It’s the year 1981, the Atari 2600 or the VCS was at the height of the popularity and sales were at an all-time high for Atari. The VCS was also rebadged as the Sears Video Arcade and sold through Sears, and other stores. Pac man a very popular game title was in arcades and Atari wanted to bring that into the living room with the family. So Atari wanted a Pac-Man game on the market for their VCS system and they wanted it now. So they commanded Tod Frye to make a cover art, code all in little to no time frame.
Frye began work on a prototype version. The company wanted to release the prototype to capitalize on the 1981 Christmas. Development was hindered by the technical differences between the original Pac - Man’s hardware and that of the Atari 2600. The original's arcade boards stored four times as much as a ROM in addition to 2KB of both video and general RAM. The memory types are used to store and switch between sprites. By contrast, the Atari 2600 had only 128B (1/16 of the arcade board) of general RAM and none dedicated to video.
At the end of development marketing manager Frank Ballouz tried the game out for himself before sending it to market and manufacture. Soon playing the game he can hear weird beeping noises in the game, the game started to glitch out with the score 0 after playing through level one. He began to question Frye of why he saw that. Frye said it is a work in progress come back tomorrow and he will have it fixed. The next day he walks in and asks where is Frye and coworkers say he has not been seen in a while and he comes into work mostly every day but they were all high so no one has seen him. He walks into the play testing room and sees a Pac-Man cartridge with the words PLAY ME on the front and on the back says HIGH SCORE: 0 all written on with Red Sharpie.
He began to play the first time he turn it on we was meet with a red screen with a high pitch noise in the back. So he turned it off and tried it again but this time it worked. It was in color and he played. Pac-Man acted different than the last time he played he kept running into the ghost and the pellet only worked once. Then the screen went crazy with Pac-Man in the corner dieing over and over then he restarted the game to see if that fixed it. It only worked for a second and it happened again and then the screen went black and then he stopped. When he walked out no one was there. He asked “How long was I playing”.
He took the cartridge and hid it for a long time until found by a collector in Kentucky in 2015. At the Classic Game Fest Frye ask the collector where did he get cartridge, he replied “I have Pac-Man Fever.”
YouTube link to Pac-Man.avi