The Game: As a round white creature consisting of a mouth and nothing else, you maneuver around a relatively simple maze, gobbling small dots and evading four colorful monsters who can eat you on contact. In four corners of the screen, large flashing dots enable you to turn the tables and eat the monsters for a brief period for an escalating score. Periodically, assorted items appear near the center of the maze, and you can consume these for additional points as well. The monsters, once eaten, return to their home base in ghost form and return to chase you anew. If cleared of dots, the maze refills and the game starts again, but just a little bit faster… (Atarisoft, 1983)
Memories: Atari came by the code for its Apple II version of Pac-Man by the same means used by pirates of the high seas: they vanquished their foes and took their booty. In this case, the vanquished foe was small software house H.A.L. Labs, the vanquishing was a legal injunction in a copyright infringement case, and the booty was H.A.L.’s nearly-identical copy of the Pac-Man arcade game, with characters changed and renamed to make it Taxman. Very little programming was required on Atari’s part to turn Taxman into Pac-Man: the monsters needed to be changed, the bonus prizes were transformed back into fruit (though in this case, not necessarily the same fruit as the arcade game; the first stage is the cherry stage, and the second stage became the pineapple stage), and the title screen was replaced. The most useful addition to the game was the option to control Pac-Man with a joystick, instead of Taxman‘s wildly counterintuitive keyboard controls, although the ability to use those same keyboard controls was retained as an option.
In terms of programmer man-hours, this may have been one of Atari’s cheapest games ever; in terms of legal fees, it probably wasn’t.
Other than that, it plays exactly as Taxman.