Review by Retro

Reviewed: 04/11/01 | Updated: 05/20/02

A major facelift from the disappointment of the 2600's Pac-Man

The Atari 2600's Ms. Pac-Man isn't a perfect clone of the Ms. Pac-Man that everybody knows from the arcades, but it's damn close.

Ms. Pac-Man is the sequel to the blockbuster arcade hit, Pac-Man. In Ms. Pac-Man, you get to control a round, yellow creature that wears a bow in her hair named Ms. Pac-Man. The object of the game is to guide her through various mazes and devour the hundreds of dots in order to get as far as you can.

Lurking all over the mazes' spaces are four ghosts who all possess their own personalities. There is a red one named Blinky, a pink one named Pinky, a blue one named Inky, and an orange one named Sue. Blinky is the fastest and the most aggressive, Pinky is the smartest because she will cut corners in order to get to you without as much effort, Inky is mysterious and seems to sometimes chase Ms. Pac-Man and just wonder around minding his own business at other times, and Sue isn't very smart at all; she will just go where ever around the mazes, most of the time not even paying attention to the trespassing Ms. Pac-Man.

If any of the ghosts touch Ms. Pac-Man, she will spin 360º once and lose a life. However, Ms. Pac-Man does have some defensive strategy in mind. There are four flashing things called power pellets (one in each corner of the screen) that will make the ghosts blue. While the ghosts are blue, Ms. Pac-Man can eat them and temporarily send them back to their hideout in the center of the maze. But watch out because the ghosts will not stay blue forever. Once they start flashing, it means they are fixing to turn back into their typical dangerous form.

There are also other things to help Ms. Pac-Man out on her quest to eat dots and avoid ghosts. There are holes in the walls, or portals, that Ms. Pac-Man can go through to quickly get to the other side of the maze. In Pac-Man, a red and white block would appear from time to time in the center of the maze and stay in place. If Pac-Man ate this blocky item, he would get some bonus points.

In Ms. Pac-Man, instead of a block that stays in one lazy place, there are various fruits that come out of one of the holes in the wall and then bounce around the maze. Ms. Pac-Man will have the chance to eat the fruits for some extra points, but if she doesn't eat it after awhile, the fruit will exit in one of the other holes in the wall and not come back for awhile.

Ms. Pac-Man is also different than Pac-Man for the fact that after you clear a few levels of one maze, the maze will change completely. Unlike the arcade version, in this 2600 remake, the ghosts and Ms. Pac-Man always move at the same speed; they don't get faster as the game progresses. Also, the fruit will change after every maze. As your journey progresses, eating a flashing power pellet will have a shorter (time wise) effect on the spooky ghosts.

Alright, now it's time to compare Ms. Pac-Man to the original Ms. Pac-Man game in the arcades that millions of people have played. First of all, this Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man isn't exactly like the one in the arcade. Of course, the graphics aren't as great as the arcade game, but they're not bad either. The sounds are also a bit different from arcade version. For instance, when Ms. Pac-Man eats a ghost in the Atari 2600 version, you'll just hear a short beep, instead of the bubble-like sound of the original.

The biggest difference is that in the Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man, the mazes aren't the same. There are four different mazes and you can tell that they are based on the ones in the arcade game, but that they are not quite exact replicates. As a matter of fact, in ways, the mazes in the Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man are better in my opinion.

A great extra that this game includes is a way to alter its challenge. If you find the game to be too hard or just want to see how far or how many points you're capable of getting on a different difficulty setting, you can change the number of ghosts that will be in the game. If you choose, you can press Select on the Atari 2600 console to change the game to where there's just one, two, or three ghosts instead of four.

The only complaint I have with Ms. Pac-Man is that there are not any cinemas included, but that doesn't take away any of the fun. It also would've been nice to throw in a two-player game. Ms. Pac-Man is a one-player game.

All in all, Ms. Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 just goes to prove that a game adapted from a popular arcade game doesn't have to be a perfect version of the arcade hit to be just as much fun. If you like Ms. Pac-Man and you have an Atari 2600, I recommend getting this game no matter what the price is!

GRAPHICS - The graphics in Ms. Pac-Man are actually pretty good. The ghosts and Ms. Pac-Man look impressive, and so do the mazes. I really thought the fruit in the game looked the best out of any of the graphics. The fruit almost looks exactly like they do in the arcade original. Even though the dots are squares, and even though Ms. Pac-Man and the ghosts don't look just like they do in the arcade machines of the same game, for an Atari 2600 game, Ms. Pac-Man has good graphics. Unlike the inferior game that was named 'Pac-Man' for the Atari 2600, there is hardly any flicker involved with the ghosts.

SOUND - Like I mentioned before, the sounds in this game are changed a lot from the arcade game. Beeps replace some of the audio, and some is even left out, such as the constant background sound. However, I've always liked those beep sounds and the rest of the sounds in Ms. Pac-Man. When you start a new game, you'll hear some nice music.

CONTROL - The control in this game is responsive and easy to master. All you have to do is move the joystick in the direction you want to move, which is a cinch.

REPLAY VALUE - Ms. Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 has always been one of my favorites for the system. I don't think there is a way to beat the game, but that doesn't knock off any points. Even after over 15 years of owning this game and playing it over and over again, I haven't got tired of playing it yet, and I never will!

OVERALL - Most people who know about the Atari 2600's history, know that Pac-Man was a horrible game for the system; at least to most people it was. Unlike Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man is a great rendition of the arcade game, and it's a lot of fun. The mazes aren't exactly like the ones in the arcade game, but that's not a bad thing for once.

This might sound crazy, but in ways, I prefer this game's mazes to the ones that are in the arcade game. The main reason I thought the new mazes in Ms. Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 wasn't such a bad idea is because they have more portals, and in ways it is just more fun with them.

Rating: 9

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