Game Review: Capcom Arcade Stadium

Well, this is going to be a big one. I’ve been given a review code for Capcom Arcade Stadium, a collection of classic Capcom games from the arcades… A total of thirty-two Capcom arcade titles in one amazing package. And I’m going to go through all thirty-two games to review this pretty impressive collection, as well as take a look at the overall bundle and see just how well put together it all is. There’s a lot to cover here and I’ll be going through all the games in chronological order (which I’ve not previously looked at, so doing this blind) and as there are so many, I’ll just gloss over each one. With thirty-two games to cover, I had better crack on.

CAPCOM ARCADE CABINETS

The Games

Vulgus (1984). A top-down, vertical shooter. This one is really rather simple compared to other similar shoot ’em ups. There’s no ending and you just keep going for a high score until your lives run out. No actual weapon upgrades or anything like that. For an early shooter, it’s pretty average.

Pirate Ship Higemaru (1984). A top-down maze game. Imagine if Pac-Man and Bomberman had a baby, you’d get Pirate Ship Higemaru. Playing as a deckhand, you pick up and throw barrels at attacking pirates. Clear the screen of all the pirates, move onto the next stage. Simple stuff, but pretty good, simple fun.

1942 (1984). One of the all-time classic shooters. The first in the long-running `194X games, and there are more to come in this collection too. It doesn’t have most of the features and refinements of later games in the franchise, but 1942 is still a very playable shoot ’em up regardless.

Commando (1985). I think this may have been the first-ever Capcom game I ever played in the arcade. It’s another classic shooter and one that was always a very tough challenge. Great shooter even if it is bloody hard.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins (1985). Speaking of hard, this is often described as being our generation’s Dark Souls. A fairly apt descriptive I guess… Even if Dark Souls was much easier than Ghosts ‘n Goblins. This really is some tip-top platforming-shooter action. And yes, it really is ‘effing difficult, even on the easiest setting. Utterly brilliant though.

CAPCOM ARCADE GHOSTS N GOBLINS

Section Z (1985). A really interesting multi-directional shooter where enemies come from all sides. With a nice gimmick where, at the touch of a button, you can change the direction that you are facing. Really handy when the screen starts to fill with enemies. I don’t recall playing this back in the day, but it’s a pretty decent shooter.

Tatakai no Banka (1986). This one was Japanese only, no English version. I assumed it was only ever released in Japan, but a quick check says it was released as Trojan in the west. Not sure where there is no English version here then? A side-scrolling beat ’em up kind of thing that was just a bit too dull. I played as if Double Dragon had raped Ghosts ‘n Goblins and neither was happy with the end result, very okay-ish.

Legendary Wings (1986). Another game I think I missed originally. This is a vertical-shooter with a twist, as at certain points, the game changes to a side-scrolling platform-shooter. Basic power-up stuff here, but it plays pretty well and does get extra points for mixing up the gameplay styles.

Bionic Commando (1987). This was one of my favourites growing up, I spent so much coinage on this bad boy as a kid. A multi-directional scrolling platform-shooter with a brilliant gameplay mechanic… A grappling hook. Well, a grappling arm to be more accurate. Shoot bad guys, get power-ups and swing from platform to platform using your grappling arm. I don’t think I ever played this ‘properly’ back then, I just used to love swinging about the levels.

1943: The Battle of Midway (1987). The next entry in the 194X franchise and this one is so much better than the original 1942. One of my all-time favourite shooters as it took what was great about the previous 1942 and sprinkled it with just the right amount of spice to heat things up.

Forgotten Worlds (1988). Another side-scrolling shooter, but with some great bells and whistles. It plays a bit like the previously covered, Section Z with its multi-directional shooting, only if it had swallowed the kind of steroids WWE wrestlers use (allegedly). Wonderful bold late-eighties graphics, top shooting action and a nice weapons upgrade shop too. Oh and some awesome, huge boss battles.

CAPCOM ARCADE FORGOTTEN WORLDS

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (1988). Okay, this collection is seriously spoiling me now. One of my favourite sequels, only bettered by the sublime SNES version. This is what happens when a dev team gets together and says ‘that Ghosts ‘n Goblins really need to be harder’. More rock-solid platforming-shooter action with some of the toughest stages in any arcade game ever… And I love it.

Strider (1989). When it comes to iconic Capcom games, I think that Strider is high on the list. Hack ‘n slash, platforming action with a ninja-type bloke who has a plasma sword. Strider really is one of Capcom’s finest arcade titles. Fast and frantic gameplay with some really creative level design.

Dynasty Wars (1989). Get ready for some side-scrolling horseback riding. This is a scrolling beat ’em up, kind of thing with some light RPG elements. Smack people in the face with a large weapon as you scroll through each stage, pick up orb for experience and level up. I was never really a fan of this one back then, not a real Capcom classic for me. An okay game I guess.

Final Fight (1989). Now we’re talking! One of the finest scrolling beat ’em ups ever made. Big chunky graphics, a lot of punching people in the face, an all-time classic and a real coin muncher. This is what arcade gaming was all about. Best to play the Japanese version of this due to ‘reasons’.

