|Ava-Robin Cohen & Tom Calderwood (GCC)
1984, but not released until 1987.
Following the success of Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Super
Pac-Man, Bally-Midway decided that they would release yet
another Pac-Man game. The problem was how did they keep
the Pac-Man concept fresh while still staying close to the
gameplay of the original? The answer? Jr.
Pac-Man! Although it might not be immediately obvious, Jr.
Pac-Man is supposed to be the son of Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man and is
not the same character as Pac Baby from the cartoon series (Baby
Pac-Man was a whole separate game).
Jr. Pac-Man features the same old Pac-Man formula (much dots,
avoid ghosts, eat power pellet, eat ghosts), but with a new twist.
The mazes of Jr. Pac-Man are bigger than the screen (much
bigger), so the whole maze scrolls as you move around. Not
only were the maze sizes increased, but the moving prizes (which
were introduced in Ms. Pac-Man) now have the ability to destroy
your power pellets! The prizes also increase the size of the
dots they touch making you move slower as you eat them. Also
improved for Jr. Pac-Man were the ghost's AI's, now avoiding them
is harder than ever.
While all these changes were well and good for the
arcade, how did they translate onto the 2600? Really
well! Jr. Pac-Man is one of the most impressive 2600 games
to grace the 2600. Not only was all the gameplay from the
arcade game left intact, but the game speed and graphics are
outstanding! Only a tiny bit of flicker in the ghosts keeps
this version from being nearly arcade perfect. The
programmers over at GCC obviously knew their stuff, and it shows!
However as good as Jr. Pac-Man was, it almost didn't get
released! Since Jr. Pac-Man was completed in 1984, it was a
victim of the market crash. Thankfully Atari decided to
release it when they revived the 2600 in 1986, so the world
finally got to see this little gem.
Jr. Pac-Man is quite simply one of the most
impressive games in the 2600's library. Fast action and
awesome gameplay make it a winner. The only complaint people
seem to have about it is that the game is tough, much tougher than
Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man even at the lower levels. This has to
do with the improved Ghost Monster AI and the fact that the maze
scrolls so you can never see the entire maze on the screen at
once. Thankfully like most later 2600 games, Jr. Pac-Man has
Teddy Bear modes which allows players a chance to practice with
only one, two, or three Ghost Monsters instead of all four.
These extra modes can make a frustrating game a much more pleasant
to 2600 Software