Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Released by Super Impulse with a suggested retail price of $21.19, this totally-playable PAC-MAN Tiny Arcade measures less than four inches high. Try to clear all 256 levels without going blind! Adorable and astonishing, my Tiny Arcade PAC-MAN has found a place of prominence in Screen Play, my home arcade. Like myself, PAC-MAN was released in 1980, making this toy review the perfect topic for our 80th Retro Injection feature!
Having worked for Namco, the parent company of PAC-MAN, I really appreciate this Christmas gift from my mother-in-law. I had toyed with picking one up for some time, and was thrilled to have someone else make the decision. She's got me figured out.
This little nod to the golden era of arcades is an all-around win. I was really impressed at the level of control afforded by the minuscule joystick, and the volume is high enough that my wife could hear it from upstairs! (She thought I was playing in the arcade.) It has a keychain attached to the back, but I don't want to subject my Tiny Arcade to the scratches and scuffs of actual use. Nope, this is a display piece.
The Tiny Arcade PAC-MAN marquee lights up, just like it does on the old-school cabinets, a great feature that adds to the overall presentation. The cabinet is perfectly proportioned to be accompanied by a M.A.S.K. figure, which will mean nothing to most people. (I prefer to be accompanied by an accordion.)
The Tiny Arcade PAC-MAN is a one-player game; the second button is used only for running the attract screen. It would have been nice if two-player support was available out of principle, but let's be real: Swapping this keychain between two people for competitive play would be borderline insanity. At least the toy has two buttons, keeping consistent with the original cabinet.
Here I am, literally playing a little PAC-MAN. The LCD screens on these toys measure less than 1.5 inches.
This series of miniaturized games also includes the arcade staples of Galaxian, Galaga, Space Invaders, Frogger, Dig-Dug and Ms. PAC-MAN. The Tiny Arcade keychains each run on three AAA batteries (which are included), and will turn off when left inactive for twenty seconds, making this photo shoot a challenge. The cabinets sport an original design, not the classic profiles of their big brothers, but I appreciate the use of the period-accurate artwork.
On the downside, the Frogger Tiny Arcade has re-worked music to avoid copyright issues, and customers on Amazon have complained about the volume being barely audible. The mini Frogger is the only keychain to not feature the original arcade cabinet art. Word on the Amazon front also has it that the animation is choppy on the Tiny Arcade Galaga.
Thankfully, my little PAC-MAN has emerged unscathed from such criticism, being reviewed as one of the best titles in the Tiny Arcade series.
In 1980, video arcades housed the apex of technology, and PAC-MAN was the hottest property on the planet. Within my lifetime, revolutionary has become classic, and a game which once needed a box the size of a refrigerator can now fit in a pocket. That's incredible, and maybe a little scary. Who knows where the world will be in another pushing-forty years? With the current void of inspired pop culture, Retro Injection may still be talking about the '80s and '90s!