During the first year of the 5200's production run, the system received many ports of popular arcade hits. Every dot-munchin' gamer loved Pac-Man, a game the 5200 received shortly after initial release. To Atari ... it only made sense to bring the Queen of Video Games, Ms. Pac-Man, for SuperSystem owners to enjoy in the comfort of their homes.
Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 contains everything the arcade hit has including very accurate multiple mazes, intermissions, music and sounds. Pressing the start button gives the player the first maze along with the opening music Ms. Pac-Man is known for. Going around the maze, munching dots, the ghosts don't take long to come chasing after me ... forcing me to use a power dot. It's not long before I finish up the first maze with one life down because I made a turn the wrong way when I was expecting a ghost to move another way.
Down with the second maze and I'm down two more lives. Pinky managed to head me off when Blinky was hot on my tail. Not once but twice. Time for a break to watch the first intermission! OK...new maze now. The speed of the game seems to have picked up by now. I barely manage to eat all of the dots on this round and am on my last life by the time I reach the pretzel round. I don't last long because I take a turn into the bottom left tunnel without noticing that Inky had already entered the same tunnel on the right side. Game Over.
At first the game seems a bit sluggish, almost like it is stuck in slow-motion. The animation and game play is not as smooth as it was in Pac-Man but the controls are a bit more responsive. As the player advances a few more mazes the game play speeds picks up a bit. The graphics are really good but I think the eyes on the ghosts could have been done better. And I know that the 5200 is very well capable of producing a purple color so why do we have a brown Sue??? That is the only real complaint I have with this Ms. Pac-Man is the one ghost that is not colored like the arcade. Then again the fourth ghost in Pac-Man was not the right color either.
As for sounds...eh...they are not too bad but I feel some more effort could have been made to make them more arcade-like. Especially after playing a prototype version of Super Pac-Man on the 5200 that showed just how close the 5200 can sound to the arcades. So for Ms. Pac-Man I did expect sounds to be a bit better than they were.
Controls are actually not too bad nor difficult...providing a good working standard controller is used. My copy is used so I am not sure if Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 came with overlays or not. Pretty much standard with 5200 games, * usually changes skill levels and # changes number of players....or is it the other way around? Oh well...just mash 'em 'til ya find 'em. They are the only keys used on the keypad anyway.
All kidding aside, Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 looks and plays well but it also feels like it might have been a bit rushed as there are some things that could have used a bit more polishing. And, while the sounds are not too bad, Atari should have spent a little more time perfecting them. The only pet-peeve I have with this game is the one ghost that is not colored like the arcade. If you are going to try to port an arcade game to a home console at least get the colors right. Other than that Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 is a solid and fun title so 5200 owners owe it to themselves to enjoy a game with the Queen of Video Games.