The Game: As a small blue spherical creature whose sole sensory organs consist of two eyes, two antennae and an enormous mouth, you are on a mission to eat twelve dots which are floating around a small maze. Pursuing you are three multicolored jellyfish-like horrors who will gobble you up on contact. (North American Philips, 1981)
Memories: K.C. Munchkin!, for its similarities to Pac-Man, actually got Magnavox sued…by Atari! Huh? Follow me: Bally/Midway were, at the time, the U.S. copyright holders of the concept and code for the arcade Pac-Man…should they not have filed that suit rather than Atari, which was still fuming over the richly-deserved flood of negative reviews for its horrible Atari 2600 Pac-Man adaptation?
Oh well. The short version of the story is that Magnavox lost. K.C. Munchkin! was far too similar to Pac-Man, and it’s pretty obvious just by looking. It is a great game, though! Personally, I think K.C. bears less resemblance to its inspiration than does UFO!, but that’s academic.
Honestly, Atari’s dismal failure to derive a playable version of Pac-Man for its own game engine likely had more to do with the lawsuit than any similarities – the underdogs in the home video game market kicked Atari’s butt in a big way. K.C. offers a variety of different mazes, plus mazes that become invisible (and damn near un-negotiable!) the moment you make a move. Add to that user-programmable mazes and superior play to Atari’s Pac-dud, and this game may well have sold more Odyssey machines than anything else. And despite the legal hassles, there was a nifty sequel.