Get fizzical with nasty ghosts
Producer: US Gold
Price of Power Pills: £7.99 cass, £12.99 disk
Author: Rafael Gomez, graphics by Roberto P Acebes (Toposoft)
Michael Jackson and Tina Turner, move over - you've just been replaced by a computer! Although thousands of Spectrums are unlikely to be singing and dancing in TV commercials, a great many will undoubtedly be running the first Pepsi Challenge game - Mad Mix Game. The link with Pepsi-Cola is not just a gimmick though, as players who reach a preset score in the game will earn the right to take part in the Pepsi Challenge itself and automatically be entered in a tree draw with the promise of great prizes from Pepsi and US Gold.
After a particularly groovy version of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, play begins, with the pint-sized, but rotund hero scurrying around the first smoothly-scrolling maze Pac- Man-style with a horde of ghosts in pursuit. Gobbling up little dots is the hero's favourite pastime, and when all the current level's dots have been consumed he is magically transported to a new maze.
All sounds a bit like Pac-Man, you may think? Well the basic concept is identical, but Mad Mix Game offers a host of original features such as pills which turn him into a fat and well-animated, hippopotamus to crush those nasties and a sabre-toothed demon to guzzle ghosties - he obviously has a taste for spirits!
Whether you really like the game depends on if you love or loathe the genre; if you don't then steer clear. But with its many enhancements, Mad Mix Game offers Pac-Man fans some decidedly frantic fun. Mad Mix Game does to Pac-Man what Arkanoid did to Breakout, great fun!
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: although the play area is monochromatic, the hero transforms into a variety of well-animated characters
Sound: Beethoven's 5th Symphony title tune and good chomping effects
Options: definable keys
When I first saw this I thought it was just another attempt at sprucing up the ancient Pac-Man idea. After I had played it a couple of times, however, I found it totally addictive and great fun to play. Instead of the 2-D circle with a wedge cut out, Mad Mix Game has a superb 3-D muncher, along with ghosts and excellently detailed backgrounds. In addition there are icons to collect which turn you nasty (or should that be BAD - ow!), enabling you to munch the ghosts as well as the dots (yum, yum). Mad Mix Game is full of surprises and extras that make it highly addictive. You've just got to buy it!
Okay, okay let's get this over with, yes Mad Mix Game does look like Pac-Man, but I must say that I find it much more playable. I've liked this type of maze game for a long while, but even I am starting to find it going stale. What's needed is a game to give the genre a new lease of life, and to my mind Mad Mix Game may be the one. Certainly it's an enjoyable mixture of mind-wrenching strategy and finger-flicking reflexes. One feature I particularly like is the method of destroying the baddies; when a power pill is collected you either change into a hippo (!!), or an evil looking version of your normal self (a touch of the old Jekyll and Hydes perhaps). But don't expect the ghosts to be a push-over, many hours will be spent practising how to turn a tight corner with a couple of nasties on your tail. If you like Pac-Man-type games, you can't miss this!
Pick a Pacman! Calling a temporary truce to test out two variations on the arcade classic are the one-time YS lovebirds, Gwyn 'Ghost Gobbler' Hughes and Rachael 'Power Pills' Smith. Its amaze-ing how they'll make the peace for a few pounds.
£7.99 cass/£11.99 disk
Reviewer: Rachael Smith, Gwyn Hughes
Rachael: History time! First there was Pong, then came Space Invaders and Defender...
Gwyn: ...And then came Pacman!
Rachael: But games grew more elaborate. There was Elite and Lords Of Midnight and Driller and then...
Gwyn: ...And then came Pacman again!
Rachael: Yes, even though programming has reached the pinnacle of sophistication, there are still thrills to be found in the old faves. Witness the great Breakout revival which has arcaders busting their blocks in a zillion different ways (Remember YS's very own Batty?) Pacman was first of the maze games complete with all the collecting and dodging you could hope for and not an alien in sight. Pacman was different...
Gwyn: Yes Pacman was boring. I can remember typing in a version of the game on my ZX81 and regretting the time I'd wasted!
Rachael: Wha'! I You don't like little round hereos?
Gwyn: No, I think they're a load of balls.
Rachael: And what about mazes. You must like Hampton Court?
Gwyn: I don't know - I've never got my hampton caught!
Rachael: Gak, I can see this is going to be a bundle of fun. Load the first game, Maestro, and away we go...
Rachael: Yes, Pac-Mania is taking the country by storm as the big P goes crazy. Grandslam's official licence of the arcade machine is a classic conversion, complete with power pills which let you munch on ghosts, fruits to collect and weap around tunnels which take you and those pesky ectoplasms from one side of the maze to the other. But where Pac-Mania really differs is in its scenery. Instead of the old over the top 2D view you get a 3D view into the landscape, which scrolls smoothly around.
