We were only young, but we understood the console games wouldn't match the arcades. We didn't even stop to think about it, we just loved playing this version of Pac-Man for what it was, a fun variant on the VCS! Not sure if the UK perception was different, but I don't remember anyone hating this game, same with Defender.
As with Donkey Kong (from Coleco) a year later, I remember the critical drubbing the 2600 version received upon release. And I was one of them. I enjoyed the arcade game like the rest of the world back in 1981, and with Atari having the ubiquitous rights for the home version (and generally doing a good job overall), what could wrong? Plenty. I hated the new scoring scheme (e.g., 1 point instead of 10, 5 instead of 50, etc.). It made it feel like I hadn't accomplished anything after the game was over. Also I disliked putting an eye on Pac-Man (maybe Atari didn't want kids to think Pac-Man was blind?), and that items were renamed -- monsters became ghosts, energizers became power pills, etc. In fact, I remember that so strong was Atari's "influence," if you will, that after the 2600 version came out, anyone playing Pac-Man in the arcades were now referring to the new naming schemes. What also made this game awful was the poor color scheme and headache inducing flickering, not to mention the crude sounding sound effects. And there wasn't even an attempt to have the classic theme song to start the game; it just sounded like a couple of random notes that didn't even sound anything like a tune.
Scott Stilphen - 06/04/2018
An absolute travesty on so many levels, and for me the biggest letdown by far for any home arcade conversion. It's rather amazing that it looks, sounds, and plays nothing like the original. Tod Frye has often said he didn't understand why people complained about issues like the tunnels being on the wrong sides, or that the colors were completely wrong.. and a dozen other issues... but that had he known, he would have fixed them. He also claims having support for 2 players used up a lot of the available RAM he had, but that haivng it was an "essential part of Pac-Man" and thus refused to drop it, as if we were talking about a co-op feature like with Warlords. Anyone else would have dropped the 2-player option very early in the dev process, realizing what the restrictions were with having only 4K. As for the color scheme, look at all the previous coin-op ports that were done. For Frye to say, "Nobody knew what was important" is nonsense. Clearly everyone else knew what was important, and the rules weren't as unclear or unknown as he likes to claim - if you're doing a coin-op conversion, the objective is to COPY the arcade game as closely as possible. Brad Stewart and Rick Maurer managed to duplicate nearly every aspect of early b&w games like Breakout and Space Invaders. "No one knew?" EVERYONE knew. Everyone but him, apparently. If the game was purely b&w (w/o even the use of colored overlays, like Air-Sea Battle or Asteroids), then sure, take advantage of the fact the system has color. But to take a game like Pac-Man and not only put a colored background in it but change all the colors, when part of the visual appeal of most games back then was to see (primary) colors against a black background. How come he didn't put a colored background in his 400/800 Asteroids? Most of his VCS games (Pac-Man, SQ FireWorld, Aquaventure, Save Mary) have awful coloring schemes. Sorry, but to spend 6 months on a 4K game and have it look or sound nothing like the game it's based on is still just as unforgivable, even 36 years later. He can come up with all the excuses he wants, but Tod did a shit job on it and was clearly not the right person. When he threatened to leave Atari during the development unless they offered him more money, Atari should have let him walk, and had someone else work on it (or contract out someone else to do it, which is what they did with Ms. Pac-Man). And where was Atari's Marketing with all their play-testing when this game was turned in? Chances are, nobody in Marketing cared how it looked or played, as long as it had the name. So although it's clear Tod didn't care about such things, he was far from the only one at Atari.
Man, this Game really took a lot of Beating up till now. Can't understand it. Surely, it lacks some technical polishing, but I think it's not half as bad as always said.
Here in Germany, Kids couldn't go into the Arcades and play the original Game. Arcades were only for Adults. The only Version of Pac-Man we knew, was this one...and we loved it! We couldn't compare it to the Arcade-Version, but even then I wouldn't say it's gruesome. There are a lot of 2600-Games with worse Graphics and worse Gameplay.
I still play it from Time to Time on harder Game-Variations and Difficulty-Settings.
I'd say it's a 7.5 of 10.
For those not aware, this was not meant to be a released game by the man who wrote the program, it was a proof of concept. Atari wanted to release it immediately so that's what we got. Tod Frye wanted to clean it up but wasn't given the time to do so.
It's funny, when this came out I had to have it. I even knew it was bad in many ways, but I had played it at my friend's house and I guess I bought into the hype because I had my mom drive me around until we found a copy. 3 stores later, I finally found a store that wasn't sold out and I paid $37.95 for it (a record for me at the time) at a store ironically called Pay & Save.
Sorry Paul, but the other guys are right. This PacMan sucks, and even at 14 years of age, I knew it sucked then. It seems like it was hastily put together; not a lot of effort or thought. Ms and Jr are WAY better using the same hardware.
Atari was seemingly on a roll with arcade conversions around this time. Berzerk, Phoenix. Then they release this! I knew you'd never expect arcade perfection from the 2600, but I also knew it could be done better than this.
Ironically Atari ran anti-Colecovision 5200 ads saying "look how awful pacman is on the colecovision". It was their own pac-man being run through the CV 2600 emulator module!
I remember seeing this in being played in K-Mart and thinking that it was such a disaster. In hind-sight, it really is not a bad game, it just doesn't look or sound much like the arcade machine. It is very playable and really only disappointing when you consider that Ms Pac-man was so much better on the same hardware.
Unfortunately, this was one of Atari's failures. They manufactured 14 million units, but there was only 10 million consoles. This resulted in 4 million cartridges which didn't sell. These along with E.T. (which led to Atari losing $536 million and a contributing factor of the video game crash of 1983), and a bunch of stuff they couldn't sell, ended up crushed and buried in a New Mexico landfill.
As young kids we did not know that there was an arcade game in the world of the adults called Pac-Man and how it felt and looked like. For us at age 7 or 8, Pac-Man was Atari and Atari was this wooden plastic fantastic something. So, for me at least the 2600er Version is what I consider the only true original of Pac-Man, this is the true look and feel, the best version ever, it is a 10.00
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The Atari Pac-Man World Championship was held in Paris on September 18, 1982 (moved from Monte Carlo just two days prior due to the tragic death of princess Grace of Monaco). In the 25-and-under age category it was won by the then 16 year old Craig Heap from the UK, scoring 29,511 points. In the 25-and-over age category it was won by the then 26 year old Johann Breiderbeck from Germany, scoring 14,516 points. Both won a trophy and a $10,000 cheque.