a great example of a quality game that was new to the Atari 5200 at the time. If you enjoy shoot ‘em ups, then this is the perfect game for you.

Next time, we jump to the Atari 7800 and take on “Alien Brigade,” so until then, gather up your space treasures, keep them safe from thieves, and game on!

Tune in to NEPA Scene’s gaming column, Turn to Channel 3, every Thursday for new perspectives on retro gaming as well as fresh twists on the classics. All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.