I know that the pandemic hasn’t really ended, we’ve just sort of all agreed to pretend like it has (or, more accurately, the realities of our stupid capitalist system makes it so we all have to just go about our lives with a slightly greater chance of dying all the time so that people can eat at Olive Garden again)… but is it too soon to bring back Pac-Man fever?
Pac-Man lives in such a weird place for me. I was born too late for this to be the game for me. I’m firmly a “Nintendo” and “Atari 2600” kid, though my formulative years were well after the video game crash and during the rebirth sparked by Nintendo. Yet I’ve still probably spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of quarters in Pac-Man consoles over the years, played many of the other games, and even watched that god-awful 80s cartoon they tried to make work (seriously, that thing makes Ewoks and Droids look like Oscar-bait material).
Yet, confession time, I suck at Pac-Man, and I always, always, have. I doubt I’ve ever made it past the 4th or 5th level. I suck at the much better, much more popular, Ms. Pac-Man too. And every game that’s ever come along after. In spite of that fact, I’m still fairly more excited than I would have expected to see the official announcement for 10323 Pac-Man Arcade Machine. It’d been leaked a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t nearly as excited for it as I had been for the Nintendo Entertainment System or the Atari 2600 (which, full-disclosure, I will be reviewing sometime in the near future)
I could probably wax on for awhile about the weird and convoluted history of this set, and talk about why a lot of people are likely confused that it wasn’t included in the Atari set (likely not knowing that it and Atari weren’t the same, just so closely tied in their rise and fall), but that’s for the review.
The details are pretty interesting… this isn’t going to be a small set, taking up more room than both the Atari and the Nintendo and its TV do on your shelf. Here are the official stats from LEGO:
FURTHER PRODUCT INFO: LEGO® PAC-MAN Arcade Machine Set (SKU: 10323)
- Age – 18+
- The model measures: 12.5 in. (32 cm) high, 10 in. (25 cm) wide and 7 in. (17 cm) deep
- 2,650 pieces
- Price: $269.99 / €269.99 / £229.99
- Key functions and features include:
- 3 iconic PAC-MAN figures.
- 1 light- brick that lights up the area where you insert the coin.
- A small vignette of minifigure (female) playing PAC-MAN on an Arcade hidden inside of the cabinet.
The most interesting parts to me, right away, are the light up brick around the Coin-Op slot, and the fact that we’re missing half the ghosts, including my two favorites, Pinky and Inky. Seriously, who the hell thought Clyde was a good choice for this set?
Keeping up the tradition with the Atari set, much more than the Nintendo set, which was more “look at this cool thing” but not a whole lot of function on the Nintendo outside of the cartridge door and tray, this has a lot more functionality baked into it. Like the Atari controller, the joystick is movable, buttons press down, and the Coin-Op slot lights up and can be pressed in (no word on if you’ll get your quarter back).
As is the way, a lot of little details are removable on the set, including the top, which spins around to give us the blue ghosts after picking up a
stale marshmallow power pellet, small easter egg bits sprinkled throughout, and a crank that moves the screen and “sprites” around. There’s not really enough detail in the videos to show how much motion we get… is it a slight thing or a whole carousel?
The back of the cartridge slips off, which itself is a pretty big easter egg, to show a miniature cabinet section and player. I know there’s going to be a big neckbeard crowd, but this is actually keeping in a pretty big part of the early culture of the game, since it was a very diverse group that played the games initially before the marketing gurus decided video games are for boys (seriously, that’s actually what it was, more or less.
It’s a cool set, and an interesting one… but still doesn’t exactly hit all the same notes that either the Atari or the NES did. It will be available to VIP members starting on the 1st of June, and to everyone starting June 4th. Doesn’t seem to be an exclusive, so most likely will be through the usual suspects that carry the Icons line now (LEGO stores, Barnes & Noble, and then eventually Target around the holidays in stores, plenty of other places online).
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