Pac-Man (2600)

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North American box art.

Pac-Man is an action game designed and programmed by Tod Frye and published by Atari for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It is meant to be a port of the arcade game Pac-Man, but it is so inferior to the original, it can't really be called the same game. Atari made two primary blunders during the development of this port, they gave Frye an unusually short length of time to create the game in order to make it available for Christmas, and they required him to fit the game in 4K, rather than use the more expensive 8K ROM chips that had just been made available. These constraints led to this monstrosity. Despite being a terrible port, Atari 2600 Pac-Man went on to sell 7 million copies, and became the best-selling video game at the time. However, its poor quality ultimately hurt the video game industry and contributed to the crash of 1983.

I first played this version of Pac-Man on my home Atari around 1986. Having seen the original in the arcade, everyone in my family saw that this was a mockery.

Status

I own this game. It can't be beaten.

Review

  • Overall: 1/10
  • Best Version: Atari 2600

Good

  • Had I never seen the original Pac-Man, I may have thought this game was a passable Atari title.
  • The speed of the ghosts and length of the power pills can be customized to fit your playing needs.
  • The manual is well-made and the cartoons are pretty good.

Bad

  • Graphically, the game is quite dull. The maze and dots are the same color, there's not much variation, Pac-Man doesn't look correct or display up and down movement, the ghosts look wrong, etc.
  • The flicker of the ghosts makes them difficult to see, and even harder to distinguish their color (although, since they all use the same AI, it doesn't matter).
  • All the additional variation of the game like the cut-scenes, fruit, music, etc., has been removed.

Ugly

  • The game utterly fails as a port. Atari 2600 games are expected to be inferior, but this one is garbage.

Box Art

Documentation

Links