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Pac-Man, in hindsight, really wasn't that bad of an adaptation. I think what we all may have encountered is a phenomenon with which we are all familiar...the pressure to enjoy something after much anticipation. Thinking back, it was a big license, Atari was doing its best, and when it was first witnessed, the pressure was simply too much. No different than being able to enjoy a band years after its entire catalogue is at one's disposal...if I went from Hard Day's Night to A Day in the Life in real time, or Last Train to Clarksville to Listen to the Band in a similar frame, I probably would have a different perspective. Same thing with books from favorite authors, movies, etc. 

 

Not without its flaws, very obviously, but I appreciate it more these days. (I also enjoy the new version on the portable.)

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Agreed. Is it arcade perfect? No. Is it AS FUN as the arcade game? No. Is it fun as itself? Yes. Comparing it to what we expected is what makes it "bad". Looking at what was done in the time and memory constraints that they had to work with, it's an enjoyable game.

 

Please understand that this next statement is not in any way taking anything away from the amazingly talented homebrewers we have here. What they do never ceases to amaze me, and I truly hold them in awe. However, they are not given a task and told "Have it done in 6 weeks and make it fit in 2K", or whatever. Time is theirs to use as they want, until they get what they want. Memory is cheap, now. I'm sure that some of the original coders have looked at some of the homebrews coming out now and thought "Holy crap! That's brilliant!", and it is, but the originals in many cases are just as brilliant because the coders CAME THROUGH against the constraints they had to deal with.

 

Are there disappointing 2600 games, sure. Are there BAD ones? A lot fewer than people like to say. 

 

Just my .02 

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When i see the original Atari-2600 "Pac-Man" version as a single game with another name, which is not based on another game, then i would say "not bad". But the game name is "Pac-Man" and then people have expectations. When compared to the Arcade original, then alot things are changed here in this version and the most things not in a good way.

 

Some of the newer "Pac-Man" versions on the Arcade-2600 and also some hacks later then showed, that it is possible, to be closer to the arcade version on this system. So i ask myself, why the original Atari-2600 "Pac-Man" is so far away from the original game.

 

Nevertheless, it was my first game-module and came with my console back in time and i liked it and played it alot at that time. In this time, i also had nearly no possibility, to play the arcade version of "Pac-Man". There was none in my town and the nearest Pac-Man arcade-cabinet was in a bigger city, around 50 kilometer away. So i had no daily comparison, which was an advantage then for the Atari-2600 version.

 

If i must give the Atari-2600 version a rating now, i would say, it is "average". Not bad but also not really good. But like i said, also not bad. There are alot games on the system which are much worse than this. I would give original Atari-2600 version of "Pac-Man" 6 points out of 10.

Edited by AW127
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I think it's important to remember that it came out in early 1981. As these things go, the VCS scene really changed from 1982 on.  

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I enjoyed it for what it was.  I felt it was more a 'weird' deviation from the original than a 'bad' deviation.  Once I got used to its quirks I enjoyed it well enough.  It wasn't a great game but I didn't think it was terrible.  I remember it being one of the games my folks got for me for doing all schoolwork in time for a month and getting good grades.  I kind of liked the "blue ghosts" music and the "buck-wha" sound of eating one.

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The search for "Pac-Man" and "not that bad" came up 7367427642764343922 times. :P

 

🌮

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9 minutes ago, CPUWIZ said:

The search for "Pac-Man" and "not that bad" came up 7367427642764343922 times. :P

 

🌮

How does that compare to the number of results for "ET" and "you just need to read the manual"?

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Just now, KaeruYojimbo said:

How does that compare to the number of results for "ET" and "you just need to read the manual"?

 

More, by about 15%. :lol:

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When many home adaptations came out I remember being disappointed that they weren't more like the arcade. Asteroids probably deviates more than Pac-Man in that respect. But now understanding the 2600 and its limitations (and the additional artificial limitations the business people put on Tod) I do have a much better appreciation for what they accomplished. And with both Asteroids and Pac-Man I enjoyed them once I got past the arcade expectations. 

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15 hours ago, cjherr said:

 I'm sure that some of the original coders have looked at some of the homebrews coming out now and thought "Holy crap! That's brilliant!", and it is, but the originals in many cases are just as brilliant because the coders CAME THROUGH against the constraints they had to deal with. 

 

15 hours ago, save2600 said:

I think it's important to remember that it came out in early 1981. As these things go, the VCS scene really changed from 1982 on.  

What really impressed me as an orginal coder bitd was the flexibility of the racing the beam architecture; we were amazed to see Atari games emerge with increasingly fantastic audio visuals in 4K that we needed 16K to approach on other systems. 

 

I'm not as impressed with the original late 32K releases like Fatal Run - it's a good game but 4K Enduro beats it hands down with smoother graphics and gameplay for the cars, mesmerizing sunset fades, night transitions and varied weather conditions; I like Asteroids but it doesn't compare to the smaller 6K Meteroids SuperCharger title.

 

The SuperCharger imo had the most potential as a game changer and elicited the thoughts you quoted, inspiring us like the 4K RAM expansion board with the cassette interface for the 1975 Altair had. CBS RAM released in 1983 was a close second.  I like all the new games today, but technology beyond the 80's feels more modern and less retro in varying degrees. 

