Tag Archives: Namco

Evolution Of F1 Games 1974 – 2020

Formula 1 as a sport turns seventy years old this year. That’s quite a momentous occasion to celebrate. I used to be a huge F1 fan, mainly through the eighties and nineties with Ayrton Senna being my favourite driver. Then, the blackest race weekend that was Imola  94 happened and for me, F1 died. Still, I’ve always enjoyed playing F1 games even if I really don’t follow the sport itself much anymore.

So I thought, to celebrate seventy years of Formula 1, that I would look at how F1 games have evolved through the years. From the first ever F1 game right up to the latest in 2020. Now, I’m not going to cover every single F1 game as there’s quite a lot of them and when you get into the latter games, they’re really just yearly updates. But I will be looking at some of the more notable F1 games to see how they’ve changed over the decades. Plus, a lot of the early games may not have been officially F1 licensed, but it’s very clear they were definitely F1 influenced. There will be links aplenty to gameplay footage of many of the games, a big thanks to the various YouTubers who complied the gameplay.

So anyway, here we go on an F1 trip through gaming, spanning six decades.

BORN 1950

The first ever Formula One race was held in 1950 at the famed Silverstone circuit. Italian driver, Emilio Giuseppe Farina would go in to be crowned the first official F1 World Champion. I don’t have to go back to the fifties (especially as video games didn’t exist then) for the first ever F1 game, but what could be considered the first F1 themed game is still very early in gaming history.

The Seventies

1972’s Pong is often considered the first ‘proper’ video game. It’s certainly the one game that kick-started the whole arcade and video game revolution in those early days. Back then, gaming was in its infancy and games were very simple. Perhaps the first F1-ish game could be Speed Race from 1974.

SPEED RACE

Developed and released by Tatio in Japan (Midway in the US where it was called Wheels), Speed Race offered some very simple gameplay. You controlled an F1-like car on a fast vertically scrolling road. Given just ninety seconds to make it as far along the road as you could. Along the way, you’d have to weave in and out of other racers. The arcade cabinet itself was a stand up thing with a steering wheel, simple hi-low gears and an accelerator peddle. The game itself was very basic and may not have offered much in the way of F1 thrills, but it’s cabinet design screamed F1. I believe that Speed Race was also the first ever vertically scrolling video game.

Also from 1974 was Gran Trak 10, developed and published by Atari. This wasn’t scrolling like the previous game, but instead had you racing around a single screen track. Gran Trak 10 was a bit more in-depth compared to Speed Race. It was another stand up cabinet with peddles to accelerate and break, but this one offered multiple gears, including a reverse. There was only one track available in the game and you had to race through checkpoints to extend your limited time. Do as many laps of the track as possible before the time runs out.

A lot of those early seventies racers followed a similar gameplay style. Simple weave in and out of traffic, or complete laps within a time limit. Titles such as Sprint 2 (it wasn’t a sequel, the number just reflected the number of players) was the first in a long running franchise Night Driver and F-1 were further early examples of such games with similar ideas. The latter using a unique miniature diorama and projector system to create the illusion of racing over standard graphics. But it was perhaps Sega’s Monaco GP from 1979 which could be considered the first ‘proper’ F1 game.

MONACO GP

Where as the previous games mentioned may have had an F1 art style to the cabinet with some F1 questionable influence, Monaco GP was unmistakably Formula 1… mostly. This one played very similar to Tatio’s Speed Race, it just had fancier graphics and a few new gameplay additions like night driving, ice roads, etc, all those things not seen in Formula 1 . Still with that vertical scrolling, race against time thing while dodging other cars. It certainly wasn’t a revolution in gameplay, but it was definitely trying to engage the F1 fans of the day. I mean, it was called Monaco GP, named after one of the most popular and famous races in F1 history. Plus, once again the cabinet was F1 themed especially the sit-down version.

The Eighties

If the seventies was the infancy of the Formula 1 game, then the eighties were its teenage years. The first few eighties F1 games still carried the same ideas and concepts from the seventies, not too much evolution really going on. Then 1982 happened and Namco released Pole Position. Just reading that title should spark off memories of many an older gamer and if it didn’t, this screenshot will:

POLE POSITION

Pole Position was perhaps the defining Formula 1 game of the eighties. Playing from a third person perspective, you raced around a (for the time) accurate recreation of the F1 Fuji racetrack. Before you could race, you’d have to ‘prepare to qualify’, as the digitised speech would tell you. Put in a good time for a lap and then it was on to the actual race. Here it was you against several CPU controlled opponents in a championship race. Overtake other cars, try not to explode by crashing into billboards and come first. Pole Position was the first F1 game to depict a real race track and also the first to feature a qualifying session and actual racing instead of just overtaking endless opponents. The following year in 1983 and Namco followed up with Pole Position II. Very much more of the same with some minor graphical refinements. Plus it added three more tracks, taking the total to four. Though the gameplay between the two games was identical.

