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In defense of Pac-Man...


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#351 darryl1970 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:53 AM

 

I have tried writing a game for the VCS, and Pac-Man was a disappointment. Change the graphics and call it something else, or at least fix the maze, colors, and sound. Calling that thing Pac-Man is like calling a turd chocolate.

 

I disagree.  Some turds resemble chocolate more than the VCS Pac-Man looks like Pac-Man.. LOL  :D



#352 darryl1970 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:00 AM

Yeah, we didn't have a computer yet either. We saw Pac-Man on an Atari computer at Woolco department store. We didn't think that Atari 2600 Pac-Man would be so much different from that version. I guess that's what we get for preordering a game before seeing it. That was the first and last time we ever preordered an Atari 2600 game.

I remember seeing the 400 Pac-Man at a variety of stores. I was amazed that it was so close. I didn't actually get that version until I was able to sell my VCS for a 5200. As a collector, I now have all of these versions at my disposal, but I actually have very fond memories of WISHING I could have them. When I watched that video above, it reminded me of going to the store and watching the superior version in action. I find it intriguing that memories of wanting actually take me to a happy place.



#353 darryl1970 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:16 AM

 

Wow never seen that before and although that isn't the one I'm talking about,  man that's just as good!  Even though it's animated that commercial CLEARLY gives the expectation of a much better port than we got. It even shows the full arcade maze.  

 

Most of us Atari freaks as kids were fully aware that the VCS had limitations, and arcade games would always be scaled down for our home use. But these commercials are to blame for setting the expectation that Pac-man would be much better than it was.  I think if we had gotten something similar to 2600 Ms. Pacman that would have definitely fulfilled that promise.. but alas. :lol:

 

attachicon.gifimage1.jpg

I first saw the ACTUAL VCS maze at the JCPenny pre-order, if memory serves. I knew it was going to be a different maze. For some reason, it didn't register how bad the actual game might be. I remember the picture illustrated the "ghosts", as if they kind of wobbled. I thought that might be kind of a cool trade off animation. The inaccurate picture hadn't hit me quite yet. It wasn't until I saw the extreme flicker and heard the intro NOISE that it hit me. Up until then, I was kind of hoping that the box illustration was just inaccurate. I held out, hoping the monsters wouldn't actually be all white, and maybe they would wobble too! Had no idea Pac-Man would not face up and down and have a weird eye.

 

After I pulled "Reset", I was shocked for a moment.  I quickly dismissed my hopes and enjoyed it for what it was.

 

VCS-Pac.PNG



#354 darryl1970 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:36 AM

Like this?  Removing the reflect register calls provided the minimum space needed to show all 4 directions.  That was one of the space-saving techniques which did not work out I mentioned earlier.

http://atariage.com/...h&attach_id=927

I think this makes a big difference. I like that the eye is gone. Even though it appears to be one less frame of animation, I prefer it. The mouth animation was something that my friends and I would often make fun of. Due to the eye, his mouth didn't open full. It was more like a sock puppet. Having only the open/close frames gives it the illusion of chewing faster.

 

I missed why this didn't work out...?



#355 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:55 PM

The reflect register coding was put in place so separate left and right bitmaps were not needed (saving about a dozen bytes of Rom).  The problem is, that to implement the reflect register already makes you lose half of those bytes saved.  What I was referring to is that this was a worse compromise than featuring all 4 directions @ less frames...it was a space-saving technique that didn't really save all that much space to be justified for losing a bitmap direction.

 

The same can be said about using a repeating pattern for the maze layout instead of just mapping it straightforward (the multiple kernel sections actually end up using MORE rom space than using a full maze would have).

 

Use of collision registers...virtually no savings over relying on relative-positioning check.

 

Criticism aside, there is a number of things that the game did correctly which (were) seldom mentioned BITD...separate colors, speeds, and "personalities" of the 4 ghosts, top/bottom tunnel and side monster pen door to compensate for the arcade games' maze ratio, point scoring (/10), and a full dot pattern for both players.  The startup tune takes a lotta flack, but at least the game had one.



#356 Asaki OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:47 PM

The same can be said about using a repeating pattern for the maze layout instead of just mapping it straightforward (the multiple kernel sections actually end up using MORE rom space than using a full maze would have).


