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Best Homebrew Pac-Man


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As you all may know, the original Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 can be a point of contention.  Others may say that it's good and the best they could get as a kid and others say it's a rushed and crappy port and everything in between.  With that said, I went on a little journey to try a few of the bigger hacks and compare them to find THE Pac-Man to play when I switch on my wood grained console.  I also understand that this community may have a lot more wisdom than me and I'm interested to hear what you guys think is the best Pac-Man to play on the console.


The first title I saw when looking for a homebrew Pac-Man was Hack'em.  This game is Pesco by Ebivision, which was then hacked by Nukey Shay to make it closely resemble Pac-Man.  This game is pretty fun but with a few minor problems that made it difficult to pick it as my go-to Pac-Man.  Now I'm no expert in Pac-Man, but I've played quite a bit of ports and the arcade version with my dad and the one glaring issue this game has for me is the speed.  This game is FAST!  Now I'm not against a super sped up Pac-Man game, but something felt very off with this game.  Other than the speed, the other thing I noticed about this game was it would slow down at some points.  The siren would slow down, the game would slow down, the ghost would slow down.  In a game where quick and precise inputs are needed to evade, bait and chase, this is a deal breaker.  I'm not sure if I had an older ROM or what the case may be, but it annoyed me to no end.  I also had a few times when I was playing and the game just cut out on me or froze up.  Not sure if that was a problem with my Harmony cartridge or if it was the ROM, but yeah, when it happened, it was game over and I went off to do something else.  I'd be interested to hear what you guys think and if you have run into any of those problems with this particular hack.


The second title I checked out with Pac-Man 4k by Dennis Debro.  Now THIS is a Pac-Man homebrew.  It has accurate enough maze layout, beautiful graphics and sounds and the AI is great!  There really isn't much bad to say about this port.  It has significantly less flicker than the OG and all of this is on the same size ROM as the OG.  The only thing missing from this is the intermissions, which if you're just looking for a no fat game of Pac-Man, can be looked at as a feature. I think if you wanted to play a Pac-Man game that is "how it should be when it released", this is the one for you!


Now for my personal favorite, Pac-Man 8k from Dintar816.  This game is what the 4k version is AND MORE!  This has got to be the best recreation of the arcade version on the Atari 2600 I've seen.  It has it all, amazing sound, minimal flicker, great AI, a turbo speed option, cornering, intermissions AND has been blessed by the man himself, Tod Frye.  I admit, looking back, I didn't test if the 4k version had a pause, but I know for a fact that this 8k version does.  Are you getting an important call from someone?  Do you need a refill on your favorite beverage?  Is nature calling and you're boards deep and not willing to lose your score?  Hit the fire button on your controller and you can step away for a moment and handle some business.  I have to say, when I step into my office and boot up the Atari, I like to just set this up in the background so when I have a free moment, I can play a few rounds.  With the intro playing in the background, it adds a little ambience to every game players room.  I have been currently playing the v8 version of this and have been completely thrilled with it.  I've only run into one issue and that's sometimes during the end of a board, the audio can get a bit distorted.  I'm not sure if that's just a problem with the version I'm playing or what, but it's a pretty minimal issue.  For my money, I think the 8k version is where it's at and that's saying a lot cuz the game is free!

All that being said, I was hoping to get some opinions from you guys!  I'm a fairly new player when it comes to Atari 2600 but don't let that fool you, I take it as seriously as the next guy.  What do you think?  What's your favorite?  Did I miss something that you think is important?  I hope to hear from you guys below!

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I have to agree the Dinar816's Pac-Man 8K is the best one right now.  It is remarkable how excellent this version is.  I wrote a whole article about the evolution of Pac-Man games on the 2600 that was printed in Old School Gamer magazine.  I can't remember which issue, though.

🖖 Going to the final frontier, gaming...

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