"Video games don't affect us, I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids we'd all be running around darkened rooms munching pills and listening to repetitive music".
Back in 1982, if you'd have told a gaming geek that it would one day be possible to shoehorn Pac Man, Galaxian, Dig Dug, Rally-X and Bosconian into a self-contained joystick that simply plugs into the telly, they would've split their slacks laughing, before slipping on some legwarmers and heading off to the nearest roller-disco for a few sodastream mixers.
Amazingly enough, though, that's precisely what boffins have now managed to do! The incredible Namco 5-in-1 Arcade Classics is a gorgeously retro joystick preloaded with five of the greatest video games ever invented: Pac Man, Galaxian, Dig Dug, Rally-X and Bosconian. Well, all right, three of the greatest video games ever invented. That said, Rally-X and Bosconian are equally addictive, and we guarantee that anyone who's old enough to remember Boy George guesting on the A-Team (no, really), or Kevin Keegan coming off his bike on Superstars will remember these coin-op classics the second they start playing.
This fabulous little box of gaming nostalgia plugs directly into your TV via handy AV cables, and it's so compact you can take it anywhere there's a TV on hand. Which is just about anywhere, let's face it. And it certainly beats lugging around five hulking great arcade cabinets. We love miniaturisation! Despite it's diminutive size, the Namco features an excellent, highly grippable joystick and a sturdy button which will endure no end of frantic mashing - this baby is built to last!
But what of the games themselves, you ask. Well, unless you've just come out of a lengthy cryogenic coma, you'll already know that Pac Man is the most tooth-grindingly addictive, maze-based video game in history. And as for Galaxian - well, the ominous sound FX alone are enough to send shivers of anticipation coursing down the spine before the phantasmagorical aerial bombardment has even begun. And Dig Dug? It's definitely one of our all-time favourites and is absolutely riddled with one-more-go factor; where else do you get to pump up your enemies until they explode?
The lesser known, but equally impressive Rally-X involves a flag-collecting race against time - brilliant in its simplicity and infuriatingly addictive. Last, but by no means least comes Bosconian, an engaging cross between Asteroids and Time Pilot that takes you to the furthest reaches of the galaxy. Sort of. We really can't overstate the excitement the Namco 5-in-1 has been generating here at Firebox HQ. In fact, if this doesn't rocket to the top of our best sellers list and cause arcade aficionados to drop to their knees and weep with joy, we'll eat our PS2s!
If you really want to recreate the authentic soundscape of an early 80s amusement arcade in your very own living room, head over to the Arcade Ambience Project Page, where you can download Andy Hofle's wonderful MP3s recreations - see how many games you recognise!
High Scores!Why not send in a screenshot of your high score on Pac-Man (or indeed any of the games)? MAS from London has scored a respectable 28,220 on Pac-Man, but we bet that won't stand for long. If you practise long enough maybe, just maybe you might be the second person in the world to achieve a perfect score of 3,333,360, just like the heroic (and obviously slightly deranged) Billy Mitchell.