- Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 7800) -

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Computer Peripherals

Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 7800) - March 11, '01 by -^Cro§Bow^-
Game:Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 7800)Company:Atari
Type:PuzzlePlayers:1/2

This little pink bowed wonder has managed to get herself ported to just about every console and system ever made. And while the arcade is still the best and cannot ever really be replaced, there is a conversion done to the console that does justice to this classic coin op. The Atari 7800 ProSystem’s version of Ms. Pac-Man once again shows just how close Atari could have come to taking back the market if not for bad timing.
This review is not meant to compete against other reviews or to even give a review on the game itself. D@Z and others before him have done plenty of reviews of Pac-Man’s lovely girl. Rather, this review will complement D@Z's as a comparison, which will measure how well the 7800 conversion is to the arcade original. So sit down, relax, get a cool drink and let’s review.
I have to admit that I didn’t have high hopes for the 7800 version at all when I first heard about there being a Ms. Pac-Man for the ProSystem. After all, the specs on the cart itself didn’t appear to be all that different from the 2600 version. So I was truly amazed at what I saw when I first fired up my 7800 and saw the title screen. Yes! A true blinking light marquee displaying the names of the ghosts as they wonder in from the lower right followed at the end by the lady of the hour herself. The title screen is worth mentioning because Atari actually recreated the title screen faithfully and then some. By then some I mean that instead of plain “Ms. Pac-Man” in text, they actually put in the fancy logo from the cabinet in there. Pretty cool to see and was a complete surprise to me.
The graphics in Ms. Pac-Man are okay but certainly not anything that taxes the 7800’s Maria chip to any real depth. However, Atari has recreated the mazes accurately to the arcade such that the colors and layout are dead on. The fruit even bounces as it should and even appears to follow the same patterns as the arcade. The only problem fans of the arcade will have with the graphics are that the overall perspective of the game is “squashed” from the arcade in order to fit the mazes for standard TV resolutions. Also perhaps due to the same squashing effect, the ghosts appear a little on the rotund side and also there is a noticeable jagged effect to graphics. This is really noticeable on the maze boundaries. All is not lost however, as all the fruit is there and even the intermissions have been included as they should be. All the mazes appear to be in the 7800 version and even do the randomizing after the last one has been completed.
The sound is one area I was actually quite impressed about. The 7800 version of Ms. Pac-Man does not use any special Pokey chips in it to create the sound. So I was more than impressed when I actually heard the starting theme accurately played when I began the game! Even the background siren noise is present. The sounds are a tad off compared to the original but still the fact they are all there is interesting. Even the “Gulp” when eating the fruit is there.
The control in the 7800 version still can’t replace the original stick of the arcade but the Proline joysticks do well in this arena. I imagine any good controllers that can SELF CENTER would be fine for this game. I use the prolines that came with my 7800 and did okay. But then I’m not very good at the original to begin with. My recommendation is to use a controller your most comfortable with. I do however; have a few problems in the way of the control. To me it seems as though the 7800 version lags a tad in response. Sometimes I will want to go up and Ms. Pac-Man has other ideas and instead takes the next available up and not the one I wanted. But then again, my controllers are original with my 7800 so they may be a bit worn. I also feel that this version of Ms. Pac-Man will be found to be easier than the arcade. For one the play speed seems slower than the arcade. Also with the screen being squashed it is easier to see the whole playfield at once and watch all the ghosts. There are some differences in the gameplay mechanics. The biggest that I can see is that true arcade fans will notice immediately that the ghosts do not follow the same patterns as the arcade do. I personally can’t tell the patterns apart but from what I have read the biggest change is that the ghosts in the 7800 version will reverse direction at any time, rather than when a certain number of dots have been eaten or so much time gone by…etc. This could make it more difficult to line up the ghosts for the power pills to finish them off as well as predicting where the ghosts will go.
Overall the 7800 version of Ms. Pac-Man would make a fine addition for one to add to their 7800 library, especially if they are fans of the Pac-Man games. All the elements of the arcade classic have been recreated in true fashion for the 7800 console. The mazes, fruit, sound, intermissions, and even the blinking marquee for the title screen are all present. For most game players and collectors, this is as close as you can get to the arcade version to play at home on your Atari. As a first, I am going to provide screenshots of the 7800 version next to the arcade of the same scenes to better compare the two with visually. Enjoy!!!
Graphics
6
8
Sound
Play Control
7
7
Challenge
Replay Value
8
10
Performance

Screen Shots

Screen Shot 1
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