Game of the Week (8/5/18) – Pac-Man for the Atari 5200

As most of us know, the original home port of “Pac-Man” for the VCS/2600 was nowhere near arcade faithful thanks to being rushed to capitalize on Pac-mania combined with the hardware limitations the system presented. The issues that players had with the 2600 port (poorly designed mazes that didn’t look anything like the arcade, ghosts that flickered constantly, unfortunate hit detection) are legitimate. It really is less of a port than a re-imagining to be honest. Fortunately, Atari had a chance to right this wrong with the release of “Pac-Man” on the Atari 5200 in 1982.

Now, this is the version that everyone was wanting! This game looks nearly identical to the arcade in terms of opening music, maze design, maze appearance (blue trim), fruit that looks like actual fruit, dots that are the right size, intermissions, in game sound effects, basically everything about “Pac-Man” is right here on this little square cartridge. The only discernable difference is that the ghosts appear to be more aggressive and faster right out of the gate than I recall from the arcade but it may not even be noticeable to many thus not really a detriment.

The 5200 version includes the ability to start at any of the 8 levels in the game, so if you’re bored playing the first few levels over and over, give level 7 or 8 (the bell and key levels) a try. It also comes with an overlay, but that isn’t very useful as it only indicates which keypad button is used to toggle between 1 and 2 players and the 8 different game levels. “Pac-Man” for the Atari 5200 is a nearly flawless version of the game and while everyone knows that “Ms. Pac-Man” is the better of the two, “Pac-Man” is still extremely fun and addictive almost 40 years after its release.

Rating: A-

Currently in my collection: game, manual, overlay, box

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