Even here in 2016, there’s no shortage of ways to get your Pac-Man fix. The first two pages retrieved by entering Pac-Man in Google are Google’s Pac-Man “doodle” from May 21, 2010, which you can play right on the search page, and a link to Free Pac-Man, which is a site offering many free variations of Pac-Man (and not a page looking to free an imprisoned Pac-Man).
But what if playing Pac-Man on your laptop—or your smart phone or your home video game system—doesn’t properly recreate the experience? How much would it cost to really travel back in time and play Pac-Man the way you enjoyed it as a kid? Here’s three platforms (a word nobody used back then), ranked from least expensive to most expensive:
—Pac-Man watch: A whole bunch of us found this under a Christmas tree in the mid-1980s. It was far cooler than a routine wrist watch, even though archaic technology made it impossible to even come close to replicating the arcade experience. There were no life-like monsters or even power pellets and the game ended at 1,999 points. But it did in a pinch, and there’s one on eBay right now going for $41 (and rising).
—Pac-Man mini-tabletop. This was the machine we all had to have as kids. It brought the arcade into our house! Or at least we thought it did. The mini-tabletop version offered a far better approximation of the real thing than a wristwatch, but most of us inevitably came to wish the mini-screen with the mini-joysticks WAS the real thing. Three decades later, this relic might actually be a cooler conversation piece than the real thing. Smaller and cheaper, too, at $80 (before shipping).
—Pac-Man arcade machine. This is the closest you’ll get to the quarter-pumping, sweaty-joystick reality of your youth, minus the crowds, the peer pressure to relinquish your spot at the machine at the end of the game and, oh yeah, actually pumping quarters into the machine. Of course, you’ll spend 3,196 quarters ($799) to get this into your house, but there’s nine different Pac-Man games on the machine, so just tell your spouse you got a great deal spending less than $100 per game. (Let us know if that works)