51 Shades of Geek

K.C. Munchkin

K.C. MunchkinThe 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. (AtariAge.com, 2015)

Memories: The Atari 7800 was the Rip Van Winkle of the classic console world. Put into deep freeze by the incoming Tramiel administration, the 7800 was awoken by that same management regime when the whole “Atari does computers now, not video games” strategy didn’t work out; when the 7800 – developed and market tested in 1984 – was revived, it was thrust into a late-‘80s world where it had the more powerful Nintendo Entertainment System for competition.

K.C. MunchkinIn that time, Namco had reclaimed the Pac-Man home video game license, and Atari no longer had the rights to produce the game for its own systems, such as the 7800. They could have done this instead: much like the underdog Odyssey² (which Atari itself eventually chased off the market), make a “near beer” version of Pac-Man that introduces a few new twists. K.C. Munchkin was one of the highlights of the Odyssey² library, and it’s now a gem of the 7800 library as well, updating the character graphics while retaining the look, feel and features of the Odyssey² version.

The mazes – and the option to make the maze walls invisible – are all recreated perfectly, and even the maze editing feature is faithfully duplicated. There’s something satisfyingly vindicating – and tragically overdue – about Atari console owners ooh-ing and aah-ing over a port of an Odyssey² game, but for that port 5 quartersto be so remarkably true to the original is simply astounding. Odyssey² fans can rejoice…and they can unashamedly step up to try out this great new take on an old favorite. Now when do 7800 owners get K.C.’s Krazy Chase?

About Earl Green

I'm the webmaster and creator of theLogBook.com and its video game museum "sub-site", Phosphor Dot Fossils.
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