The maze wouldn't fit on the screen, would it? Ms. Pac-Man used a higher resolution to fit the entire maze on there.

#357 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:35 PM

Frye's Pac-Man uses 15 vertical pathpoints x 8 horizontal (120 spots to rest against a wall maximum)...that's actually closer to the original than the Ms. Pac-Man port when the maze is on it's side, so it works in it's favor.  The arcade game used 10 x 11.  If you imagine the arcade maze on it's side (11 x 10), there's really only 4 horizontal paths in each half that would be significant...the edge of the maze, the short walls surrounding energizers, the long path of dots surrounding the monster pen, and the path around the monster pen itself/S-channels elsewhere, i.e. it could use 11 x 8 and still remain pretty close visually to the original game's layout.

 

Now, the downside:

 

Because every scanline would be drawn asymmetrically, there's not much time left over to precalc anything.  Walls and "wafers" could not share scanlines (ala Pesco).  Not convinced that Atari would have gone for that had Frye attempted it.



#358 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 5, 2018 7:30 PM

In reference to something RandomTerrain said:

I read an essay once which suggested Atari's poor Pac-Man port hurt the public's confidence in video games, or at least Atari. The author compared reviews of games before and after Pac-Man. The reviews from before tended to defend games as if to justify them as a legitimate hobby; the reviews after tended to pick the game apart. Even if the game got good reviews the reviews seemed jaded; the reviewers had to remind everyone how bad Pacman was

Here it is: http://www.8bitrocke...video-game-war/

 
I don't know if there was ever a bad review of Atari 2600 games before Pac-Man in Electronic Games, especially since the magazine just popped up at the end of 1981, but I do know that they weren't too happy with a game by Crystalware for the Atari 400/800 computers in their March 1982 issue (Volume 1, Number 2). Page 55. Page 57. Here are some things you'll see in the review:

 

"The lead-off hitter, Imperial Walker, is a disappointment."

"stiffly animated poses"

"leaves a lot to be desired"

"The bottom line is that Imperial Walker's first-rate visuals mask a program that has many of the characteristics one would expect of a computerized sleeping pill."

 

 

[I thought I'd post this before a myth starts that there were no bad video game reviews for consoles or computers before the Atari 2600 Pac-Man review in Electronic Games magazine.]



#359 FireHawk OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 11:05 AM

Ok, this I remember about this title...

 

My Dad had purchased for me the Sears Video Arcade version of the Atari 2600, as he usually shopped at Sears for stuff.

It was my Christmas present, that Christmas, the same year the system was released.

 

I had several Atari 2600 Games leading up-to Pac-Man release.  The earliest games were the Tele-Games series, as I shopped for new games at Sears.

I think the first game I purchased was Black-Jack.  I was playing Black-Jack on a Calculator at the time and really liked the game Black-Jack.

 

I remember playing Space Invaders at a food place, just off-site of our school, and I really liked Space Invaders on the Atari 2600 - even though it was "different".

I think this was out before Pac-Man.

 

I remember playing Pac-Man in the arcade several times, before the Atari release.  I did have Pac-Man fever, it was one of my favorite video games.  I also remember singing that song "Pac-Man Fever" and having a tape or record of it.

I was 14 and purchased this game as soon as I saw it released in the store, in 1981(?), with my hard earned allowance money.

I remember on the way home, from the store, my Mom, had to stop off and visit a friend.

I sat on the couch for an hour or more reading and re-reading the manual, so I could be ready to play when, I got home.

 

THIS GAME WAS A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT !!!

 

I remember CLEARLY, why I was so letdown.

2 REASONS.

    1.  Pac-Man did not turn and eat up and down - only side to side

    2.  It had a STUPID vitamin, instead of the fruit and items from the arcade game.

 

Now, I know there have been several other things mentioned in this forum, about ghost color, ghost flickering,  maze color, maze design, tunnel location, Pac-Man Eye, Start-Up Tone etc.

But I don't remember being disappointed with those items.

 

I honestly believe, had the two items I mentioned above been changed, the game would have been much better received.

In fact, I'll even say 1 change...

Get rid of the STUPID vitamin and have the fruits and items ~~~~  this changes the game !

Here is why.

