Posted Tue May 1, 2012 3:13 PM
I received my Arcade Pac-Man cartridge and have played about seven games so far. My high score is 29,810. My system is a 600XL with the 320XL RAM expansion.
The cartridge and instructions on a sheet of stiff paper arrived quickly and were well and safely packed. The cartridge was in an anti-static bag. The cartridge is made of semi-transparent blue plastic and has a pretty nice label. The developer of the advanced hack was gracious enough to number (it's #9) and initial mine when I requested it.
As I understand it, Arcade Pac-Man hacks Atari's Ms. Pac-Man to make it like a port of the original stand-up arcade game Pac-Man. I never had Ms. Pac-Man, but I did have Atari's original 8-bit Pac-Man port. It was okay but somewhat simplified, and I seem to recall it was not very smooth in its movement.
Arcade Pac-Man for the Atari 8-bit line of computers has changed all that. I played the original Pac-Man in the arcade, and I could not imagine a more faithful port than this. It is true I was never so advanced a stand-up arcade game Pac-Man player to play "patterns" and so forth, and I can't vouch for the behavioral mechanics of the ghosts except that yeah that red one really goes after you at levels past 1. But as far as I can tell this *is* Pac-Man. Short of emulating the actual arcade machine in MAME, or having much higher resolution in graphics and sound than the Atari 8-bit can produce, I don't know what could've been done better.
How do I describe the play and appearance and sounds? It's Pac-Man, say no more. The ghosts have more than one color and have the "tracking eyes" where they look where they're going. The mazes look nice and I think authentic. There is some minor amount of "pillar boxing" where black spaces appear at left and right to be truer to the stand-up arcade game, which I'd suppose had dimensions 3:4 as opposed to 4:3. As a rule, I don't like that aspect of games that waste a lot of resolution by pillar boxing, I say go ahead and stretch it out and it's still authentic. What Arcade Pac-Man for the 8-bit does is split the difference I think. It's proportionally wider than the arcade but not so wide as a traditional television like display.
What else? It's not an exact but it's a pretty faithful approximation of the "waka waka waka" sound. The high score saves to the cart, even after you pull it out and play something else. The high score may be easily reset to zero. The space bar activates a freeze and I guess this is not an authentic feature (but a desirable one). You can unfreeze with the fire button. The cartridge has a title screen and there is an intermission animation after completion of the second screen. There may be further intermission animations after that but I haven't got to them yet.
Lastly, although I am writing a very positive review, I do state that I have no connection to the developer other than buying a single one of his cartridges, and I benefit not at all if his sales increase because I've told you what I think.