I'd have to agree, Ms. Pac-Man was a far more popular game. It would have helped sales.
Plenty. The 7800 version is arcade accurate pretty much.
Totally agreed. As long as I've been on AtariAge (about 16 years) I've seen many homebrews and hacks to make Pac-Man more like the arcade version, but I've never seen someone try to do the same with Ms. Pac-Man. Yeah, Ms. on the 2600 is a much better version of Ms. Pac-Man than Pac-Man on the 2600 is of Pac-Man, but I agree with you, Doc -- there's plenty that can be done with Ms.:
- Add the intermissions (and include the little sound effect when Pac and Ms. bump into each other -- the only home version I've ever seen that has that little sound is the yet-to-be-released POKEY version of Pac-Man Collection! on the 7800)
- Make the mazes more faithful to both the layouts and the colors of the arcade mazes
- Maze changing patterns to match those of the arcade (2600 has it change every 2 mazes)
- Improve the randomization of the bonus prize after the banana
- Add the background noise
- And for extra measure, add some special features like configuring when you get a bonus life, high speed option, and maybe "plus" mode.
Sound like a lot? Sure. But look at what they did with Pac-Man 8k.
And I've said this before on a few occasions, but what I'd really LOVE to see is someone take the existing 2600 Ms. Pac-Man and turn it into a crappy version that would be similar to the Tod Frye Pac-Man.
However, I'm not as sure if Ms. Pac-man would have been a good pack-in when the 7800 was finally released in '86 and more mainstream by '88. Perhaps by then a different game to showcase the 7800 better should have been used. I've always thought that Food Fight or Xenophobe would have been good for this. Food Fight would have been fairly exclusive to the 7800 at that time, and if they used Xenophobe it would have been an excellent game to showcase the graphical power of the 7800 plus the fact it allowed two player simultaneous play.
I addressed this in the latest Pie Factory Podcast (or was it the previous one??), but...I don't think Food Fight as a 7800 pack-in would have been a good business move on Atari's part. It would definitely have sold the system, but...thing is, Food Fight is the killer app for the 7800. It would make a lot of the other games pale in comparison.
I agree with nsg's assertion that Ms. Pac-Man would have been a better pack-in. It's a game that most people are already familiar with, and it was one of the most successful arcade games of all time, if not the most successful arcade game of all time. Imagine....Christmas time, you get an Atari 7800 for Christmas, and it comes with Ms. Pac-Man. ANYBODY in the family with at least one hand and some mastery of motor skills can immediately fire up the new console and play the game.
But Pole Position II?? A racing game being played with the PainLine?? And of course, there's the OCD factor: well, where's the original Pole Position??? Where there's a II, you need a I.