Tag Archives: Namco

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.



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.


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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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?

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.


Pac-Man Part II

Welcome back to my multi-part retrospective look at the Pac-Man franchise.
We left off with another unauthorised Pac-Man game with Pac-Man Plus from Midway, so lets carry on from there.

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Baby Pac-Man: Was yet another Pac-Man game from Midway which was again not authorized by Pac-Man’s original developer Namco. Released in October 1982, Baby Pac-Man really brought a few new ideas to the franchise…but were they good ideas?

Baby Pac-Man was really two games in one. With play starting out as you’d expect from a Pac-Man game, simple maze with pellets to collect as normal, but without the infamous power pills that would allow you to eat the ghosts. This was displayed on the upper screen with another pinball mode underneath.
The game’s mazes were instantly recognisable and easy to understand if you had played a previous Pac-Man game with one exception, the addition of 2 chutes at the bottom of the screen. If you lead Baby Pac-Man down either of these 2 chutes, the game would switch to the lower pinball mode which would operate just as a traditional pinball game. The player could play pinball to earn power pills, gain fruit bonuses. All of which would be used in the standard video mode. If the player fails to keep the ball in play, the game resumes on the video screen but with the chutes closed. To reopen the chutes, you must then either gobble all remaining pellets or be killed by a ghost.

The game was quite a refreshing change. Still keeping the traditional Pac-Man formula but adding the pinball concept meant something familiar and new at the same time.
Due to its unorthodox design and concept, a Baby Pac-Man working arcade cabinet has become a collectors item and quite rare.

Midway still released two more unauthorised Pac-Man games.

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Jr. Pac-Man: Was released January 1983 and was Midway’s penultimate Pac-Man game and another game created without the authorization of Namco.

Jr. Pac-Man was probably the first game in the series that really brought a lot more new idea and features to the franchise than ever before.
While the same basic gameplay remains of you controlling the titular character around a maze, having to clear the maze of all the pellets while being chased by ghosts. Some of the new gameplay features include:
The mazes are now two times the width of the screen, meaning the camera scrolls left & right through the mazes to keep up with Jr. Pac-Man as he moves around.
Just as in the previous games, bonus items would appear in each round, they would bounce around the maze as in Ms. Pac-Man previously. But an item touches the pellets, it changes them into larger pellets that are worth 50 points instead of the standard 10 however, they would also slow down Jr. Pac-Man as he eats them.
If an item encounters an power pill, it would self-destruct, taking the power pill with it.
If Jr. Pac-Man should die, all larger pellets will disappear from the maze.
There were also a handful of cosmetic changes:
Clyde has been replaced by a another ghost named Tim.
The game’s cutscenes focus a developing relationship between Jr. Pac-Man and a small red ghost named Yum-Yum.

But returning from the original Pac-Man was the infamous Kill Screen, this time it would kick in at the 146th stage and caused the game to display an invisible maze that does not contain any dots.

Jr. Pac-Man was an interesting change to the formula and was also well received by players at the time.

While Midway had one more unauthorised Pac-Man game to come, it was original creator’s Namco turn up next.

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Pac & Pal: This was Namco’s next Pac-Man game in the franchise and their first since the mediocre Super Pac-Man. Released in July 1983 and exclusively in Japan, Pac & Pal brought a few new ideas along with a new character.

Pac & Pal featured a similar concept to Super Pac-Man but tweaked many of the ideas. The object of the game is for Pac-Man to eat all the items in the maze and avoid being caught by the ghosts. Many of the items are from the original Pac-Man game. The items would have to first be unlocked by turning over cards scattered around the maze.

The “Pal” in Pac & Pal was in reference to Miru, a small female ghost. When you would unlock an item, Miru would wander around the maze, giving Pac-Man some time to try to reach the items. After some time, Miru would take items into the ghost’s house, where it will be lost forever. However, this could help the player in clearing the maze as and if Miru brings the last item there, it would automatically finish the round. Due to the ability of using this to your advantage, this may be the reason why she is known as “Pal”.
Miru was altered to Chomp-Chomp, Pac-Man’s dog from the animated cartoon series in some versions and the game was called Pac-Man & Chomp Chomp.

