Monday, August 15, 2011

Game of the week: Ms. Pac-Man for Atari 7800

Everybody loves Ms. Pac-Man. It's a great game to play. You've got much of the great action from the original Pac-Man arcade classic, plus you've got even more. New levels, new mazes, new intermissions, it's all there.

And the popularity of Ms. Pac-Man proved in the early and mid-1980s that it was an obvious choice for porting to home gaming consoles, of which there were many. One of the best at-home versions of Ms. Pac-Man was the cartridge for the Atari 7800 system.

The Atari 7800 came out in January 1986 as Atari's then latest bid at re-taking over the video game world after the crash of the gaming market in 1983. Unfortunately Atari would never regain the spotlight as it had in the early 1980s with its 2600 system, but the Atari 7800 was still a decent gaming system on par in many ways with the more popular Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) of the day.

Ms. Pac-Man was one of those games that showed just how good the Atari 7800 system could be.

The 7800 version of this arcade classic was about as close to the original as it could be. All the action was there, as were the bright colors, the maze gameplay, the ghosts, the story intermissions, the prizes that were the fruits, etc.

If one wanted a home version of Ms. Pac-Man that was faithful to the arcade original, you couldn't do much better than the Atari 7800 version of the game.

There are a couple of notable differences between the 7800 Ms. Pac-Man and the arcade version. First up, the player starts with five Ms. Pac-Mans instead of just the three the arcade version offered. So, this would seem to make the 7800 version a bit easier. But hold up there. The 7800 version of Ms. Pac-Man is actually faster than the arcade version, which will make the game harder! So, in my opinion, it about evens out. Why the game makers decide upon these minor changes is a mystery to me, but the changes don't much effect the fun you can have.

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