By now, and thanks to the success of Namco’s two Pole Position titles, F1 racers were fast becoming hugely popular in the arcade and even at home. The rise of cheaper hardware saw consoles and computers in the abodes of avid gamers around the world. 1983’s Chequered Flag for the ZX Spectrum was an early example of a F1 simulator. You got to chose from three F1 cars, two called Ferretti and McFaster (Ferrari and McLaren) and race around six representations of real F1 tracks and four fictional circuits. There were no other cars to race against, just you trying to put in fast laps… oh and you had to avoid on-track hazards like oil slicks and broken glass, just like real F1? Chequered Flag also featured a pit-stop game mechanic, the first game to feature pit-stops where you could repair and refuel your car.

Grand Prix Manager from 1984 on the ZX Spectrum was the first ever F1 management game. Putting you in charge of a Formula 1 team. Chose your difficulty, number of races, sponsor, driver, hire mechanics and then it’s away you go. You have to keep an eye on your team, the car, drivers as you advance through the season. Grand Prix Manager was basic, very basic stuff, but it did the job well enough, for the first ever F1 management title.

GRAND PRIX MANAGER

By the mid eighties, there was a great mix of arcade style racers, more simulation style F1 games and even a few hybrids of the two. Atari released Super Sprint in 1986, a sequel to their long running Sprint franchise. 1985’s Formula 1 Simulator, despite it’s name, was less a simulator and more a Pole Position clone for the home market, even though Pole Position saw several home ports. Pitstop and Pitstop II (1983 and 84 respectively) offered some simple but fun F1 action for home computers. The latter of the two, me and my brothers spent many an hour on racing each other on our Commodore 64.

The late eighties began to see the rise of the officially licensed Formula 1 games. Satoru Nakajima F-1 Hero for the Famicom from 1988 was one of the first licensed F1 games. It saw a release outside of Japan on the NES as Michael Andretti’s World GP, which actually made little sense as Michael Andretti wasn’t an F1 driver, he raced in IndyCar. Though he did eventually race in F1 for the 1993 season. Anyway, the game was one of the first to offer a playable full F1 season, complete with all the real races and ‘drivers’… though pseudonyms were used. Then there was Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix for home computers from 1988. This one was much more simulation-like and even allowed you to try full race distances. It also offered recreations all of the sixteen Formula 1 circuits of the time.

FINAL LAP

Arcade titles such as 1987’s Continental Circus and Final Lap, 1988’s F-1 Dream and 1989’s Super Monaco GP (the sequel to the Sega classic Monaco GP from 1979) began to push just what arcade games could really do. Buttery smooth and fast gameplay with exciting race action to boot. But then, as the eighties began to end, a real game changer was released. Namco had already established themselves a great arcade racer developers, but in 1988, they unleashed a genuine beast of a game. Winning Run was was a revelation in arcade racers, F1 themed sure, but it was the titles amazingly impressive 3D shaded polygon graphics that really blew people away. Giving you a choice of two difficulties (cars) but only one track. You have to complete a qualifying lap before going up against twelve other racers to fight for first place. Winning Run opened the doors for 3D polygon racers, both in the arcade and at home.

The Nineties

Well this is it, the decade where Formula 1 game really took hold and began to show just how good they could be.  There were more F1 games released in the nineties than any other decade. The arcade format began to grow a little tired of the Formula 1 racers and started to look at other racing disciplines for games to be based on, but the home market was a very different story, you could hardly move for F1 themed games for home consoles and computers. It was 1991 when one of the finest Formula 1 games ever was released with Formula One Grand Prix.

F1GP

At the time, Formula One Grand Prix, from game designer Geoff Crammond was THE definitive F1 game for home computers. Its impressive 3D graphics were highly detailed for the time and the game offered a very, very in-depth, simulation representation of the 1991 season. Though the game was not officially licenced by the FIA, Geoff still made the game as authentic as he could. All the correct tracks were there and so were the drivers and cars… kind of. The driver helmets and car liveries were in the game, but the names were not. However, Geoff was smart enough to add an editing tool in the game so you could change the names with ease. There is so much I could write on this one F1 game alone (like it’s online and modding community that still exits) that this article would go on for days and I have so much more to cover… like this game’s sequels. But I will finish by adding that this game was the one that not only got me into racing some, but also F1 as a sport much more deeply. Yeah I watched and enjoyed F1 before this, but it was all the car set-ups, track info, etc from this game thatmade me want to understand the sport more.

