Pac-Man is Released as an Arcade Port for the Atari 2600

Pac-Man is a port of the Namco developed arcade game of the same name.

The port was developed and published by Atari Inc. (Atari) for the Atari 2600. Like the original arcade version, the object is to traverse a maze while avoiding ghosts. The player controls the titular character with a joystick and must collect all the wafers in maze to win.

The game was programmed by Todd Frye, who was given a limited time frame by Atari to complete the project. The technical differences between the Atari 2600 console the original's arcade hardware—particularly the amount of available memory—presented several challenges to Frye. Given the popularity of the property, Atari produced 12 million units, anticipating that sales would reach at least US$500 million.

While the port sold 7 million copies and is the best-selling Atari 2600 title, it was critically panned. Critics focused on the gameplay and audio-visual difference from the arcade version. Initially, the port boosted the video game industry's presence in retail, but has since been cited as a contributing factor to the North American video game crash of 1983. It was followed by Atari 2600 ports of Pac-Man's arcade sequels.

Worst. Port. Ever.

When I was growing up in Montreal in the early 1980s, getting Atari games was something of a challenge--they simply weren't as readily available as in the United States, and the ones that did make it up here usually arrived at a later date. But I wanted--no, I needed to have the highly anticipated home version of Pac-Man, the hottest arcade game of its era. So on the Saturday after it came out, my family got into the car and drove 2 hours across the border to Vermont.

One of two games that not only helped to kill a company, but crashed an industry. Pac-Man, after a ton of hype, released to home consoles and epitomized the term "disappointing". ”

— Dr. Swank