Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Now anyone who doesn’t know the tenets of dot munchin’ must either be from another planet or just come into sentience. Okay, let’s burn through the basics quickly. Gobble dots, move through those mazes, watch out for ghosts and power pills.
Ghosts kill you as they randomly move through the mazes — till they get wind of you that is! Power pills turn those ghosts into blue suckers that run for cover as you try to gobble ‘em up for extra points.
The ‘Man has a lot of years on him, but he’s still holding up fine, especially shrunken down now on Game Gear in Pac-Man. But it works well coz he’s bright and colorful and the whole maze fits fine on the LCD screen.
Meanwhile, the ‘Missus’ and her 36 16-bit levels are just as attractive to play as ever. Ms Pac-Man. scrolls vertically between the top and bottom part of the action as you move about — it’s a smooth effect and works well since the programmers had to stick with the rectangular TV screen.
Now I’ll leave Adey babes to discuss the Master System Ms Pac-Man and stick to the Mega Drive version of it and Pac-Mania.
The original Namco Pac-Man coin-op became a world-standard in arcade games, helping revive the original burst of excitement created by Space Invaders. Hey — wonder why Namco licensed all but Mr P away?
The Game Gear Pac-Man is by Namco, while Ms Pac-Man and Pac-Mania is by Tengen in the USA and Domark/Tengen in UK. The current UK releases are Master System Ms Pac-Man and Mega Drive Pac-Mania.
The great thing about Ms Pac-Man is that you can activate a Booster which speeds her up forever when you mash down on the [A] or [C] button (or you can have it always on). Then she dons a helmet —sorta like the one worn by the Flash, you know with the little wings on the sides — and zips along three times faster than normal.
There are also these speed lines emanating from her head at the same time. But don’t get earned away because moving faster doesn’t make you safer — in fact being too quick can be a little bit dangerous, you hang corners too fast and can’t throw on the brakes so easy. But a girl’s got to get that dancing fruit, so what can you do?
Pac-Mania places the mazes in a 3-D environment. Everything is angular perspective, sharper definition to the ghosts and yellow buddy who’s real ball-shaped now.
You’re gliding over those dots this time — like a vacuum cleaner leaving no trail, but of course chased all the time. The power pills are still around, of course, but now there’s the ability to leap-frog ghosts in the bargain. Unfortunately, there are levels where the ghosts also start bouncing off the ground.
Ms Pac-Man is terrific fun! The game really pushes the two- player option to the limit. Play against a friend alternately, or why not have Pac-Man himself on screen, then compete against each other, or help one another out? The choice of mazes and the level select option ensures the game doesn’t get repetitive. Graphics and sound are both top notch and the little action sequences that pop up from time to time are really humorous. An incredibly addictive game, fast, furious and well worthy of its accolade.
While Ms Pac-Man. has little action sequences between mazes, Pac-Mania has these full-blown mini-movies. Also, the mazes (or Towns) of Pac-Mania are fixed, while there are variations for her in Ms Pac-Man that range from Mini to Large to Strange.
You can also jump stages here — but not for the fourth, the Jungly Steps level. While there’s fruit for her, our guy can also grab non-moving items which stay onscreen for a short time — appearing in the same place that Pac-Man starts out from. There are sweets, too, which rack up points, but the favourite is probably the speedup pill which gives a brief burst of high speed.
Quality is excellent, great sound, nice quick response time on all three products. The biggest hurdle to playing all three games is that the Direction Pad just isn’t as responsive as a joystick would be. So you have to anticipate your movies a bit, or you’ll pass by that turn.
But you can’t go wrong with this stuff and, considering the way these things go, pretty soon we’ll probably see Pac-Man: The Next Generation.
Pac-Mania — this is one helluva game! The graphics are excellent. Pac-Man is a huge beggar, not to mention the ghosts! The 3-D perspective is amazing and scrolling is excellent. The man himself Is sometimes tricky to control, though, venturing, as Marshal syas, In the wrong direction if you’re not quick enough on the pad. That aside, Pac-Mania Is instantly playable and the degree of difficulty Is just right. With four skill levels and 19 action-packed rounds, you’ll be munchin’ dots till they come out ya ear ‘oles!!
Domark have yet another winner on their hands.