In attempting to justify this opinion, Chag notes as follows:
I remember the hype that led up to its release. I had saved up my allowance, birthday money, and money earned from odd jobs. Finally, I went to Record Town in the mall one Saturday morning and looked at the locked display of video games behind the counter.Such criticism just in time for the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man? Perhaps it's just a publicity stunt, calling one of the most popular video games of all time the worst of the medium. Perhaps the temporary deprivation of such a game at such a young age forever scarred dear Chag, but one thing is for certain: Chag must never have owned or played the E.T. The Extra Terrestrial game cartridge, for if Chag had, his conclusion would be far, far different.
Pac-Man was nowhere to be found. It was sold out.
I should have taken it as a sign.
The next week, I tried again. It was there! I talked my Mom into going home immediately so I could play it.
When I popped it into the Atari 2600 and started playing it, I couldn't believe my eyes.
It looked nothing like the arcade version.
The screen was the wrong color. The ghosts flickered.
It looked like a five-year-old kid had created it.
I was devastated.
Like all children of the 1980s, I had a fondness for E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, the blockbuster film directed by Steven Spielberg. Like most kids with an Atari 2600, I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to do when playing the home video game based upon that film. Worst game ever.
It was unplayable, unfun, uninteresting, and unworthy of its own existence.
Behold the manual:
There's a great summary and analysis of the game here from Giant Bomb (which goes so far as to note that game's "unintuitive game play," "poor graphics," and "bad sound effects.").
Wikipedia has an extensive entry dedicated to the game, including a four paragraph section entitled "Critical Response," which details the game's many, many flaws. It quotes sources which indicate that the game is almost universally considered to me the worst video game of all time.
I remember receiving this game from my parents sometime in the early 1980s. I quickly tired of it; it was impossible to understand, difficult to play, and completely and totally unfun.
This experience with the game appears to be universal.
What to say to that, Chag?
(Some images courtesy of Vintage Computing).