User review spotlight: Carmageddon (DOS). Released in 1997.

Pac-Man (Atari 2600)

Genre
Perspective
Theme
40
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37844)
Written on  :  Jul 22, 2006
Platform  :  Atari 2600
Rating  :  0.75 Stars0.75 Stars0.75 Stars0.75 Stars0.75 Stars

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by *Katakis*
read more reviews for this game

Summary

Hey look everybody, it's the Anti-Pac-Man

The Good

Pac-Man must eat all dashes in a maze of corridors, while avoiding the four ghosts. If he does collide with one ghost, he will lose a life. However, if he eats the squares that hide in each corner of the maze, the ghosts will turn blue, allowing him to gobble them up. He must do this in a small amount of time before the ghosts turn back to normal. If the ghosts are too much for him, he can go through the escape tunnels that are located at the top and bottom of the screen. Once all the dashes have been eaten, Pac-Man is warped to the next maze.

The only good thing that I can say about Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 is that it at least stars one of my favorite characters ever since he was born in the eighties.

The Bad

This was supposed to be the flagship title for the best 8-bit system for its time. There was much hype surrounding the Atari 2600 version. When gamers got a chance to play it, they expected it to be faithful to the original game as much as possible. Instead, what they got was a rather poor conversion of the game which suffered from many flaws in its design.

Let's start with the main characters. As you expect, Pac-Man looks like a filled yellow circle with a slice cut out of him. However, he is a bit blocky and looks like a moving wrench with an eye. When he travels north or south throughout the maze, his head does not turn vertically. It is as if he does not look for corners at all. In the original game, the ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde) have different colors so that you can tell them apart. In the A2600 version, however, all the ghosts are the same color so you can't tell them apart. To me, it looks like Atari used only the one ghost, duplicated him three times, and selected random paths for them. To make matters worse, the ghosts flicker badly. Due to the A2600's limitations, only one ghost could be displayed at a time.

Now, gamers who have played other versions of Pac-Man before they had the chance to play the A2600 version will know that the first paragraph in “The Good” section is incorrect. It is too bad that it is true for this port, as Pac-Man actually gobbles up dots, not dashes. He also eats power pellets, not squares. One thing that I forgot to mention in that paragraph is that the fruit that appears randomly in the middle of the screen is indeed a rectangle, but according to the back cover, it is a “video wafer”. The game has a blue background and the maze is colored orange.

Sound-wise, the A2600 port does not even come close to the sound used in the coin-op version. Both the start-up sounds and Pac-Man's dying sounds are bad, and the A2600's sound system only emits a series of beeps when Pac-Man gobbles up the dashes.

The Bottom Line

Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 is a conversion with many flaws, which happen as a result of Atari rushing to get the game released in time for the 1981 christmas season, as well as the lack of testing. This game, along with E.T., is partially to blame for the 1983 video game crash. I'm surprised that the A2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man was given the go-ahead, after this disastrous port was made.