Originally recorded and uploaded July 4th, 2014, in all it’s 240p glory!
Pac-Man will always be one of my favorites, but the crazy geniuses over at Jakks Pacific had to go one step further, and include an entire slew of historic Namco titles for their Pac-Man Retro Arcade Plug-and-Play! Which ones exactly? How about:
- New Rally X
- Pac-Man Plus
- Super Pac-Man
- Pac & Pal
- Dig Dug
- Pole Position
Totaling up, that’s 12 faithfully curated arcade titles by Namco, right in the palm of your hand! And yes, I said arcade titles. These aren’t mere low-quality ports, but rather full arcade releases of the original games built right into the controller.
The only difference I saw during play (aside from the billboards in Pole Position), is a slight vertical scroll that occurs in Dig Dug as you make your way towards the bottom of the screen. This can be jarring at first, but by no means a dealbreaker.
This could be due to the original Dig Dug being displayed on a vertical raster screen at 224 x 228, which more modern TVs wouldn’t be able to recreate on a single display.
How Does it Work?
One cool feature that I like about this plug and play is that it has a light-up LED button on the front that looks like a coin return slot on an arcade cabinet, which functions as a menu button that effectively pauses gameplay and allows you to select Continue or Quit to Menu.
With other plug and play consoles like the Atari Flashback 2, it’s necessary to Power off the unit before selecting a new game. However, on the Pac-Man Retro Arcade, you simply need to hit the menu button, return to Main Menu, and pick another game.
Even more innovative, the joystick features a rotary function that allows you to twist it to the left or right 90 degrees. This function seems to only be used in Pole Position, but feels natural and approachable in the face of a missing steering wheel/pedal peripheral, despite the cheap-feeling ball that tops the joystick shaft, which is composed of two separate plastic pieces molded together opposed to a single assembly as seen on my arcade joysticks.
As for the buttons, after experiencing firsthand the original arcade cabinets that helped make this unit a possibility, I’d have to say that the microswitches that power them are subpar. Where standard arcade buttons have a satisfying, low-level click when engaged, these buttons are outright clacky with an odd alignment relative to the joystick that may be jarring to arcade veterans.
Despite this, the buttons are responsive and have helped me get out of some pretty tight situations in Galaga and Bosconian. Just be prepared for them to make a lot of noise during play, which may piss off your parents, significant other, or overly sensitive roommate.
Power and Output
The unit is powered by 4 AA batteries held in place by a plastic cover tethered down by a single Philips screw. While this may seem a pain to would-be users, this plug-and-play requires little power and a four-pack of batteries lasted me well over 6 months and 20+ hours of gameplay.
To deliver the goods to your eye and ear holes, the plug-and-play features mono sound supplied by the white RCA audio jack and video through the yellow jack. Though the games look great on a standard definition display, one annoying aspect that I should warn would-be users against is that they should not play this on an HDTV.
After testing the Pac-Man Retro Arcade on various televisions, I discovered that the aspect ratio is stretched when plugged into an HDTV. This is not a problem that seems to affect the Atari Flashback 2, but is sorely apparent here, possibly due to a programming selection by the developers or my own HDTV’s settings.
Whatever the reason, for best results, use this plug-and-play on a CRT monitor.
But hey, at least it saves high scores, which puts the Pac-Man Retro Arcade miles ahead of some of the other cheap console knockoffs you’ll find out there.
At the time that I originally published this video, I only had the ability to record gameplay in 240p with my Elgato Video Capture, and haven’t tried it yet with my Elgato Game Capture HD.
If you’d like to own a relatively faithful rendition of some of Namco’s most amazing titles in a singular unit, you can pick one up from Amazon from this Offers page link, or click the image below to be directed to a Top Amazon seller.
Fair warning: the price on these are sure to go up, as Jakks Pacific has recently released the rights to Namco IPs in favor of Nintendo toy licenses, with Bandai taking over production after the Retro Arcade and prior their merger with Namco in 2006.
Thanks for watching, and Lumpz the Clown OUT!
Tech reviews are only conducted on products that I test personally, with volume and frequency determined by my personal budget. Consider buying an item from the official Lumpz Media Amazon Wish List to help speed up the process, and I’ll shout you out within the review!
Did you know that I’ve also tested the Super Pac-Man and Intellivision 25 Plug-and-Plays? Check out the video here!
Are you looking to capture retro arcade gameplay at a little higher quality than 240p? See how well the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B emulates 64th Street: Detective’s Story at a staggering 1080p!