CAPCOM ARCADE FINAL FIGHT

1941: Counter Attack (1990). More 194X action and what I love about these shooters is how they evolved over the years. Yes, it is more scrolling shooty action, but these game get better with every instalment to the franchise. Loads of enemies, loads of bullets to dodge and some pretty epic boss fights.

Senjo no Okami II (1990). No English version of this one, which is strange as it was released in the west as Mercs. Plays pretty much like the classic Commando, but with multi-directional scrolling and weapon power-ups. A rather tough shooter but great fun to play.

Mega Twins (1990). Another game I’ve not been familiar with before. A platforming, hack ‘n slash thing with some very cute graphics. Not a great title, not my cup of tea at all.

Carrier Air Wing (1990). This is the follow up to U.N. Squadron (missing from this collection). A classic bit of side-scrolling shooter, using fighter jets. Pick one of three jets, and go shoot some bad guys out of the sky. There’s a weapon upgrade shop between levels. This is a damn good shooter.

Street Fighter II (1991). Does this game even need an introduction? One of the greatest beat ’em up and greatest games ever made. This is the standard, vanilla version of the game, great for purists. No frills, just great Street Fighter and iconic action.

CAPCOM ARCADE STREET FIGHTER I

Captain Commando (1991). Capcom made some great scrolling beat ’em ups and this was one of their best. Crazy characters and bold graphics. Plays very much like Final Fight, but for me, I always thought this was the better game.

Varth: Operation Thunderstorm (1992). A vertical shooter that really wouldn’t be out of place in the 194X franchise. Nothing remarkable about this one and it plays a good shooter regardless. Scroll up the screen, shoot enemies, grab power-ups, kill end of level bosses. Standard stuff, but still very playable.

Warriors of Fate (1992). The follow up to Dynasty Wars, and for me, the better of the two games. Still yer standard scrolling beat ’em up stuff. But this one feels much more robust and playable all round. A decent and a very satisfying brawler, with that familiar Capcom feel.

Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting (1992). More Street Fighter II and this one offers some tweaks over the original. Different colour costumes, slightly altered special moves and the ability to play as any of the four bosses. It’s Street Fighter II with some minor bells and whistles.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994). Of all the different versions of this game, this is probably the best. The original eight characters, the four bosses and four new characters too, with new stages. More costume choices, variable speeds, the addition of the super meter to pull off awesome super combos. Plus, this was the game that introduced Akuma to the franchise. If you’re going to play some SF II, then this really is the best version.

Powered Gear (1994). Another Japanese only rom here, which once more is strange as it did have a western release where it was called Armored Warriors. Anyway, this is another scrolling beat ’em up… Only in mech-suits. A really good game that feels very ‘chunky’ as you stomp around in your mech. Some nice little touches, like being able to walk over little peeps before they can get in their own mechs. A lot of crunching metal as mech fights mech and everything plays and feels great. Proper arcade action.

Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness (1995). This is actually a spin-off from the previous Powered Gear (Armored Warriors) game. Whereas that was a scrolling beat ’em up, this is a one on one fighter. This really wasn’t too bad. Chose a pilot and then select a mech, the combo of which actually affects how the story and even gameplay pans out. Some great destructible scenery and the fighting feels really ‘meaty’. Perhaps not as great as Street Fighter II as a beat ’em up, but still very much worth playing.

19XX: The War Against Destiny (1995). Yup, another in the long-running 194X franchise… Only this is 19XX. You already know the score by now. Vertical scrolling shooty-shoot action. This one really is a marvel and is rock solid hard, goes from pretty tricky to serious bullet hell within a couple of levels. Seriously great shoot ’em up and one not for the faint of heart.

CAPCOM ARCADE 19XX

Battle Circuit (1997). More scrolling beat ’em up action, and this one is beautifully crazy. With a very cartoony-like art style and featuring some pretty insane characters and enemies. Really OTT action with a penchant for the WTF… You fight an Elvis impersonator. Cracking good fun

Giga Wing (1999). If there was one thing that Capcom were fantastic at, that wasn’t the beat ’em up, then the shoot ’em up was that thing. This is another vertically scrolling shooter, kind of like the 1944 series… Only not actually part of it. Rather unusual for a vertical scroller, this uses a horizontal screen. Different planes to fly, each with different weapons sets and power ups. Plenty of action and some really great level designs.

1944: The Loop Master (2000). How many of these 194X games are there? Like the previous Giga Wing, this is another vertical shooter that uses a horizontal screen. Lots of shooting, power ups and big bosses to take out. Pretty standard stuff, but a good shooter nonetheless.

Progear (2001). The last game in this collection… And it’s another shoot ’em up featuring planes. Capcom really liked that motif eh? At least this is a side-scroller just to be a bit different. This is a serious bullet hell of a game, really great to play too. A steampunk-esque slant to the graphics and the best shooter in this whole collection.


Overall

As a gamer in his mid-forties now, I grew up in and around the arcades of the eighties and nineties, so this collection is right up my street. Presentation-wise, Capcom Arcade Stadium is a sheer delight. Each of the games in this collection are represented via their own 3D rendered cabinets and all of the games are loaded with plenty of options. Multiple display settings with scanlines and more, screen sizes (full screen, arcade cabinet view and more), screen orientation (great for those with a rotatable monitor to play vertical shooters in the correct aspect ratio). Then there’s the game settings, where you can change the difficulty, time limits, speed (if your reactions are not as great as they once were), extra lives frequency and more. Plus, you can fully customise the controls and even use a rapid-fire mode for all those shooters. With different games having multiple different settings. So you can really tailor each game to suit your very own playstyle.