 

I like the original Pacman and find playability better than some of the newer clones that flicker the player sprite to create more substantial ghosts; I think the original Ms Pacman is the most impressive and fun to play. I also really like clone genres and have folders on my harmony to play and compare them :)

 

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I think VCS Pac Man is a horrible game. If someone else thinks it's a good game we merely have a different opinion, and that's fine.

 

However, the idea that "well it's not a good Pac Man game, but it's a good game" is nonsense. I think my toaster is a good toaster, but my toaster is not a good car. Obviously it's irrelevant that it's not a good car because it's not supposed to be a car. Pitfall is a great jungle adventure game.. if they called it "Superman" it would be known as the game where Superman wears green and can't fly.

 

The game is Pac Man because it's supposed to be Pac Man. It does a terrible job at being Pac Man, and is therefore a bad game. 

 

Also irrelevant is the behind-the-scenes HSW only had 6 weeks, 2K ram or whatever, blah blah blah. That game sucks.

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2600 Pac-Man is garbage. I guess if you were bed ridden in the 80s and never played the arcade game you might think it's OK.

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On 10/5/2019 at 6:51 PM, cjherr said:

Agreed. Is it arcade perfect? No. Is it AS FUN as the arcade game? No. Is it fun as itself? Yes. Comparing it to what we expected is what makes it "bad". Looking at what was done in the time and memory constraints that they had to work with, it's an enjoyable game.

 

Here's an angle that I think was lost over the years.  Atari had a pre-release commercial on TV meant to build up hype and it showed gameplay shots of ARCADE PAC-MAN in action! The commercial went something like "This is the smash hit game Pac-Man (showing the arcade version) and it is coming only to the Atari VCS" .. basically. So it totally made people feel that at least a 'pretty-good' approximation of the game was being made. I remember myself thinking that it might be possible that we were looking at the actual 2600 game and maybe miracles would happen. At the very least it would be something like it (I had visions of what I might realistically expect as something similar to the hacks we have now). 

 

Anyway, unless things have changed there is zero evidence of this commercial online today.. but it was there. Whether it was made by an over-eager marketing department who knows, but the bottom line had they kept it low key it might have been more accepted on its own merits as you are stating. However the history is Atari were guilty themselves of ginning up the hype and the ultimate disappointment. :lol:

 

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Atari 2600 Pac-Man was what got me into Atari as a kid. I had to wait a long time before I got an Atari and when I did finally get one, I made sure Pac-Man was the game I got with the system. Was I disappointed with Pac-Man? If I was, the disappointment was so short lived I can't ever remember it. I do remember I played the living bejeezus out of that game. Bash the game if you like, but I'll have no part of it.

 

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Is it better than Sssnake? Absolutely.

 

Could it have been better? Absolutely.

 

Does it deserve another sequel? Absolutely!

 

How about "Pack-man," where Pac-man goes around and picks up all his belongings after Ms. Pac-Man kicks him out of the house? Just an idea...

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2 hours ago, VectorGamer said:

Putting this thread on ignore. This topic has been discussed countless times before on this forum.

Even on the oldest iterations of this topic on Atariage, it was probably discussed earlier on Atari Nexus, and definitely on Usenet multiple times.  We are talking about a 4 decade-old system after all. :lol: 

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Yes, even I at first (back in 1982) thought the 2600 Pac-Man was garbage, but, look at all the great homebrews of Pac-Man that have come out since thanks to the fine men and women (all of you) of this (and I'm sure many other) forum(s). If it wasn't for all of you as well as Albert, the founder of AtariAge (yes I know a plug but one well deserved), there would be no Pac-Man 4K, or Pac-Man Arcade, either for the 2600, or for my 5200, in which I still currently have albeit I don't have the $$$ for either the Atarimax 5200 or AtariAge Harmony Encore SD-card-run multicarts (I still DO have the SD cards for them though).

 

But, here we are almost 40 years removed from its original release (1981), and it is now THE GAME every kid back then who could not go into an arcade (due to either state laws or parental restrictions) HAD TO play. No choice on the matter (before Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man came out in 1983), for them this WAS Pac-Man. Now I have the thrill and privilege of owning a Flashback 9 and only bought it for both its HDMI jack (for my Insignia 39" HDTV) as well as for its SD card slot, so I can still enjoy my over 650 titles on my Dell/Kingston 1GB SD card, albeit with limited controller compatibility (neither keypads, paddles, nor trak-balls will work with her), but I have learned of its limitations, and I know how to deal with them. Even the flickering doesn't bother me a bit, for me it's a non-issue.

 

And while we might not have Qix nor the magnificent Tempest that Keithen Hayenga came up with for the 5200 (there are 4 versions for the 2600 as homebrews and I have all 4), but the 2600 is still enjoyable, and will be for decades to come because of all of you. So I've learned to give the original developers somewhat of a break due to what they had to put up with back in 1981 (time/memory restrictions "get it done in 3 months in 2K or less in time for the holidays", etc.), but I am sure they are proud of all of us for what we have done to keep this great little system alive, even after all the PlayStations, XBoxes and Nintendo systems have all gone by the wayside, Atari STILL STANDS TALL!!!

