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The Week's Plays Pt. 1 - Retro

On 02/16/2024 at 12:17 PM by KnightDriver

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...'Cause my weekend is midweek. Well, I'm doing this routine where I collect rewards on Xbox, then play my retro adventure ('77-'83 this month), do any Game Pass quests and then play the highest rated game I have access to. So here goes:

Retro Adventure Console Gen 2 (February):

My list is evolving as I continue forward, removing games I don't like and adding new ones to try within the confines of my 12 month plan. This week I looked up some strategies for Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man and decided I really don't enjoy these games enough to keep playing them. However, I do like the Pac-Man CE series and Pac-Man 256. So I played Pac-Man CE on the Namco Museum Collection and Pac-Man CE 2 standalone. Pac-Man 256 is really cool too. I love randomizing the maze designs and upgrading special items. And what's with that slow, heavy beat version of the Pac-Man music at the beginning of every level? It's awesome! I want to know what style it's in. Is it dub step? I start dancing every time.

It's the music that plays just as you start a level for like 5 seconds. I think it's in this video but I'll have to check later as I have no sound at the moment.

Also, in playing Galaxian and Galaga in the Namco Museum Archives, I came across Gaplus, which is a similar game but IMO is much better. It's a 1984 game, which breaks the rule, but it was too good to resist, and so it's in the rotation right now. It's a lot like Galaga but instead of letting your fighter get captured, you acquire a new part of your ship by shooting the swarm leader that lets you draw in enemies to fight for you. You can collect as many as you can and shoot with four or more fighters at once! I love that. New fav game!

I rediscovered a few new modern takes on Atari games within Atari 50 like Neo Breakout and VCTR-SCTR. Neo Breakout has better controls than the OG Breakout ports and has a battle mode that's pretty neat. Each side pushes a wall between them by clearing blocks. VCTR-SCTR is like a combination of several Atari games in one. You play an upgraded version of Asteroids, then Lunar Lander, and then Solaris (I believe) in succession and then repeat. It's much more playable than any of the originals IMO. Check it out.

I also played some favorites like Dark Chambers (an easier Gauntlet predesessor) the 2600 and 7800 version, Time Pilot and Space Invaders Infinity Gene. Oh, and I played some Space Invaders and Pac-Man on the Retron 77. You know, Pac-Man on Atari isn't wholely terrible. The maze is a little weird though. You'd think they could've copied the maze exactly at least.

Looks like I'm going to have to do a two parter. Game Pass and new game plays go to a new blog tomorrow.




Cary Woodham

02/17/2024 at 08:15 AM

Pac-Man CE is one of the main reasons why I initially bought an Xbox 360.  It was only on there for the longest time.  It's still one of my favorite Pac games.

As a kid, my local Pizza Inn had a Gaplus machine, except the cabinet called it Galaga 3, which is essentially what it is, a sequel to Galaga and Galaxian.  I don't like it better than Galaga, though, because it's too darn hard!


02/17/2024 at 11:51 AM

What's the deal with the DX version of Pac-Man CE? How is it different? 

I just like capturing the aliens and fighting with a ton of bullets. It doesn't last long though as enemies cycle on and off screen and destroy your ships. 

Cary Woodham

02/19/2024 at 08:13 AM

The DX version of Pac-Man CE changes up the gameplay a bit.  In the original game, it plays most like Pac-Man.  In DX, you have to pass sleeping ghosts to make them wake up, and then they follow you.  You can get a huge chain of ghosts following you around, and when you get a power pellet, you can gobble up the chain for mondo points.  It's fun, but I like the original better.


02/23/2024 at 11:58 AM

I played the original Pac-Man CE within the Namco Museum and the DX one, I believe, within the Pac-Man Museum + this week. 


02/17/2024 at 09:31 AM

I'm not familiar with Gaplus but that sounds pretty cool.


02/17/2024 at 11:54 AM

It's quite a surprise after playing Galaxian and Galaga, where you're fixed to the bottom of the screen, to suddenly be able to roam. Weird to think that that was something new back then. 

Oh, it's on Namco Museum Archives vol. 2. 


02/21/2024 at 11:20 PM

Another Gaplus afficionado. I first saw Gaplus at the Air Force Exchange at Tempelhof in Berlin, it was branded as Galaga 3, and it was in 1990, so it was a long time after the game first came out. I later got it on Namco Museum Vol. 2 for PS1. I have the Arcade Archives version on Switch. Nowadays, it kind of depresses me to put my age in on the high score screen. 

The Exchange services on military bases always had arcades, and in a lot of cases they were arcade machines that were made for Japan and not intended for the US market. One of them, Chelnov, even had a big disclaimer saying "Warning: If you are playing this game outside of Japan, you are involved in a crime." That one was in England.

Since I was pretty young when the 2600 was a thing, I didn't know until years after the fact that there was a big stink about Pac-Man on 2600. We naturally assumed back then that the home version was never going to be as good as the arcade. Look at Space Invaders, which was pretty bastardized on the 2600. Or Donkey Kong, which was incredibly primitive. I did know that Atari lost money on Pac-Man despite it being the best-selling 2600 game of all time by virture of still having 2 million cartridges sitting on store shelves, most of which ended up being buried in New Mexico. 


02/23/2024 at 12:11 PM

That's interesting about the arcades on military bases. 

About Pac-Man 2600, just goes to show how stupid business people can get (and greedy). The game wasn't so bad, but to assume people were going to buy it like crazy and ignore its low quality is incredibly ignorant. I mean, they did buy a lot of them, but Atari really went overboard in making so many carts. It was an increcibly cynical decision, as if people are just rabid, mindless consumers with no brain. 


02/23/2024 at 12:31 PM

Atari's executives had hoped that between scoring exclusive home rights to the biggest arcade game in the world and a game licensed on what was the most successful movie in history at the time, that people would flood the stores trying to buy Atari 2600s. At that time, they were also trying to push the 5200 as a competitor for the ColecoVision, which launched with Donkey Kong, And in addition to giving Warshaw an impossible time frame to make a video game based on a movie that really didn't lend itself well to video games, they paid what was considered an exorbitant sum for the rights to E.T., $25 million. And given that this was in 1982 dollars, they basically Shemued themselves.


02/23/2024 at 12:49 PM

I used to think these CEOs and their business analysts were the smartest people in the room but now I know better. 

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