There are things like score and special challenges, with scores being uploaded to the interwebs and the global leaderboards. You can read each of the game’s manuals for a quick lesson on how to play. There’s even a save/load games states feature too… Pretty handy for some of the harder titles, or if you just want to take a break for a while. Plus, a rewind feature, so if you mess up, just rewind and try again. You can even choose to play the original Japanese or English ports, seeing as some of the western releases were censored over the original Japanese ones, this is a nice feature to have. And there’s local multiplayer options, depending on the game. Honestly, in terms of options and variables, you really are spoiled here. You can tweak and refine each game to suit just how you want to play. Perhaps you can finally get to the end of some of those arcade classics that have eluded you for many years now? I mean, I actually finally finished Ghosts ‘n Goblins after thirty-six years.

CAPCOM ARCADE GAMES

Now, Capcom Arcade Stadium is actually free to download, but you only get two games with it (as of writing anyway). 1943: The Battle of Midway and Ghosts ‘n Goblins (I believe that G ‘n G is a promotional offer and is normally paid for). Two classics for sure and both worth it for nothing. But you do have to pay for the other games in this collection, and they come in pre-set packs. The three packs that you can download for all thirty-two games, Dawn of the Arcade (1984–1988), Arcade Revolution (1989–1992), and Arcade Evolution (1992–2001), come in at £11.99 each. So, for the whole game with all thirty-two titles, you’re looking at spending £35.97 (though that is just over £1.20 a game). Still, that is a pretty big chunk of cash for a lot of decades-old games… Some better than others. Then there’s the fact that Capcom have said they may add even more games in the future, so more money to spend? And as far as I can tell, you have to buy the packs for the games, you can’t pay for games individually, which I think is a mistake. I mean, there are three versions of Street Fighter II in this. Do you really need three versions of the same game? I feel it would be better if there was an option to just buy the individual games that you want, then you could tailor create your very own arcade. On the surface, forking out £36 on two and over three decades old games does seem a bit steep.

Emulation wise (cos that is how these games run), everything played fine and dandy. I didn’t come across any graphical or audio glitches in any of the thirty-two games. The controls felt responsive using a standard Xbox pad, but Capcom Arcade Stadium does support arcade joysticks too, in fact, there’s a specific option for arcade sticks. So if you have one, I’m sure these games will feel far more authentic using a ‘proper’ controller. Oh and the more you play, the more you earn Capcom Arcade Stadium POints (CASPO), this is basically experience points. The more you play, the more CASPO you earn, you level (class) up and unlock some cosmetics such as background wallpapers, etc.

CAPCOM ARCADE CASPO

So I guess the big question is, is it worth paying for? This is a bit tricky to answer, given the fact that there have already been several Capcom arcade bundles in the past. The likes of Capcom Arcade Cabinet or Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle does mean that several of these games have previously been released over the years and you probably own a few of the titles already (I know I do). So it may not seem worth paying again for games that you already own. The fact you have to buy the packs and can’t buy games individually is a definite downside too, as seperate games would make perfect sense for those that have previously bought similar collections and already have some of the games. Still, for everything, all the games, all three packs, £35.97 isn’t a bad price. Or you can buy a bundle of all three packs in one, which is slightly cheaper at £31.99 (around £1.07 per game). Then you have to add all the extra features, options and variables for all the titles too. You do get a lot for your money, even if £35 (or £32) seems a big price tag for 30-year-old games, I think it is worth it in all honesty. I’ve spent more than that on recent AAA games and not got as much gameplay out of them as I have here. Seriously just buy the triple bundle collection for £32 and enjoy some awesome Capcom arcade greatness.

CAPCOM ARCADE PRICE

I do have a few niggles. Personally, I’d like to have seen some history on the games. Some background info on who made them, original release dates. Maybe a gallery, concept art, a jukebox to listen to some of the amazing Capcom music. I’m a big fan of gaming history and to see a lack of actual history about the games here is a tad disappointing. They could have even put it all behind unlockables, complete certain challenges in the game to unlock artwork, music, etc. Would’ve added some extra gameplay value. As great as the games in this collection are, there is a real lack of celebrating their history in gaming. There are some glaring omissions from this collection of games (Black Tiger, Gun.Smoke, Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors), but as I already mentioned, Capcom will be adding new titles in the future. I doubt we’ll see any of Capcom’s licensed games, The Punisher, Alien vs. Predator, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, etc. There is local multiplayer, but no online multiplayer, which is also a bit of a disappointment.