Two of the biggest F1 drivers in the sport of the era got in on the whole licensing thing in 1992 when they had games released bearing their names and likenesses. Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing saw you able to play a full F1 1992 season as the mustachioed one himself. This was much more arcade-like but still offered things like pit-stops, minor car set-ups, tyre choices and the like. Even the greatest racing driver of all time ever got in on the action with Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II from Sega, a licensed version of their long running F1 series of games. This one was based on the 1991 season and Ayrton himself even helped with the development of the game. He not only allowed the use of his likeness, but Ayrton pops up though the championship offering you driving advice and tips for each track, all of which was written by the man himself. Plus he helped with how the cars should handle and even designed two fictitious tracks for the player to drive on, Ayrton even had a few voice samples in the game too.

SENNA SUPER MONACO GP II

There really were a slew of Formula 1 games in the early nineties, they were everywhere. Titles like F1 Pole Position, F1 Hero MD, Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit, F-1 Sensation (which was actually fully FIA licenced), F1 Grand Prix: Nakajima Satoru, F1 Circus Special: Pole To Win to name just a few, were all released between 1990 and 1994. I just need to give special mention to F-1 Grand Prix Part III from 1994 on the SNES. One of my favourite F1 games on any console at the time as it melded a really great racing game with some light management elements, allowing you to create your own F1 team.  But 1995 saw Geoff Crammond return and vastly improve on F1 game when he released the sequel, Grand Prix 2… only this time, fully licenced by the FIA. All the races, drivers (with the exception of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger for obvious reasons), and teams for the 1994 Formula 1 season were wonderfully recreated and the simulation feel of the previous game was exceed ten-fold.

But it wasn’t all about heart pumping racing as Grand Prix Manager and Grand Prix Manager 2 saw releases in 1995 and 1996 respectively. Two very good and solid F1 management games full of options and variables as you take your chosen F1 team onto victory over a ten year career. To be honest, the games do feature some very questionable AI and overall simplistic gameplay, not exactly in-depth for management games, but still offered some good gameplay along the way.

GP MANAGER 2

1996 saw the release of Formula 1. Perhaps one of the most important F1 games to ever be made. This was the genesis of the F1 games we have today. Formula 1 featured the most accurate representation of the sport to date at the time. Fully licenced cars and drivers, tracks designed using actual real-life data and telemetry, TV style presentation including Tag Heuer timings. It even had commentary from the legend that was Murray Walker. This wasn’t quite as simulation heavy as Geoff Crammond’s games, but it was the first F1 game to get the whole feel and presentation of the sport right.

Formula 1 as a sport already had a rich history worth exploring in the nineties, and one game broke from the norm of trying to make the most recent season the star of the game. 1998’s Grand Prix Legends took the sport back to the sixties, in particular, the 1967 Formula 1 season. The tracks were tighter, the cars didn’t have the safety features and the sport on the whole was far more dangerous an this game tried to capture that. A full on simulation of what it would’ve been like to drive and F1 car back then, Grand Prix Legends was brutally realistic, a trait that turned many gamers off and the title didn’t sell well. But it is a game sim fans look back on with fondness.

GP LEGENDS

As the nineties came to and end, the F1 games did not. F-1 World Grand Prix, Formula One 99, Monaco Grand Prix: Racing Simulation 2, Grand Prix World and Official Formula One Racing were all released in the last coupe of years of the decade. And believe me, I’ve not even covered half of the F1 games released in this decade.

The Two-Thousands

As the next century began, F1 licenses became more strict and the games began to thin out in an quality over quantity kind of way. That’s not to say there still wasn’t a good few F1 games released. Kicking things of right was that man again, Geoff Crammond, with the third of his brilliant F1 games.

Grand Prix 3 followed the 1998 season. Yes, that is two years out of date. Though it was given an update in 2001 for the 2000 season via an expansion pack. Much like Geoff Crammond’s previous F1 titles, this one once more offered a fantastic racing experience and some in-depth simulation options. Electronic Arts got in on the F1 act using their famed EA Sports (it’s in the game) label, releasing multiple titles.  F1 2000, F1 Championship Season 2000, F1 Manager, F1 2001, F1 2002 and F1 Career Challenge all offered a more acradey feel to the racing over a deep simulation. Except for F1 Manager which was obviously a management game.

