Arcade games were never literally converted to consoles in the eighties- there were always slight gameplay differences in even the best ones- but with Pac-Man Collection by Opcode Games however, we have that literal translation previously thought impossible. In fact, we have three: Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man and Pac-Man Plus contained in one very special limited edition release. The Colecovision has many games that range from good to very good. Pac-Man Collection however is beyond very good: it’s a miracle.
To get three arcade games on one cartridge, Opcode had to come up with their own bankswitching method called the “MegaCart”, allowing 128K rather than the standard 32K maximum. They then set to work on converting the games pixel by pixel and frame by frame. Obviously the colours and sounds aren’t exactly the same as the arcade versions but Opcode do a very good job of mimicking them. There is some sprite flicker at times, but I don’t mind that because it gives the feeling of the console being taken to the absolute limit. In gameplay though, all three are absolutely identical to the arcades. The patterns of the ghosts, the stages, even the bugs are the same. Not only that, but Opcode included the arcade dip switches too so you can choose the difficulty level and when the bonus life occurs. Once you’ve done that, press the # key on your Controller to put a virtual 10p credit in, and away you go!
I can’t stress enough how much I love this compilation. It’s so much more enjoyable than playing Pac-Man on MAME, and the Coleco controllers work really well with them too. The packaging on the original release is beautiful with a great colour booklet and high-quality cartridge label. Sadly it’s now out of print, and with Opcode’s focus shifting to Super Game Module releases, it’s unlikely to come out in its original form any time soon. Luckily, the ROM file has been made available for free, and with Steven Tucker’s USB flash multicart, you can play it on the console itself. Whatever way you choose, just make sure you play it because when you consider the difficulty of making these conversions to such limited hardware, Pac-Man Collection surely adds up to the greatest programming feat on a unexpanded Colecovision ever. Opcode Games’ motto is to “bring new life to your Colecovision”. With Pac-Man Collection, they brought new life to it all right… and then some.
One of the best Colecovision releases in history, and reason enough to justify buying a flash cart to play it.