Review: Pac Man (Atari 5200)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out the Atari 5200 port of the classic Pac Man game. Does this action survival game serve the classic game well? We find out.

This particular port was released in 1982. By this time, Pac Man was an extremely popular game that still makes reverberations to this day.

This version is pretty much the classic Pac Man game. To complete a level, you have to eat all of the pellets in the maze. You can travel through the warp tunnel that will allow you to reappear on the opposite side of the maze. You have four ghosts that, one by one, exits the box in the middle. If you come into contact with the ghosts, you die. The exception to this is when you eat one of the flashing power pellets located in each corner. After you eat one, you can actually eat the ghosts, but only when they are blue. The power only lasts for a limited amount of time. Optionally, you can eat the level piece of food that randomly appears in the middle for an extra boost in points. I chose not to risk getting one.

You have a total of three lives to work with, but for every 100,000 points you earn, you gain an extra life.

As you progress from level to level, the game gets gradually harder. Everything moves gradually faster. The pink ghost eventually starts moving faster than you, so you have to watch out for that. Ghosts can travel through the warp tunnel, but they usually don’t since they seem to operate on the basis of finding the shortest rout to you. The good news is that they don’t often turn around, so you have a maneuverability advantage over the ghosts most of the time.

This game, I found, was one of those games that get’s it right in the way of approachability (easy to learn at first) and challenge for those with practice at this game at the same time. As I’ve said in the past, this is a hard thing to accomplish for developers to this day, yet this game gets it right. You also always feel like you can play this game better, so there’s an addicting nature to this game as well.

Graphically, this game is decent enough. The cut scenes between every three levels was, I found, a very nice touch. While there is a lot of the stark black throughout the game, the action going on and the flashing of the maze when you complete it overcomes that. For this game, the black background works very well.

The jingle’s found throughout this game gives it a very nice charm. It’s probably one of the best jingles I’ve heard coming from a game in the early 80s. The sound effects were also very nicely done. I can’t really think of anything to complain about here.

Overall, this is a great classic game. This port is certainly worth the play. I would most definitely recommend giving this game a shot. An excellent game all around.


Furthest point in game: Lost my last life on the 7th level.

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 90%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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