(Limited) Pac-Man & The Atarisoft Nightmare


Pac-Man is a very simple game on just about every game console imaginable, including:

Android, Apple II, Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit,
BlackBerry, Channel F, Commodore 64, FM-7, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance,
Game Gear, Intellivision, iPhone, MSX, Neo Geo Pocket Color, NES, Playstation 1, 2, 3, and 4, Nintendo 3DS, Palm OS, PC-6001, PC-88, PC-98, Sharp X1, TI-99/4A,
VIC-20, Wii, Wii U, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One ZX Spectrum and probably my toaster.

And I’m sure when you think of Pac-Man, you think of this:


So how does something so iconic, ending up looking like…..like this:

Screenshot 2018-04-01 04.43.29.pngShot.

The answer isn’t as sinister as I thought; arcade machines were just souped-up computers back then, made for one-thing and one thing only. Therefore, it wasn’t far-fetched for the arcade version to look better than the PC port; where computers were still evolving and not everything would work with everything else.

At its core, Pac-Man is equal parts practice and improvisational gameplay.  The map is always the same, the amount of the enemies are always the same, the powerups. However, there’s a certain degree of caution you have to take throughout playing every single time, and part of that is due to the nature of the ghosts that are chasing you. While the map is the same, your route to collect the dots aren’t necessarily the same thanks to them, and that’s where the improvisational aspect comes into play. There’s a certain degree of improv when you play because of the ghosts’ aggression towards chasing you down, forcing you to deviate from your typical pellet collecting line in order to avoid them. It’s a very classic example of both gameplay elements being put into play in a natural manner, despite the straightforward nature of the game.

Pac-Man is one of those games that I have on just about every console I play on regularly (PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One/iOS), and this trip down memory lane reminded me why. It’s a very straightforward game with a classic implementation of good game design that have challenged people for decades, and likely will continue to do so for years to come.


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