For me, I think as far as these arcade collections go, that Capcom Arcade Stadium is one of the very best (if not the best) on offer right now. The sheer amount of options for each game is amazing, and you really can find the perfect difficulty for each and every game to suit your own style. It’s clear this collection has been put together with a lot of love and not just a quick cash-grab (shame about the lack of histories though). Of the thirty-two games here, there really isn’t a bad one in the lot. Sure there are few average ones, but there are many more brilliant titles. Plus there are a few only released in Japan ones or titles I didn’t know about and were fun to discover for the first time. I’m not sold on three versions of Street Fighter II though, I’d rather they just had one of the later versions (Super Street Fighter II Turbo) and then two other games instead, perhaps even one of the Street Fighter Alpha titles?  Still, if you have the cash and really want some classic Capcom arcade hits, then you really can’t go wrong with Capcom Arcade Stadium. It’s a wonderful collection with plenty to keep you coming back for more. Highly recommended, buy it now with all three game packs. Just need Konami to put a collection together and as well made as this now…

Service Games is 75 years old! Part II

We left off with Sega struggling after the game crash of 1983 with declining profits, despite a decent arcade presence, and an underwhelming first attempt at a home console with the SG-1000.
In 1985, Sega released its second home console in Japan, the Sega Mark III.

MK III

Does not look very familiar does it?
Well for the North American & European launch, the console was redesigned and retitled.

master system

The Sega Master System hit the American market in 1986 and Europe in 1987. Released to compete with Nintendo’s Famicom/NES. The Sega Master System launched with Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Alex Kidd was Sega’s first attempt at a gaming mascot to try and match Nintendo with Mario. Despite Alex Kidd appearing in several games and spin-offs, he never really took off as a mascot.
The Sega Master System itself was technically superior to Nintendo’s NES, it could not match sales of the NES in Japan or North America. However, it did fair better in Europe.

With a moderate success in the home market with The Sega Master System, SEGA carried on to strengthen their arcade library in the mid 80’s with games like OutRun (1986), After Burner (1987) and Power Drift (1989).

1989 would also see Sega release it’s successor to The Sega Master System.

megadrive

The Mega Drive (Genesis in North America) did not fare well in Japan against its main competitor, Nintendo’s Super Famicom. But, it did achieve greater success in North America and in Europe. Helping this success were several ports of some of Sega’s best arcade games as well as the introduction of a certain blue hedgehog.

sonic title

In 1991, Sega first introduced the world to Sonic The Hedgehog. A superfast platformer styled game that took the world by storm and finally SEGA had a bankable gaming mascot.
Sonic went on to star in several sequels and spinoffs on the Mega Drive and is even still a relevant gaming mascot today.
Sonic helped to sell even more consoles and give Sega it’s first real home market success with the Mega Drive/Genesis. The Mega Drive/Genesis also had several addons released for the console like the Mega CD and 32X to help extend the life of the machine.

Sega decided to follow up on the success of the Mega Drive/Genesis and try to muscle in on Nintendo’s handheld console market share held by the Gameboy. Sega released the portable Sega Game Gear in 1990.

Gamegear

The Sega Game Gear was essentially as Master System in handheld form using much if the same hardware.
Due to problems with a very short battery life, titles mainly being lazy ports, and poor first party support, the Game Gear was unable to come close to the success of Nintendo’s Game Boy despite the Game Gear being technically superior. The Game Gear was succeeded by the Sega Nomad (a portable Mega Drive/Genesis) in 1995.

But while they started to gain ground in terms of home market sales, Sega still maintained a strong arcade library through the 90’s especially with it’s “Virtua” series with titles; Virtua Racing (1992), Virtua Fighter (1993) and Virtua Cop (1994).

The mid 90’s saw the release of Sega’s next home console.

saturn

The Sega Saturn first hit the home market in 1994 in Japan and then in America and Europe in 1995.
The console was a moderate hit initially, but sales started to drop off fast due to the release of Nintendo’s N64 in 1996 and the rising popularity of Sony’s first home console, The PlayStation.
Sega also never released a Sonic game for the machine, which many feel is part of the reason the sales for the Saturn soon dropped off. There was one in development called; Sonic X-treme, but it was ultimately cancelled.
The Saturn did benefit from some great arcade ports like; Sega Rally Championship, The House of the Dead as well as ports of Sega’s Virtua arcade series of games and their sequels, but the console was only a moderate hit worldwide.

Not content with just arcade and home console gaming, Sega even opened their own amusement style theme parks in 1994 called; Joypolis.

Joypolis

Joypolis opened in Yokohama, Japan. Several Joypolis were opened in various cities in Japan with the parks featuring arcade games and rides based on existing SEGA IPs. A total of 8 Joypolis theme parks were opened. However, as of writing only 3 of the parks are still open today.
Other similar Sega based arcades and parks opened around the world. SegaWorld opened in the United Kingdom, China, Australia and Japan, but only a handful still remain in Japan. Plus; GameWorks was a joint venture between Sega, Universal Studios, and DreamWorks.

I’ll end here, but part III will cover Sega’s (probably) most popular and loved home console…and their last, as SEGA end their hardware reign and become a software only devloper.

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Service Games is 75 years old! Part I

Service logo

75 years is a big milestone in the gaming world and one worth celebrating.
So join me as I take a brief-ish look back on Service Games from their initial roots to where they are today.

