The Atari 2600 port of the arcade classic Pac-Man was a tragedy. It was also an act of hubris that may have ushered in the Great Video Game Crash of the early 80s. But the port of its sequel title, Ms. Pac-Man, was a triumph. Ms. Pac-Man 2600 is a great improvement over and maybe even a redemption for Pac-Man 2600. Here’s how the 2600’s Ms. Pac-Man is better than it’s 2600 predecessor:
Colored Ghosts – each ghost is its own individual color (in Pac-Man 2600, all four ghosts are yellow)
Multiple Mazes – the maze does not stay the same as it does in Pac-Man 2600. It changes; there are four mazes, just are there are in the arcade. The mazes are also bigger, or at least better, than the Pac-Man 2600 maze and have horizontal tunnels. (To be fair, the maze in the arcade version of Pac-Man does not change either, but the Pac-Man2600 maze is so squat and ugly that it gets real old real quick).
Ms. Pac-Man – Ms. Pac-Man 2600 looks much better than Pac-Man 2600 (she is rounder with a more pie-shaped mouth). She also rotates in relation to the direction she is traveling, turning up when she moves up, down when she moves down, etc. In Pac-Man 2600, Pac-Man turned right and left but not up or down, so that when he was moving up and down he was not so much eating the pellets as absorbing them through his head. This also gave him the appearance of floating rather than of running through a maze and ruined the feel of the game. Beyond that, she moves fast, much like she did in the arcade versions where the speed dip switch was turned on.
Music and Sound – fairly close to the original, especially the opening theme, and much better thant he “bonk bonk bonk” of Pac-Man 2600
Title Screen – there is an animated title screen of the four ghosts encircling Ms. Pac-Man; this screen is similar to the title screen of the arcade version and has a very good rendition of the Ms. Pac-Man title. It shows at the end of the game rather than the beginning, but it is still good.
Moving Fruit – there are several kinds of bonus fruits and they move through the maze. Pac-Man 2600 just had a Bonker-like square that appeared under the ghost base
So while Ms. Pac-Man 2600 is not as good as the original arcade version (what 2600 port was?), it was miles better than Pac-Man 2600. And while that doesn’t really say much, it does say something.