Monday, January 16, 2006

Tomy's Handheld Pac Man: A Forgotten Gem

The 1980's spawned dozens of versions of the iconic arcade classic Pac Man: From mini-arcade tabetop, to home video game system, to electronic game watch. Some versions were way more popular than others, but each had it's own distinct charm. For example: While Coleco made the definitive tabletop/electronic iteration, there were quite a few handheld competitors that were pretty fun too. And, if you were one of the kids who had the "friend" who had the Coleco, you most certainly got attached to another version, usually out of jealousy.

In 1981, Tomy released a version of the classic maze game called "TomyTronic Pac Man." This version was distinctive for several reasons: First of all, it had a striking, bright yellow circular casing that screamed Pac Man. The game screen itself was rather small compared to the size of the unit, but it was fairly bright and colorful. Lastly--and oddly--Pac Man could only actually EAT the dots (or "bait" as the manual called them) when he was moving from right to left in the maze. However, once you got past this little problem, it became second nature, and the game became as addictive as any version ever made.



I personally remember this game because one of my cousins had it, and every time I visited my aunt's house, I was invariably glued to this little device for at least an hour or so out of every visit. True, I had my own share of handheld electronic games at home, but, as the saying goes--the 'grass is always greener,' and 'absence makes the heart grow fonder.' Honestly, we all fell into that way of thinking when we were kids playing with other people's toys--NUMEROUS TIMES--even if you ended up eventually getting the toy they had. Strange how that works, right?

As the decade went on, games got a little smaller and more refined. In addition, 'second-tier' games like these usually fell by the wayside in favor of other, bigger-name versions. But, as Pac Man games go, Tomy had a little gem on their hands with this one, and I have a feeling I'm not the only one who has fond memories of it.

    - You can see this game at The Handheld Museum (which happens to be a fantastic site). They even have the instruction manual! 

    - The original, Japanese version of this game was called "Puck-Man." You can find a great Japanese commercial for it on YouTube. 


    8 comments:

    Puertorock said...

    I remember that little device and my next-door neighbor had it and I wanted it so bad. I played while he playing whatever at his place, but whatever, I would love to purchase my own copy of it, becuase it really had my attention, just like the little mini arcade versions of the game.

    Nancy said...

    I have my Tomytronic Pac Man and it doesn't work. (with fresh batteries!) Where can I have it repaired? Thanks, Nancy

    Andrew said...

    I had this...one major design flaw (to my parents' point of view anyhow) was that it didn't have a "mute" switch. It was better than the Atari Pac-Man... :)

    John said...

    FLAW??? wash your mouth out.

    I will have pacman switched on and off repetitivly for hours as my wedding 1st dance song.

    Man this was my first own video game back in the day. I still have it, and ive played it for close to 30 years now, still works.

    truckdriver18wheeler said...

    LOL I still have one and I still play it.

    jenny said...

    I had this as a kid and am trying to find it again. Loved this game. and I would have to hide under the covers to play it after bedtime. Fond memories.

    Tomás R.G. said...

    Hi Jenny, you can found it here

    http://shop.gamewatch.com.es/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=68&products_id=265

    Best regards

    lisa said...

    Same here Jenny. I had it as a kid and want it again. I had the hardest time trying to descriibe it to my husband.I was beginning to think I was the only one who remembered that thing..loved it!