Atari 2600 Game of the Week - Ms. Pac-Man CX2675by Atari, programmed by ?, released 1982
1982 - The video game craze was in full swing, and a lot of fantastic games were arriving in the arcades to vie for our quarters: Dig Dug, Donkey Kong Junior, Kangaroo, Mr. Do, and Q*Bert - to name a few.
Mattel Electronics' Intellivision was battling the Atari VCS for the home console market, using their superior graphics as the springboard.
Into this climate, less than a year after the successful failure of Atari Pac-Man came the home version of the extremely popular Ms. Pac-Man.
And what a version it was!
This was what we had expected with Pac-Man, but did not get. Great sound, great graphics, great gameplay, bouncing fruit, and four screens - just like in the arcade!
Not only that, but the scoring system was arcade accurate, and Ms. Pac-Man could face all four directions!
The mazes are not arcade perfect - but are decent mazes in their own right, that follow the spirit of the originals, while maintaining uniqueness and excellent flow.
The ghosts are all drawn every frame, except when there are horizontal row "collisions" (more than one sprite sharing a horizontal scan-line) which is a limitation of the Stella chip, and results in brief flickering in many games.
It's not perfect, but it is a huge leap forward from the "one ghost per frame" method used in it's predecessor, and is close to the best that can be accomplished within the limitations of the 2600 while still making the ghosts look like ghosts.
(Games like BurgerTime got around the flicker problem by using muliple bullets, resized and recolored, and calling them characters, that's why the egg in BurgerTime for the 2600 looks like a white square.)
One of the few things that I wish this game had more of were game options - especially a sped-up Ms. Pac-Man... To be fair, I'm not even sure that the speed modification for Ms. Pac-Man was even in the arcades at that point.
The four games available are four, three, two, and one ghost games.
It also would have been nice if Atari had given the programmer another 2k of ROM to add the intermissions...
This game is another of my top ten 2600 games - very fun and I can play it for long periods without getting sick of it.
Of course, it is a great translation of one of the most popular video games of all time (Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga still make money for arcades - which is why Namco released the 20th Anniversary Galaga/ Ms.Pac-Man hybrid arcade game last year.)
You can get the ROM and 2600 Emulators at the Classic Gaming Game Vault.
Comments? Questions? Answers? Email me!