aka: Arcade Archives: Pac-Man, Arcade Game Series: Pac-Man, Dobişko, Jelly Monsters, NES Classics: Pac-Man, Pac - Man, PacMan, Puck-Man
Moby ID: 138

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 41% (based on 15 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 2.8 out of 5 (based on 72 ratings with 4 reviews)

It Sucks that it's based on Pac-man, but it's not a bad game.

The Good
The game it self is pretty decent. It's still fun to play, and, to me, I think the escapes on the top and bottom of the mazes are more useful than the arcade! It's alot easier to dodge the ghosts, since they move in a pre-selected pattern(for the most part). It's a OK game through and through.

The Bad
The main reason that people rip on the 2600 version of Pac-Man so much, is that the game only barely resembles the actual arcade game. The game was clearly rushed, and because of this, the ghosts flicker too much, almost constantly, and there is no longer fruit in the middle of the maze, it's a "Vitamin".

The Bottom Line
Well, I'll admit, it sucks that the game is based off of the classic arcade game, but it's still a playable, and decent game on it's own.

+Fun to play.
+More Useful Exits.
+Easier to dodge ghosts.

-- Rushed.
-- Ghosts flicker too much.
-- It's based on the arcade Pac-Man

THE VERDICT: 6 "Vitamins" out of 10

Atari 2600 · by JohnLennon224 (13) · 2008

How To Make A Great Game... Anything But.

The Good
As a six-year old when the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man came out, I was more excited than anything to have my favorite video game come home. And so I would play this for hours. Even rolled the high score back to zero, I played it so much. Because it was Pac-Man, and to me, that was enough. After all, you did control a yellow dot through a maze eating pellets and running from ghosts. That's Pac-Man, right? Can't argue that the basic premise of the game was there.

I also liked the illustrations found in the game manual, as they had that sleek, rounded style that Atari's illustrator was know for doing with several of Atari's games.

The Bad
However, as I got older, I soon wised up that this game was almost NOTHING like my beloved Pac-Man that I loved in the arcades. Where do I even begin?

The maze was built nothing like the arcade's version. The maze wasn't even colored correctly. The escape tunnel was no longer on the sides, but on the top and bottom. There were no clever maze parts to lose ghosts, on a series of angles that looked like broken squares. And Pac-Man didn't even dots. He ate "wafers". And don't even get me started on the "vitamin" that replaced the fruit.

The ghosts were equally as bad. They were all the same flickering, pastel color. Hard to see, as they blended in with the maze, and devoid of the personality traits from the arcade game. They wandered around the broken maze aimlessly, and sometime, you might get caught. They didn't even flash when they were about to change back. You left them alone when the tone stopped that signified you could chase them. Setting the game in black and white mode allowed the player to see them clearer. Not that they would miss much from the muted colors of the regular game.

Sound effects were a dud. There was a grating four-note tone that replaced the original Pac-Man theme, and it was awful. Dot eating, ghost noises, chasing the ghosts after eating an Energizer.... Nothing even close to the original sounds.

And the greatest mystery of all: Pac-Man could never point up or down. He always floated around the maze facing the side, no matter where he was going.

And of course, no intermissions. Gamers played the same maze, over and over, without stopping.

The Bottom Line
One of the biggest selling games for the Atari, and also one of the biggest disappointments. This was one of those "the name will sell it alone" moments in gaming history, and they were right. But it came with a terrible price to Atari's future. They corrected this mistake (in a very big way) by introducing near-arcade perfect versions (for Atari) of Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man Jr., but as far as Pac-Man goes, the ball was dropped. Not only for the game being this way, but for Atari allowing the game to hit the shelves looking like this.

Still, it seemed that Pac-Man was a hard game to accurately port for the longest time. The most "authentic" of the versions is found in Pac-Man Collection for Game Boy Advance.

Atari 2600 Pac-Man is at best a novelty item for classic gaming or Pac-Man enthusiasts. I can't recommend seriously playing it for a Pac-Man fix, but it is an interesting footnote in how a gaming empire crumbled.

For the curious only.

Atari 2600 · by Guy Chapman (1748) · 2006

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.

Atari 2600 · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2006

A decent game on it's own, but needs work.

The Good
That It's Pac-man. You can never beat the gameplay for this game. And it was the only version back then. The game is plenty challenging.

The Bad
The graphics are horrible. The ghosts flicker too much. The maze is completely separate from the arcade version, and the sound effects are all off. And what happened to the fruit in the middle of the maze?

The Bottom Line
If you can get it for at least $1 to $5 Bucks, don't buy it. or you can download it on a emulator. Pac-Man on the Atari isn't a bad game on it's own, but it should not have been based of of the actual arcade game. il'l pass on this one.

Atari 2600 · by Joel Mitchell (5) · 2006

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by tbxx, Tim Janssen, Jeanne, Alaka, Hipolito Pichardo, Jan Geerling, Guy Chapman, Alsy, Big John WV.