Pac-Mania starts in Block Town, an easy level to get your appetite going. Pacman's Park, which follows, is tougher. A tunnel means you're in more danger from ghosts popping up where you least expect them. By level three, Sandbox Land, things really are getting tough. The troublesome spooks can jump across the blocks to cut you off, and the tunnel is a dual carriageway affair. But the Jungly steps is the most spectacular landscape, a steep climb with lots of angry ghosts who will catch you unless you're very lucky and reach a power pill.
Though the game runs on 48K there's a bonus for 128K owners - the tape automatically discovers how much memory you've got and crams in a musical soundtrack if there's room...
Gwyn: It doesn't take machine code to tap my memory. I can remember a million games more interesting than this one. What the gormless tottie has failed to tell you is none of the levels is awesomely large. In fact they're pretty puny. Even the programmers seemed aware of this so once you've completed Pac Park for the first time, you have to do it all again before you move on. The same with successive levels. The whole thing is too easy and desperately dull.
Rachael: Not fair. You can go to any of the first three levels automatically, so you don't have to play the less challenging ones, and there's a nice 'credit' feature which sometimes gives you 10 seconds to return to the level you just lost, if you want.
Gwyn: Big deal - a free chance to prolong the tedium. You can send this one packaging, as far as I'm concerned!
Rachael: Crazy Irishmen - Mad Micks - Geddit! (Yes, and so will you if you crack any more like that! Ciaran) Mad Mix is not a Pacman game. Of course it features mazes, spheres to eat ghosts and the like, but that's not Pacman chasing - it's Pepsiman!
Pepsiland's landscapes are much more varied than Pacland's. There are one way systems which, when you get into them, drag you round until you've destroyed all their tiles, and trap doors to block off passageways. And somebody must have spiked Pepsi's soft drink with something psychadelic because Pepsiman keeps changing into other forms. 'Cos as well as the ghost-eating Angry Pepsiman there's the Pepsipotomus, a Pepsidigger and even a Pepsispaceship and Pepsitank which add a shoot 'em up element when you tread on the right squares.
And you'll need all the help you can get because there are several foes. As well as Ghosts there are Ladybothers, who create new spheres spheres where you've eaten them, and Repugnants, who can 'clamp'spheres and make them inedible, just like the repugnant traffic warden who clamped my motor last Saturday.
Gwyn: Of course he's not repugnant as this game. Sure there's more to do but the playability isn't as hot as it could be. The first round is so open-plan that you can't plan a proper course - the secret of success in all maze games. Things do look up in round two 'though, and round three is quite pretty!
Rachael: I'd tend to agree on the play balance, but once you get into it, Mad Mix probably has more lasting value.
Gwyn: If you mean it's sticky, like the soft drink it's been licensed from, you could be right. But I reckon too much of it would rot your teeth!
TO P OR NOT TO P?
Gwyn: What can I say? Neither of these games is exactly a major contribution to computer science. In fact they're such a step back I'd like to lose both of them in a maze. Dull and repetitive, but if I had to choose, I'd say Pac-Mania has it on playability even though it may bore you to death with deja vu.
Rachael: Now that old misery guts has gone I can honestly say that it's good to see Pac back. Okay, so there are better games, but this is just the sort of simple entertainment that appeals to us simple souls. Hardened gamers probably will work their way through Pac-Mania more quickly so Mad Mix is probably their mega mix. However if you're a Pac purist you'd do well to go for the Grandslam game.
You can't beat an old formula, I always say. Take all the big hits. Where did they originate? Nemesis? Nothing but Defender with make up. Gauntlet? Pacman in wolf's clothing. Mad Mix? Pacman with a couple of graphical frills.
I think I can safely state without fear of being sued by US Gold; there is very little distinction between the two, other than the new version having nice, big graphics, a more than slightly cutesy feel, and a large scrolling play area, rather like a 2-D Pacmania.
The idea is to guide your little ball-like figure around a large scrolling wraparound maze, collecting all the little pills that scatter the pathways whilst avoiding the free roaming Ghosts who want nothing more than to spin you round and make you disintegrate.
To combat the ghosts, you are supplied with a limited amount of special pills, that do special things. (Snaff snaff - JD). The icon that looks like a set of vampire's gnashers effectively turns you into a vampire. Whilst in the form of a creature of the night you can do all the normal things, such as eat the pills, and you can also kill the ghosts by running into them. The Hippo icon changes you from a lovable little ball, to a cute and cuddly hippo. Sweet in every way, until it sits on you. Unfortunately you can't collect any pills when in this mode, but God help anyone who gets in your path!
As well as the basic maze, there are lots of extra features included within the game's many levels. Doors built like rockers block pathways and can only be opened from one direction. Of course, once opened, they rock over and have to be opened from the opposite side. Small gun tunnels transform your little Pac into a gun for the duration he's in the tunnel, so there's a little bit of blasty action to be found.