F1 Championship Season-2000

Grand Prix Challenge from Infogrames was a decent attempt at an F1 title, though it strived to be more simulation-like, it never really felt like it. Williams F1 Team Driver from 2001 put you in the driver’s seat of a young driver trying to make it into F1. Starting out in  go karts before Formula 1600cc, Formula 3, and finally onto Formula 1. An interesting title that was doing things a bit different from the usual Formula 1 games a the time, but overall, it was pretty disappointing. 2002 saw Geoff Crammond release his final F1 game with Grand Prix 4. This was pretty much more of the same from Geoff, still a good F1 racer indeed. But the problem was that other games on the market were beginning to get better and better, meaning these, once standout games no longer stood-out.

Formula One Arcade

Formula One Arcade from 2001 did exactly what the title suggested. It was a much more arcade-like game wrapped up in the official F1 licence. As far away from a simulation as you could get as the races featured power-ups like speed-boots, large high-grip tyres and even shields. This was all about high-octane, OTT racing.

By 2004, F1 games started to just became yearly update affairs. Sony secured the official F1 licence back in 1996 and made plenty of games from it too. Fourteen games in total released between 1996 and 2007. Other studios made F1 games, sure, but by the mid 2000s, Sony monopolised the market. Then in 2008, Codemasters were the ones to pick up the licence, though they didn’t use it proper until the next decade. There were still a very small handful of Formula 1 games released. For instance, F1 2009 was published by Codemasters, but developed by Sumo Digital. It was in 2010 when Codemasters released and developed their first Formula 1 title.

The Twenty-Tens And Twenty-Twenties

Yup, from this decade onward, Codemasters had exclusive rights to the official F1 licence. Meaning only they could release ‘proper’ F1 games. I don’t think it’s really worth going into all of their titles as they are basically yearly updates over the previous game. From F1 2010 to the most recent F1 2020, Codmasters have given us a decade of solid F1 simulations. Their F1 games over the last ten years have been great and easily offer the best Formula 1 racing around. All fully licenced with all the tracks and drivers representative of their respective years. I reviewed the most recent game only a few weeks back too.

F1 Race Stars

Codemasters did release a little curiosity of an F1 game back in 2012 that wasn’t part of their F1 sim games. F1 Race Stars was a more kart-racing-style arcade game, Full of power-ups, weapons and crazy track layouts that included jumps and even loops. Far and away from the simulation games, F1 Race Stars was actually really good fun and it even featured the official FIA licence too. Yup, you could drive as any of the twelve teams and twenty-four drivers from the 2012 season around OTT tracks inspired by the real circuits.

Other games have offered F1-like racing in some of their games. Rockstar introduced F1-style cars and races in GTA Online and the Forza Motorsport series has also included  Formula 1 cars and tracks. As too does the Assetto Corsa franchise. Though in these cases, they are either fictional cars or historical ones due to Codemasters having exclusive rights to the current F1 season.


And so, that’s pretty much it. Formula 1 games from the dawn of the sub-genre in 1972 right up to today in 2020. From simple arcade racers to more in-depth, realistic simulations and even management titles. F1 has seen a real evolution in terms of games that has spanned six decades. As much as I love the Codemasters F1 sims, it’s a shame they have exclusivity over the licence. I’d like to see more studios making F1 games like back in the eighties and nineties. I’d like to see more variation on the sport too instead of these yearly updates. Codemasters’ own F1 Race Stars was good fun and showed you don’t have to always make 100% serious Formula 1 titles.

I’d love to see more historic F1 games. Why not relive the career of a legend like Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher? Start out in karts, before moving through the ranks of the  Formula Ford 1600 Championships, Formula 3 before moving into F1? There could be a real-life comparison kind of thing where the actual career of Senna/Schumacher is going on in the background and you have to try your best to match it. I’d like to see more F1 management games, a sub-genre greatly underused. I’d like to see more acradey-like games and so on, titles that push the imagination of F1 beyond the simulation genre. There’s so much scope to be had with the sport, yet all we are getting are yearly updates of (admittedly) great F1 sims and cameo roles in other driving games.

Pac-Man Part VI

Welcome back (again) to the final Pac-Man games released for the home market, and we kick of with yet another sequel to Pac-Man’s first 3D adventure.

Pac world 3

Pac-Man World 3: Was a multiformat game released on PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Nintendo DS, PSP and Windows. Developed & published by Namco and in stores in 2005. The game was released to celebrate Pac-Man’s 25th birthday.

