Pac-Man

This is my copy of Pac-Man for the Sharp MZ-700. It is a Japanese release, but I got it on eBay, not Yahoo Auctions, from a US seller. Probably a bit cheaper than it would have been locally. The box was in pretty dirty condition when I got it, and am pleased with how nicely it turned out after a cleaning.

As I mentioned on my MZ-700 page, the computer does not have a graphics mode by default. So how do the games look? Blocky! But the system still got major releases like Pac-Man and Galaxian. And serious effort was put into the playability of the games. They are a lot of fun. From the high-score data that won’t get saved to the unique “coffee break” scene that mimics the cut-scenes in the arcade, this port is a fantastically unique port of Pac-Man.

One thing, and to me this is so ridiculous it’s awesome, is the chomping sound. It is so deep and bass-y. To really drive it home, the computer has an internal speaker, and the controls are on the keyboard, so you can feel the vibrations of the sound through your hands. What an experience!

I took the time to record the gameplay, so why don’t you watch it?

By the way, I said there was no graphics mode by default. There was a (rare and expensive, of course) peripheral that provided a PCG (programmable character generator) which allows a replacement 256 character set with per-pixel color to be loaded. This is the same feature that drove the Sharp X1’s arcade game ports to be so realistic. Pac-Man is one of the games programmed to take advantage of it, it is on the reverse side of the tape.

Sharp MZ-700

Another machine I bought on a whim. Never heard of it before buying it, but found the design aesthetics to be beautiful. It was a tested-working item and in nearly immaculate condition, but as Japanese vintage computers go, it was not terribly expensive. The seller included a hand-written note when he shipped it. To date, this is the only time I’ve experienced that.

The MZ-700 is pretty unique not only in design, but also unexpected built-in features. The flagship submodel was the MZ-731, which includes a built-in cassette recorder and a color plotter-printer. That’s quite an impressive ready-to-roll solution for its time.

I received it and connected it through composite video through the RCA jack. Speaker is internal. Fired right up, as expected. The MZ-700 does not have BASIC on ROM, so you boot straight into a monitor. The most typical course of action is to press “L” and then press play on the cassette recorder.

In Japan, not only is selling copied software prohibited, but some everyday users make it a point to report auctions that do so. In addition, they’ll report auctions that even include such software, even if it’s clearly not the main focus of the auction. To a point, I can understand, but this can leave many people without any means to use the machine.

So while this system wasn’t sold with any software, I was very glad that the seller included two copies of BASIC (S-BASIC and HuBASIC), and a compilation of about eight games on a single tape as an undisclosed bonus.

It’s also lovely on the inside. Such a modular machine with easily removable components. You don’t have to open the case to remove the tape drive or printer.

Another really unique thing about this machine is that there is no graphics mode. Games make use of system character glyphs, letters and numbers, and large blocks. When I think of that style of game, I think of the rinky-dink games like Ladder or ASCII-Invaders or what-not. But these games are quite well done. One example is Yellow Balloon, a game where your balloon soars ever upward, avoiding obstacles that will pop your balloon while shooting to the side to rack up points. For all its primitiveness, it’s a colorful and graphically pleasing game.