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Did you think Atari 2600 Pac-Man was bad when you first got it?

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Here's a question for all the original owners who were there on Day 1: Did you think Atari 2600 Pac-Man was bad when you first got it? Was it a huge disappointment out of the box? Or did you enjoy the heck out of playing that game and only later came to realize the rest of the world thought it was bad?

Genuinely curious to see if you guys had varying experiences and there was a bit of a "Mandela Effect" going on, or if everybody was on the same page from Day 1 saying "It stinks!"

:pac_man:

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I remember saving my money up to purchase this specific game back in the day.  When I finally did play it, I was a little disappointed, but was young enough that I still found enjoyment in the game and played it too death.  I would have liked for it to have been more arcade accurate but now I consider it a classic along with the games sounds.  If you want more arcade accuracy there have been several remakes and hacks including the Dintari Pacman and the Nukey Shay Pac-Man 8K which are both excellent...

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My recollection is:

Electronic Games magazine panned the game, and I'm pretty sure I read that before buying. 

I know that I had to save up to buy it, and I remember the purchase day and store well.  The Pac Man box barely left my hands at the check stand.  We got home, and I played and played.  The flaws were obvious.  Wrong colors, wrong sounds, Pac Man only facing side to side.  But I played and kept track of high scores.  Friends played too.  We had fun playing for high scores and also ripping on the game as we went. 

Answering your question isn't easy.  I knew it wasn't great.  But I had fun playing it anyway.  I don't think the game ruined the gaming industry.  But for me personally, it marked the end of the 2600.  My thought being that if that's the best that system could do, it was probably time to move on.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure that was the last game I paid full price for.  I didn't start buying 2600 games again until they were all on clearance.  Pac Man and Defender were the two that stick out in my mind as "not good enough". 

I moved on to an Atari 800XL, which had an awesome Pac Man and Defender. 

PS - I think I was 13 years old when 2600 Pac Man came out. 

Edited by RickR

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So, I did not get it immediately.  My aunt got it for my cousins and they all were very excited with it and playing it like crazy.  When I first saw it at their home, I was very disappointed in how it looked.  It was nothing like the arcade.  The colors were all wrong.  Despite that, I did buy it and played it lots...until Ms. Pac-Man was released.  Then I never played it again.  Ms. Pac-Man showed that they had done a lousy job adapting the original Pac-Man to the system.  I played Atari's Pac-Man again years later when I found hacks in Atari Age.  Nukey Shay's Pac-Man 8K I think is what Atari could have done back then.  Different but with enough similarities to be more acceptable. 

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I never got it only because I owned a 5200.  But I do remember a neighbor down the road getting it and inviting me over to play it.  I already had Pac-Man for my system so I didn't expect anything different.  Once I arrived in went pac-man and on went my dissecting.  Nothing was right, I dogged it, but at the same time I found joy in playing it.  It was a different pacman. Once I got home, though, I was never so happy to seev my pacman again.

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I wasn't there day one but I also had zero knowledge about its infamy in game history. I didn't this it was bad, just kinda weird. I actually liked the sprite for pac-man and thought he looked neat. I was amused by the manual explaining the bonus "fruit" away as a vitamin or something. Only mild beef with the game was the flicker of the ghosts, but whatevs.....I still like the pac-man sprite 😂

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Despite the fact that the original A2600 Pac-Man could have been better, I really enjoyed it as a kid in 1982 and further on in my childhood years. The highest score I achieved in this game was over 20,000 points. I knew a guy who was a friend of my dad's that got over 100,000 points in this version of the game. He said that the ghosts later turned into question marks and all that. It probably ran out of general memory and started glitching out. That happens sometimes when you get too far in a game with limited memory. I almost always beat out my friends and my dad in this version of Pac-Man. I could really fake out the ghosts. It was really fun. Ms. Pac-Man was much better than Pac-Man, for sure. I got good at that as well. I probably am out of practice now, but back then I was pretty good. Ah, the memories…

Thanks for letting me share. :O)

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True. The A5200 version of Pac-Man was better than the A2600 version. I just wish that they had enough memory for the intermissions. The intermissions are entertaining in the arcade version. That would have been nice. Actually, the A5200 and A8 versions are almost identical due to the fact that the A5200 is modeled after the A8 computer in architecture. I guess that Nintendo even modeled the NES after the A5200. They apparently just reverse-engineered it. But, of course, the NES has better graphics than that. Newer system. You'd expect that. Anyway, despite all that, there were good games on the A5200, like Space Dungeon, Popeye, Missile Command, Super Breakout, to name a few. Of course, this is my opinion on these games. I like them on that platform. It could have been better with the controls, but it still shines with some of the games.

