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Released: 1982

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: Atari 2600

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Tod Frye

Submitted by: John Delaney

Pac-Man may be a little yellow disc with no arms or legs, but as this game demonstrates, he's still capable of giving a solid two-fingered salute when he feels like it. Often cited as the #2 reason for the Video Game Market Crash of the early Eighties (#1 being E.T. on the same system), Atari Pac-Man is the definitive lesson in how not to do an arcade conversion.

First of all, it doesn't even look like the iconic original. Clean blue lines on black have been replaced by chunky brown bricks on deep blue; a lovely, nauseating combination. Pac-Man, world-famous for being yellow: now brown. The maze layout doesn't even attempt to ape the arcade machine's. Instead, walls are strewn around wherever there are a few spare pixel spaces, with no heed given to coherent, tactical maze design. Dots have been replaced with chunky dashes.

Then you press Start.

The first thing that hits you is the sound. Atari had somehow found the single most irritating sound on the planet to accompany the chomping of a dash. I can't even try to describe it; you'll have to hunt it down on the 'net.

Once your ears have adapted to that, you may notice the ghosts that are pursuing you. Probably. At least they might be… oh wait, you're dead. Oh, there was a ghost there. The trusty 2600 was famous for its flicker. With the number of on-screen sprites severely limited, programmers often had to force several sprites to "share" screen time, flickering rapidly between them. The four ghosts in Pac-Man all share the same screen time, resulting in flicker so horrendous that it can be difficult to tell where exactly they are or what direction they're heading in.

Pac-Man on the Atari was actually my first exposure to the little pill-popper. There weren't any arcades around my area, so I had nothing to compare it to. I remember the bemusement more than anything. This was Pac-Man? This was what the fuss was all about? What's the appeal? And maybe that sums up why that market just had to crash.


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Released: 1984

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Atarisoft

Developer: Atari

Submitted by: Crispian Driver

This months Retro Gamer Magazine has a fantastic feature on Pac-Man. Which made me wonder if my beloved Spectrum had ever released a direct Arcade Conversion, and the answer is yes. The world famous video gaming icon based on a Pizza with a piece missing (it's true read the mag), did come to the Spectrum and just about every other home console too. I missed this back in the day,  the Mag feature made me track this version down, i'm pleased it did.

Pac-Man is one of the earliest examples of a 'casual game', like Brain Training and Wii Fit, it is responsible for making many people play video games that normally wouldn't. Pac-Man himself, is surely the most famous video game character in the world. Who hasn't played Pac-Man or a clone of it?

The premise is so simple, just guide our hungry hero round a maze, eating as many dots as he possibly can. You have four ghosts hot on your pursuit, these can only be eaten after Pac-Man has eaten a power pill (there are four per maze) , once eaten, the ghosts eyes go to the centre of the screen and return to chase you after a few seconds. Along your way, you can eat fruit for a score bonus. Once you clear a maze, you move on to another. It's about reflexes and quickly planning your route. Do i really need to go on? The big question is, how authentic is the Spectrum conversion?

Well, it's pretty good, much better than i thought. The colour use is good, it looks very much authentic. The sound is very good indeed, the little tune and sound effects are all there. Crucially, it's fast and plays quite well. My main moan about the Spectrum version is it flickers, i couldn't play it for too long.

So, it looks the part, sounds the part, almost plays the part via a headache. Not a bad conversion at all, but by no means the best.


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Released: 1993

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: NES/Famicom

Publisher: Namco

Developer: Namco

Submitted by: Damian Butt

Another Pac-Man port this time for the NES was just like the arcade version. The graphics were colourful the sound effects were perfect and the controls were brilliant. This is one of the most successful arcade ports ever made.

The game also allows two players to turn play which makes the game also resemble the arcades. The game has only one fault being that after a while the novelty of the gameplay soon dies if you die and lose early in the maze but this said if you can get on a good role you can play for a long time trying to beat your score.

The game was also released on the Virtual Console for 500 wii points but I think unless you love this game and don't get bored bet it but if you do get something else and let this one pass. This is a classic arcade game though and fun to play and this classic NES port does the game justice what you see is what you get.

Pac Man

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Released: 1980

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Namco

Developer: Toru Iwatani

Submitted by: Sean O'Neill

Today, I'm going to show you Pac Man.  If you're a gamer you're bound to atleast have heard about this game, if not have played it.  I think the first time I experienced this game was on the Xbox with the game Pac-Man World 2, which had a Namco Arcade in it that allowed you to play a bunch of Namco and Midway video games.  I also later got this on the PS1 with Namco Museum Vol1, but mostly for Galaga.  Then later on the Wii's virtual console for NES, but that was for my dad who later complained about the Wii Remotes disability to let him use the joint of his thumb to turn pac man through the maze.  So he was totally turned off, and I agreed with him; I mean I still play it on Wii but it is a bitch for you to have to use the tip of your thumb to move him, its much more convenient with you joint, and what i mean by this is that the D-Pad is too small and when you are trying to go down with pac man I keep going left or right which ends up me venting my feelings by throwing 3 trays of tapes to the ground… thats when everyone should agree that you haven't play Pac Man 'til you've used a joy stick, either on an arcade machine or on the 2600.  And it gives you more control over the 'lil yellow pizza we call pac man.  This game has inspired pop-culter with t-shirts, music and television but also inspired about a zillion ports.  So if you haven't already, go ask your parents to take out a loan, and get you that lovely Pac-Man arcade machine that you've always wanted.