Right now when you play 2600 Pac-Man, it is all about your high score.  Yes, several Atari 2600 games are like this, but it gets SO VERY REPETITIVE.

Now imagine that 1 change, that Each LEVEL has a Different Fruit or Item.

 

This alone, makes a person want to keep playing to try to get to the NEXT LEVEL and See what the next Fruit/Item is going to be.

It provides the DRIVE to try to do better ---- "just one more game".  Yes, besting your last score or the score of your friends, is a drive too, but the different Fruit/Item would be way better.

 

This was the ONLY 2600 game that I can recall being DISAPPOINTED in purchasing.

For the record, I was NOT disappointed in Space Invaders, Asteroids, Defender, Missile Command, etc. - even though they were different than the arcade.

 

I was reading in games magazines, leading up to Ms. Pac-Man, and how "Atari Designer's were "Sweating Blood" to make it closer to the Arcade Version"   :)

I was intrigued and remember that to this day, as I was SO DISAPPOINTED in Pac-Man.

 

I bought Ms. Pac-Man, as soon as it was released in stores and WAS BLOWN AWAY !!!

It is in my TOP 5 video games of all time, and I play it about once a week to this day !

I stopped playing Pac-Man, after I got Ms. Pac-Man, during this time.

 

I also ended up purchasing Jr. Pac-Man when it released.

 

The thing is, Pac-Man should have been a crown jewel in Atari 2600 Games, a Pack-In System Seller.  I think upper administration knew it was going to sell on the name alone, and to make more profit, kept it at 4K ROM.  Also, meddling and saying it needed to be 2 player, etc.  I think they also, might have thought that they wanted to have enough difference, so people would buy the sequel - Ms. Pac-Man.

 

I really wished they would have made a better closer to arcade port of Pac-Man on the Atari 2600.  I still would have purchased Ms. Pac-Man, as there are enough differences - 4 Mazes and the Fruit moves around the maze.

Just like I purchased Centipede and then Millipede.

 

Anyway, this game has always been a sore spot for me - What could have been ?

I have played the homebrews over the years and WOW !

 

Strange, but if you watch the automated play, after your lose your last guy, as the colors cycle, you will see the maze in blue with a black background and the ghosts are in 4 different colors !!!

I might provide a screenshot.

I was excited the first time I saw this.  They had it right there - Just add the Fruit and Items !

Also, as the color cycles, I thought that would have been cool too.  Each new level should have had a different fruit/item, and a different colored maze/dots.  So it doesn't feel so repetitive.

 

The funny thing is NOW, I'm actually Nostalgic for the original Atari 2600 Pac-Man game.  I often play a few levels of it, before playing Ms. Pac-Man, Jr. Pac-Man, etc.

 

However - It Should Have Been Better !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 



#360 FireHawk OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 11:40 AM

Here is a screenshot of the color cycle after losing the last guy.  It takes about 3 min for the blue maze with black background, and colored ghosts to appear.  Due to the flickering, only 1-2 ghosts appear and only 2 Power Pills appear.  But if you watch this, you will see 4 different colored ghosts.  If they had done this, and replaced the vitamin with different fruit/items for each level, this game would have been better accepted.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 2600PacmanBlueBlack.jpg


#361 toddtmw ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 12:08 PM

Wow. Changing the colors would have helped a lot.

Also, the bonk sound when it ate a dot, why couldnt it have been a higher pitch so it at least tried to sound like the arcade.

#362 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 5:07 PM

I also remember singing that song "Pac-Man Fever" and having a tape or record of it.


The Pac-Man Fever single was released in December of 1981 and the album was released in February of 1982.

randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1982.html#pac_man_fever
 

 

I was 14 and purchased this game as soon as I saw it released in the store, in 1981(?), with my hard earned allowance money.


Atari 2600 Pac-Man was released in March/April of 1982.

randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1982.html#pac_man



[This post was made to add corroborating info, help fill in the blanks, and reinvigorate the memory. It was not a middle finger. This post can also help the memory of others or inform those who weren't alive back then.]



#363 Kosmic Stardust ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 5:12 PM

The Pac-Man Fever single was released in December of 1981 and the album was released in February of 1982.

randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1982.html#pac_man_fever
 

 


Atari 2600 Pac-Man was released in March/April of 1982.

randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1982.html#pac_man

With all due respect RT, few memories are photograph perfect. They are influenced by emotions as well as nostalgia. So the game and/or album didn't come out the same year he remembered, so what? BTW, I have the 45 (with Donkey Kong on the B-side) and the full LP album of Pacman Fever.