But wait, let’s back up a little here….who the hell are Service Games and why do you not recognise the name?
Well what about if I wrote it like this: SErvice GAmes…

Founded in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1940. Service Games began by distributing coin-operated slot machines and jukeboxes. In 1951, the company moved to Tokyo, Japan and began to distribute basic coin-operated machines to American military bases in and around Japan.

David Rosen, an American officer in the US Air Force, launched a photo booth business in Tokyo sometime in 1954 and the Rosen Enterprises company was born. In 1957, Rosen Enterprises began importing coin-operated games into Japan.
By 1965, Rosen Enterprises developed a chain of arcades, with Service Games its only serious competitor at the time, but instead of battling it out as rivals. David Rosen instead suggested a merger between Rosen Enterprises and Service Games and became chief executive of the new company: Sega Enterprises which derived its name from Service Games and Rosen Enterprises.
In 1965 the now world famous Sega was created from those humble beginnings originated by Service Games 20 years previously.

Original logo

1966 saw the release of Sega Enterprises first ever in house developed coin-operated game; Periscope.

periscope

Periscope was a simple game as this was very early in the life of arcades and games. The player looked through a simulated submarine periscope to launch torpedoes at enemy ships. The ships were made from cardboard and would be moved mechanically via a drive chain, and the torpedoes were represented by simple coloured lights.
This simple arcade game was a huge success in Japan and was then exported to America and Europe the following year, where it again met with success.
Periscope is often considered a turning point for coin-operated games and even arcades as a whole.

David Rosen sold Sega Enterprises to American conglomerate Gulf and Western Industries in 1969, but Rosen stayed on as CEO of the Sega division. Sega continued to grow and prosper under Rosen and flourished very well from the arcade gaming craze in the late 1970s, with income reaching over $100 million by 1979.
Along with the changes came a new and familiar logo.

SEGA logo

In 1982 Sega introduced gamers to the world’s first commercial stereoscopic 3D game; SubRoc-3D.

SubRoc 3D

SubRoc-3D used a display that delivers individual images to each eye via a special eyepiece, a viewer with spinning discs to alternate left and right images to the player’s eyes from a single monitor. This gave the illusion that the in game images were coming towards to player.

Due to the game crash of 1983, Sega saw its profits drop from $214 million in 1982 to $136 million by the end of 1983. Also in 1983, Sega released its first ever home gaming console the SG-1000.

SG-1000

The SG-1000 was released as a competitor to the hugely successful Atari 2600. But the SG-1000 hardly made an impact and was poorly received overall.

While Sega’s first attempt at cracking the home market met with less than positive admiration, Sega still maintained a good arcade game presence in the late 70’s and early 80’s with titles like Frogger (1981) which Sega published in the U.S. Zaxxon (1982) which holds the distinction of being the first ever arcade game advertised on TV. Astron Belt (1983) which is said to be the world’s first laser disc based game, as well as all time classics like Hang-On & Space Harrier (1985).

The failure of the SG-1000 coupled with the declining profits of Sega and the video game crash of 1983 lead to Gulf and Western Industries eventually selling the U.S. assets of Sega Enterprises to pinball manufacturer Bally Manufacturing.
However, the Japanese assets of Sega Enterprises were brought by a group of investors led by David Rosen, Robert Deith, and Hayao Nakayama. Nakayama was a Japanese businessman who owned an arcade game distribution company called; Esco Boueki.
Hayao Nakayama became the new CEO of Sega Japan, Robert Deith Chairman of the Board, and David Rosen became head of its subsidiary in the United States. In 1984, a multibillion dollar Japanese conglomerate CSK bought Sega and headquartered it in Japan. David Rosen’s friend, Isao Okawa, the chairman of CSK, became chairman of Sega.

Here ends the first part of my retrospective of Sega, join me in part II where we’ll see the company rise from the ashes of the game crash of 1983 to become one of the biggest and most recognised names in gaming.

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Pac-Man Part VII

Well here we are…finally, at the end of my retrospective look back at Pac-Man’s entire 35 year gaming life.
If you have managed to make it through my Pac-Man game overview as well as my Happy Birthday bio and even managed to get through the whole multipart retrospecive…well done and thank you for reading.

pac

Here in this final part, I just want to give mention to some of the other games I didn’t cover in the main retrospective.
First the various Pac-Man compilations:

Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga: Class of 1981
Release date: 2001
System: Arcade

Pac-Man Collection
Release date: 2001
System: Game Boy Advance

Pac-Man: 25th Anniversary Arcade Machine
Release date: 2005
System: Arcade

Pac-Man Power Pack
Release date: 2008
System: PlayStation 2

Namco All-Stars: Pac-Man and Dig Dug
Release date: 2009
System: Windows PC

Pac-Man’s Arcade Party
Release date: 2010
System: Arcade

Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions
Release date: 2011
System: Nintendo 3DS

Dual Pack: Pac-Man World 3/Namco Museum DS
Release date: 2012
System: Nintendo DS

Pac-Man Museum
Release date: 2014
System: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC

Next up are compilations that feature Pac-Man in games, but not in the title:

Namco Museum 64
Release date: 1999
System: Nintendo 64

Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary
Release date: 2005
System: GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Windows PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox

Namco Museum Remix
Release date: 2007
System: Wii

Namco Museum DS
Release date: 2007
System: Nintendo DS

Namco Museum Virtual Arcade
Release date: 2009
System: Xbox 360

Moving onto iOS/Android games:

Pac-Man Remix
Release date: 2009
System: iPhone and iPod Touch

PAC-Match Party
Release date: 2010
System: iPod Touch and iPad

Pac-Chain
Release date: 2010
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Pac-Attack
Release date: 2010
System: iPhone and iPod Touch

Pac’N-Jump
Release date: 2011
System: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android

Pac-Chomp!
Release date: 2011
System: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad , Android and Kindle Fire

Pac-Man Games
Release date: 2012
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Pac-Man Kart Rally
Release date: 2012
System: Android and Kindle Fire

Pac-Man + Tournaments
Release date: 2013
System: Android

Pac-Man Dash!
Release date: 2013
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Pac-Man Monsters
Release date: 2014
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Pac-Man Friends
Release date: 2014
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Finish off with games Pac-Man has cameoed in:

Kick
Release date: 1981
System: Arcade

Mario Kart Arcade GP
Release date: 2005
System: Arcade

Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Release date: 2007
System: Arcade

Space Invaders vs. Pac-Man
Release date: 2005
System: Mobile phone

QuickSpot
Release date: 2006
System: Nintendo DS

Body and Brain Connection
Release date: 2011
System: Xbox 360

Pac-Man S
Release date: 2011
System: Social facebook game

Everybody’s Golf 6
Release date: 2011
System: PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3

Street Fighter X Tekken
Release date: 2012
System: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita

Pac-Man Smash
Release date: 2012
System: Arcade

Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
Release date: 2013
System: Arcade

Namco High
Release date: 2013
System: Web Browser

Mario Kart 8
Release date: 2014
System: Wii U

Super Smash Bros.
Release date(s): 2014
System: Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

Galaga: TEKKEN 20th Anniversary Edition
Release date: 2015
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

That just about covers every official appearance from Pac-Man aside from a few pinball machines that also featured Pac-Man.

Well, it’s been a long journey (and a long read/write). From 1980-2015, Pac-Man was the original gaming mascot that is still relevant, known and referenced even today. This ends Pac-Man’s 35th Birthday celebration on LBoG&M…and this also just so happens to be my 50th post.
It’s been a great 35 years with great games as well as not so great games. Pac-Man has appeared in various gaming genres from the simple maze running of the original, to platforming, to adventure games…and even a trivia based game.

Thanks for the memories Pac-Man.

Birthday pac

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Pac-Man Part IV

Here we are at the home console/computer Pac-Man titles and we start off with a classic puzzle take on the Pac-Man franchise.

Pattack banner

Pac-Attack: Using the same puzzle game style that was cemented into gaming history by Tetris. Pac-Attack hit various consoles in 1993 and was the first none arcade Pac-Man game released by Namco.

Simple enough premise and familiar with anyone (and who hasn’t) that has played Tetris.
The player controls and drops shapes consisting of Ghosts, Blocks, Pac-Man, and even a Fairy (if you fill the Fairy Meter) to the bottom of the play area. The objective is to not let the blocks overflow and reach the top of the play area. Trying to get Pac-Man to eat the ghosts, and make lines of blocks to shorten the amount of total blocks on the board. When Pac-Man eats a ghost, the Fairy Meter slowly fills up. Once the meter is filled up, a fairy will eventually be dropped. Once the fairy comes to a stop by landing on anything, it makes every ghost in the eight lines below it will disappear, often resulting in numerous lines being completed and even simplifying the board.

Pac-Attack also supports two other game modes; A 2-player mode where player 1 must eat the ghost Blinky, while player 2 must eat Sue, the purple ghost introduced in Pac-Mania. As players eat their ghosts and complete lines, they will drop ghosts on their opponent’s board which in turn can mess up their board and bringing them closer to the top and forcing them to lose.
There is even a puzzle mode, where the object is to smash all 100 stages by getting rid all of the ghosts on the board with the limited number of Pac-Man’s for each stage.

Pac-Attack was a really good fun Tetris-esque puzzle game and an enjoyable 2 player experience.
The game was originally released on the Sega Mega Drive and SNES with various other ports coming later including; Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Gear, CD-i, Virtual Console and even a “demake” for iOS.

With many Pac-Man games from 1980 to 1993 with varying titles…there still has not been a proper/official Pac-Man 2…

Pac-man 2

Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures: This was a strange title, while officially the real and true sequel to the original Pac-Man, Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures was nothing like the original game it was the sequel to. namco released Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures in 1994 for the Sega Mega Drive and SNES.

Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures was a very different style and tone with the game utilizing a side scrolling, point n’ click adventure concept. The game uses a lot of certain elements and similar aesthetic from the Pac-Land arcade game and the Pac-Man animated TV series from the 80’s.

The player has no real direct control over Pac-Man himself. Pac-Man moves and interacts with the world, characters, and even the player on his own. The only directional command that can be given by the player to Pac-Man is the “Look” button, which makes Pac-Man look or turn in whichever direction is held on the control pad.
Instead, the player takes the role of an observer/overlooker. Instead of directly interacting with the world by a standard click interface, you are armed with a slingshot that can be used to indirectly affect or strike objects in the world making Pac-Man take notice of specific characters, obstacles and items. You can even use the slingshot on Pac-Man himself.

