Pac-Man Arcade - Atari 2600



Everyone's familiar with the now infamous version of Pac-Man that Atari unleashed to its legions of 2600 fans. If you've ever wished for a version of Pac-Man truer to the original, Rob Kudla has modified the much better Ms. Pac-Man and turned it into the Pac-Man Atari should have released. This is a fairly significant hack, and here are the changes Rob made to Ms. Pac-Man:

  • Changed the graphics
  • Altered the theme music
  • Changed audio code to improve authenticity
  • Changed playfield color and layout
  • Got rid of extra tunnel and three extra mazes
  • Made fruit sit in the middle of the screen without moving
  • Added the siren

If you're a Pac-Man fan, you owe it to yourself to get this version!

Original Game Ms. Pac-Man
Hacked By Rob Kudla
Number of Players 2
Controller Joystick
Cartridge Size 8K
Label Design Dale Crum
Tracy Klein on 11/17/2022 12:07am
Pac Man Arcade is well worth the money I paid. It is a far better version of Pac Man, than what we got in 1982. It even runs and plays great on my Retron 77, hooked up to my HDTV, even though my HDTV has the traditional coax jack for an RF adapter, which the original versions of the Atari 2600 have.
I got mine in the mail today, and played it.
Ricky Cunningham on 04/13/2022 04:57pm
Okay, I recieved my atariage Arcade Pacman today. I must admit that the art work is Incredible and it's a truly amazing upgrade especially compared to the original version of Pacman for Atari (although I've been playing the original version since 1982-1983) I still have my original Atari 2600. I really enjoyed playing this version of the game, Atariage did a wonderful really has the arcade feel. The only problem the I have is the game is a little glitchy. Not all the time, but the screen jumps from time to time. Other than that, I'm happy with the overall design of the game. Thanks again Atariage for helping me relive my childhood.
Rob Adams on 05/07/2019 12:04pm
Wow! Amazing upgrade from original 2600 version. Love the game play, found it very similar to the 5200 version as I played both to compare. Only major difference is the no intermission and the square dots not round as on 5200, I must say MUCH better controller as we all know on the 2600 for playing this game , just lacks the pause button. EXCELLENT BUY!!!
thatPCguy on 02/29/2016 04:09pm
Fantastic remake of the game. Very close to the coinop in every way.
So good in fact, I made a video to compare it with the three VCS orignals:
David Bongo on 06/11/2013 08:28pm
It's a good port, but I prefer Pac-Man 4K over in the homebrew section.
Marshall Kiker on 05/18/2013 07:08pm
It's a clear improvement in a few way. I liked the original but we have to admit there were issues. Moving the tunnels back to the side was good and the ghosts flicker less in this version. If I had any criticism it would be making more use of the excellently reproduced theme music. I realize it may not be arcade authentic but playing it between rounds would make the game feel more complete.
AJ Williams on 07/02/2012 04:02am
As many people may already know, the official Atari 2600 version of Pacman was lame. But what many people may not know, was that the same hackers from GCC who created Ms Pacman for the arcades, also programmed the Atari 2600 Ms Pacman, whereas the original 2600 Pacman was based off an in house prototype. Ah, that explains why 2600 Ms Pacman was so much better! Ms Pacman is a great gaming experience on the Atari 2600, but true Pacman purists will long for the original retro classic, without the extra mazes, red bows, or bouncing fruit.

Fast forward to 1999, and enter Rob Kudla, the author of this impressive hack. Basically, he set out to covert Ms Pacman back into Pacman, and did a fine job. The intro music and the "wailing siren" noises from the original arcade Pacman are back, as well as the stationary fruits. Two fuits will appear on each stage for a limited time span, until the final blue keys, worth 5000 points each, which repeat forever. The extra boards are gone, replaced with as accurate a representation of the original pac maze as is possible on a single screen Atari game. Most notably, there are a couple of "T" bits that have been truncated, but overall, most of the shapes present in the original arcade maze are there. Like any arcade port for the Atari 2600, there are compromises that have to be made, but these compromises do not prevent the game from being an overall fun experience.

