Super Pac-Man

Atari 5200

Review by Dave Giarrusso



Graphics: 9

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

If this game had gone into production back in the eighties, you'd be finding it by the BARREL in thrift stores and flea markets today. You'd see TWO Super Pac carts for every Pac-Man or Super Breakout cart. It's that good.

A lot of prototype games were shelved because they still had issues to work out before going into production (Sinistar 2600), or they simply weren't working at all in their current form (Tempest 2600). Very few protos (relatively speaking of course) were actually finished AND excellent, but still wound up on the shelf.

5200 Super Pac-Man is one of the few. The proud. The amazingly perfect 5200 prototypes.

Like a lot of gamers, I've known about the 5200 Super Pac cart for a long time. Back in the old Atari XL/XE "computer" days, my friend (maybe you guys and girls had similar friends) knew another guy who wound up with the 5200 Super Pac on a floppy disk. Which meant, naturally, that my friend likewise wound up with a disk containing 5200 Super Pac-Man. The opening screen said something to the effect of "another buried cartridge due to the mismanagement of Atari.” That game was probably the single most played game at my friend's house for the entire time he had that (alleged) computer. Betcha can’t guess why.

In addition to being my all-time favorite Pac-Man title, fellow gamers, 5200 Super Pac-Man is damn near perfect. Super Pac-Man on the 5200 contains EVERYTHING that made the coin-op so much fun. Fruit targets? Yup. "Correct," maze with, as Gauntlet might instruct, “…keys to open doors” ? Yup, yup. Fantastic music and graphics and control AND intermissions AND bonus rounds? Mm-hmm. In fact, the only negative comment I can make about Super System Super Pac is that it looks just somewhat jaundiced. Play through to the fried egg level (where it’s most obvious) and you’ll see what I mean.

So why wasn't this fantastic game released? I always think back to that opening screen on my friend's XE: it was simply "buried due to the mismanagement of Atari." Damn.

We couldn't have asked for a better arcade to home translation of Super Pac-Man. Unfortunately, we never got to buy it. On the plus side, it's still out there for us to enjoy. Hunt it down and marvel at its greatness. Super Pac on the Super System is, indeed, Super. With a capital S.

NOTE: subtract two points from the overall rating and replace “Super” with “Jr.” to get a review of the 5200 Jr. Pac-Man prototype cart. Literally. Well, you’d also have to mentally replace the part about the keys and fruit targets, etc, with power pellet assasin targets and scrolling mazes, but you get the idea. Jr. Pac is right up there too.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:33 PM