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DINTAR816

New pacman for atari 2600

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Something else surreal about this game. It was created as a labor of love and maybe some small payback if the author sells the games but think about Todd Frye and the 1 million dollar check he got for his horrid version of Pacman. The author did it mainly out of love of the system with no real goal of making serious money but Frye created his nasty version purely to get 1 million dollars. This version is worth FAR more than the Frye version.

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Practically everyone agrees the original is a turd but you can't entirely blame the author - he was an employee tasked to do a job and we've all heard the stories of bad games from Atari where the short deadline is a major contributor to the fact.

 

In the modern day, homebrew can be done at your own pace, plus there's 30 years of accumulated wisdom - practically any 2600 game of the 80s could be recreated today and done better.

 

Not to take any credit away though... on any machine in 4K this is pretty amazing.

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Agreed. I don't entirely blame Frye, the deadline was probably the great majority is the dud but still its just sad to think what actually could have been done.

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Sure the original wouldn't have been this nice, but it seems everything about the original is just wrong.

8K was denied. Worst sound ever, was sound an afterthought? Did the programmer even play the coin op?

The animation sucks. The rule that this was a color console and you could not use a black background?!

They had the rights to PAC Man and this looks like they tried to make it as far away from the arcade game as possible.

No wonder Odyssey 2 KC Munchkin was pulled, that was closer to PAC Man and it was trying Not To Be PAC Man.

 

Now that I've got that out, by the way my only original carts from the 80's are Defender, Pac Man, and E.T.

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Didn't Todd Frye say at one time he had a better version but Atari went with the one we got? I'm starting to think Todd said that just to cover his butt! After all, he never showed the other one.

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I like how you did the power pellets! But one other thing needs attention. I watched the video and about 2:20 minutes into it. Pac-Man is in the bottom corridor going right with the red ghost behind him. Red catches Pac-Man when he shouldn't because there is no dots there and Pac-Man should be able to outrun him. Only the dots slow him down.

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Dintar, it's a pretty much amazing job !

I'm at least happy to hear that particular "modulation" in the intro music, which finally reached the coin-operated *right* feeling !!!

Ghosts truly have the arcade game behaviour, but I noted that at the second "speed change", BLINKY becomes really QUICK (!!!) and can outrun the poor Pac-Man even when he is not slowed down by eating pills :_( :_( !

[ edit: I didn't see that "Blinky matter" was also referred by SoundGammon... I was typing my message meanwhile :) ]

Edited by macdlsa

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"Cruise Elroy" speed. The arcade game does this, it's not an error. BTW it's interesting that the original arcade's hiding spot just above and to the right of the starting position *almost* works without any specific coding :)

 

About Frye's version: the "intelligent flicker" code DID exist in some form of proof-of-concept (at least 2 other programmers mention having seen it). None of that apparently exists in the released game, tho...since he started over when the 8k request was denied. The differing colors was his own choice, since he felt that the arcade colors were kind of bland.

 

What "could have been done" is pretty much what we got. Modern homebrews have the advantage of unlimited production time, computing power light years ahead of what they had, and many prior efforts to improve upon / derive solutions from.

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The differing colors was his own choice, since he felt that the arcade colors were kind of bland.

In other words, he couldn't tame his ego. I'm surprised that he didn't change the boring name of Pac-Man to Underwater Willy Goes for a Walk to match the new blue background.

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  • The flicker pattern when no fruit is present was easy to figure out, but the fruit-present flicker pattern seems entirely random!

Actually the pattern with the fruit enabled is even simpler, all 6 objects flicker at 20 Hz then.

Without the fruit, Pac-Man and the orange ghost flicker at 30 Hz, cyan, red and purple ghosts flicker at 20 Hz.

(BTW: the red ghost is pretty dark even with phosphor enabled)

 

The planned intelligent flicker with sprite reusing and luminosity adjustments when flickering will bring this game even more close to perfection.

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An easy alternative is to use missile0 (replace RESBL/HMBL/ENABL with RESM0/HMM0/ENAM0) - except when the enemies are vulnerable, it's onscreen color is *close* to what the playfield dots are (due to sprite swapping between the characters), and a center line is no longer present :)

I like that idea, also some gaps in the playfield could be removed then too. But would it work?

 

At the moment the powerpills would get a color mix of either three ghosts (this is what you suppose) or Pac-Man and one ghost (and the fruits while displayed).

 

But with intelligent flicker and sprite reusing, the powerpill colors would vary a lot between screens and even inside the same screen.

