Namco TV Games Joysticks
Reviews of two "Plug N Play" joysticks
featuring Namco games
browsing through a second hand shop I came across a used TV Games
Pac-Man Joystick. That is to my knowledge the most "official" name for
the device, but I've also seen it called "TV Games Namco", which is
what the front of the unit says. Having been hankering a TV playable
version of Pac-Man for a while and having considered other
versions of this device at full price, five dollars for Pac-Man and the other
games it comes with seemed too good a deal.
The stick looks okay, but is very toy like and not especially attractive. The joystick and button
feel solid and are well built, but aren't exact replicas of the
controls found on an actual arcade cabinet.
The graphics were corrupted and jumpy
I thought my joystick was broken, or had been submerged in
water by its previous owner, but it turns out I needed to change
the batteries. Most
devices just shut off when the batteries are too drained, but this one
just struggles on with glitchy graphics and jumpy gameplay
YOU'VE FOUND THE SECRET MESSAGE!
The system has grips on the bottom for playing on smooth surfaces, and
the AV cable should have been at least a foot longer.
The games on this stick, Pac-Man, Bosconian, Rally-X, and Dig Dug, are
not direct emulations of the original arcade versions and have
different sound effects and enemy behaviors, but for some reason they
didn't bother to add a pause feature, even though they went through the
trouble of reprogramming the games. The sound quality is not the best,
and in Dig-Dug, the notes of the soundtrack melody blend into one long,
The worst part is that even thought
the games have an on-screen high score feature, they don't actually
save your high scores! Turn the system off, and your high scores are
lost forever. If I had paid full price for this and found that it
dosen't save high scores, I would have been outraged.
Pac-Man Arcade Joystick
though I was somewhat dissatisfied with the Pac-Man Joystick, for 5 dollars from
a thrift store it was a decent buy. The next day however, I saw
the new Pac-Man Arcade Joystick at Target, and after calling the
company on my cell phone to ask if this version saves your high scores (it does thankfully), I purchased the system.
This one comes with 12 games, Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Super Pac-Man, Pac
& Pal, Bosconian, Dig-Dug, Pole Position, Xevious, New Rally-X,
Galaga, Galaxian, and Mappy.
Since Pac-Man is the star of the show here, it's a shame they didn't
include Ms. Pac-Man, Ju. Pac-Man, Pac-Land, and Pac-Mania, I would have
gladly paid double the twenty dollar asking price if those games were included, and I think
it would have actually made this a complete collection of every Pac-Man arcade game ever released
barring the rare and impossible to emulate Baby Pac-Man
The games look, sound and play much better than the versions on the old
Pac-Man Joystick, and I can even use my arcade patterns in Pac-Man,
which didn't work on the old stick at all. You can also pause the games
at any time in the Pac-Man Arcade Joystick. I've seen video reviews of
various Plug N Play joysticks on YouTube, but it seems that each
joystick includes uniquely programmed versions of each game with
different sound effects and AI behavior. It's really strange to me why
they would bother reprogramming the games so many times, though I'm
confident that the games featured in the Pac-Man Arcade joystick are
the most faithful to the original cabinets.
The unit itself is handsome and of solid construction, the joystick and
buttons are exactly like the controls of a real arcade cabinet, and the
pause/menu button is a coin return button the glows when the unit is
While the packaging for the Arcade Joystick is attractive and well
designed, it's seriously overdone on the inside. The joystick is
strapped for dear life into the cardboard backing and it took too long
to free the thing from the box.
Look at this:
They designed numerous eye-holes in the base of the system for the sole
purpose of twist-tieing the unit to the packaging. Seems like overkill
to me, but why would they design the system with eye-holes for twist
ties that the owner will never use again, but not add grips to
the base so that it can be comfortably played on a smooth surface? The original
Pac-Man Joystick had grips on its base, so why not the new and improved
version? I actually had to buy my own grips from the hardware store and
stick them on myself.
The setbacks don't end with the grips. The AV cable is 30 inches
shorter than the one on the old Pac-Man Joystick, and this time you
have to sit through nearly 30 seconds of copyright and title screens
before the main menu loads. The old system only had a quick three
second copyright notice before you could pick your game.
Overall however, the Pac-Man Arcade Joystick is a huge improvement over
the old Pac-Man Joystick, the selection of games are better, the games
play and sound nearly identical to the arcade originals, and the
joystick itself is better designed, even with the short cord and lack
of included grips.
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