 

I think everything he said did happen, maybe not in the exact order. I still need that "delorean" so I can burn a Pacman 4k EPROM onto an Atari prototype cart, put Todd Fry's name on it, and slip it into an executive's office. They run the cart and are like "holy shit, how did you program this?!?!?!" and immediately cancel the original game and push this improved version out the door. :grin: :evil:



#364 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 8:55 PM

So the game and/or album didn't come out the same year he remembered, so what?

 
You're acting like I told him to go munch on a homeless man's unwashed naughty place. My post was made to add corroborating info, help fill in the blanks, and reinvigorate the memory. It was not a middle finger. It can also help the memory of others or inform those who weren't alive back then.



#365 maxdrive OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 9:21 PM

There was always something about that opening music for the 2600 version

#366 iesposta OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 9:55 PM

There was always something about that opening music for the 2600 version


So out of tune / non-harmony tones causing teeth grinding, a fingernails on chalkboard feeling, discordance? At least that's what happens to me.

#367 maxdrive OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 9:58 PM

I remember it being used for so many things in the 80s in movies in tv shows that had to do with a conputer

#368 Kosmic Stardust ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 10:16 PM

There was always something about that opening music for the 2600 version

The death sound effect actually works great in beat em and eat em. I can't play pacman anymore without mentally seeing that.

#369 iesposta OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 10:17 PM

This would have been a better Opening Tune. Even just 4 notes all same volume, channel, and duration.
Quite possibly using the same or less ROM.
Attached File  pacman_opening.bas.bin   4KB   21 downloads


Plus it should have been required to have a "wakka" eating sound.

But since this 'In Defense of Pac-Man', it did keep score.

#370 cybercylon ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 9, 2018 6:23 AM

The Pac-Man Fever single was released in December of 1981 and the album was released in February of 1982.

randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1982.html#pac_man_fever
 

 


Atari 2600 Pac-Man was released in March/April of 1982.

randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1982.html#pac_man



[This post was made to add corroborating info, help fill in the blanks, and reinvigorate the memory. It was not a middle finger. This post can also help the memory of others or inform those who weren't alive back then.]

 

I can't speak for anyone else, but my memory has always needed help. I don't worry about that too much... e.g., loose keys or misplace games all of the time. I will only worry when I find my copy of 2600 Pac-Man in the freezer.



#371 Kosmic Stardust ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 9, 2018 9:01 PM

 

I can't speak for anyone else, but my memory has always needed help. I don't worry about that too much... e.g., loose keys or misplace games all of the time. I will only worry when I find my copy of 2600 Pac-Man in the freezer.

Or ice cream in your atari... :woozy:



#372 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:42 AM

Atari 2600 Pac-Man was released in March/April of 1982.

 

Out of curiosity, does anyone know a timeline of all Pac-Man clones and when they were released?

 

I know that Atari sued Magnavox/Philips for K.C. Munchkin which as far as I know came onto the market prior to the 2600 version of Pac-Man. I also know that Commodore legally sold Pac-Man for the VIC-1001 in Japan, but had eventually to withdraw the game renamed as Jelly Monsters when it was released for the VIC-20 in the Western world, though it seems to have been somewhat delayed as it was advertised long into 1983 or even 1984. I also know about Crazy Pucker / Crazy Moonie for the VTech Creativision which they had to withdraw and redesign as Crazy Chicky (inverted behavior, placing eggs instead of eating dots) to circumvent Namco/Atari. Still there were a few other Pac-Man clones that seem to have been unaffected, like Clean Sweep for the Vectrex and of course numerous of minor games for home computers and marginal consoles few people cared about, so at one point it appears Atari didn't think it was worth it going to court anymore. I have always imagined it relates to when the 2600 and later on the 400/800 versions were released, that once Atari themselves had the official Pac-Man on the market, they would attract all the customers otherwise looking for a competing console or computer just in order to play a Pac-Manesque game.

 

But as I wrote, a detailed and verified timeline would really be useful in cases like this one.






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