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This is awesome. I'm always down for another Pacman. Methinks at this point I'll just start collecting every 2600/7800 variant I can get my hands on. Pacman 4k is excellent but this new version is even better and lacking the horizontal/vertical pellet-eating differential. Even the orange fruit sprite at the bottom is multicolor. The purchase will become worth it once you expand the ROM to 8k and add cutscenes.

 

People saying that Atari could have done this in 1982, are forgetting that many of the standard ASM tricks known now were just being developed then. The book "Racing the Beam" discusses that Pacman was among the first games to employ asymmetric playfield graphics. We are fortunate that eating pellets in the original did not eliminate them from both sides. The author worked very hard to develop the asymmetric kernel used within the original VCS game.

Edited by stardust4ever
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@TZ: Replacing the ball with missile0 does work, at least with the posted rom - I did a disassembly to try it out. The first attempt using m1 wasn't as good as the second try using m0, since the apparent color was never the same as the dots anyway. M0 is close. You are correct that it won't look the same if multiplexing is thrown in...but a differing method could be attempted to try to get a "visually-consistent" solid color (alternating between both missiles in 2 frames, maybe?).

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Kind of inspires you to want to delve more into the 2600 now, doesn't it? C'mon Bob, admit it... :)

 

 

Haha. His services are still required on the 7800. But nice of you to ask! :P

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Didn't Todd Frye say at one time he had a better version but Atari went with the one we got? I'm starting to think Todd said that just to cover his butt! After all, he never showed the other one.

 

I don't know if it's that much of a conspiracy. I've seen lots of developers with prototypes and proofs of concepts that they've made. He may very well have made one that had to be abandoned or stripped down substantially in order to meet the ship deadline.

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It seems like ages since I've posted on AA. Thankfully someone posted a link to this on FB.

 

From the author of Pacman4K...I am extremely impressed with this. I love the sounds and the smooth movement. I haven't played the ROM yet. I've only seen the YouTube video. I can't wait to see how this progresses.

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In other words, he couldn't tame his ego. I'm surprised that he didn't change the boring name of Pac-Man to Underwater Willy Goes for a Walk to match the new blue background.b

I disagree RT; Atari had an emphasis on "colour" and having the games show bright colours; I like to play the original in B&W on level 6 or 7 and it's an awesome game.

 

HSW otoh deserves your comment for going with is own idea over Spielbergs - it was obviously a flop despite that he had over a year to write it given the accelerator Framework. He only spent two days on the game and it shows, you can't push an awesome framework and expect to get much out of a 2 day game (the rest of the time was spent on the title screen and the music :) )

 

Frye and the author of this game both wrote some awesome Assembly if you look at the respective code, and the resultant games are fantastic implementations :) Frye could have multiplexed a bit faster if you want to nitpick I suppose, seems to be more of a delay than every 4th frame...

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Atari marketing genius back in the day had politics to not use black background if the game was not a space shooter. This why they forced Mr. Frye to use a color background in his PacMan version.

Bad decision when you're using flicker.

 

He (probably) use blue as background because is predominant color in the game screen. Yellow is the most contrast color against blue, so he painted the maze as that.

And Frye 8k version was good as Ms. PacMan from what I read in interviews, but then Atari wanted to sell a 4kb cart to cut production costs.

Edited by LS_Dracon
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Wow...this is awesome! I really hope a cart will be produced. With box and manual would be even better.

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I'm going to buy Pacman 4K, and I would eventually purchase also a cartridge of this "Ultimate Pacman"...
Please release it on cartridge with box and manual! (BTW why no box for Pacman 4K?)

What a great community!

Edited by Antiriad

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Actually the pattern with the fruit enabled is even simpler, all 6 objects flicker at 20 Hz then.

Without the fruit, Pac-Man and the orange ghost flicker at 30 Hz, cyan, red and purple ghosts flicker at 20 Hz.

(BTW: the red ghost is pretty dark even with phosphor enabled)

 

That's what I originally assumed, and that's how I created the screenshot, but when going frame-by-frame through the original video capture, there was no pattern that I could make out. Sometimes Pac-Man reappeared every other frame, sometimes it took six frames, sometimes it took a whole lot more. My video set-up does have a tendency to drop frames during recording, but I dont' think it was dropping that many. I could be wrong, though.

 

Edit: I'm wrong. I just did another capture, and with the fruit present, it was a straight 20Hz flicker all the way through. It's odd that it didn't seem that way originally, but I'll just chalk it up to... :cool: ghosts in the machine.

 

By the way, something else I find really impressive with this port: no HMOVE lines!

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Must be the video capture dropping frames then. If you use Stella to go frame by frame, you can verify my results easily.

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