There are a couple of areas, however, that still need a slight touch of refinement. Most notably, Blinky, the slightly faster ghost who relentlessly chases Pacman, is the wrong color, bright blue instead of bright red. In fact, none of the four ghosts are a true red, and the Atari 2600 is certainly capable of displaying this color. Another caveat is that when Pacman dies, instead of imploding like in Arcade Pacman, he rolls over, with the sound effect unchanged from the original Ms Pacman ROM data. Each fruit, except for the final blue key, only appears on one stage each, despite the fact that the fruits beyond cherry and strawberry appeared for two stages each in the original arcade game. The Galaxian is also missing because, according to the author's notes, he ran out of room in the 8KB ROM. Also, just like Ms Pacman 2600, there are no intermissions between the stages. Finally I would like to add, the Jr Pacman game released late in the Atari 2600 life span features vertically autoscrolling mazes which are taller than they are wide. Had Pacman Arcade been based on Jr Pacman instead of Ms Pacman, a more faithful Arcade reproduction of Pacman may have been possible.

Despite the shortcomings listed above, Pacman Arcade is the most faithful repreentation of Pacman available for the Atari 2600 to date, and certainly features the same addicting gameplay that true Pacman enthusiasts demand. Does a better port of Pacman exist on a home console? Yes. Is a better representation of Pacman possible on the Atari 2600, despite it's limitations? Probably. Are you likely to find a more authentic Pacman experience for the Atari 2600? Absolutely not. This hack simply represents the best Pacman experience on the 2600 hands down, and for that, I commend the hacker's efforts, and award this hack a score 5 out of 5 joysticks.
James Letera on 03/20/2012 12:21pm
Pac-Man Arcade is everything that an Atari 2600 port of an arcade game should be- recognizable, has great game play, not arcade perfect but with a charm all its own. If this had been Atari's original Pac-Man release, history would be much different. All the cartridges would have been sold: in fact,people would have bought an Atari 2600 just to play Pac-Man, as was the case with Space Invaders prior. Atari would have been much stronger through the crash (if it would have even happened), it never would have been sold to and ruined by Jack Tramiel, and it would still be making consoles and games today. Yes, Pac-Man Arcade is that good!
Nathan Strum on 12/15/2010 01:42pm
Pac-Man Arcade is an extensive hack of Ms. Pac-Man that turns it into a pretty-good approximation of the arcade version of Pac-Man. The improvements over Atari's own Pac-Man are dramatic, since Ms. Pac-Man featured less flickering, better sound, better graphics, and mazes that were more in line with the arcade game, and these changes follow through to Pac-Man Arcade.

The game plays just as well as Ms. Pac-Man with very precise controls, and well-balanced gameplay. The bonus items have been altered to match Pac-Man's arcade bonuses, and the maze has been changed to resemble the arcade game as well, although it's not quite an exact match. There's a title screen and demo mode, but none of the in-game intermissions. One minor gameplay gripe - the fastest monster in this hack is the wrong color (light blue, instead of red).

If you're looking for a better Pac-Man on the 2600, Pac-Man Arcade is far and away superior to Atari's version, and is the closest you'll get to the arcade game, at least until someone programs a new version from scratch.
Scott Inman on 05/06/2008 09:56pm
Now this is how Pac-Man should have looked like when it was released for the 2600 back in 1982! Pac-Man Arcade is an impressive representation of the arcade classic. Fruits are accurate, sounds are more authentic (including the famous police siren), and the maze is surprisingly close to the original.

My only criticisms are:

1. The blue ghost is the fastest and most aggressive (The red ghost should behave in this manor)
2. Ghosts are allowed to travel upwards in the "T" by their pen when not blue.

Overall this is a great title and every 2600 owner should have one. Donate that crummy old Pac-Man to Atari Age for store credit and get yourself a copy of Pac-Man Arcade today!

One can only imagine how things would have turned out for Atari had their release been this admirable!
Billy Spradlin on 06/26/2004 02:58pm
I first downloaded the bin file and played it with x26 on my PC - I was impressed with the game and decided to take a chance and order it for my 2600 cart collection. I was impressed with the slick label and clear cartridge - it really looks cool! Had it been a black cartridge I would have sworn that I bought it at TG&Y in the early 80's!

I agree with other reviewers that this is the game Atari should have released in 1982 - It would have saved the 2600 from a bad repuation that it only plays lousy games. As for the hack I wish Mr. Kudla would have worked a little more on the sound of Pac-Man, and improved the AI smarts of the monsters. Except for the speedy blue monster (why not the red one?) they still wont chase you around unless you get nearby them. A "Turbo" button option and couple other mazes would have been great additions too.

BTW I would LOVE to see someone hack Jr. Pac Man to make it look like Pac-Man or Ms. Pac Man!!

