Original System: Atari 400/800

A game that needs no introduction.  Getting the rights to Pac-Man was a huge score for Atari and they were determined to port it to all their home systems as quickly as possible.  The Atari 400/800 version came first and was done by Joe Helleson of Roklan software (Roklan ported many games for Atari).  While this version of miles better than the abysmal Atari 2600 port, it still had some issues.  When Atari tapped its internal programming team to port Pac-Man to the 5200, they managed to speed up the gameplay and included all the missing intermission scenes.  These scenes were left out of the original 400/800 port due to lack of cartridge space.

The differences between the two versions are fairly numerous:

The Atari 400/800 version starts with a simple title screen showing the Pac-Man logo Atari copyright while the 5200 version goes straight to the options screen.  The 5200 has its own splash screen so it doesn't need to show this.

The options screen on the Atari 400/800 version doesn't show 00 for the default high score and the text is a darker shade of white

The options screen on the Atari 400/800 version has 'Press Select' instead of 'Press 1-2 Player' and 'Press Option' instead of 'Press Game Level' to change the options.  There are no '1-2 Player' or 'Game Level' buttons on the 5200 controller however and these options are changed with the * and # keys. 
The 5200 version adds an easter egg on the title screen that's accessed by spelling out Pac-Man on the keypad (0722626).  Doing so will change the "Press Start to play game" text to "By James Andreasen".  James Andreasen was the programmer who updated the 5200 port.
The Atari 5200 version has all the intermissions while the 400/800 version has none.  There is new music added for the intermissions.
In the 5200 version Pac-Man starts each level with his mouth open while it's closed in the 400/800 version
In the 5200 version there's a sound for scoring an extra life at 10,000 points
The 5200 version plays faster than the 400/800 version making the speed much closer to the arcade version

The Atari 400/800 version had several bugs, but the 5200 version introduced a few new ones of its own!  One of these (the key bug) was fixed in a later revision of the game.

The Atari 5200 version introduced a curious bug.  On the first level (cherry) if Pac-Man goes right then up and enters the tunnel one of the dots on the left side of the screen will be mysteriously eaten.  This doesn't happen in the original 400/800 version.
On levels where the Ghost Monsters are supposed to flash only once and not actually turn blue (such as the 5th key) there's a bug introduced in the 5200 version where they will actually turn blue and not turn back until eaten.  If the player can avoid them they can complete the level unmolested.  This doesn't happen in the 400/800 version and was fixed in later 5200 cartridge runs.


Atari 400/800

Atari 5200





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