Jr. Pac-Man

Jr. Pac-Man
Company: Atari
Model #:
GCC (Mike Horowitz?)
Year: 1984
Based on the 1983 Bally Midway coin-op


First there was Pac-Man, and it was good.  The video game generation had finally found its mascot, and no one thought life could get any better.  Then there was Ms. Pac-Man, and players wondered how we got along with only one maze and stationary bonus items for so long.  Then came Super Pac-Man which sort of confused everyone.  Finally there was Jr. Pac-Man and gamers were in awe.


Jr. Pac-Man was the natural sequel to Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man (I hope she's Mrs. Pac-Man now), and as such expanded on the classic Pac-Man formula.  Jr. Pac-Man adds several new enhancements to keep the tired old Pac-Man formula interesting.  Unfortunately some of the new features made for a very VERY difficult game.  In fact most gamers consider Jr. Pac-Man to be the hardest  Pac-Man game of them all (Baby Pac-Man not withstanding).


The first and most obvious enhancement is the scrolling maze.  Now mazes can fill several screens which leads to new patterns and strategies.  However since there is no radar in Jr. Pac-Man, players need to remember which parts of the maze they've already cleared.  Thankfully the Atari 8-bit handles this scrolling beautifully with no jerky motions.  You'd think with a larger maze to hide in that the ghost monsters would have a harder time finding you, but you'll soon find out that this is not the case.


The next major enhancement was the addition of giant dots.  Giant dots are made from normal dots after they come in contact with the bonus prize.  While giant dots are worth more points than regular dots (50 vs 10), they slow Jr. down and make him more vulnerable to roaming ghost monsters.  For this reason it's best to stop the bonus prize before it makes too many giant dots or Jr. may find that he doesn't have the necessary speed to outrun a pursuing ghost.


The last enhancement is perhaps the most deadly.  Now roaming prizes destroy power pellets when they come in contact with them!  There's nothing like running towards a power pellet with a gang of ghost monsters in hot pursuit only to see it destroyed moments before you reach it.  It's best to grab prizes before they move too far or you may regret it later.  Of course the ghost monsters will constantly be hot on your tail so Jr. will have to figure out if it's worth putting himself in danger to save a power pellet or if it's best to just let it go.


Although conversions of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man for the Atari 8-bit were average, Jr. Pac-Man really shines.  It captures the brutal difficulty of the arcade game perfectly and looks very close to its arcade counterpart.  The only thing missing from this version are the intermissions between levels, which were probably cut due to lack of space.  Jr. Pac-Man was actually developed for all three of Atari's systems at the time (2600, 8-Bits, and 5200), but only the 2600 version made it out and even then it was delayed for three years due to the crash.  The 5200/8-Bit version was complete and ready to go, but it appears that Atari decided that the 5200 and 8-Bit markets weren't strong enough at the time to warrant a release.


Version Cart Text Description
7-10-84 Jr. Pac 7-10 Final version


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