Something else new Pac & Pal did was the removal of the power pellets. They were replaced with stage specific bonus items, which are displayed at the bottom of the screen after each new stage is reached. These included the Galaxian ship, the Rally-X car, a trumpet, a snowman, and even other Pac-Men.
When Pac-Man obtained these bonus items, Pac-Man becomes blue, and momentarily has the power to spit a ray, smoke, musical notes, freezing rays and miniaturized versions of himself (respective of the bonus picked up) at the ghosts. This stuns them and Pac-Man can pass right through.

The third round and every fourth round thereafter is a bonus round, in which the maze only contains cards that will yield an increasing number of points when turned over. When Pac-Man turns over the card with Miru under it, players receive a bonus multiplying twice as their bonus score when the round is over. The card with Blinky under it causes the round to be over.

Very few Pac & Pal cabinets still exist today, making this is possibly one of the rarest Pac-Man titles to find in playable format outside Japan.

The game was a big improvement over Namco’s last effort, Super Pac-Man but still not as enjoyable as the original Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man. But up next is Midways final unauthorised entry into the Pac-Man franchise.

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Professor Pac-Man: This was the most derivative Pac-Man game yet and took the series in a very different direction. Released in August of 1983 and the final unauthorized Pac-Man game from Midway before Namco ended their partnership.

Professor Pac-Man was nothing more than a simple trivia game, with the titular Professor Pac-Man asking you the player (or “pupil” s the game called you) to solve simple visual puzzles within a short time limit.
The game is for one player or two and was just a case of answering multiple-choice questions before the time runs out. The timer is the original Pac-Man doing what he does best, eating a row of pellets. The more pellets left when/if the player answers correctly, the higher the scores awarded. The game would end when a player runs out of fruits/lives.

There’s really not too much to say here. It was a trivia game with a Pac-Man aesthetic.
The game was not received well at all, probably due to the radical change of its abandonment of the famous maze-based gameplay that made the previous titles so popular.

I’ll end part II here as it seems right to start a fresh after the disappointing Professor Pac-Man and now with Midway out of the picture. Original developer Namco would be the ones to develop Pac-Man games from now on…but would they be any good?
See you in part III.


Pac-Man Part I

Pac 1

Today (22/05/2015) marks the 35th Birthday of one of gaming’s most iconic and recognisable characters; Pac-Man.
So I decided to hold a celebration for him in the form of a gaming overview of the original arcade game, a bio of Pac-Man on his 35th Birthday as well as this multi-part retrospective look at every “official” Pac-Man game released in the franchise.
This is going to be my biggest retrospective yet.

So let’s not delay any longer as I get started first with all the arcade released titles and the very first Pac-Man originally released on this very day in 1980…

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Pac-Man: First released in Japan on May 22, 1980 by Namco. It was licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway and released in October 1980. Pac-Man was created by Tōru Iwatani who based Pac-Man’s look on a pizza with a slice missing as well as the Japanese folklore character Paku who was known for his ferocious appetite.

Pac-Man was a simple game involving you controlling Pac-Man around a maze, trying the clear the screen of pellets all while avoiding the enemy ghosts. But eat a power pill and you could turn on your ghost enemies and eat them.
While Pac-Man was a very simple formula, it also held a lot of “firsts” in gaming.
From Pac-Man becoming gaming’s first iconic mascot with his image put on everything from lunch boxes to duvet covers. Pac-Man also became known for one of the first games to feature programmed AI as the four enemy ghosts had their own personalities and behavioural patterns. But Pac-Man was also the first to use cutscenes in the game, while these cutscenes didn’t tell a story, they did provide fun entertainment between levels.

Pac-Man was designed to have no ending. With the idea being that as long as you had at least 1 life left, one could play endlessly. However due to a now rather infamous “bug” known as; The Kill Screen. When/if the player reaches the 256th screen, they would be greeted with this…
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The Pac-Man “Kill Screen”.
The entire right half of the maze is covered with seemingly random symbols, letters and numbers. This overwrites the values of edible pellets which makes it impossible to beat the level. However, some have claimed to have beaten this Kill Screen…
In September 1983 Walter Day, chief scorekeeper at Twin Galaxies, organised and took the US National Video Game Team to visit video game players who claimed they could get through the Kill Screen of Pac-Man. Yet none of the players could demonstrate or prove their claims.
Then in 1999, Billy Mitchell (legendary game player) offered $100,000 reward to anyone who could pass through the Pac-Man Kill Screen before January 1, 2000. The $100,000 reward was never claimed.

