Tina wrote:New here but I am getting a big kick reading all of these posts, 44 years young and I spent my youth in arcades. Good times to be had !! Finally at age twelve Santa got me a Sears Tele-Game Video Game Arcade II, I loved that thing-still have it actually but haven't played it in years. Now Atari's Pac-Man was just a shame really. We all ran out and got that game and was so disappointed by it. I would play Kaboom a million times over any day of the week instead of Pac Man. Defender, Pac Man and Donkey Kong were so much better in the arcade.
Welcome fellow parent. If you find fun modern console games for your kids, let us know. Portable gaming seems to offer a lot. I think retro console games, like Pac Man, is a lot of fun, the games are quick enough to take turns, the controllers (especially joysticks) are almost as intuitive as a touch screen, and since many early games lacked AI makes playing early two player games fun with kids.
I spent my youth, and my quarters, in the arcades as well. I have vivid memories of both Pac Man in the arcade, and Pac Man on the 2600. Obviously there are opinions on each side about the 2600 version, with some people advocating that a poor home version was not a big deal. I never expected a more complicated game to have a good home version, Pac Man was terribly disappointing for what appears so simple. In my circle, people bought a console just for Pac Man, and were disappointed.
Another aspect is that my school, and many others, had computers then. While I'm sure it was frowned on, many kids had copies of Pac Man for systems like the Apple IIe. Compare Pac Man for the Apple II and the 2600. Wow. Hands down is the Apple version much better, and playing with the keyboard more responsive still. Its also interesting in that both systems used a version of the MOS 6502 chip, so its not like one had a Z80 or something in there. Sure, the Apple was more expensive, but it was right there in front of kids eyes as another home version of Pac Man, and really made the Atari version look rushed, second rate, or a money grab.
In retrospect, maybe Atari could have used the 5200 version, which was a launch title, to really kick start sales of that replacement console after seeing their 2600 version. I think only a few months separated them, but then again the production version of the 5200 controller may not have been a wise decision either. Pac Man looks so simple, but even in 1982 I guess either techniques were yet undiscovered, the ROM size too small, or time constraints too tight to get a decent version. With Space Invaders, they simplified the game, but added in all those wonderful options. They could have gone that route too (bye bye Clyde), but maybe that would have been an insult.
Kaboom represents an awesome little game, made by one of those programmers that was disgruntled at how they felt they were being treated at Atari, and paved the way for 3rd party games. Kaboom is a little gem, although I don't recall any other games by Kaplan, at Atari or Activision that stand out. I'm sure someone will remind me.