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In defense of Pac-Man...


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#51 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 5:06 PM

I'm nostalgic for Atari Pac-Man. Even though I would be considered "young" compared to the rest of you, I remember seeing it the first time. I was 4 years old and had played Pac-Man on Namco Museum for GameCube. When my dad showed me the Atari version, I thought it looked so cool BECAUSE it looked nothing like the arcade game. I can see why people dislike it, but now we have things like "Pac-Man 4K" and "Pac-Man Arcade". Just play those if you don't like the game.

Many of us don't actually think it's a bad 2600 game. It was just the wrong product to release in the midst of the Pac-Man fever that was sweeping the globe and it did a lot of damage to Atari's reputation.



#52 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 6:57 PM

So, did Tod Frye need a babysitter? Because falling back on that excuse is lame! Even myself as a kid would have given the shifty eye toward the game. In fact we did. We knew it could be so much better. We knew what was going on.

 

That no one complained or even made suggestions is flabbergasting!

 

OK, I finally figured out the point I've been trying to make.

 

Even if someone had gone to the top at some point and said "This 2600 Pac-Man isn't like the arcade game. People aren't going to like it," the response would have been "Space Invaders wasn't like the arcade and people liked it. Missile Command wasn't like the arcade and people liked it. People will like this game."

 

Short of assigning it to another programmer who would've come at the game on his own with the idea to make it closer to the arcade, we got the best Pac-Man we were going to get at the time.



#53 Kid Ice OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 7:08 PM

IIRC KC Munchkin was already around when VCS Pac Man came out, and I think many of us would agree is the better game, not to mention a handful of Pac Man-like games that were on the VCS... I'm thinking of Dodge Em, Alien, and Lock n Chase.

 

Sure the Froggo and Mythicon games were far worse, but I was expecting those games to be crappy. I can't think of another VCS game that was so outright disappointing.



#54 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 7:28 PM

I wonder what I would've thought of VCS Pac-Man if I'd played it when I was younger. I never played it, but I played the Coleco tabletop version quite a bit. It wasn't as good as the "real" (arcade) game, but I liked it fine.



#55 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 7:33 PM

Short of assigning it to another programmer who would've come at the game on his own with the idea to make it closer to the arcade, we got the best Pac-Man we were going to get at the time.

That's because the management structure was inept. Had there been some kind of design meeting, they could have had a project goal and then walked it back as needed. I don't get the idea there was any of that. Tod said the higher-ups didn't have any objections to the game at all.



#56 5200Fanatic OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 8:24 PM

It was part of a scheme to make the transition to the 5200 more palatable.  ;)



#57 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 3:36 AM

I just remembered that my mother and I had more fun playing Packri Monster than we did playing Atari 2600 Pac-Man:

 

youtube.com/watch?v=LBFajyyDmNw

 

 



#58 Video OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 4:47 AM

Yeah. I played the hell out of my pacman watch too. Hind sight is 20/20, and its very easy to look back 35 years and say "but it sucks" I, and many MILLIONS of kids just like me had hella pacman fever, and the FACT is, all those that did, loved the arcade, bought and loved the 2600 version, and most probably had one of several portables. There is a reason it was called pacman fever.

The fact is, people that didn't like pacman, in ANY of its various crappy available formats, didn't know, or truly have pacman fever. They were the eras version of today's Facebook "me too"ers and I'm not sorry to say so.

Like I said, it wasn't till ms pacman came out people found it could be better, that said, average people, especially people with pacman fever didn't magically start hating it. It didn't start "sucking" till the internet era.

Proof? Pacman-sold. Nuff said.

Oh, and the fact is, the ghosts are, in fact, different colors. So the board is blue, so is ms pacman

#59 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 5:28 AM

Yeah. I played the hell out of my pacman watch too. Hind sight is 20/20, and its very easy to look back 35 years and say "but it sucks" I, and many MILLIONS of kids just like me had hella pacman fever, and the FACT is, all those that did, loved the arcade, bought and loved the 2600 version, and most probably had one of several portables. There is a reason it was called pacman fever.

The fact is, people that didn't like pacman, in ANY of its various crappy available formats, didn't know, or truly have pacman fever. They were the eras version of today's Facebook "me too"ers and I'm not sorry to say so.

Like I said, it wasn't till ms pacman came out people found it could be better, that said, average people, especially people with pacman fever didn't magically start hating it. It didn't start "sucking" till the internet era.


You can say that you didn't know that a lot of people didn't like 2600 Pac-man until you got an Internet connection, but the Internet didn't suddenly make it cool to hate the game. There were plenty of people who were disappointed when the game was new. If you were too young to have standards and liked whatever was squeezed out and plopped in front of you, that means you weren't a serious-minded Atarian according to Electronic Games magazine:
 
archive.org/stream/1983_Software_Encyclopedia_Number_1_1983_Reese_Communications_US#page/n27/mode/1up
pac-man-review-01.png

Here's another review before the modern Internet existed:

 

archive.org/stream/ataribooks-the-book-of-atari-software-1983/thebookofatarisoftware1983#page/n314/mode/1up
pac-man-review-02.jpg

 

I already posted a link to this one:

 

atariage.com/forums/topic/232660-pac-man-review-from-1982/

 

 

 

Proof? Pacman-sold. Nuff said.

