Pac-Man (NES)

Game Review

Pac-Man Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Pac is back!

When Pac-Man hit arcades in 1981, it was a phenomenal success. Spawning clothing, cereals and even a hit song, the game took the world by storm. It saw a rash of home console and personal computer releases during the 80s — some better than others — but it wasn't until the NES release in 1985 that the game finally saw a replica close to the arcade version. It wasn't perfect, but it was certainly closer than some of the half-hearted attempts seen before. Now the game is getting yet another shot at glory on Wii U Virtual Console and a whole new generation now have the chance to experience the phenomenon that captured arcade gamer's hearts three decades ago.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a simpler set up than the one found in Pac-Man. You basically spend your time guiding Pac-Man around the maze, gobbling up dots and avoiding the four pesky ghosts that are bent on catching you. Of course, to help even the odds, there are four power pellets around the maze that, when eaten, turn the spirits blue and temporarily give you the opportunity to chomp on them. It's balancing evasion and knowing when to snatch up a power pellet that determines your success in completing each maze.

The NES version features a very accurate representation of the arcade game, both visually and in terms of gameplay. Even the AI of the ghosts seems to be one of the closest of any home console version when compared to the arcade counterpart. Moving Pac-Man around requires nothing more than four directions on the D-Pad or analogue stick, with absolutely no action buttons required throughout the experience.

Home releases of Pac-Man have varied quite measurably from a visual standpoint over the years. Thankfully, on NES Namco managed to create a near arcade perfect replica of its stand-out arcade hit and it's definitely one of the better releases graphically. Dots look like dots this time around and even the ghosts and mazes themselves show a lot of accurate similarities to the arcade version.

Much like the visuals, the audio package in the game is fairly accurate. There are a few misses when it comes to sound effects, but overall the developers managed a fairly spot on representation that mimics the original arcade release very closely. It's a shame more home releases didn't do a better job, but it's difficult to fault this rendition as it does what most home releases could not from an audio standpoint.


The simplicity of the concept, coupled with the insane amount of playability, makes Pac-Man one of the all-time greats. You'd think roaming a maze eating up dots would be a redundant affair, but the layout of the maze and the AI of the ghosts does a fantastic job of mixing things up and keeping the gameplay fresh and challenging. The NES version is one of the closest to the original arcade titles you'll find and in reality, it was a long time coming given some of the lacklustre attempts and bringing the arcade original to a home console. If you feel like taking a trip down memory lane, this is a game you definitely should check out.

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User Comments (25)



Captain_Gonru said:

I found the Colecovision version to be pretty decent. As opposed to the Atari 2600 port, which was so bad, I assume someone lost a bet and had to release it as payment. This one is quite nice, though. I'm looking forward to Ms. Pac-Man somewhere down the road.



Midnight3DS said:

Bonk bonk ba-bonk ... Played it alot on the Atari.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is my favorite version. A few twists to the game, and Pac-Man is epic.



CrazyOtto said:

I don't need the VC version since I have Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions and Namco Museum.



HunteROB said:

I honestly don't know why they bother releasing inferior ports when the Wii Virtual Console has a section for arcade games. Though Nintendo never used it themselves.



Darth_Pascal said:

I don't understand why Namco and Nintendo don't release Pac-Man VS. It would be perfect with the gamepad as it is very similar to Mario Chase from Nintendo Land.



Tasuki said:

Man as old as this game is and as many times as I have played it I still enjoy it as much as I did the first time I played it all those years ago. When I get some extra cash I will have to pick this one up so I can play it on the gamepad.



LavaTwilight said:

This is one of those games that just withstands the test of time! In fact I think Corbie should explain why he dropped it from a 9/10, which is what I believe this game deserves, to his 7/10.



Pichuka97 said:

Nintendo really needs to work out their prices for games like this. I would not pay $5 for a ROM of this game with a few added features. This goes especially for 3DS and that doesn't even have Miiverse yet.



Sean_Aaron said:

Why would I want any port instead of the arcade original - which for some bizarre reason Namco never released even for the Japanese Wii VC where they have dozens of other arcade games?



masterLEON said:

I don't understand why companies like Namco wouldn't want to port an arcade perfect version of classics like Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man to today's consoles (like through an eShop which has the most ROI income). Aside from the bells and whistles of the remakes, there are people who want to play the originals as kind of a benchmark, y'know, just to see how the original one played (and IMO, they milked the multi-arcade Ms.Pac/Galaga/Pac-Man cabinets for too many years already). Namco kinda shunned the NA Wii VC after only a couple releases. Arcade titles I was waiting for included Solvalou (part of the Xevious series), Starblade, Cyber-Sled, and Ordyne. I'm still feeling bummed about that...



Ichiban said:

Man, you guys must really get sick of reviewing the same games over and over! Lol



RetrogamerFan said:

Atari/Atarisoft produced quite a few good home versions of Pacman accross several 8-bit platforms, unfortuantely, nearly everyone remembers the rushed and poor 2600 conversion.
I'd agree the NES is a good version, the only reason i didn't get it on Wii U was i already have NES and GB versions on 3DS.
As others have said, Namco should release Pacman (arcade) or Pacman Championship Edition on Wii U e-shop.



Windy said:

Omg nobody see's the releases of pacman and other games to every system known to man as wrong and just plain greedy. The megamans are one thing they didnt get a release on every single system except the atari jaguar <-------humor for today. But this is rediculous and sorry pacman has seen better days. Now i did play a sequel to pacman on the tg16 that was quite good. Whynot a sequel to that. Or a psycodelic explosion sequel the way square did space invaders. Now that would make Jeff Minter proud.




tovare said:

The controls are not perfect for this game. It really needs a real stick.



Sun said:

It is okay to release a primitive iconic video game for the 78th time but why 5€?



jgibson75 said:

I'd have a hard time at this point paying for a game like this when I've had the excellent Pac Man Championship Edition DX available to me. It took everything I love about Pac Man and tuned it up to perfection... adding much to the gameplay without taking anything important away. Sure, this NES version is retro cool... but I don't know that I could go back.



vmoterani said:

@tovare I was afraid I was the only one who tought that. The dpad just doesn't work as you would expect. Specially after playing Championship Edition DX.

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