So, About That Pac-Man Championship Edition Demake...

I checked to see if this has already been discussed already, and it doesn‘t seem to be the case, but if I’m wrong, apologies in advance and please also point me the right way…

Anyhow, when a demake of Pac-Man Championship Edition for the Famicom/NES was first revealed for the Namcot Collection, I was pretty excited due to being a hardcore fan of the Xbox 360 original. But almost immediately after, along came this video, one that's three years old:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ9mAacWxdY

When i checked the comments, I recall (am sure it's still there, simply buried) someone stated that this version is what Namco got their hands on, for the forthcoming release, along with "good luck finding this rom". As if the publisher had scoured the web to remove all copies from various rom repositories. Which, I dunno, if that was the case, I'd think it would have made some news?

Then along came this interview with the demake's developer, which naturally is M2. The key details here is how it was originally a project for the 3DS and has been in development for 5 years:

https://www.siliconera.com/pac-man-championship-edition-demake-started-out-as-a-3ds-game/

But then, a friend just shared this other video, which appears to be the same version as seen above... except it's 11 years old?

https://vimeo.com/2581153

I then decided to go back to the previous YouTube video's comments section and take a closer look. These two, from the same person, really stood out...

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“Nobody has the rom/patch because the creator, Coke774, never released it, just the footage. He did some minor patches found over at romhacking but not a lot. I suspect it wasn't released for legal reasons.”

and

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“… it is what it is. This was never released so unfortunately, for now, all we have is footage like this. Maybe one day it will get released but Coke774, for some reason, isn't releasing it yet. https://togetter.com/li/743867 - you can see there they made a homebrew cartridge of it for themselves.”

That link compiles various social media content, into a blog post-like package. Included is various Niconico videos, including one for Coke774's Pac-Man CE for the Famicom. Alas, it's no longer viewable, but check this out; a cartridge version was made using a copy of Kirby's Adventure, shared by someone else on Twitter, back in 2014:
https://twitter.com/mucom88/status/480244013006462977
Now, not to get off track here, but something else by Coke774 that caught my eye was "Famicom version Gradius (AC conversion)". Again, it's associated Niconico footage is long gone, but, footage does exist... via Coke774's YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hkqbi7n6oaQ

A friend who showed it to me astutely noted how there is no footage of his "Nintendo version Pac-Man CE (Port without permission)"!

So... what's the deal here? Was M2's version made completely separately, and it just so happens to coincidentally to be VERY similar to a homebrew project? There's enough of Coke774's handiworks elsewhere that makes me believe that his version wasn't faked... so I'm assuming that he was simply hired by M2? That's my best bet, but any thoughts?

I‘ve got nothing to add, except that I truly appreciate the research that’s gone into this post.

I think your best bet is pretty much the best explanation. M2 is known for hiring or contracting this kind of developer profile (cf. the Darius port on the Mega Drive Mini). I would bet that he got hired by M2, turned this hobby project into an official/legal one under the patronage of M2 via their good relationship with BN, then out of caution erased the hobby version out of existence because this could have led to legal / copyright headaches for anyone involved. I don’t see why M2 would lie about the 3DS story so it was probably what that person worked on first once they got hired.

Considering the rom was extracted and runs perfectly on an NES I am going to go with it being the same project but now released officially. That said, I had NEVER heard of this conversion until the release of the collection. I dunno maybe the create was just never happy with the product or wanted to avoid a legal issue and this is the end result. Still, it‘s easily in the top 20 NES games I’ve played, which is kind of crazy.

Alright, so I decided to compile much of what I said above, into a blog post, which includes a somewhat key point I forgot to mention; regarding that Gradius rom hack, I wonder if Coke774 was at all involved in the hidden arcade mode of the game, found on the PC Engine Mini?

Anyhow, for my write-up, I wanted to track down the source of that Pac-Man CE demake vid at the very top of the post, which was courtesy of a person on Twitter. It’s important to note that [@gosokkyu](https://twitter.com/gosokkyu/status/1268480596877078529) mentioned the following…

_“…that "8-bit demake” of Pac-Man Championship Edition may very well be based on an old Japanese homebrew, similar to Sega’s acquisition of the fan-made Darius port for the Mega Drive Mini"_

Well, I JUST came across [another Twitter thread](https://twitter.com/gosokkyu/status/1268395289297080325), which along with A/B comparisons of Coke774’s Pac-Man CE demake & M2’s, has the following…

_“I did a quick search and dude pulled his old webpage and privated all his Pacman CE videos towards the end of last year”_

Also, thanks for the kind words @hellomrkearns ; I was always super obsessed with citing the proper sources when I was a full-time journo, but now that I’m back in school of a MLS, I’m especially so!

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@robinhoodie#2521 Considering the rom was extracted and runs perfectly on an NES I am going to go with it being the same project but now released officially.

Why would that change anything, though? The nature of the NC version as being a true Famicom game that could run on a real Famicom was promoted from the start by M2.

Don‘t have much to add on the origins of the ROM, but I’ve just spent an hour playing the thing and it‘s great! They’ve done a genuinely fantastic job making this feel like a legit version of Pac-Man CE. The horizontal scrolling is jarring at first, and the control is slightly stiff, but once you get used to it it's glorious.

Despite my love for CE / DX / CE2, I had never heard of this remake in either its original form or the new official release until a few days ago and my first experience of it was booting it up 'for real', so the post-game stats, music and achievements all came as a nice surprise.

I definitely recommend having a look at the 'final product'. It's been polished and improved in quite a few ways - most notably music and visual effects - over the 'old' version from the videos above.

@chazumaru#2523 Ah I missed that part of the promotion. I guess what I mean is there are so many games that have come out as NES homages in the last half decade (Shovel Knight / Circle of the Moon / etc) that there‘s this odd space of people discussing the games AS IF they were NES games even though they could in no way run on original hardware. Even the recent Kunio translations are not actual rom hacks, but are being patched on the fly. So in the promotion for the game I saw I assumed something similar was afoot. I definitely didn’t see the direct M2 promotion hence the mis-read of the situation.

Would this then mark the first major release of a legitimate NES homebrew game on a major platform? I know here was the Mega Cat Studio compilation for the Evercade this year. So that might beat it to the punch in terms of being an actual commercial release. And I suppose Darius on the Genesis Mini would be the first commercial available back port.

So Ars Technica decided to take my findings and try to find some answers themselves…

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2020/07/we-traced-namcos-new-pac-man-demake-to-its-source-a-2008-fan-romhack/

... Am a little disappointed that they didn't mention how Namco kinda did something similar when they acquired Crazy Otto, a Pac-Man arcade hack that they turned into Ms Pac-Man, in 82, though I'm most disappointed in myself for not making the observation beforehand.

I am very uncomfortable whenever journalists claim to restore the due credit of an unnamed or unknown programmer, without first confirming with that person whether they ever desired the attention at all. I see this happening in many books and databases as well. It always reeks of selfish interest and bullshit justification for something which really has nothing to do with credit or respect of the original author, but is simply feeding curiosity on the part of the researcher / author of the article. Which is fine by me, but it would be more intellectually honest to at least admit it to their readers, and maybe to themselves.

I am glad and somehow impressed that several readers in the comments section of the article are actually addressing this issue.

@“Syzygy”#p35686

I hadn't realized Pac-Man Museum+, released last summer, includes the original version of Championship Edition. Anyone had experience with this version? How long does it take to get from booting the game to playing CE? Are there a billion loading screens?

@“captain”#p135649 This collection has very noticeable input lag in most games, which is a shame.

@“billy”#p135716 Shame indeed. I guess a hacked PSP/Vita is still the thing