A unique and novel concept the featured was solutions to puzzles often depend on using Pac-Man’s wildly different and changing moods. Pac-Man’s mood can and will change in response to what he encounters in his environment, or the actions the player takes directly. For example; shooting down an apple from a tree for Pac-Man to eat will make him happier, whereas shooting him on the head will gradually anger him.
There are other moods as well, such as depression and fear, and these moods often have varying intensities and levels. If you make Pac-Man too happy, for example, will cause him to become haughty, which makes him braver, but also ruder and less cooperative to your direction. While often, negative moods will make progression difficult and can be difficult to change, sometimes these moods will be needed to progress through the game.
Pac-Man will be harassed by the classic and iconic ghosts; Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde. When he encounters the ghosts, Pac-Man becomes paralyzed by fear, will run away and eventually faint. At these points in the game, you must feed Pac-Man a power pill, of which only 3 can be held at any one time. When Pac-Man sees the power pill and eats it, he becomes Super Pac-Man for a few seconds and flies across the screen, eating any ghosts in his way. Sometimes the ghosts may be guarding important objects needed to progress through the story.

There was even an arcade you could visit in the game and play a version of the original Pac-Man plus a bonus game if you collected pieces of a game cartridge. The unlockable bonus game for the SNES version was Ms. Pac-Man. While the Sega Mega Drive version had a different game called Pac-Jr, which was an all new Pac-Man game and not a conversion of the unauthorized arcade game Jr. Pac-Man from Midway.

Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures was a mixed bag with many people yearning for the classic Pac-Man style back. But others really enjoyed the unique and innovative gameplay change and style.

The next Pac-Man game would again use a new idea instead of the classic Pac-Man maze styled gameplay people knew and loved.

Pac in time title

Pac-In-Time: Developed by Kalisto, published by Namco and released just a short time after Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures. Pac-In-Time uses a side-scrolling notion and was a rebranding of one of Kalisto’s other games: Fury of the Furries. The game was released for the SNES, Game Boy, DOS and Macintosh.

Pac-Man that has transported him back in time by the Ghost Witch. Pac-Man must fight his way back through various levels to get back to present day.

You control Pac-Man as he works his way through five different worlds, with each world containing 10 different levels. Each level contains around 30 pellets that must be found in before you can move onto the next one.
The end of each level is marked with a door that will only open once all of the required pellets have been collected. There are various enemies throughout the game Pac-Man has to contend with and they are mostly contextually connected to the theme of each world. But Pac-Man will also run across his age old enemies, the ghosts, who will appear frequently throughout each level and chase after Pac-Man. But along with the ghosts comes their weakness, the power pills, which Pac-Man can eat and then take on his mortal enemies.

Reception towards this game was mostly positive but a few reviewers did make note of the difficulty. Pac-In-Time was a fun little title and yet another new gaming genre that Pac-Man appeared in.

As we leave Pac-Man’s time travelling adventure behind, we join Pac-Man for his 20th Birthday.

Pac world cover

Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary: Was released at the end of 1999 to coincide with…as the title suggests, Pac-Man’s 20th anniversary. Developed and published by Namco, Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary was originally released on the Playstation and eventually ported to the Game Boy Advance.

Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary was Pac-Man’s first proper 3D game and offered a pseudo-open world environment and a platform style gaming genre.

Pac-Man arrives home on his 20th birthday only to discover that his friends & family; Ms. Pac-Man, Baby Pac, Jr. Pac, Professor Pac, Chomp Chomp the dog, and Pooka have all been kidnapped by the evil Toc-Man. Toc-Man is a giant robot Pac-Man impersonator that was created by Orson, who is trying to steal Pac-Man’s identity. Pac-Man sets off to Ghost Island and works to free his friends & family.

The game is a standard 3D platformer that celebrates and plays heavily into the history of the Pac-Man character. Every non-boss level features a maze that plays by the rules of the original Pac-Man game from 1980.
Every level is littered with pellets, fruits and ghosts, plus most of the music is modified and remixed from early entries into the series and even the original Pac-Man arcade game was available for play from the menu screen.

Pac-Man is given a handful of standard platform maneuvers, including a “butt-bounce”, which was very similar to Mario’s ground pound and the “rev-roll” which was pretty much a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog’s spin-dash.
Pac-Man could also use the pellets he picks up offensively by throwing them at non-ghost enemies. Just as in the original game, Pac-Man can collect power pills allowing him to eat ghosts for a short amount of time.

Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary was a great celebration of the classic gaming character with nods to his heritage while staying fresh for the modern era of the time.

Next up would be another puzzle based game and the return of “her indoors”.

Ms. Pac MM

Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness: Originally released on the Playstation in 2000 and later ported to the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness was a return to the puzzle game genre and also brought back Ms. Pac-Man as the star.

