Weeklies

Game: "Pac-Man (Atari 2600 version)"
System: Atari 2600
Genre: Action
Published by: Atari

Reviewer: -RoG-
Posted: 7/7/2009

Review: If you've never played this port of Pac-Man on the Atari 2600, you're missing out on some serious video gaming history. Notice I didn't say "fun" there. It's not fun. In fact, it's a horrible game which, along with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, contributed to the big video game crash in the early eighties.

The reason why the game is known for being one of the all-time worst ports of an arcade classic is because its release was rushed in order for it to be on store shelves in time for Christmas back in '81. If they had more time to work on it, maybe it wouldn't have been so godawful.

Among the many differences between the Atari 2600 port and the original arcade version of Pac-Man were is that not only are all four ghosts colored in pastels, but they flicker constantly on the screen. Believe me, this game was a real treat for epileptics.

If there's one good thing about this game's legacy, it's the sound effects that came from it. Sure, they're not nearly as good as the original arcade sounds, what with the extremely loud "HONK! HONK!" sound that Pac-Man makes whenever eating a pellet, but there is a plus side to it all. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a TV show or a movie make a reference to video games and then you hear some of the sound effects from Pac-Man on the Atari 2600. The sounds from this version of Pac-Man must've been used in the world of entertainment more than any other video game.

So yeah, check it out if you've never played it or you just want to relive some classic console history. It's far from the greatest game ever made, quite the opposite in fact, and it may make you go blind if you stare at the ghosts for too long, but it is an experience. This is one Pac-Man game that I will NOT beat.

Overall rating: Whole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

bad case of the dead
Jul 7th, 2009, 01:38 AM
i played the crap out of this when i was lil. to my baby eyes it was still novelty enough to play an arcade port of somethin even if it was ugly and clunky. not only were it's generic bloops used as stock videogame noises in several movies and shows, they were also ripped off by other crappy atari games. everyone that had an atari had this game it was the law
The face of trapped wind.
Jul 7th, 2009, 01:53 AM
I have this game but have never played it.
My Atari doesnt work.
I shouldn't have bought an Atari from Goodwill.
Bad call.
Riot Control
Jul 7th, 2009, 01:55 AM
I've been experiencing what I would like to call a "Pac-Man Revival". This is because there have been a lot of those moments during this past two weeks where I find myself either so bored or so stressed that playing a few levels helps me ease things a bit.

You will find a good port of the classic arcade version to play for free online here.

Give it a try if you have a few minutes to spare and your godamned Websense blocker at work doesn't mess with it.
"It's all so appalling."
Jul 7th, 2009, 03:31 AM
it's unbeatable...yes, if you haven't figured this shit out, already
Last of the Time Lords
Jul 7th, 2009, 08:59 AM
Played it when I was little. I didn't know how bad it was until I got Miss Pac-Man, which was 1000X better. Never put this one in my Atari again.
the axe and the smasher
Jul 7th, 2009, 11:17 AM
From what I've heard, the released game was actually a demo of the game and the game was never completed. Not sure how true that is, but I remember still how disappointed I was that Christmas morning.
Doctor Caliente
Jul 7th, 2009, 01:38 PM
Pacman for the Atari 2600 may forever be used as a prime example of how NOT to port a game from one platform to another... For as awesome as the arcade version was at the time, this was the exact opposite of awesome.

I did own it, however. :P
Member
Jul 7th, 2009, 01:55 PM
I remember the coast to coast "Pac Man Day" that heralded the arrival of this turkey. I so looked forward to it, and put on a brave face for months afterwards. Sort of "well, I guess they did the best they could." Then I just had to accept it, the game stunk.
Pickled Patriarch
Jul 7th, 2009, 03:49 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by robo_rob View Post
From what I've heard, the released game was actually a demo of the game and the game was never completed. Not sure how true that is, but I remember still how disappointed I was that Christmas morning.
Yeah, the game that was released was basically a prototype. Since the company wanted to get the game out by Christmas, they didn't get to make it a nicer port, so basically what you have is a prototype released worldwide. Crazy.
Riot Control
Jul 7th, 2009, 05:01 PM
Cruxader: If this is a prime example of how a game must not be ported to another console then I don't know why it is a practice that keeps taking place with plenty of games these days that saw glory in some systems but shame and heavy criticism on others. Is nothing sacred?
OH GOD
Jul 7th, 2009, 06:02 PM
i didn't think it was one-pickle bad, it was still better than say home run or swordquest:earthworld i'da given it two
the axe and the smasher
Jul 7th, 2009, 07:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mockery View Post
Yeah, the game that was released was basically a prototype. Since the company wanted to get the game out by Christmas, they didn't get to make it a nicer port, so basically what you have is a prototype released worldwide. Crazy.
Definitely shows when compared to the 2600 version of Mrs. Pack-Man, that game was great!
Pickled Patriarch
Jul 7th, 2009, 07:49 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by executioneer View Post
i didn't think it was one-pickle bad, it was still better than say home run or swordquest:earthworld i'da given it two
Heheh, well I owned the game when I was a kid and it always made me pretty damned angry. It ranks right up there with E.T. in my book. The only reason it gets a pickle instead of just half of a pickle is because the sounds are so memorable and have been used extensively in the world of entertainment over the years.
pickled
Jul 7th, 2009, 08:59 PM
I would have gave it half a pickle. That's how I roll.
What Video Games?
Jul 8th, 2009, 07:39 PM
I'm glad I never owned an Atari. PERIOD.
Member
Jul 9th, 2009, 12:33 AM
I read an article a few months back saying that the port was lousy not souly because of time constraints but hardware constraints. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the 2600 isn't even powerful enough to run pacman!!! Seriously... the animation issues were due to a lousy draw rate and limited palette, and the crappy ai and sound effects were due to limited memory space.

It's actually quite amazing that it turned out that good.

I've also been experiencing pacman nostalgia btw. I used to be rather (in)famous over at byoac, but I haven't done anything related to that in quite a while. I think it's time to build the ultimate pacman cab from scratch!
Forum Virgin
Jul 9th, 2009, 01:59 AM
Pac-Man for the 5200 was better.
Forum Virgin
Jul 9th, 2009, 02:02 AM
Okay Mr. Mockery, which port was worse for the 2600 -- Pac-Man or Donkey Kong?
Member
Jul 9th, 2009, 02:03 AM
I still see this as happy nostalgia from my childhood and essential in starting me on the path to geekdom. It may not have been the best, but it kept me entertained and that was what the games were for, at least as far as I was concerned.
Ba dum dum dum dum
Jul 10th, 2009, 03:35 PM
I'd rather play this than that Pac-Man game for the SNES where you try to shoot him with a slingshot so he'll go where you want him to. That game made me nostalgic for the simple control scheme in a Boy and his Blob for crying out loud.
The Magnificent Bastard
Jul 14th, 2009, 04:43 AM
Pac-Man 2

I love that game. I never actually play it, though. I just like to torture Pac-Man for awhile. You know, shoot him repeatedly for no reason, lead him into trouble, etc.
Member
Jul 17th, 2009, 01:19 PM
I hate to ruin anyones day but the guy singing the "I'm gonna beat PacMan" song said the banana was flying across the screen. That didn't happen in PacMan. That happened in MsPacMan. The fruit was always stationary - under where the ghosts came from.

Yeah I know...