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I’ve seen plenty of people hate on Pac-man for Atari 2600. I’ve never understood why, sure the game has only a bare resemblence to the arcade game but who really cares? So many games back then had such a hint of resemblence to the real deal that it didn’t even matter. This version of Pac-man actually has plenty going for it. First of all the flickering “ghosts”. Probably one of the biggest complaints about the game, but do you understand why they flicker? The Atari 2600 was limited to the number of sprites that could be shown on a row – sure some games found ways around it like Space Invaders and Galaxian, but considering the time constraints that were placed on the development of this game its undertandable why the ghosts flicker. But if you must know, no more than one ghost appears on the screen at any given time. As the processor cranks through the program code it draws one ghost, refreshes the screen then draws the next ghost, and so on and so on until each of the four ghosts have their chance on the screen. It’s actually pretty ingenious.
This is what makes these old games so great! It wasn’t the perfect interpretation of the title, but rather the creativity of the programmer that did more with less. And in this case much less! Could you imagine what would have happened if the arcade experience was perfected this early in the life of video games? The market would have crashed alot harder than it did. Everyone waited for better!
There are other things that make this version great. Pacman has eyes and a kooky way of opening and closing his mouth. The sounds are there, even if they are nothing like the arcade version, and the fruit are now square vitamins. For health and pleasure. If you own an Atari, you probably already own this game, and if you don’t you’ll eventually encounter it. It’s not perfect, but its great!