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SCORES EXPLAINED:

5.0 Perfect
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4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom


Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: 3rd Best Overall
3rd Best Homebrew

Genre: Hybrid (Maze/ Pinball)

Awards: None
Hey Man! Where'z All Them Dots! You Know, The Funky Ones! Pros: Only Pinball Game for the 7800/ Crazily Happy Marriage of Two Genres
Cons: Punishing Difficulty/ Original Source Material's Graphics are Bland
Am I Crazy, or is Ms. Pac Man Totally Topless in Front of Her Kid?


Overview: I came back to resurrecting my old Atari 7800 website during the summer of 2020. In my time away, I somehow missed a homebrew release from Atari Age... Baby Pac-Man. But to be honest, the Atari
7800 Homebrew scene wore me out with Pac Man clones, hacks, graphic hacks, dumb hacks, hacks we never wanted and hacks no one needed. Hacks that live under bridges and hacks that killed Odyssey 2 games in alleys for blood sport. But this guy is a shade different. For starters, its a port of a Pac Man game that has NEVER been ported to a classic video game system... and that's because it would have been impossible to do, faithfully... for the most part. You see, the pedestrian sounding Baby Pac-Man is actually an insipid Pac Man game, mixed with a simple pinball game. What sounds like a desperate attempt to cash in on Pac Man Fever turns out to be an extremely challenging hybrid that finally gives the Atari 7800 a much needed pinball game in its library.

Graphics: Graphically speaking, the maze portion of this title looks exactly like the arcade version of Baby Pac Man, but unfortunately, its pretty bland looking for a Pac Man game. The pinball screen is a complete graphical conjuring, trying to replicate real like jumpers, bumpers, flippers, and hardware under 7800 limitations. Even included are respectable attempts at pinball art from the cab (including a naughty Ms. Pac Man sowing her Thelma and Louise oats).

Sound: The sound to the maze portion of this game is nearly identical to arcade version, and is the usual mix of chomping and swirling ambient noise associated with games such as these. Again, to me, the interesting facet of the audio is the pinball portion of the title, because these bleeps and blops are complete fabrications of imagination and experience. It's a curious set of sound effects to say the least. The bumper noises sound comically exaggerated (and wet). The opening noise of the ball shooting out onto the playfield is the same sound of a friend dying (Or the Evil Master dying) in Crossbow. There are other familiar clips and original odd sounds, but nothing overtly "pinball" about any of them.

Gameplay: In short, this is a seemingly basic version of Pac Man mixed with an underwhelming pinball game that unites to make something much more special than it should be. Bob Decrescenzo (Pac Man Plus) and others programmed this port, but Kurt Woloch gets a huge shout out here for coming up with the pinball code, something so arduous that it almost had Bob throwing in the towel. And because its a "Bob game" that took a lot of care to create, you knew there would be options galore: a two player alternating option, number of lives the player starts with (always pick 5), if the game remembers the earned energizer pills (always yes), computer ghost AI (either from Baby Pac Man or classic Pac Man), or the ability to play just the maze game or just the pinball game for practice. (The latter giving you the first pure pinball experience in the 7800 library).

The game starts with no energizer or power pills, so you are in trouble from the get go. The news gets worse, because the first maze is probably the hardest of the game's three mazes to clear. So, I normally start off eating a few dots and try my luck with the pinball portion of the game by going down the tubes located at the bottom of the maze. Unlike any pinball game I have ever played, the pinball shoots up automatically from the drain (the space between the flippers), and its awkward at best to get the thing under control. Thankfully, if you do not score any points and the ball rolls down the drain, you'll get another ball. The pinball portion is where you've got to do some work. The ability to earn tunnel speed upgrades and fruit upgrades exist here on the outer lanes, but the main event is trying to earn power pills and extra men by knocking down targets at the top or by hitting the captive ball to its other side. As with several 7800 games, the wide playfield makes this pretty tough. This is not an easy pinball game to say the least, but the joystick does well acting as your eager hips slamming into the machine. EASY WITH THAT, SON! You'll tilt us to Hell if you are not careful. When you lose a ball you will be returned to the maze, with the exits closed off. I hope you got some power pills sucker, because these ghosts with the soulless eyes don't goof around like their contemporaries.

Interpretation: There is no port of this game anywhere, and I have never played this rare arcade game, so I'm kinda guessing here, but by the looks of what my research turned up, this is another amazing rendering job by Bob Decrescenzo and company.

Value: The fact that you cannot play this game on a Commodore 64, Amiga, NES, Atari computer or whatever shoots the value of this game through the roof. It's also quite the challenge. When I have a long inning, achieve a high score or earn multiple power pills I wonder what the hell is going on... something must be wrong... You can choose between Arcade AI Ghosts or the Classic AI Ghosts, as well. The Classic AI setting is relentless and the ghosts act like they do in the original Pac-Man, but the Arcade AI is even tougher. Apparently, they can stop and turn around on a dime. To me it feels like you're asking me to pick between fist fighting Mike Tyson or Bruce Lee. I can't decide, but they are both gonna kill me. All I know is that I better watch my ears with one.

Overall: So now, Baby Pac Man exists in two realms: The arcade (good luck finding one that works) and the 7800. And, it is the very definition of "the sum is greater than its parts": a plain Jane Pac Man maze game + an underwhelming pinball attempt= the best maze game on the 7800 system, BY A MILE. And in this day of with nearly 30 Pac Man games on the system, that's saying something. Atari 7800 fans, pinball fans, maze game fans, Bob Decrescenzo fans... get your credit cards out, babies, and head on over to Atari Age and get your Baby Pac on. Diapers not included.

Other Reviews:
The Video Game Critic: A

Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Atari Age for allowing the use of his screenshots for this review.