While walking around my local Goodwill a while back, I stumbled across one of those video game devices that you plug directly into your television. This one, though, was shaped like Pac-Man, had a joystick on the side and two buttons on the bottom (labeled 'A' and 'B'). I'd show you a picture, but I neglected to take one due to... me... forgetting. Just use your imagination here. Or do an image search in your favorite search engine.
I plugged the thing in to my television and turned it on. The batteries that were in it from the store worked! Kind of. The power light started to fade almost immediately and I had to track down some AA batteries to get my Classic Game on. Going my my experience with the Jakks Pacific TV Namco TV Game, I didn't expect much. It turns out that I should have expected a lot more than that.
You turn the thing on and you're greeted with a screen showing the available games around the perimeter of the screen. The standard games that were featured included Pac-Man, Rally-X, Mappy, DigDug, and Bosconian again for some reason, plus a few others. But there were also some lesser-known games like Xevious, Super Pac-Man, and Pac & Pal thrown in. And there are even things oddballs like Pac-Man Plus and Pac-Man 256 (which isn't related to the mediocre phone game of the same name).
Given that the other Jakks Pacific thing was full of lousy ports of these games, I expected that this would be roughly the same. Fortunately for me, it turned out that this thing seemed to feature the full arcade experiences, though tweaked slightly for modern televisions. DigDug scrolls a little bit up and down due to the original being vertically-oriented, for example, but other than that, the experience seems to be about what I remembered from my arcade days.
Pac-Man 256 is kind of interesting. It apparently starts you at level 255 of the original game, and if you clear it, it takes you to the kill screen, letting you mess around until you inevitably lose. That's pretty great, since I'm not good enough at Pac-Man to get there on my own, and I don't think I have it in me to practice enough to get that good at it.
My only real issues with it are that that the cord was way too short, which meant that I had to sit really close to the television, and the controls were not great.
Part of it is almost certainly due to me getting older and my reflexes slowing down. But part of it seems to be that the stick is maybe partially worn-out (which wouldn't be too unexpected since I picked this up at a thrift store), and that the unit is so small that it's hard to hold and manipulate the joystick and the buttons at the same time. It also doesn't help that the joystick is a four-directional stick, and games like Xevious almost require that you be able to hit a diagonal, which is tough to do on this thing.
The device also retains high scores, even when the power is turned off (but not when the batteries are changed), and there's a handy page where you can see all of your high scores all at once, which is pretty nice.
All in all, I think this was worth the $2 that I spent on it. A little more if you count the cost of the batteries I put into it. But I don't think I'll do that.