Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
PAC-MAN • NAMCO • £24 • IMPORT
Scientific opinion is divided on the matter of what came first: the wheel, fire or the original Pac-Man table-top pub game? Either way, Pac, like the Lego ship that protected us from the invaders from space, has become a part of video gaming history.
You control a little man with a fliptop head eating all the pills in a maze. In hot pursuit of the little yellow guy are ghosts of various colours who would very much like to chomp Pac-Man into oblivion.
Pac is helped by various fruit that his girlfriend occasionally leaves for him, as well as power pills dropped off by his cousin. These pills turn the ghosts into tasty morsels which can be devoured for extra points.
With limitless levels, points mean prizes, so get out there and bathe in nostalgia with one of the greatest games of all time.
The title screen is disappointingly brief and unspectacular. With such gameplay simplicity, in concept and graphics, I would have expected a polished front-end and a dazzling array of options. But sadly not.
There is the normal one-player game, plus a new two-player simultaneous game played via the link up. Potentially, this expands playability no end with clever touches such as ghosts teleporting off one maze to appear on your opponent’s. You can also whether to play the game in close-up, or settle for the conventional panoramic view.
The graphics in the game are a carbon copy of the old pub machine with dark blue maze walls and rainbow ghosts all faithfully presented. It’s just a pity the mazes weren’t revamped for the new game.
Sound is so important in this style of game and all the tunes are again resurrected to liven up the gameplay. The now famous jingles evoking memories of intense table-play marathons in the back room of a seedy pub many years ago.
The only faults in Pac-Man’s appeal are the repetitiveness of levels and the lack of a sense of true reward. With Pac-Man, points are everything and without even a high score table , progression is a shallow affair that may not be enough for trophy-hungry players. I would also have enjoyed some continues to combat the difficulty.
Nostalgia is undoubtedly what maintains this game’s credibility in the competitive modern day market. If no-one could relate to it with such fondness as many still do, Pac-Man would surely have vanished long ago. Thankfully this is not the case. Long live Pac-Man!
At the very start of the game all the ghosts go up the screen, so clear the bottom of the screen first.
Eating several ghosts at a time increases the bounty for each one. Wait till all the ghosts begin to congregate before you devour the pill.
Aargh! Run for it. Pac is pursued by four ghosts but makes a run for it off the screen to the right. The cherries at the bottom give points.
Pac-Man is currently only available in America. At present, there are no plans to bring it over here officially. You can get the American import from Console Concepts, 233b Waterloo Road, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST6 2HS. Tel: (0782) 712759.
Pac-Man first came out in 1980.