The sequel to the sequel of Pac-Man World and the only one of the trilogy not released in Japan. The game also featured the first speaking Pac-Man within the gaming series.

In a search for power, an evil genius called Erwin has found a way to suck raw energy out of the world of the Spectral Realm, the world of the ghosts. Erwin has created a syphon that can penetrate into the Spectral Realm. This is causing the Spectral Realm to collapse into Pac-Land and bringing about an environmental catastrophe.
Meanwhile, Pac-Man is celebrating his 25th birthday with his family when he is teleported by Orson, a former nemesis of Pac-Man from the first Pac-Man World game. Orson communicates to Pac-Man and tells him about the Spectral Realm. Pac-Man is attacked by fiery Spectral monsters of the orange, green, and purple varieties which have been driven mad by Erwin’s hypnosis with the ghosts; Inky and Blinky been kidnapped as part of Erwin’s evil scheme. However, Pinky and Clyde managed to escape.
Now Pac-Man must join forces with the ghosts, Orson, Pinky, and Clyde to stop Erwin before he destroys both the Spectral Realm and Pac-Land.

Cutscenes pop up throughout the game, and instead of having just subtitles, the characters speak as well. The subtitles are configurable in the game’s settings.

Pac-Man retains his moves from the previous two Pac-Man World games, like the butt-bounce and the rev-roll, but now he gets the ability to punch. As normal attacks don’t work on Spectral monsters, Pac-Man can eat a power pill and do what has been a Pac-Man staple since the first game.

There is also a museum accessible by the main menu, where you can look at Pac-Man game history and even play the original Pac-Man game itself.

Better than Pac-Man World 2 but still not as enjoyable as the first Pac-Man World. The game met with fairly positive reviews. Critics praised the inclusion of elements from the previous two games,but noted the repetition and lower difficulty. Plus a speaking Pac-Man sparked controversy among fans.

Next up, Pac-Man decides to get in on all that Popular Mario Kart action.

Pac rally

Pac-Man World Rally: Developed by Smart Bomb Interactive and published by Namco. Released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, PSP, GameCube and Windows. A karting game based in the Pac-Man universe and obviously “inspired” by Mario Kart.

Pac-Man World Rally uses standard kart racing genre game gameplay. A 4-player multiplayer mode was also included.
Pac-boxes are available on the track and allow the player the gift of one item/weapon. the infamous pellets are also available on the racetrack., with each pellet collected helps the a meter go up and once the meter is full, the player can press a button and turn into Pac-Man while all the other players turn into blue ghosts. If the Pac-Man eats any of the blue ghosts, the blue ghosts will stop for a while and get a major disadvantage on the track.
There is also a fruit activation button on the racetrack. When the player runs over the button, fruit is scattered around the racetrack. When you run over the fruit, it allows the shortcut that corresponds with the fruit to become open for you.

Various characters were available with not only Pac-Man characters, but also a handful of characters from other Namco games including; Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Jr. Pac-Man, Blinky, Pinky, Inky, Clyde, Toc-Man (Pac-Man World),Spooky (Pac-Man World 2), Erwin (Pac-Man World 3), Pac-Devil (new character), The Prince (Katamari Damacy),Pooka (Dig Dug), Fygar (Dig Dug), Mappy (Mappy) and Mr. Driller (Mr. Driller).

The game was split into various cups (just like Mario Kart) with; Cherry Cup, Grape Cup, Watermelon Cup, Classic Cup and finally: Rally Cup.
Each cup had various races based on the Pac-Man universe.

Reviewers gave the game average reviews at best, noting the blatant ripping off of Mario Kart. But even in itself, Pac-Man World Rally was just a very average karting game.

Next up would be a welcome return to “classic Pac” with a retro makeover and even the return of Pac-Man’s father.

Pac champ

Pac-Man Championship Edition: Released on Android, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS. Developed and published by Namco in 2007.

The game was designed by Tōru Iwatani, the creator of the original 1980 arcade game and it was Iwatani’s final game before his retirement.

Going back to roots with the pellet eating, ghost dodging, maze running gameplay made famous by the original Pac-Man. Pac-Man Championship Edition was classic Pac-Man done brilliantly and updated for a new audience and generation.

While the game’s roots were in classic Pac-Man, Pac-Man Championship Edition brought plenty of new concepts to the table;
Each maze is divided into two halves. Eating all the pellets in one half causes a bonus item to appear on the other side, and eating that item causes a new maze to appear on the other half.
Players can also collect additional power pills to increase their powered up time and continue earning maximum points for eating ghosts. The longer the player stays alive, the faster the game gets and the more points can be earned.
As opposed to stages, the game is played within a certain time limit, with players attempting to get the highest score possible.

