Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Memories #22: Pac-Man

I'd love to say that my first experience with Pac-Man was the stand up arcade cabinet, but alas, I cut my teeth on the infamous Pac-Man cartridge for the Atari 2600. Not only did this game look like butt, it played like it, too. Horrible flicker, the ghosts not looking much different from when you consumed a Power Pellet and don't even get me started on the audio, which even for Atari 2600 standards was pretty awful. I probably put more time into this version of Pac-Man than I should have. At the time, it was my only option for munching ghosts at home. It was interesting to find out years later that the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man was a contributing factor to the Video Game Crash of 1983.

If it looks like crap, sounds like crap, plays
like crap, it's Pac-Man on the Atari 2600.
The DOS version of Pac-Man is one I remember liking quite a bit. In the late 80s through the early '90s, my family didn't have a home computer so whenever we went to the computer room in school and they gave us time to play games, I would always jump on Pac-Man. I didn't care that the background was green or that all the ghosts were the same color. The game played infinitely better than the Atari 2600 version and made for some of the most fun I ever had in school.

The DOS version of Pac-Man, may have lacked
the colors of the arcade game, but was vastly
superior to the 2600 version.
Considering what arcades have became in the past few decades, I look back and consider myself quite fortunate whenever I come across a coin-op version of a classic game. Sometime in the early '90s, I was out at a pizza joint with my family. I was browsing the arcade machines when I was pleasantly surprised to see a Pac-Man arcade cabinet. Naturally, I was more than happy to drop a quarter into the slot to try the arcade version out. Playing the arcade version of Pac-Man for was like opening my eyes for the first time. The maze background was black, Inky, Binky, Pinky and Clyde all had distinct colors, the sound affects and musical jingles sounded better than ever and the game ran at a silky smooth framerate. It was Pac-Man utopia.

It is now easier than ever to get the arcade version of
Pac-Man on home console, complete with snazzy side art.

More than a decade would pass before I would get reintroduced to Pac-Man. With the passing of several console generations and superior technology, having arcade perfect ports of early 1980s games was (mostly) no longer an issue. In 2001, I picked up Namco Museum 64 because it was cheap and I was itching for some retro arcade action. Having enjoyed the arcade version of Pac-Man years ago, I was thrilled to be able to boot up and play the co-op version of Pac-Man whenever I pleased. Namco Museum 64 also where I played Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga for the first time, two games that would go to become some of my all-time favorites.

I recently bought Namco Museum Vol. 1 off the PlayStation Network for my PS3. I'm as terrible at the game as ever, but the simplicity of the game and the desire to achieve a high score keeps me coming back. Like a lot of fans, I do believe Ms. Pac-Man is the superior game, but Pac-Man is still a blast to play and without it, there wouldn't even be a Ms. Pac-Man to gush over.

No comments: