Welcome back to my 35th Birthday celebration of Pac-Man with this retrospective look at his gaming career.
We left off with Ms. Pac-Man showing us how to do classic Pac-Man badly, next we see Pac-Man return with his “all star” family.
Pac-Man All-Stars: Another Pac-Man game released exclusively on the PC in 2002, developed by Creature Labs and published by Infogrames. Using the basic maze style game from the original and bringing Pac-Man back to his roots once more.
Pac-Man All-Stars is set in the ghost’s home world, where the evil wizard, Wandy rules over all. All of the fairies from Pac-Man’s world have been kidnapped by Wandy and only Pac-Man and his group of friends can stop the evil wizard.
Taking its inspiration from the original Pac-Man and bringing back that retro maze gameplay. With you running around collecting those pellets and avoiding ghosts. Only this time a 4 player feature is added where up to 3 friends can join you with them playing as Ms. Pac-Man, Jr. Pac and Professor-Pac. The game turns competitive with each of you trying to get the best score. If you play single player, the other characters are controlled by AI.
Pac-Man All-Stars comes with a few power ups to help you along the way; Speed Up; which…speeds you up, Magnetic; will attract the collectable pellets, Thief; which steals 10 pellets from friendly AI or players, Multiplier, will multiply your score, Strong Pac; allows you to collide with the other characters resulting in them losing points and becoming momentarily stunned and of course the classic Power Pills.
This was a simple game that really didn’t offer anything new. It was not bad, it was not great either. Fun for a while if you had 3 friends to play with but pretty limited overall.
Pac-Man All-Stars was pretty average at best, but could the next game get players in the party mood?
Pac-Man Fever: Also released in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2. Developed by Mass Media Inc. and Published by Namco. Pac-Man, this time around, would try the party game genre and join up with several other Namco characters.
Just as with many party games, the players move about on a virtual game board. The object of the game is to reach the end before your opponents. Pac-Man Fever allows for up to four players simultaneously and you get to chose from six characters featured in other Namco games: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Tiger Jackson, Astaroth, Reiko Nagase and Heihachi Mishima.
Pac-Man Fever comes with 3 different game boards to play on with Space, Tropical and Medieval themes each board has it’s own set of themed minigames.
Played in rounds, each round begins with a four-player minigame, depending on the score achieved dictates how many spaces the player moves on the board. The tiles on the board also have an effect, including; losing/gaining or even stealing tokens, moving forward or backward a few tiles, the ability to spend any earned tokens, playing a single or two-player minigame and a raffle game to earn redemption tickets.
When on a “store” tile, the player can spend tokens to: move steps forward, move others backward, buy raffle tickets, or gamble with a chance to earn even more tokens. The three spaces before the goal space are raffle spaces for a redemption ticket of the fruit on the space. The more raffle tickets you have for the fruit the better chance you have of winning the redemption ticket.
Once a player has reached the end goal tile, the game is over and all players receive redemption tickets. These tickets can be used to buy each previously played minigame separately, which can be played to practise or even in short tournaments outside the main game.
Pac-Man Fever tried to cash in on the part game sub genre made popular by Mario Party in 1998. Pac-Man’s attempt was not all that great and received mostly negative reviews.
Next, Pac-Man would return to one of his better modern games with a sequel…
Pac-Man World 2: The sequel to the well received; Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary from 1999. Pac-Man World 2, developed and published by Namco and released in 2002 for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance and Windows.
Pac-Man World 2 was a return to the 3D gaming world with you controlling Pac-Man along a path with the simple objective of reaching the end.
Back in medieval times, an evil spirit; Spooky had terrorized all of Pac-Land. The great Wizard-Pac created a potion that turned 5 ordinary fruits into the “Golden Fruit.” A young knight called Sir Pac-a-lot fought against Spooky and sealed him underneath a large tree using the Golden Fruit, which were attached to the branches of the tree.
In the present time, Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde sneak into the village and pick the Golden Fruit off the tree. Unfortunately, this releases Spooky from his prison. Spooky tells the ghosts to take the Golden Fruit and follow him if they wish to rid the land of the Pac-people forever.
The game is spread over twenty five levels and also includes sixteen Galaxian mazes. Pac-Man sometimes must fight and defeat enemies in order to progress. At the end of each area is a boss. There are several items to collect in this game including fruit, the traditional pellets, and tokens.
Each of the levels has eight tokens, as well as a single bonus token for achieving 100% completion on the level and another bonus token for completing the time trial.
Galaxians, which show up once in most non-boss levels can transport Pac-Man into a 3-D maze, akin to the classic arcade games.
The tokens collected unlock old Pac-Man games in the arcade in Pac-Village. The unlockable games are Pac-Man, Pac-Attack, Pac-Mania, and Ms. Pac-Man. There is also an unlockable jukebox which enables the player to listen to the game’s soundtrack Plus a gallery of concept art from the game.
Pac-Man World 2 was not as good as the first game and met with fairly average reviews overall.
Next up would be a Gamecube exclusive with an “interesting” gimmick.
