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Pac-Man (Atari 2600)

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Ah yes, the forefather of rushing game development.
Protagonist(s): Pac-Man
Genre(s): Maze
Platform(s): Atari 2600
Release: NA: March 16, 1982
JP/SA: 1983
AU: 1985
Developer(s): Atari
Publisher(s): WW: Atari
NA: Sears (Tele-Games)
SA: Polyvox
AU: Atari Corporation
Country: United States
Series: Pac-Man

Pac-Man is a maze video game developed and published by Namco. The game was released on a variety of platforms, including the Atari 2600 version, which was released on an unfinished state. This port is considered as one of the worst video games of all time, but unlike popular belief, only has a micro portion of the video game crash of 1983.


The objective is to traverse a maze, consuming all the wafers within while avoiding four ghosts.

Unlike the arcade cabinet, the layout was changed to fit on the Atari 2600. The maze has a landscape orientation, the warp tunnel is located at the top and bottom as opposed to the sides and the prize at the bottom of the ghost box is a square called a vitamin worth 100 points. It's supposed to be the fruit.

Why It Sucks

  1. The port was developed from an unfinished prototype, this is an abysmal method to release games in the way (as this became a trend decades later), which leaves unfinished content, major problems, bugs and glitches, and poor polishment in the quality. However, Atari gave the developer only five weeks (similar to E.T.), exactly 38 days to program and work on it, when most Atari 2600 games took at least 3-4 months to make.
  2. Ear-bleeding sound effects. Every time you eat a "Wafer", it plays an electric buzz that can be tiresome, and when you eat a "Power Pill", plays shooting stars that can be very annoying to the ears. To make matters worse, the start sound is very high-pitched and easily unpleasing.
  3. False advertising: Speaking of sounds, one of the game's commercials that was only used in Australia used sound effects from the arcade version, rather than the actual sounds from the port. The cartridge and box arts of the game are also misleading since it features all four ghosts (one eaten with only his eyes in the safe zone), but there are only two in the game.
  4. Poor and Overly-Ambitious marketing: Atari made over 12 million cartridges, when there were only around 10 million Atari 2600 systems sold. This lead for the poor quality control of the library.
  5. The depiction of Pac-Man on the cartridge art as seen above looks unfaithful to the source material, he also looks very weird and uncanny. Later releases of the game had the same box art but with a more faithful-looking depiction of Pac-Man about to devour a wafer.
  6. Very ugly, poor and amateurish graphics of the game, there are very few palettes in the game, even for the Atari 2600 standards. Older games had better graphics and more colors than this game.
  7. For some reason, the game's manual changes up the names of several things. For example, the Dots are called Wafers, the Power Pellets are called Power Pills, and the Fruits are called Vitamins.
  8. There is only one screen in the whole game, even after completing the same level multiple times. Which is pathetically stupid for the Atari 2600 standards for such this little content, even E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial had more screens and it was released in the same year.
  9. The maze is completely different from the Arcade version, most likely due the technical limitations of the Atari 2600.
  10. Pac-Man's sprite never faces up or down, meaning while moving up or down the sprite would remain facing left or right. By that, Pac-Man would eat the Wafers by his forehead or jaw, which doesn't make sense whatsoever.
  11. There are only two ghosts instead of four, due to flickering (likely due to hardware limitations). Technically, there are supposed to be four, but two of them stay invisible most of the time.
  12. Due to the sprite limit of the Atari 2600 system, the ghosts always flicker and sometimes they become invisible, so you can never see them on the screen. This can lead to many cheap deaths.
  13. The "Power Pills" only stay on screen for a short time and last for a short time too, even if the difficulty switch is set to B (Easy).

The Only Redeeming Quality

  1. The game is merciful, as the player gets an extra life every time they beat a stage.



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