Pac-Man (Atari 2600)

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The forefather of Rushing Game development.
Protagonist: Pac-Man
Genre: Action
Platforms: Atari 2600
Release Date: March 16, 1982
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari
Sears (Telegames version)
Polyvox (Brazil)
Made in: United States
Franchise: Pac-Man

Pac-Man is an Atari 2600 port of the now-classic arcade game by Namco Bandai. This port of the game is very broken and even considered to be one of the worst video games of all time and even had a hand in the North American video game crash of 1983. Though as time went on, it was forgotten and left in the dust of the other contributor to the crash.

To put salt on the wound, Ms. Pac-Man for Atari 2600 was released a year later, and lacked all of the Pac-Man issues. It shows that the Atari 2600 had the hardware needed to make a decent port, if the developer really cared. Thankfully, Atari actually thought about that when releasing the AtGames Atari Flashback Portable, which has a different version of Pac-Man that is closer to the arcade.


The game really is just a port of the original game. 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 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 ghosts always flicker and sometimes just become invisible so you can never see them on the screen. This can lead to very cheap deaths.
  2. Obnoxious sound effects.
  3. The power pellets only stay on screen for a short time and last for a short time, too, even if the switch is set to B (easy).
  4. There is only one screen to the whole game. It's the same stage over and over again.
  5. The Pac-Man sprite never faces up or down, meaning while moving up or down the sprite would remain facing left or right.
  6. Problems 1 through 5 are caused because this is a published prototype. The developer was only given 38 days to work on it, when most Atari 2600 games took 3-4 months to make.
  7. The graphics are very unappealing to look at., even for Atari 2600 standards.
  8. Atari made 12 million cartridges even though there were only around 10 million Atari 2600 systems sold.
  9. Pac-Man in the box art and cartridge looks very weird and uncanny.
  10. For some reason the dots are called wafers, the power pellets are called power pills, and the fruit are called vitamins.
  11. The maze is completely different from the arcade version.
  12. It is as if there are two ghosts instead of four due to flickering (likely due to hardware limitations). Technically, there supposed to be four, but two of them stay invisible most of the time.
  13. False advertising: 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.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. You at least get an extra life when you complete each stage.
  2. 126 wafers are on each level, so you don't need to spend a lot of time collecting them.



Aspen Pellot

3 months ago
Score 1
There is the better Pac-Man port on AtariAge or Atarimania


2 months ago
Score 1
Even the ColecoVision version tried!


one month ago
Score 2

a bad port for the good console, 2600

They later did a good port for the bad console, Atari 5200.

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