Pac-Man initially met with mediocre response as other games like; Space Invaders were proving much more popular at the time. But you don’t get a 35 year old legacy from being mediocre. Pac-Man slowly started to gain favour and soon became a favourite with arcade gamers, grossing over $1 billion within a decade by the end of the 1980s.
Pac-Man sold more than 350,000 arcade cabinets in 1981 and by 1982, the game had sold 400,000 arcade machines worldwide with an estimated 7 billion coins had been inserted into Pac-Man machines around the world.

Pac-Man was ported to pretty much every popular home machine at the time including; Atari 5200, Atari 2600, Atari 800, Atari 8-bit, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, Apple II, Intellivision, NES, MSX and many others and is still being ported to modern consoles today.

Pac-Man became hugely popular by 1982 and 1982 is when we would see Pac-Man’s follow up released.

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Ms. Pac-Man: This title didn’t originally start out as a follow up to Pac-Man. The game started out as an enhancement/conversion kit for Pac-Man called; Crazy Otto. This was created by programmers from the General Computer Corporation (GCC). While Crazy Otto was being developed, GCC had to settle a lawsuit with Atari over their Missile Command conversion kit; Super Missile Attack. Part of the settlement terms barred GCC from selling future conversion kits without consent from the original game manufacturer.
Rather than just scrapping Crazy Otto entirely, the programmers at GCC decided to show their project to Midway who were Namco’s American distributor of Pac-Man. Midway had been waiting for Namco to develop its next Pac-Man game to be released in America, and were very happy with what they saw with Crazy Otto. So Midway bought the rights to Crazy Otto, changed the sprites to fit that of Pac-Man universe, renamed the game Ms. Pac-Man, and released it into arcades.

Ms. Pac-Man became wildly popular, even more so than Pac-Man before it. Midway and GCC undertook a legal battle concerning royalties. The game was developed without Namco’s consent, causing both companies (Midway and GCC) to eventually turn over all the rights of Ms. Pac-Man to Namco. Ms. Pac-Man was the first in a series of unauthorized sequels that eventually led to the termination of the licensing agreement between Namco and Midway later on.
Though GCC co-founder Doug Macrae has disputed stories that the game was manufactured without Namco’s blessing, claiming that Masaya Nakamura, who was Namco president at the time had in fact given his blessing to the game and even provided feedback over character artwork during Ms. Pac-Man’s development.

Ms. Pac-Man was a slight update to the previous game offering a few new features and ideas;
The spaces between the walls of the maze have been filled in making the maze easier to see.
The game now has four different mazes that appear in different colour schemes.
The cutscenes were changed to follow a developing relationship and story between Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man.
The orange ghost is renamed Sue, rather than Clyde.
The ghosts’ behavioral patterns were programmed differently, and include some semi-random movements which prevents the use of same playing patterns to clear each round.
Fruit bonuses bounce randomly around the maze instead of appearing in the centre.

As Ms. Pac-Man was just a “re-packaged” Pac-Man, the game sees the return of the infamous Pac-Man Kill Screen which renders the 256th round unplayable.

Ms. Pac-Man became the most successful American-produced arcade game, selling 115,000 arcade cabinets worldwide and helped to cement the Pac-Man name and brand into the gaming world.

The next game would be the “official” sequel to Pac-Man from it’s original developer, Namco.

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Super Pac-Man: Hitting arcades in 1982, Super Pac-Man is considered the first proper sequel to the original Pac-Man as it was developed by Namco. Unlike Ms. Pac-Man before it, this was much more than just a slight re-hash of the original Pac-Man as it was built from the ground up on newer hardware. Super Pac-Man featured all new gameplay mechanics and ideas.

