Retro-Gaming with Coleco

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Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and Galaxian

Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man
Shouldn't they be married by now?



Pac-Man is probably the most universally known arcade game, spawning more related games than any other title, except perhaps for Donkey Kong.  Originally called "Puck-man" in Japan, the name was quickly changed to "Pac-Man" for one main reason: the tendency for American kids to change the first letter of words in print.  The name "Pac-Man" is actually derived from the Japanese slang term "paku-paku", which means "to eat" and, believe it or not, his shape is based on a pizza pie with a slice missing. Essentially a maze-game, Pac-Man runs around the screen eating dots while being chased by four ghosts: Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde.  The simple structure to the game lends to a good translation for the Coleco version.  The maze is made up of red lines alternating with yellow dots, and the lack of any other colors does eventually wear a little thin.  Also wearisome was the constant "wah-wah-wah" in place of Pac-Man's signature "waka-waka-waka".  It was loud and ultimately annoying, especially without a way to turn the sound down or off.  Still, for "pac-maniacs", this was the game to have in the early 80's. 




After winning an enhancement kit lawsuit against Atari, General Computing went to Bally Midway and tried to bluff their way into releasing their own Pac-Man offshoot called Crazy Otto.  Crazy Otto was a character similar to Pac-Man, but had a set of legs.  Bally Midway had other plans, however, and suggested General Computing work on a sequel, which started off as Mrs. Pac-Man, but eventually ended up as Ms. Pac-Man when female workers at Midway objected.  The same basic premise of Pac-Man was retained.  What they added was some new A.I. for the ghosts, a variety of mazes to run through, as well as new bonus items and cutscenes.  It was also one of the first games to attract a large female following, although the character was really nothing more than Pac-Man with eyelashes, lipstick, a bow and a dimple.  What had worked well with the home version of Pac-Man worked for Ms. Pac-Man too.  The only differences to be found were slight variations in the maze structure, the moving bonus fruit, and an upgrade on the character graphics.  For whatever reason, Ms. Pac-Man remains one of the rarest tabletop arcade units; it's extremely hard to find.

Where the BigWop got started?



Galaxian has a unique place in arcade game history as the first color arcade game.  Up until then, games were in black and white with strips placed on the screen to add some color.  It also had better sound than what had been common at the time, and used some game elements that have since become standard such as flags or symbols to mark level progression.  In a way it was an off-shoot of Space Invaders, except these aliens were much more mobile and it required adept control of the ship to outmaneuver and outgun the enemy.  All heady stuff for 1979.  The Coleco version was one of the best ports - it had plenty of color and sound, and the gameplay was just as frenetic.  They even added two new modes; Head to Head, where two players took on each other, and Midway's Attackers, a Space Invader clone.  With three games in one system, it was a kid's (and parent's) delight.

Tags:  Gaming, eco, Gamin, retro, AM

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