The game features six modes: Championship, which is the basic five-minute mode, two Challenge modes which features real time effects on the stage and three Extra modes featuring different mazes.

Pac-Man Championship Edition was met with positive reviews and reception. With many reviewers praising the return to the simplicity of Pac-Man but also for bringing with it several great new features.

Namco found Pac-Man Championship Edition to be a great success…so they tried it again….

Pac champ DX

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX: Was released 3 years later in 2010. Developed by Mine Loader Software and Published by Namco. Released for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Windows Phone, Windows Store and Steam. This was just an update over Pac-Man Championship Edition previously…but what a great update.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX builds and adds upon the gameplay of Pac-Man Championship Edition. Where players control Pac-Man as he travels through a maze collecting pellets and avoiding ghosts. Collecting all the pellets on one side of the maze makes a fruit appear on the other side, which adds a new layout of pellets on that side. The basic gameplay remained untouched, but Pac-Man Championship Edition DX did bring more new features;
Introduced is a new type of ghost that sleeps in a stationary spot on the maze until Pac-Man moves past it, when it will wake and begin to follow Pac-Man. By passing several sleeping ghosts, they form a large rainbow trail that can offer massive bonus points once Pac-Man is able to get a power pill and eat them.
Some ghosts may also have additional power pills inside them that can prolong the powered-up state if eaten in time.
A slow-motion effect automatically kicks in whenever a ghost gets too close to Pac-Man, which offers players the chance to make a last-minute attempt to avoid being caught.
Players can also use a limited supply of bombs that return all the ghosts to the center of the maze, although it lowers the dot multiplier, game speed and your overall score.

The game has various visual styles, including some in the style of Pac-Mania, which can be mixed and matched by the player. You also had access a constantly updated News feature, which includes articles such as developer interviews, as well as view video replays of the highest-ranking Score Attack players.

I have yet to find a bad or even average review of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX as every single one is nothing but high praise. While just an update of the previous Pac-Man Championship Edition, this title improved everything making it the best modern Pac-Man game yet.

Next up, Nintendo get Pac-Man back on their machines with a return to the multiplayer, party game experience.

pac party

Pac-Man Party: Was released in 2010 being published and developed by Namco and available on the Wii and Nintendo 3DS.

The game included over 50 minigames, which when played would allow players to unlock bonus content such as “Classic Games” mode where players can play three classic Namco arcade games; Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug.

Aside from the pick up and play minigames, Pac-Man Party also came with a story mode known as “Mr. Cookie’s Recipe” which is standard part game genre fare.
In this game mode, all players start at Mr. Cookie’s factory with 1000 cookies to start. The main object is to collect a set number of cookies, and get to the cookie factory to win.
When a player goes to an empty space or an empty castle, the player can build a castle to claim it. When players go to their own castle they receive bonus cookies. A player landing on an opponent’s castle will battle in one of the 50 odd minigames. If the attacking player wins, that player takes the opponent’s castle. If the defending player wins, the attack player loses a number of cookies.
If a player lands on a Millionaire Manor, something good may happen. If a player lands on a Tarot Tent, something bad could happen. If a player lands on Dr. Labo’s Lab, the player would be transported to a different space. Should the player pass an exclamation point space enough times, then the player will play a boss minigame.
The player can then return to the cookie factory to get a cookie bonus along with a castle bonus for each castle gained.
The winner is the player with the most cookies at the end of the game.

Pac-Man Party was met with average reviews with many people fining the minigames only mildly enjoyable.

We approach the penultimate Pac-Man game released for home machines and almost at the end of this HUGE retrospective.

Pac Ghost ad

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures: Was based on the new Pac-Man animated TV show of the same name. Developed by Monkey Bar Games and published by Namco. The game was released on the Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS in 2013.

The game begins with Pac-Man and his friends walk into Sir C’s lab. Three golden orbs are on a table, while Sir C is explaining what they are to Pac-Man, four ghosts from the netherworld come and tell Pac-Man that Pacoplis is under attack by Betrayus, king of the netherworld.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures used many of the characters and art style of the TV show it was based on. The game was a simple enough platformer with all the standard Pac-Man items; pellets, power pills, ghosts, etc.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was met with mediocre as it was just a very middle of the road game that didn’t really do anything wrong, nor did it do anything to make it stand out.

Still, some people must have enjoyed Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures as the sequel would be Pac-Man’s final (so far) released home game.