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Thanks for all the replies. Some really good perspective here. I respect even the brutal opinions.

 

I especially enjoyed the last post...some excellent philosophical points. 

 

Didn't know about that commercial...that's actually extremely interesting. If that is truly the case - and I do believe it - then I suppose some consumers may have felt misled. 

 

Enjoyed all the technical talk...and someone mentioned the clones. Alien is kind of a fun one in that respect. 

 

And yes, this has been discussed before. My recent playing of the title informed my need to post. Some topics are fascinating enough that we create new discussions on them. But I get the point...

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You know, well it may not have been "arcade-quality" like the original 1982 5200/8-bit version was, or even was completely different than the arcade version, it was a good game nevertheless, that with the proper joystick could be enjoyed for hours. 

 

....and as for that 5200/8-bit version, it was great at its time but when AtariAge put out Pac-Man Arcade for the 5200 it was a bit-odd (at first) but it certainly brought the playscreen more inline with the arcade version, but it all depends on taste, and yes, even Pac-Man 4K and Pac-Man Arcade (the 2600 version) were great, taking nothing away from the original 1981 2600 version, in which yes, WAS THE ONLY VERSION KIDS HAD to play at the time when arcades were banning minors during certain hours (mainly school hours as some would skip school to go there) or even banning them altogether, or the old "must be accompanied by an adult" BS, in which discouraged parents to take their kids for a day of gaming. For those kids, and for those growing up whose parents didn't have enough $$$ to splurge on a 5200 (mine did as I got mine for my 17th birthday in May 19th 1983, and the trak-ball too) or the 8-bit computer, this was their game they grew up with.

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I remember getting it as a kid, but I honestly don't remember playing it much.

 

No, it wasn't impressive and it wasn't really all that fun. 

 

The games I remember enjoying the most:

Star Raiders

Starmaster

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Adventure

Riddle of the Sphinx

Cosmic Ark (because I wanted to see ALL the animals)

Tac-Scan

Space Invaders

Asteroids

Adventures of TRON

 

The games I played to a point that I was SICK of them (even HATED them):

Space Invaders

Missile Command

Empire Strikes Back

Centipede

 

And the game that I never attempted again after I made it all the way through:

Space Shuttle

 

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20 hours ago, keithbk said:

And the game that I never attempted again after I made it all the way through:

Space Shuttle

I totally have to agree on that one. I can't even make it through once. I can see how it pushed the 2600 to its limits, but I can imagine the 8-year-old Joe from 1982 going to the local video game store and buying Space Shuttle, thinking it's a better version of Space Invaders, and freaking out after playing it for the first time. Though I have to ask: Was it on level 3 difficulty? How may times did you dock?

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44 minutes ago, bluejay said:

I totally have to agree on that one. I can't even make it through once. I can see how it pushed the 2600 to its limits, but I can imagine the 8-year-old Joe from 1982 going to the local video game store and buying Space Shuttle, thinking it's a better version of Space Invaders, and freaking out after playing it for the first time. Though I have to ask: Was it on level 3 difficulty? How may times did you dock?

I will admit it was quite amazing as a kid because it was so "cool" and really pushed the limits of the Atari, using EVERY switch (B/W, Select, A/B Difficulties) during gameplay. I don't remember if I did level 3 or not, I just know it was SO hard to beat, but I played it until I did. And I felt a tremendous level of satisfaction beating it, so I never regretted owning it.

 

It was the same way with Raiders of the Lost Ark and, to a lesser extent, Riddle of the Sphinx, because both instruction booklets only gave you clues to solve the game, so I really played them a lot to figure them out and beat them. But I did revisit these two upon beating them.

Edited by keithbk

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Thought it was a dog when released and still do today. I played Pacman in arcades atleast once a week in those days so this the Atari 2600 version was unacceptable. I hated it, my dad hated it, my dog hated it😄 My pops wound up arguing with a K-Mart manager for almost an hour till he got his money back. Wasn't this a very expensive game for its time? Something like $40.00? Its just a blur now but I remember my dad saying this game was more than the average game out there in those days. Years later I do see the game differently though. Its its own creation,its a moment in time where so many anticipated the game,there was such an incredible buzz over the coming of the release. I remember the Kmart in our area had an incredible amount stocked and we were able to get one the week it launched. But man there were mixed reactions on the school grounds over the game. Some loved that Pacman had finally come home, others wouldn't touch this abomination. I guess everyone had different expectations and the hype was real. Most kids in our area that loved it never really visited arcades or didn't like spending their money in arcades. Those of us who grew up in that era and saw its release  on the system had their own memories,thats cool. Mine did change over the years,I accept it for what it is now. A piece of history and its release on the system was huge for that time,it was fun to see Pacman come home.  

Edited by PhoenixMoonPatrol

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Ms Pac-Man on the 2600 shows they could have made a proper Pac-Man port but they failed. I've not played 2600 Pac-Man in like 15 years... nor do I ever plan to again.

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