Pac-Man Vs.: Developed by Nintendo and published by Namco, released in 2003 for the Gamecube. This was a multiplayer only game that gave players the chance to play as the infamous ghosts for the first time.
Pac-Man Vs. uses the Game Boy Advance to connect to the Gamecube. One player controls Pac-Man with the GBA, which displays the entire maze, while the other players control each of the ghosts with the Gamecube controllers.
This is classic Pac-Man with a twist. The basic, standard Pac-Man gameplay is back with Pac-Man eating pellets while avoiding ghosts. But now with the ghosts being controlled by other players who have to catch Pac-Man.
The players controlling the ghosts can see a 3D-rendered limited view of the surroundings of their own ghosts on the screen as well as the area around the other players ghosts. Since they are all displayed on the same screen, ghost players can temporarily extend their view by eating fruit.
If/when a ghost player catches Pac-Man the two players then switch controllers, with the successful ghost player taking the GBA and playing as Pac-Man until he or she suffers the same fate of being caught.
A small radar helps show the ghosts their relative positions to each other so they may attempt to team up to trap Pac-Man.
The first player to reach a predetermined score wins and the game ends. While both Pac-Man and the ghosts can score points by eating fruit, Pac-Man has the advantage of having more ways to score points. Pac-Man can score points by eating pellets in the maze and eating all the pellets within the maze gives Pac-Man a point bonus, then play moves onto a new maze. If Pac-Man eats a Power Pellet…well you know the score by now. Each ghost eaten takes points away from that player and adds it to Pac-Man’s total.
Pac-Man Vs. was an interesting experiment and a nice twist on the classic gameplay, but as it was a multiplayer only game (no single player option here) the game was only playable with friends.
Next up would be another twist on the game again using one of Nintendo’s gimmicks.
Pac-Pix: Developed and published by Namco for the Nintendo DS. This game used the DS touchscreen in a unique way.
A mischievous wizard one day came up with an invention called: Ghost Ink. Whatever was drawn with the use of this ghost ink instantly turned into a ghost. These trickster ghosts then began to jump into different pictures and books, pulling pranks and causing general havoc and mayhem across the world.
Hearing of the troubles, Pac-Man rushed to defeat all the ghosts using the only thing that was powerful enough—the mighty magic pen. Pac-Man succeedes in trapping all the ghosts into one book which was then locked. But before Pac-Man could succeed in turning all the ghosts back into harmless ghost ink, he himself was also captured in a piece of paper.
The game makes extensive use of the DS touch screen, making the user draw Pac-Man and guide him through each level by drawing walls and devouring ghosts in that classic Pac-Man style. Obstacles such as walls and shields must also be overcome by drawing bombs and arrows. Players also have control of the speed of the Pac-Man that they themselves create by changing the size of the drawing of Pac-Man.
Pac-Pix was an intriguing concept and offered fast and furious gameplay.
Next up, Pac-Man tried his hand at pinball in another Nintendo exclusive.
Pac-Man Pinball Advance: Was released on the Game Boy Advance in 2005. Developed by Human Soft/Namco and Published by Destination Software.This game brought you a pinball machine in your hand.
Pac-Man Pinball Advance featured two pinball tables to play on inspired by the Pac-Man universe and characters.
Pac-Man is the pinball and continues to collect pellets placed around the play area much like in earlier games. Also returning are the ghosts and power pills, which you should not the deal with by now.
It was just pinball using a Pac-Man aesthetic. Pac-Man Pinball Advance met with fairly middle of the road reviews as there was a lack of game content and what was there was pretty average at best.
Namco really seemed to be favouring Nintendo as next in the series was yet another Nintendo exclusive.
Pac ‘n Roll: Developed and published by Namco for the Nintendo DS in 2005 and even later ported to the Wii.
Pac ‘n Roll used a similar concept to the classic; Marble Madness or Super Monkey Ball. Where you guide Pac-Man by rolling (get it, Pac ‘n Roll?) him through courses inspired by the Pac-Man universe.
When Pac-Man was still young he spent time at the home of the great Pac-Master who trained Pac-Man to fight the ghosts in Pac-Land. During Pac-Man’s training, Pac-Master’s family went to the Power Pill Harvest Festival with Pac-Man.
The ghosts decided to summon the legendary ghost, Golvis. He was said to be so strong that he was sent to space by the ghosts themselves. at Castle-Pac celebrations were underway due to the large crop of power pills gathered. The Harvest Festival is suddenly disturbed by a UFO from which Golvis emerges. In an attempt to save the Pacs, Pac-Master chomped on a power pill. But while the other ghosts turned blue, Golvis remained his normal colour with only the end of his tail blue. Golvis turned the Pac-People into spheres and kidnaps them all.
With the help of Pac-Land’s guardian fairy, Krystal, Pac-Man managed to escape and avoided getting kidnapped.
Now with the help of Krystal, Pac-Man must save Pac-Master’s family from the evil Golvis and Ghosts and their evil plot to turn Pac-Land into Ghost-Land.
Pac ‘n Roll offered a pretty simple and familiar idea, but was not one of the best of this sub-genre and the game met with mixed reviews.
So here ends part V of this retrospective and part VI sees the end of the Pac-Man home released games.