Professor Pac learns that the evil forces have taken control of the Enchanted Castle by using black magic. The princess has disappeared and a witch named Mesmerelda is planning on stealing all four Gems of Virtue to control the four areas of Pac-Land. These four areas each have enemies in them, and are blocked by mysterious force fields. Professor Pac creates a device called the Pactrometer, which allows Ms. Pac-Man to go to these areas and recover the gems before Mesmerelda can get them first.
However, the Professor gets sucked in a mirror by the witch, leaving Ms. Pac-Man with the Pactrometer. As she journeys through the areas, she is helped by video messages that the Professor placed in the Pactrometer, and by holograms of Professor Pac himself.

You must navigate a series of mazes controlling Ms. Pac-Man. Along the way, you’ll encounter various obstacles like; moving blocks, exploding boxes, and even locked doors. To help Ms. Pac-Man along the way, there is ‘Pellet Radar’ to locate missing pellets you will need before being allowed to reach the next section of a level.
Placed about the maze are such devices as spring tiles used to jump over the walls of the maze and sometimes on top of them, switches, keys, hearts for health and power pills used in the classic way to allow Ms. Pac-Man to eat all the enemies in the area for a limited time.

As you progresses, you must eat the yellow pellets scattered about each area, once you have eaten enough of these a door will open which allows you to reach a new section of that area. Each area has its own amount of pellets, as well as food bonuses such as fruit and pretzels. If the player can get all of these bonus items, as well as reaching the exit of the areas they are rewarded with a Gold Star. Earning enough stars will unlock various features such as bonus rounds and a Movie Player to watch the game’s animated cutscenes.
After beating the two in-game bosses, the player receives the Witch’s Key which allows them to unlock various locations in the earlier areas. However, the game requires the player to beat the bosses twice in order to see the game’s ending.

Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness even allowed you to play the original arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man from the main menu.

The reception for Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness was mainly positive but it was aimed at a more casual gamer.

For the next Pac-Man game, we would return to the original but with a few new twists.

Pac adventres IT cover

Pac-Man: Adventures in Time: Was only released for Windows. Developed by Creative Asylum and published by Namco via Hasbro Interactive. The game features five worlds or time-periods, set over forty 3D mazes.

Pac-Man: Adventures in Time was a return to the classic maze Pac-Man style from the original game but now using the 3D graphics style that was popular at the time.

Under orders from the villainous Mollusc, ghosts Inky and Clyde steal a magical power pill known as the artifact that has kept Pac-Land free from evil. Mollusc smashes the artifact and in a mighty explosion of power, its four fragmented pieces are scattered across time and space.
The player’s challenge as Pac-Man is to retrieve the artifact’s four pieces from the now ghost-infested time periods and return them to the present. Professor Pac-Man prepares an unpredictable, hastily constructed Time Machine to help Pac-Man on his quest.

The gameplay is really a remake of the very first, original Pac-Man from 1980, but hey it’s a classic.
With the simple maze running gameplay, pellet eating, ghost avoiding, etc. The ability to jump from Pac-Mania returns which is useful for bypassing bypassing hazards and avoiding enemies. Some levels contain obstacles such as deadly boulders, animals who delay or even kill Pac-Man, and explosive projectiles. The levels also feature a variety of shapes and architectural features such as cylindrical mazes, canopies, bridges, pyramids, and even walls that allow Pac-Man to walk vertically. Also a feature is collecting a certain number of pellets to unlock other areas of a maze.

The various time frames Pac-Man finds himself in are;
Prehistoric: This era features the Ghosts as Cavemen, Dinosaurs, Fire Monsters, and Birds.
Ancient Egypt: This era has the Ghosts as Thieves, Merchants, Jackals, Egyptian Guards, High Priests and Egyptian Gods and cobras that will strike Pac-Man.
Middle Ages: This time age features the Ghosts as Peasants, Living Mushrooms, Knights, Dragonoids, Jesters, and Skeletons. There is even a sleeping dragon that will attack once it wakes up.
Wild West: This time frame has the Ghosts as Outlaws, Conductors, and Miners and rattlesnakes that will strike Pac-Man when they are disturbed.
Future: The final time zone features the Ghosts as Robots, Scientists and Aliens.

Pac-Man: Adventures in Time is classic Pac-Man done very well indeed. The original style is still there with a nice blend of Pac-Mania along with a few new features and ideas thrown into the mix.

Ms. Pac-Man takes the limelight in the next game…but she really shouldn’t have bothered.

Ms. Pac golden

Ms. Pac-Man: Quest for the Golden Maze: Was again a return to the classic Pac-Man original, but this time with Ms. Pac-Man taking the lead. Developed by Namco and published by Atari/Infogrames, again this was a PC/Windows exclusive released in 2001.

One day, Professor Pac is talking to Ms. Pac-Man. He tells her about the Golden Maze in Cleopactra, in the Temple of Dots. He says that only a true pacventurer can get to the maze and beat it. Ms. Pac-Man sets off to the Golden Maze to beat it, but Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Sue try to get in her way.

This was again a simple maze game that harped back the the glory days of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. But unlike the previous attempt, Pac-Man: Adventures in Time, this game got everything wrong and seemed like it was rushed out.
There’s not much to say about this game as it didn’t really do anything worth talking about. But if you want to see Pac-<Man done badly…this is the game for you.

I'll end this part of my retrospective here on this sour note. But part V will bring a return to form for Pac-Man with some underrated gems.

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