But, getting back to Pac-Man, I liked it on both systems. Besides, I have heard of attempts to create a new and better controller for the A5200. I hope that it works well. :O)

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32 minutes ago, BlackCatz40 said:

True. The A5200 version of Pac-Man was better than the A2600 version. I just wish that they had enough memory for the intermissions. The intermissions are entertaining in the arcade version. That would have been nice. Actually, the A5200 and A8 versions are almost identical due to the fact that the A5200 is modeled after the A8 computer in architecture. I guess that Nintendo even modeled the NES after the A5200. They apparently just reverse-engineered it. But, of course, the NES has better graphics than that. Newer system. You'd expect that. Anyway, despite all that, there were good games on the A5200, like Space Dungeon, Popeye, Missile Command, Super Breakout, to name a few. Of course, this is my opinion on these games. I like them on that platform. It could have been better with the controls, but it still shines with some of the games.

But, getting back to Pac-Man, I liked it on both systems. Besides, I have heard of attempts to create a new and better controller for the A5200. I hope that it works well. :O)

The 5200 version of Pac Man has the intermissions.  It's easy to get confused, because the 8-bit version does not have the intermissions.  

In most cases, Atari took the 8-bit versions and improved them for the 5200.  Some games like Dig Dug and Centipede are completely new.  Some games just have trak-ball support added (like Space Invaders and Galaxian).  

 

 

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I have said it a great many of time, I think folks were more disappointed in the port more than anything. They expected what they had at their local arcade, pizza shop and bowling alley. We all know it would not be arcade perfect, we (I was anyway) were used to that idea. People popped it fin their systems and saw something that only in spirit resembled the game as they knew it. It plays fine. If it were just another Pac clone, most would say its playable but meh. Disappointment somehow translated into "a bad game". 

 

I Love this port. Got it around when it came out, (maybe that Christmas) and played the hell out of it. To this day I love it no matter its flaws. Love it enough to use its sounds in my intro!

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I'm woefully behind in replying to this. I didn't get my own Atari until Christmas of '82 but my friends down the street certainly had them and I would play on those all the time. Most of my friends had Pac-man but it wasn't played that much. I do remember us playing it sure but it wasn't played as much as Pitfall or even Combat was.

Having said that, I also don't recall us ever talking about Pac-Man being a bad game or not looking like the arcade perfectly. Back then none of the ports really looked like the arcade (Space Invaders was probably the closest back then). So we just accepted it for what it was I guess? Now, I can tell you that once I got my Atari 2600, that Pac-Man was NEVER purchased until much much later when I got it used from a pawn shop in the late 80s for like $1 or something back then. 

Do I think it was part of the ruin of the game industry? No... it was pac-man and still had the same gameplay elements in it. And again we expected the games to not look exactly like the arcade because none of the ports did. I also do not believe E.T. brought down the industry. I think the general lack of quality control and soo many games (Many of which being clones or rips from other games already it seemed) had more to do with it than anything. And I know that most adults back then thought that video games were just a phase and lost interest. Also many kids grow up even today and what toys they had that were awesome yesterday...collect dust and do not get played with tomorrow. 

Curious if any demographics have been compared on the age groups playing Atari in the late 70s to early 80s and see if there might be a correlation to most of the gamers back then just growing out of it? 

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IMO, the main reason for the crash was piracy.  Anyone with a Commodore 64 and a modem could find any game for free via a BBS.  Why pay for an Atari cart when you could get a much better version of any game for free? 

 

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On 5/22/2020 at 2:53 PM, RickR said:

IMO, the main reason for the crash was piracy.  Anyone with a Commodore 64 and a modem could find any game for free via a BBS.  Why pay for an Atari cart when you could get a much better version of any game for free? 