Also scattered about on some pathways are rows of icons with arrows printed on them. These route, along the direction of the arrows, and this can have you going in circles. There is no way to get off until you reach the end of the route, and if there's a nasty waiting for you there, tough luck.
There's a nice little tune to boot, as well as some blips and blops during the game. Apart from that, there's not a lot else I can say about the sound.
The game plays easily as well as it's arcade grandaddy. No, don't laugh, that's a good thing.
A lot of the old tricks still work well. Things like turning just before your reach a corner to get round it faster.
Mad Mix is a great game, despite the outdated idea. I was pleasantly surprised, and you've got to remember, it is the official PEPSI CHALLENGE game.
Label: US Gold
Author: Topo Soft
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
US Gold's soft drink.
What's a Corona Bubble doing, getting fizzical in the Pepsi Mad Mix game? Well, this cute, grinning little bubble has gone undercover, changed drinks and called himself Mad. What more do you need to know?
Poor old Mad finds himself in the Pepsi Village, a sequence of fifteen tricky mazes, and his task in life is to stomp through the corridors gobbling up bubbles lying on the floor. And if the bubbles remind you of Power Pills, you wont be surprised to learn that a quartet of ghosts also roam the streets of Pepsitown.
There's no fruit to gobble up - after all, Pepsi comes in one flavour only - but on the plus side, Max can step on panels on the floor and temporarily mutate himself into other creatures... like a ghost-stomping hippo. Treading on another icon makes Max a Pac Drac - he grows fangs and can suck the aura out of ghosties, sending them Pacing, back to their electro lair.
The rotund hero has a total of five alter egos into which he can mutate in order to deal with the hazards encountered on the mission - ghosts aren't all that are out to stop him on his quest, and as you might expect, life gets more difficult on later levels. For instance, Max can't move on to another maze until all the bubbles have been cleared from the current suburb of Pepsi Village: on the second level, a bubble-blowing ladybird creature roams around undoing his work, and needs to be stomped.
A few neat touches embellish the basic Pacman gameplay, but the Pepsi Mad Mix game offers little new or exciting, other than bubble-gathering and the chance to win a prize in the joint promotion between US Gold and Pepsi Cola.
Remember: take the bubbles out of Pepsi and it goes flat...
Reviewer: Graeme Kidd
Spect, £7.99cs, £11.99dk, Reviewed
C64/128, £7.99cs, £11.99dk, Out Now
Ams, £7.99cs, £11.99dk, Out Now
Atari ST, £14.99dk, Imminent
Amiga, £T.B.A., T.B.A.
Predicted Interest Curve
1 min: 60/100
1 hour: 58/100
1 day: 68/100
1 week: 35/100
1 month: 23/100
1 year: 8/100
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £7.99, Diskette: £11.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £7.99, Diskette: £11.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £7.99, Diskette: £11.99
Atari ST £14.99
DON'T GET MAD...
If you waded through the thronging masses at the PC Show this year, you may have seen some of The National Computer Games Championship, sponsored by Pepsi-Cola and organised by Newsfield. The final of this quest to find the champion gamesplayer was played on this game.
The plot of this simple maze game involves Mad, the yellow, round Pepsiman creature under your control. It was his family's job to keep Pepsivillage free of ghosts, but his father was afraid of the apparitions, and so they were left to run not. Angered, Mad decided to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, the Mad Elder, and rid Pepsivillage of ghosts in the Pepsiman Challenge.
Fifteen scrolling mazes represent the village in which you guide Pepsiman. To complete a maze, the spheres which line the corridors are eaten. Naturally, there are adversaries to make this a problem, commonly in the form of generated ghosts.
Also appearing are Ladybothers who make a nuisance of themselves by replacing spheres, but Repugnants are worse - they clamp spheres to the floor of the maze. The only way to free them is to transform yourself into Pepsidigger by passing over the appropnate special square.
Other squares turn you into Angry-Pepsiman - he can eat enemies, or a Pepsipotamus who squashes adversaries but cannot eat spheres. You transform into a Pepsiship by travelling on rails - your movement is limited to left and right along the rail, but you can shoot enemies above. The Pepsitank is used similarly, it can only move in one direction but fires in two.
There are two special maze features: auto squares - usually laid out in patterns - are marked with arrows which force you in the direction they point. L-shaped trap doors flip over as they are used, blocking the way back, they may only be entered from the correct direction.
If this all seems like Pac-Man with additional features, that's because it is. Toposoft, the programmers, have only thinly disguised the original, keeping ghosts as the bad guys and even using a round yellow hero. Additional enemies and forms of powered-up Pepsiman do not help the basically repetitive, frustrating and boring gameplay.
Although lacking some of the features, the 3-D leaps of Pac-Mania are much more playable, proving that plagiarism doesn't always pay.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB