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.
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: 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: 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-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-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-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-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.