In fact "Ms Pac man" came and proved all of the above was possible on the 2600.
People always use Ms. Pac-Man as proof that Pac-Man could have been better, but Ms. Pac-Man was released nearly year later. That's a long time in terms of what was going on with 2600 games. Arcade conversions were becoming better because programmers were learning new techniques for pushing the hardware that didn't exist when Tod Frye started working on Pac-Man.
The blowback from Pac-Man is maybe what forced Atari to realize that customers wanted arcade conversions that actually resembled the arcade game. The opinion before that, at least in management and marketing, seemed to be "It says 'Pac-Man' on the box. It's got a yellow guy eating dots. Therefore, it's Pac-Man and people will love it just like they love the arcade game." To a bunch of suits who had never played a video game, a yellow guy eating dots in a maze was Pac-Man. To them the specifics didn't matter.
I actually spent more time in the early 80's playing video games in arcades than at home on consoles. My family made pretty regular trips to the local Le Mans arcade and didn't actually get a console of our own until a Colecovision in late '82, so arcade Pac-Man is the Pac-Man I knew. And I had a bad case of Pac-Man Fever. I was one of those obsessed kids. I still show symptoms of the Fever to this day.
I knew of the 2600 port and had seen it, but I honestly can't remember actually playing it until a friend and I dug his old 2600 out of the attic in the early 90's. My initial reaction was the typical "This sucks. He doesn't look up or down. The maze is all wrong. The monsters flicker soooooo much," but since then I've learned to appreciate 2600 Pac-Man for what it is. It's not something I play regularly, or will ever play regularly (The only non-hombrew 2600 Pac-game I play with any regularity is Jr. Pac-Man. That is a great port.), there are just too many better options out there. But I understand why it's the game it is and appreciate it's place in 2600 history.
Edited by KaeruYojimbo, Fri Oct 6, 2017 10:51 AM.