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When I was eight, my dad got me a handheld version of Pac-Man. This was amazing for a few reasons. First, it was 1981, and the world was still firmly in the grip of Pac-Man fever. The idea that I'd be able to play Pac-Man whenever I wanted was a pretty incredible idea--even if it wasn't exactly arcade perfect (more on that in a bit). Finally, my dad wasn't exactly a gamer. He's always kind of hated video games, but he knew that I was infatuated with them. So he got me PacMan2.
PacMan2 was manufactured by Entex Electronics and given a slightly misleading name. This was their first foray into handheld Pac-Man games, and as far as I can tell the "2" is in reference to the game's novel two-player mode. Here's a little snippet from the game's instruction manual to set the tone:
PacMan2 is a two color game of strategy, tactical pursuit and destruction pitting PacMan against the large evil Ghost. To make life more difficult for PacMan, the large Ghosts have also adopted the green color. The 89 stationary Bugs are red and the 4 Power Energizers are green.The object of PacMan2 is for PacMan to attain as high a score as possible by capturing and destroying Ghosts, Bugs and Energizers without being himself destroyed by the Ghosts. Many different tactical maneuvering variations are possible in this game where PacMan is maneuvered with the directional buttons on the ENTEX label control panel. In the 2-PLAYER mode the second player directs the Ghosts with the opposite control panel directional buttons. When playing the 1-PLAYER game, the computer automatically controls and maneuvers the number of selected Ghosts pursuing PacMan. The SCORE display and the GAME STATUS display provide a constant read-out of PacMan’s performance.
This is the back of the unit. It requires four C batteries. Maybe I'm using the term "handheld" a little liberally, because it will likely cause carpal tunnel syndrome if you try to hold it like a DS.
Here's a closer look at the instruction card. And my carpet. The MUTE function is definitely appreciated, since this thing sounds like a screechy mess.
All right. Here's the game. You may want to tilt your head to the left to get the full effect. Single player is a pretty faithful adaptation of the actual game. There are a couple of difficulty modes, and the ghosts put up a pretty decent chase. I've read up a bit on the game lately, and the general consensus seems to be that it has the biggest maze available outside of the arcades at the time. It's not 100 percent perfect, but it was definitely good enough for my eight-year-old self. I played this thing obsessively.
The two-player mode is probably the most interesting part, though. In this mode, there's only one ghost, who is controlled by a second player. The rules are the same, though, and Pac-Man...sorry, PacMan has a distinct advantage. My little brother was usually my victim of choice growing up. Let's just say PacMan was well fed when we played together.
Like I said, I played this game like a maniac for a few months after I got it. Then tragedy struck. One night, I dropped it off the top bunk of my bed. After that, the single-player mode stopped working altogether. I could still play the two-player game, but nobody in my house wanted to play it as much as I did. Lame. Eventually I sold it in a garage sale.
Flash forward a few decades. Guess what I got for my birthday this year from my dad? My parents have discovered eBay (old people), and this was one of their first finds. My dad still doesn't like video games, but he's still kind of an awesome guy. And even if my wife doesn't want to play with me, I can play the single-player mode again until my fingers fall off.
So there you have it. PacMan2. I'll dig around my house and show off some other weird stuff soon--there's a lot more where this came from.
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