Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 – It can’t be that bad, can it?

   Pac-Man Logo


We’ve alSONY DSCl heard of Pac-Man, it is one of the most popular arcade games of all time by Namco and even among all arcade games that aren’t just made by Namco. There’s a good chance you’ve played it at some point in your life and there’s also a good chance you got some sort of enjoyment out of it whether it be the gameplay or just how strange of a concept it actually is. I mean it’s not every day you see some yellow… thing eating pellets Atari 2600 Pac-Man Boxand generic looking ghosts do you? Anyways how could you go wrong with a simple port to a home console or computer? Well in most cases, you couldn’t, a perfect or at least satisfactory port was made. However, this is apparently not the case with the Atari 2600. The Atari 2600 version of the much loved arcade game Pac-Man was an ultimate failure or so it was believed, in fact, it is notorious for having a heavy input on the unfortunate video game crash of 1983.


At a Glance

I think it is about time I evaluated this Pac-Man port myself and I have played it on an actual Atari 2600 and not on an emulator or any other device meaning I am able to understand this game fully including its graphics and ease of control. Well upon booting it up on the old 2600 the first thing you’ll probably notice is how different the Pac-Man maze is and the different colour scheme used. The maze now has green/yellow walls with a dark blue background and it is a ‘horizontal’ maze, in other words it more wide than it is tall unlike in the arcade version of Pac-Man. This isn’t a problem at all, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of variation and in fact personally I quite liked seeing the change, it’s something different. Obviously the graphics aren’t up to the standard that they are with the arcade version of the game but that’s understandable, after all it is the Atari 2600 and as most of us gamers Atari 2600 Pac-Man Screenshot(or at least us retro gamers) will agree ‘Graphics don’t make a better game’. There’s a score tracker which is essential for Pac-Man games and many other arcade games. It also shows a life counter for Pac-Man which is undoubtedly handy. The only thing it lacks is the high score which isn’t important (at least to me) and images showing you what fruits you have obtained but then again you don’t necessarily have ‘fruit’ in 2600 Pac-Man (I’ll get onto that later though).



Well there’s 4 controls, up, down, left and right… yep that’s Pac-Man for you and that’s all the control your going to need to play the game. It’s not like the Atari joystick is going to offer much more in terms of possible controls for Pac-Man anyway, Unless the creators of 2600 Pac-Man could think of something that the one remaining button on the Atari joystick could be used for. Anyhow I’ve played a good 20 minutes of the game I reckon (which is actually a lot compared to how much I’ve played my other games for the 2600), and I have to say honestly… It’s really not that bad of a game, It’s your standard Pac-Man, you collect pellets, avoid the ghosts, occasionally collect ‘fruit’ and occasionally eat the ghosts for extra points. The ‘fruit’ is represented as what appears to be a larger, brighter pellet with a darker coloured square around it but it has the same function as the fruit in the arcade version of the game, extra points. I’ll admit the controls seem a bit stiff and the ghosts seem to constantly disappear and reappear which can make the game harder at times but it’s nothing I can’t get passed. I seriously ask myself, what is it that people have against this game?


Take a look at RetroGameGeek Jimbo’s Playthrough of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600:

Well.. That’s my take on the Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man for you. What is your opinion on this port of Pac-Man? I’d love to know. Why not boot it up sometime and have a quick go and if you enjoy it you enjoy it, if you don’t enjoy it then you don’t. It is merely a matter of opinion. Anyhow, Happy gaming!