Instead of the classic pellet eating from the previous two games, Pac-Man now collects keys to unlock and open up more of the maze. The mazes would contain various foods, fruits and even a cameo from the Galaxian (another Namco game) sprites. Once all the items had been cleared, you would move onto the next stage.
The power pills from the previous games make a return, which allow Pac-Man to eat the ghosts. Now also included were “super power pills” which when Pac-Man eats them, he becomes “Super Pac-Man” which would turn Pac-Man big and allow him to move faster and even get through locked doors without a key.
Super Pac-Man also included bonus stages that would appear at intervals. Pac-Man is put in a maze full of food items and must eat them all in order to collect the points on a countdown timer.

Super Pac-Man was the least successful of the original Pac-Man series so far with many people commenting on the changes from the previous two games and the difficulty in controlling Super Pac-Man, resulting in Super Pac-Man only becoming a moderate success.

With Super Pac-Man’s mediocrity behind, we move onto yet another one of those “unauthorised” Pac-Man games from Midway.

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Pac-Man Plus: Now the fourth title in the original Pac-Man series of games and released in 1982. Just as with Ms. Pac-Man previously, this follow up to the original was created without Namco’s permission. Despite Midway advertising the game as “the only legal PAC-MAN conversion package” and claiming it was “Exciting” and “New”. Unlike Super Pac-Man before, this was not exactly all that “new” at all. Pac-Man Plus was actually just a single modifier chip, which replaced the original game’s program code and graphics.

Pac-Man Plus really did not differ too much from the original or Ms. Pac-Man. Almost the exact same gameplay mechanics are here, with Pac-Man having to eat all the pellets to clear the stage while avoiding ghosts.
There were a few differences however, mainly cosmetic like;
The maze is green instead of blue.
Vulnerable ghosts are shortened and have a leaf sticking out of them.
The fruits have been replaced by new items such as a can of Coca-Cola.
The ghosts are now slightly cross-eyed.
Pac-Man Plus did bring a few new gameplay idea to the table with;
Eating a bonus item would cause the ghosts to turn both invisible and vulnerable at the same time, which doubles their point value.
Eating a Power Pellet would sometimes has unpredictable results, such as turning the maze invisible or turning only three of the four ghosts blue.
The ghosts were also faster and more aggressive than they were in the original Pac-Man.

Pac-Man Plus was classic Pac-Man with a few tweaks and fans enjoyed it much more than the official sequel, Super Pac-Man.

This about wraps up part I of this retrospective look at the original arcade Pac-Man series. See you in part II where we will see an evolution of Pac-Man and more unauthorised games from Midway.


Pac-Man – Arcade


Little Bit of History: Originally released on May 22, 1980 (today’s his 35th Birthday) by Namco. Pac-Man (originally called Puck-Man) was created by Tōru Iwatani based on a pizza with a slice missing. Pac-Man is one of gamings all-time great and most iconic characters. This game featured some very early AI programming in the form of the ghost enemies who were programmed to act differently. The original arcade version is part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: No real plot. You control Pac-Man around mazes having to eat up all the smaller pellets and power pills to clear the maze while avoiding ghosts.

Little Bit of Character: Joining the titular Pac-Man in the game were the just as famous ghosts; Blinky was the red ghost and was the chaser following Pac-Man’s every move. Pinky was the…well pink one and designed to be an ambusher. Inky was cyan in colour and would try to get in front of Pac-Man. While Clyde the orange one was programmed to act quite randomly.

Little Bit of Influence: Pac-Man went on to spawn a long running franchise in games. But also have 2 animated TV shows, a hit single. Pac-Man would even appear in TV and films, plus he had his own themed area at Six Flags Over Texas. But Pac-Man also spawned many clones and for both arcade and home formats.

Little Bit of Memories: That intro music just before you start as well as that little ditty as Pac-Man dies is burnt into my memory forever. I recall this being one of my most loved childhood games and still is today. I also remember those cutscenes that were often very humorous.

Little Bit of Playability: For me, this is still one of the most playable games today. Its simplicity is a huge part of it’s attraction and I have Pac-Man Museum installed on my Xbox 360. I could see modern gamers not really enjoying the game though, but I would recommend trying; Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, which is a stunning remake and offers a lot of gameplay and variety.


This is just one part of my Pac-Man Birthday celebrations. Please feel free to read my Pac-Man Bio and even multi-part retrospective at every official Pac-Man game in the franchise.