 

E.T. also sold, but a ton of people claim they hated it when it was new. And in early 1982, many people were probably like my family and didn't think they could return a game after opening the box if nothing was physically wrong with it. We didn't grow a pair until a couple of years later.

 


 

So the board is blue, so is ms pacman


What does that prove? The people who worked for Atari were color blind? Speaking of Ms. Pac-Man, a game came out months earlier that showed something better could be done on the Atari 2600. That game was Lock ‘N’ Chase. It had no flicker. That was a nice change from the almost invisible ghosts in 2600 Pac-Man.



#60 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 5:50 AM

Proof? Pacman-sold. Nuff said.

 

We didn't have the media that exists today. People heard it was coming, trusted Atari to deliver the goods and then tried the game out when they got home. I've got a friend who told me he took it right back to Sears, and there's anecdotal evidence that the return rate was at least somewhat higher than usual.

 

Most people obviously kept it and played it, but I think Atari was tarnishing its image and it helped set the stage for the crash to come.



#61 toiletunes OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 6:18 AM

It was strong enough to be the pack-in game for the Vader, and it was reissued in 1987, so it must have sold well enough for that. On the other hand, Combat can be pretty boring as a pack-in, and Fun With Numbers got reissued in 1986.



#62 G-type OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 9:39 AM

I remember my reaction to it as a kid was "this looks weird" and I honestly didn't give it much of a chance. As a kid, my maze-game of choice was always Munch-man for the TI-99/4a. Now that I'm returning to Atari Pac-Man as an adult, I've been playing it more in depth and realized it plays very well and is a lot of fun. All of its quirky idiosyncrasies only enhance its charm. The flickering of the ghosts makes their colors a little hard to see, but that was more a result of the technical limitations of the the time. They hadn't discovered the programming tricks to minimize that, (although they had some ideas on that topic that hadn't been explored yet). I also agree with Todd Frye; Why does it matter if the exits are on the vertical or horizontal edge? They're exits! It seems everyone's criticism is purely based on the fact that it doesn't copy the arcade design. A couple people here said the colors and and sounds were ugly, but I don't find them objectionable at all. I definitely like them a lot more than the putrid brown and green of the Space Invaders port that everyone seems to love.


Edited by G-type, Sat Oct 7, 2017 9:43 AM.


#63 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 9:45 AM

For early systems like Pong and the VCS and Intellivision, the emphasis was on two-player games. Combat was good. As the 80's wore on, and computer games became popular, emphasis shifted to 1-player games.

 

I think PacMan was a pack-in because of the name only. Something that would be recognized. Combat would not.



#64 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 9:50 AM

A couple people here said the colors and and sounds were ugly, but I don't find them objectionable at all. I definitely like them a lot more than the putrid brown and green of the Space Invaders port that everyone seems to love.

 

SI VCS is very well done. And the choice of colors is appealing. Earth tones and easy on the eyes compared to the original arcade.



#65 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 10:46 AM

I think PacMan was a pack-in because of the name only. Something that would be recognized. Combat would not.

It was probably the pack in because they had made something like 12 million of them.



#66 BassGuitari ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 11:06 AM

It was strong enough to be the pack-in game for the Vader, and it was reissued in 1987, so it must have sold well enough for that. On the other hand, Combat can be pretty boring as a pack-in, and Fun With Numbers got reissued in 1986.

I wouldn't use those '86-'88 reprints as evidence that anybody felt they were especially strong titles. Atari Corp. inherited a lot of backstock and also a lot of debt, and so essentially took just about everything they had in those dusty warehouses and threw it out there to get rid of it and make whatever they could on it.

Of course, this also allowed them to market the 2600 as a budget-friendly video game system with wide and varied software support.



#67 Tidus79001 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 11:27 AM

Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 was just repetitive and boring. While not an awful game there was just nothing there to hold your interest for any length of time or anything that made the game memorable or special. Jr. Pac-Man on the 2600 is proof of a Pac-Man game done right even within the limitations of the Atari 2600 and still amazes me & entertains me even to this day. I was blown away by Jr. Pac-Man when I first played it and couldn't believe that the Atari 2600 was capable of that level of authenticity when compared to the arcade. Not saying it was exact as it scrolls vertically and there are no cutscenes but that has more to do with the limitations of the 2600, but it still feels authentic when compared to the arcade original. Even the music for each level is there and sounds amazing while closely matching the arcade version and the Pac-Man sound effects of warbling and blittering are spot on.

Edited by Tidus79001, Sat Oct 7, 2017 12:02 PM.


