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Pac-Man – Atari 2600

Pac-Man – Atari 2600

PacMan2600boxPlatform: Atari 2600

Developer: Atari, Inc

Publisher: Atari, Inc

Release Date: March 1982

Genre: Maze

Nerd Rating: 2 out of 10

At first I didn’t think I would ever come around to talking about or even playing this game again; I’d worked to forget it’s existence entirely. However, when I went to a flea market the other day to look for some more Atari 2600 games, just about every seller that had an Atari game to sell, also had this. It’s not even surprising, because Pac-Man was a really popular game for the Atari. So popular that I had the merchants of those games even ask me why I didn’t want to buy that game. My response;

That’s a piece of crap, I came here for Yar’s Revenge.

Luckily, I found not only a cartridge of Yar’s Revenge in good shape, but also a game that had tons of April’s Foolish Games potential. And by that I mean Pac-Man for the Atari 2600.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Pac Man! I used to play it at the arcade near my house as a kid all the time. It’s a simple game that has not only become a major pop culture phenomenon, but is still the king of maze games. I also do love the Atari 2600, most people find it an incredibly boring system, but I enjoy it. Maybe I’m just a boring person, I don’t know. The problem comes when you decide to port a popular arcade game to the Atari.


You’ve probably played the arcade version a few times by now.

Pac-Man (1982) (Atari)_7

What is that even, a box of wafers?!

The port itself plays in a similar fashion to the arcade classic; you play as Pac Man moving around the maze and avoiding ghosts. However, in this version, Pac Man is collecting wafers. At first I thought the dumb rectangular blocks were just how the pac-dots looked on the Atari, but then I noticed the goddamn wafer on the box. In addition to the change in maze food, the bonus fruits are also gone, replaced with incredibly stupid shit like vitamins, power pills, and just fucking boxes. These changes were not only unnecessary, but incredibly stupid.

Pac-Man (1982) (Atari)_2

Pac Man what is wrong with your face?!

Graphically, this port actually looks older than the arcade version, which was incredibly colorful and had some pretty nice graphics. Oh but Pac Man himself was updated! HE HAS AN EYE NOW! Pac Man may now look like an oval-shaped monster that has trouble turning around, but at least he can now see where he’s going. That’s what counts, right? I’m serious, Pac Man only has two sprites; facing left and facing right. If you go up or down he stays facing whatever side he was prior to the directional input. The ghosts also received an update too, now they blink! Yep, now the ghosts can blink, which makes trying to manuever around all of their single colored selves even less fun. Also, when Pac Man eats the “special colorful square” the ghosts now just change colors again…

Pac-Man (1982) (Atari)_10

Pac Man where did you go!

I suppose you can’t really go on too much about lack of decent colors on the Atari 2600 now can you? Time to talk controls. And considering this is Pac Man, the only controls that you’ll need are really the directionals. You’d think with the big joystick on the Atari 2600’s controller, that would actually be easy. No, it isn’t. Through playing it again, I’ve noticed that either my Atari joystick isn’t a fan of me or the controls for this game are extra sucky. Luckily when I emulated it to get the screenshots I needed for this review, the controls worked a lot better when mapped on my PS3 controller. Lesson learned; only emulate the Atari 2600.

Really, I can’t even go on about how stupid a port this was. Pac Man deserved better and instead received a half-assed, rushed, piece of crap port for the Atari 2600. Not only have I seen better Atari 2600 games, but I’ve seen way better ports. And to think that THIS was the best selling Atari 2600 game and the best selling game of its time. THIS. People actually bought this, loads of people. Maybe Atari should have used the profits they made from this disgrace to make a better Pac-Man port.

Lesson learned dear readers; if you port an old game to a newer system, make sure it isn’t worse than the original.

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc aka Kelly is Nerd Bacon’s Editor-in-Chief and resident narcoleptic. In the off-chance she isn’t already asleep, you can find her here at the Bacon!


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One Comment

  1. FrozenMallet says:

    Nicely done. I remember playing this as a kid. In fact, I had the whole Pac family on my 2600. Fortunately, Ms. Pac-man and Jr. Pac-man were much better.


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