Pac Ghost ad 2

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2: Again developed by Monkey Bar Games and published by Namco in 2014. Released for Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360.

Following the colorful characters and world of the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures animated series, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 will feature Pac-Man, Spiral and Cylindria in an all-new storyline as they defend PacWorld from the ghoulish army of Lord Betrayus.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 really was pretty more of the same. It didn’t really offer anything new over the last game aside from a slightly different plot a few new characters and areas.
Aside from that, it was the exact same game as before and offered (again) a rather average platforming experience.

With that marks the end of Pac-Man’s gaming 35 year career.
From 1980-2015, Pac-Man is still one of the most recogniseable gaming characters ever.

Join me in my final part VII where I mop up with a few unmentioned Pac-Man game spin-offs and collections and offer my thoughts on Pac-Man himself as one of gaming’s icons.

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Pac-Man Part V

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.

all stars

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 fev cover

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 world 2

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 Vs

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

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 pin

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 roll

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.

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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.

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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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Pac-Man Part III

With Midway no longer a part of the Pac-Man franchise in terms of development, it was upto Namco to carry on this franchise and hopefully breathe new life into Pac-Man and his legacy.

Pac-land banner

Pac-Land: Released in August 1984 by Namco we got to experience Pac-Land. A radical departure from the classic maze based games Pac-Man had become famous for. Now Pac-Man is platform based and inspired by the Pac-Man animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera.

The concept behind Pac-Land itself is for Pac-Man to get a fairy to safety by taking back to Fairyland and then returning home, split into “trips”. These trips involves Pac-Man moving from left to right avoiding various obstacles such as the classic enemy ghosts, water spurts, even quicksand traps and water.
Each trip is divided into a number of rounds, the end of which provides Pac-Man with bonus points depending on how much time he has left and also his position in jumping at the end of each round.

The penultimate round of a trip ends with Pac-Man entering Fairyland and returning the fairy to the Fairy Queen. Then the Fairy Queen awards Pac-Man with a pair of magic boots. The final round of the trip has Pac-Man trying to return home by traveling back the way you came from right to left. Pac-Man can use the magic boots the Fairy Queen gave him to jump repeatedly while in mid-air. Once Pac-Man completes the trip and returns home, he is greeted by Ms. Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man and even Pac-Man’s cat and dog in the cartoon series, Sour Puss and Chomp-Chomp.
Pac-Man then begins his next trip following the same objectives as before, although the difficulty increases.

There are still power pills to eat so you can chase the ghosts. The Galaxian ship makes another appearance in the form of a bonus for extra points.
You could also find hidden bonuses in the game like; pushing a certain obstacles in the opposite direction (at the risk of the ghosts getting you) can give extra lives, invincibility, and balloons to collect for points or even reveal warps. Eating ghosts in a certain order will give extra time.

Pac-Land was a refreshing change and a great game to play. A good, solid return for Pac-Man after the dismal Professor Pac-Man before it.

Namco had hit gold with Pac-Land by bringing back Pac-Man but in an all new concept. What would they have install for our little yellow heor next?

Mainia banner

Pac-Mania: Was a return to the classic Pac-Man idea, released by Namco in 1987. Using an isometric view and features many of the elements from the original 1980 Pac-Man arcade game, as well as several new features.

Pac-Mania’s objective is a simple one and one familiar if you had played any of the original Pac-Man games. Clear each stage of pellets while avoiding ghosts, just now using an isometric viewpoint. Everything that worked in the original Pac-Man is here including the power pills.

Pac-Mania brings with it a few new features and significant differences from the original Pac-Man. Most notable was the pseudo-3D, isometric view. Pac-Man can now also jump with the press of a button which would allow Pac-Man to evade ghosts by jumping over them. However, Pac-Man cannot quite so easily jump over the two new green and gray ghosts as they will jump whenever the player attempts a jump.

Pac-Mania takes place in four distinct environments including: a Block Town with a Lego-esque style, Pac-Man’s Park which was the classic Pac-Man look, Sandbox Land in which the walls are made up from pyramids and Jungly Steps which was a maze with no walls but paths resembling a set of steps that rise up toward the back of the maze.

Well received by gamers, Pac-Mania was a return to classic Pac-Man with just enough new features to keep you entertained.

Pac-Man seemed to be back…but he would not grace another arcade game for almost 10 years…

Pac arrangement

Pac-Man Arrangement: Was a remake of the original Pac-Man game and was released in 1996 by Namco.