#68 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 7, 2017 3:18 PM

The big issue for me was quality vs. cost. The quality was terrible and the cost was huge. Atari took a game that should have sold for $10 and sold it for $30-$40. They charged top dollar for a lousy game. If I had paid $10 for it I probably would have liked it just fine, but at $30 (the same price I paid for Asteroids) it was a rip off.



#69 pacman000 ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 8, 2017 5:18 PM

My 1st experience with a video game was with the arcade version. My 2nd experience was with the 2600 version. I liked them both.

Then again I was 5 and couldn't tell the difference.

#70 toddtmw OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 8, 2017 5:24 PM

 
There's some truth to that, but I still think Pac-Man is a bit of an outlier. Previous games were as faithful as could be expected given what had been done on the 2600. It's amazing Asteroids was attempted at all when you consider that's it's a high-resolution vector game that can randomly throw dozens of sprites around. Pac-Man was a step backwards. It didn't follow the arcade even when there was no reason not to.
 
Times were definitely changing too. People were spending more time and money in arcades so it was becoming more important to offer some authenticity.


I just played asteroids on my FB portable and it still holds up. I didnt appreciate how hard it would be to have so many moving items on the screen at the same time back then. There is ZERO flicker. Meanwhile, the Pac Man ghosts flicker so much they are almost invisible.

I dont know how they did it.

Asteroids plays better on the game pad of the portable than it did with a joystick. I really enjoyed it.

#71 toddtmw OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 8, 2017 5:33 PM

You can say that you didn't know that a lot of people didn't like 2600 Pac-man until you got an Internet connection, but the Internet didn't suddenly make it cool to hate the game. There were plenty of people who were disappointed when the game was new. If you were too young to have standards and liked whatever was squeezed out and plopped in front of you, that means you weren't a serious-minded Atarian according to Electronic Games magazine:
 
archive.org/stream/1983_Software_Encyclopedia_Number_1_1983_Reese_Communications_US#page/n27/mode/1up
pac-man-review-01.png

Here's another review before the modern Internet existed:
 
archive.org/stream/ataribooks-the-book-of-atari-software-1983/thebookofatarisoftware1983#page/n314/mode/1up
pac-man-review-02.jpg
 
I already posted a link to this one:
 
atariage.com/forums/topic/232660-pac-man-review-from-1982/
 
 
 
 
E.T. also sold, but a ton of people claim they hated it when it was new. And in early 1982, many people were probably like my family and didn't think they could return a game after opening the box if nothing was physically wrong with it. We didn't grow a pair until a couple of years later.
 

 

What does that prove? The people who worked for Atari were color blind? Speaking of Ms. Pac-Man, a game came out months earlier that showed something better could be done on the Atari 2600. That game was Lock N Chase. It had no flicker. That was a nice change from the almost invisible ghosts in 2600 Pac-Man.


$37.95??? I paid $37.95 for this turd? (I pre-ordered and paid full price, so if that was the price, that is what I paid.) Do you know how many frickin newspapers I had to deliver to pay for this crap fest. I was seriously pissed when I got that sucker home and plugged it in.

Wow. I dont think I realized how much resentment I still had from this event...

Im going to go play some Superman to calm down. (I just played it for the first time in 34 years. THAT was a quality game!!!)

#72 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 8, 2017 5:51 PM

... 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...


This! ^^^

I also saw the game when I was 10, and I was very disappointed having seen other ports (didn't knew yet the original was an arcade! *hides from tomatoes*)

Of course, in my complete ignorance I believed the strange looking appearance of Pac-Man was because the hardware limitations. I was so mistaken!

#73 pacman000 ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 8, 2017 5:57 PM

"The big issue for me was quality vs. cost. The quality was terrible and the cost was huge. Atari took a game that should have sold for $10 and sold it for $30-$40. They charged top dollar for a lousy game. If I had paid $10 for it I probably would have liked it just fine, but at $30 (the same price I paid for Asteroids) it was a rip off."

Bit of perspective: Most Atari carts cost 10 to manufacture. They marked it up 10, then the retailer marked it up 10-20. Most VCS games were made by one person in six months. Pacman cost Atari just as much to produce as any other game. (In fact it may have cost them more, for the license fee and Tod Fry's royalty.)

#74 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 8, 2017 6:05 PM

I just played asteroids on my FB portable and it still holds up. I didnt appreciate how hard it would be to have so many moving items on the screen at the same time back then. There is ZERO flicker. Meanwhile, the Pac Man ghosts flicker so much they are almost invisible.

Asteroids actually does flicker. You can see the flicker messing with the video capture here:

 

https://youtu.be/xP1Jtjk5vXY?t=136

 

It's just that everything flickers at 30Hz, so it's not that noticeable, and it probably won't flicker at all on LCD TVs.



#75 toddtmw OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 8, 2017 6:08 PM

Asteroids actually does flicker. You can see the flicker messing with the video capture here:

 

https://youtu.be/xP1Jtjk5vXY?t=136

 

It's just that everything flickers at 30Hz, so it's not that noticeable, and it probably won't flicker at all on LCD TVs.

 

It does not flicker on the FB portable.






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