Ryan Cote on 05/31/2004 08:53pm
After playing this game, I wish that time travel was available today. I'd go back in time and show Atari what Pac-Man should really be like. Not that disappointing piece of trash that came out at first. Then again, I'd give them an Atari 7800 instead. Seriously, this version of Pac-Man is great for the 2600 system. A must buy for die-hard Atari fans, and a must download for rom geeks!
Greg Easterly on 03/11/2004 11:08pm
Just received this game and - I have to say - very nice work!! Even has the intro tune. The "waka-waka" sound is a little rough, but it's a heck of a lot better than the jarring "Bwa! Bwa! Bwa!" from Atari's own release...

I can honestly say - had Atari come out with something like this back in the day - or had they offered this up as a follow up (read - apology) to their customers - it might have saved their butts.

This one is well worth buying.

Carlos Montiel on 11/10/2003 01:50pm
By now you all know what an abomination the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man was. Enough said! If what you are looking for is a playable version of Pac-Man than look no further than Pac-Man Arcade. Now this is what we were all waiting for but didn't get. This is as faithful to the arcade as you are going to get on the 2600. I recommend that you pick this one up. It's well worth it.
Brian Rittmeyer on 05/02/2003 12:02pm
By itself, Pac-Man Arcade isn't perfect, but it is when compared to the disaster that is Atari's 2600 Pac-Man. Anyone itching to want to play a playable version of Pac-Man on their 2600 should get this game. As improved as it is, it still doesn't measure up to the very good 5200 version. The game looks good and plays well, but I found Pac-Man's "eating" sound a bit rough and jarring. Keeping the sound from the source Ms. Pac-Man would have been preferable. The ghost colors are off, so if you're used to being chased relentlessly by the red ghost, you're in for a surprise. But despite its flaws, it is a very playable, very enjoyable game, and just having a decent 2600 Pac-Man is a pleasure that shouldn't have been 20 years in the making. Worth the money.
Scott Anderson on 04/24/2003 10:03am
I think too many months of playing the original 2600 Pac-Man back in 1982 kind of soured me on the whole franchise, but I agree with everyone else's sentiments... this is what the home video game world was waiting for back in March of 1982. Too bad Atari couldn't deliver!
Thomas Karner on 04/08/2003 01:31pm
Simply put, this is the Pac Man we were all waiting for in 1981.

I know a lot of people here play and buy hacks and homebrew games. Not me. I like to play Atari for the nostalgia, I prefer to play the games I played back then. If I want to play a new game, I'll play something on my PC or Playstation. But having said that, I had to buy this game. It is the only hack/homebrew I've ever purchased. This is the game we were expecting/hoping for back then. This IS Pac Man. What we got from Atari wasn't.
Efren Ramirez on 01/04/2003 03:53pm
The quality of the label and the design could not be better and the game is so close to the real arcade game that if Atari had made it this well, it probably would have been one of there biggest sellers ever. Great job Atariage.
Jeff Luftig on 12/23/2002 10:45pm
The original Atari PAC-MAN was terrible, and MS PAC-MAN like PAC-MAN Jr just did not fill the need. This is simply the best PAC-MAN game for the 2600 and as one of the best games in history I feel it is a must have. If you buy games to play, get this!
Steve Juon on 12/23/2002 05:35pm
If you're old enough to remember the 1980's, you're old enough to remember the Pac-Man phenom. Yes, Pac-Man. The game that inspired a top ten song, a cheesy (but loveable) TV cartoon, and more spin-offs than you can shake a stick at! Therefore it's no surprise that the 2600 home version of Pac-Man was so heavily anticipated; after all the VCS was in more homes than the VCR! One problem though - the original version of this game stinks on 2600. Stinks BAD. Stinks so much that you'll find 50 copies of it in every store that sells used Atari games. Everybody bought it, and everybody said, "What the #%#! is this #%@! because it's sure as #%[email protected] not Pac-Man!" You can't sneeze without hitting a copy of 2600 Pac-Man for this reason; it's so bad that even collectors think twice about owning one. You won't have that problem with Pac-Man Arcade though. It is superior in so many ways to the one that Atari actually released that enumerating them would make this review twice as long as it already is! So let me sum it up to you this way - if you always wanted to play an authentic looking and sounding home version of the arcade game on your 2600, this is as close as you'll ever get. Chuck that Atari version out the window and buy Pac-Man Arcade, and you'll never regret it. As Hunter Hearst Helmsley would say, it's THAT.. DAMN.. GOOD.
Timothy Wilson on 12/18/2002 02:56am
This game is a must own for any 2600 enthusiast! It is a great reproduction of the arcade Pac-Man, and comes complete with a very professional label.

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