Mar 16, 2022

Pac Man Fever Comes Home

Pac Man
Atari 2600 (1982)
One of the biggest home video game releases of all time took place forty years ago today when Pac-Man went on sale for the Atari 2600 console.  The home port was programmed by Tod Frye, who was under both time and resource constraints to have a cartridge in stores in time for the first quarter of 1982.
Standard Speaker - March 17, 1982

The finished product was seen by most gamers as a disappointment and has been cited as one of the factors that led to the video game crash of 1983.  However, the massive success of Pac-Man at the arcade led to sales of over 8 million copies by the end of the decade, which makes it the highest selling Atari 2600 cartridge ever produced.  Although it doesn't even crack the top 50 these days, Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 was the best selling video game of all-time.

Christmas Eve 1984

Although the video game crash of 1983 was terrible for the industry, it could not have come at a better time for a kid that was born in 1980.  I was given an Atari 2600 console and a pile of games for Christmas in 1984.  Just a few years earlier, new games would have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 each, but they were being sold for as low as a dollar by the 1984 holiday season.

Pac Man on the 2600 may have been disappointing for gamers who expected something that resembled the arcade experience, but for a four year old little boy in West Hazleton back in 1984, it was the best Christmas present ever.  I played the heck out of Pac Man, and dozens of other games that my dad brought home.  Today, I can look back and see why older gamers were disappointed at the time - especially the ones who paid full price.  However, from a personal perspective, I don't think I ever powered on my Atari 2600 and felt anything but pure joy.