 

I've seen this before but for me, I only had one friend who owned a C64 and that was back around '86 well after the crash. Even then, he and I still played on our 2600s more than on his C64. But he didn't have a modem for it so I'm sure his access to games with it was far more limited than some. But yeah, I honestly never even knew a crash occured when I was kid. I picked up my copy of Ms. Pac-man when it was new in like '83 at a TG&Y in the small town we lived in at the time. And they always had Atari games at full price. I didn't see cheap Atari games until the late 80s when I started to find some new in box games like Space Shuttle, Star Master, etc for like $5 at corner drug stores...yeah. But the revivial of the 2600 and release of the 7800 also meant that I saw quite a bit of Atari on store shelves then as well. So honestly I can't really recall a time when I couldn't still pick up new Atari games here where I lived. It wasn't until around '89 that I then began to notice a serious decline in games for sale. Course by then the Genesis and TG-16 were out and were the new Hot systems. That is also when I got my first IBM clone computer and for the next decade, I didn't even look at console games or systems.

My point to all of this was that if piracy was so rampant, I never saw it where I lived or from any of my friends. We all had at least 20 or so games each and many of us didn't have the same games so we would borrow each others games for days at a time. Doing this was like never needing to purchase your own version of the game.

 

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I didn't yet have a video game system at all when Pac-Man came out for the 2600, but one of my neighbors had it. I was surprised when I saw it (I was seven years old) because of how different it looked and how weird it sounded. But even at that young age, I figured that the developers at Atari were working with what they had on hand and could only do so much. I've always been a massive Pac-Man fan, so I nearly passed out when my brother and I got a 4-switcher for Christmas in 1982...and my parents also bought Pac-Man and stuck it in the box, so I was quite happy! I knew very well that it was virtually nothing like the arcade version, but I didn't care: I had a way to play Pac-Man at home, and I spent hours on end playing it. (And I always thought it looked great when you flip the TV TYPE switch to BW.)

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I received this for my 9th birthday in May, 1982. It was the one gift I REALLY wanted & I was so pumped to get it.

I didn't have a lot of arcades around and I didn't spend a lot of time at the ones near me. I played more arcade games at pizza places and bowling alleys.

I had played Pac Man & loved it and was completely engrossed in Pac Mania.

I was only 9 but I obviously realized it was not going to be arcade-accurate representation. I loved (& still do!) my Atari but I knew that it wasn't capable or giving a 100% authentic arcade experience. That didn't bother me. I loved the games that I played on it & Pac Man was no exception.

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The 2600 is from before my time, so I didn't play that version of the game until I was older. My mom, however, did grow up during that time, and she used to visit a friend that had the 2600, and her favorite games were Space Invaders, Frogger (Parker Brothers version), and Pac-Man. Up until I was buying different video games, for the PS2 and stuff, my mom had rarely (if ever) seen the arcade version of Pac-Man, let alone played it. What Pac-Man was (and still is) for her was the 2600 version, because that's all she had played. In fact, humorously, it had the bit of the opposite effect from a lot of the others when she saw me playing the arcade version. She said, "This isn't Pac-Man! It's supposed to go (proceeds to imitate 2600 Pac-Man sounds)." Long story short, if you look at the 2600 Pac-Man as a completely different game, I think it's pretty fun. Personally, I think they probably should have changed the characters in the game and called it something else (similar to Ladybug and Mousetrap being similar games with different characters), and I'd rather play "A Better Pac-Man" or "Pac-Man 8K" than I would this game, but I still find myself booting up this game every once in awhile and playing it, and it is still the version of Pac-Man that my mom prefers to play. Not to change anybody's opinion on here, I just wanted to give my perspective of the game because of what I've come to learn about it over the years.

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It's a fun and distinctive iconic port that is different, but I like all of the different ports for genres like pacman - particularly when it's clear the programmer is very creative and going for different or just Atari streamlined. 

 My favorite Pacmen in the 80's were two variants that took the genre to the next level - KC Munchkin and Grabber, a split-screen pacman that I hope to bring to the Atari! 🙂

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/300642-grabber-split-screen-pacman/

 

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On 7/9/2020 at 12:24 PM, Mr SQL said:

It's a fun and distinctive iconic port that is different, but I like all of the different ports for genres like pacman - particularly when it's clear the programmer is very creative and going for different or just Atari streamlined. 

 My favorite Pacmen in the 80's were two variants that took the genre to the next level - KC Munchkin and Grabber, a split-screen pacman that I hope to bring to the Atari! 🙂

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/300642-grabber-split-screen-pacman/

 

I have heard of KC Munchkin. It was for the Odyssey2. I remember the commercials for it on TV. But, until I saw this post, I had never heard of Grabber. Interesting.

Edited by BlackCatz40

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