Atari 5200 Review:

by Atari

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Super Pac-Man on the 5200 is a curiosity. The coin-op version did not hit the arcades until 1983 (although the offical release date is claimed to be 1982), and the 5200 was dead by the spring of 1984. In addition, there was never any mention of this game being ported to the SuperSystem in any trade publication or company press releases. Yet here we have a near-finished version of the underrated sequel to Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man.

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The first thing we noticed with Super Pac was the correctness in its screen aspect ratio. As opposed to Pac-Man -- and to a lesser extent, Ms. Pac-Man -- Atari chose not to stretch the screen horizontally in order to fill the television screen, and instead left a portion of the playfield blank to preserve the coin-op version's playfield dimensions. This is a definite improvement in our opinion and adds to the game's faithfulness.

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It's also clear that Super Pac-Man is a third generation 5200 effort. One look at the sharp visuals, vivid colors and crisp sounds will tell you that SuperSystem programmers had come a long way since the award-winning Pac-Man awed gameplayers upon the 5200's introduction in 1982. The sound samples seem to have been taken straight out of the arcade version, and all of the music, intermissions and bonus levels have been crammed into this cartridge. And if you're wondering if controls are still loose when played with the regular 5200 controllers, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Since Super Pac's movement is a tad slower than his predecessors and there are less twists and turns, control is wonderfully tight and is even better when used with a third party joystick (or better yet, a 2600-compatible controller via the Masterplay Interface.)

With Tempest, Jr. Pac-Man, Millipede, Xevious and Track & Field and Super Pac-Man all being outstanding games and essentially complete, we can't help but wonder if Atari could have turned around its fortunes in 1984 had they stuck with the SuperSystem. It's a shame that we never had the chance to vote with our dollars by purchasing these games had Atari brought them out.

Title Super Pac-Man
Publisher Atari
System Atari 5200 SuperSystem
Graphics 9
Sound 9
Gameplay 9
Overall 9
Reviewer Keita Iida

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