Just as with the original Pac-Man, Pac-Man Arrangement was a simple maze game in which the objective is to clear all the pellets by eating them and avoiding the ghosts.
While Pac-Man Arrangement used the basics of the original Pac-Man game, it also added plenty of new ideas to keep you entertained:
There was a new ghost Kinky, which can combine with other ghosts to form more powerful ghosts. These new hybrid ghosts have unique special abilities and would be twice the size of the normal ghosts.
For the second level of every world there are single-use dash arrows on the floor. These would allow Pac-Man to go from one end of the maze to the other rapidly. If you touched a ghost while using one of these panels, they would become dizzy and temporarily stunned. However, if Pac-Man go over the dash arrow in the opposite direction to which it is pointing, Pac-Man would slow down and be left vulnerable.
Each fourth level of each world feature coloured “Warp Gates” that allow Pac-Man as well as the ghosts to travel across the maze. Simply touching a Warp Gate will transport whoever touched it to the corresponding Warp Gate of the same colour on the other side of the map.
There were also additional power up items that would randomly appear. Power ups included; a red power-up which makes Pac-Man move faster, a Pink Power up that would send ghosts into a magic sack within the ghost house and render them temporarily immobile. The Blue Power up makes Pac-Man have his own reflection at the opposite place in the maze that can also eat dots but is immune to ghosts. The mini Pac-Man item gave you an extra life and the magic wand transformed the ghosts in the maze into harmless presents.

The game was split into six different worlds, numbered 0 to 5. Each world had a unique maze pattern, colour scheme, and difficulty level. Each world had four levels within it, except for World 0 which only has two. As you travel from world to world, the ghosts get faster and faster, and Kinky appears more and more.

The game also featured a nice 2 player Co-Op mode with the second player controlling a green Pac-Man.

Pac-Man Arrangement even introduced a boss battle which would appear after you complete Level 4 in World 5. The ghosts Clyde, Pinky, Inky and Blinky all get inside a machine. In this stage, you must avoid the machine and the Kinky clones that the machine throws out while you try to eat all the pellets. Each set of the clones is coloured in the ghosts’ familiar: red, pink, cyan and orange. A bomb would appear that when eaten, will destroy all clones of a certain colour. The first bomb destroys all the red clones, the second one destroys the pink, and so on up to the orange. When the final orange clone was dealt with, the machine with the ghosts still inside then places a new set of green pellets on the maze. These new green pellets are not eaten by Pac-Man but instead as you pass over them, they are launched at the machine and damage it. After so much damage from the pellets, the ghosts inside the machine start turning blue. Once all four of the ghosts turn blue, the machine starts whirling about the stage. Once all the pellets are eaten, a Pac-Man icon appears. Eating the Pac-Man icon destroys the machine and the game ends.

Pac-Man Arrangement was an interesting new take on the classic Pac-Man formula and was a fun game to play.

What came next was not to be expected at all.

Pac VR

Pac-Man VR: This was not what anyone expected or even wanted. Released in 1996 during that mid 90’s obsession with Virtual Reality. Pac-Man VR was exactly what is sounds like, a Virtual Reality Pac-Man developed by VR company Virtuality.

I really have very little to say about this one, even less than Professor Pac-Man.
It’s a VR Pac-Man game, I never liked the VR concept and still do not.

It was released in the arcades and failed miserably…probably due to the ridiculous cost to play the game. At $5 for just five minutes of play, people didn’t want to pay that much to play Pac-Man…and that is all it was, Pac-Man. No new features or ideas, just Pac-Man in VR.
This was about as good an idea as Nintendo’s Virtual Boy.

So putting that horrible mess behind us, lets move onto the (so far) final Pac-Man arcade game.

PM BR banner

Pac-Man Battle Royale: Hit arcades in 2011, developed by Namco Bandai Games. The game was originally created to be released in 2010 as part of Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary celebrations, but it was delayed until 2011.

Pac-Man Battle Royale is (as of writing) the final game to be released in the Pac-Man franchise in arcades.
Using the same basic premise as the original Pac-Man, Pac-Man Battle Royale brought the option of 4 player simultaneous play with each player controlling a different coloured Pac-Man all on the same screen, with the goal of trying to eat your opponent or try to lead the ghosts into eating them. Or playing in single player, the game will use a CPU controlled Pac-Man that would hinder the player.
The game can be set between three and nine rounds with the last remaining Pac-Man being the round winner.

Pac-Man Battle Royale was a fun, little battle game in the same vein as Hudson Soft’s Bomberman series but with a Pac-Man element.

This ends the Pac-Man arcade games and part III of my retrospective.
In part IV I will cover the home console/computer Pac-Man games.

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