He's mean. He's tough. He's a cold-eyed, laconic killer. If you're a bad guy you'd better stay out of his way, or he'll bite your eyes out. He's the coolest. He's the greediest. He's PAC-MAN.
Yes, the rotund hero of many happy hours of maze-chasing is back, and it must be said that unlike Pacland, which was as satisfying as a Twix in a refugee camp, this one is a real goer.
Now, there aren't many surprises here if you remember the original Pacman. All this is, basically, is a 3D version of what was, in its time, the most popular arcade game of all.
Mind you, it's done staggeringly well by Teque, authors of Grandslam's earlier hit Terramex. The scrolling is creditably smooth, the animation is very well handled, and the game sticks as closely as possible to the arcade original.
The playing area is the 2/3 of the screen on the left. Limiting the scrolling area in this way makes it easier to handle scrolling smoothly, and in this case it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the game at all.
On the right are the displays which show you your score, hi-score, remaining "credits", number of lives, and special features activated and so on.
You can start on any of the first three levels - Block Town, Pacman's Park or Sandbox Land. The fourth level, Jungly Steps, can only be accessed once you have completed the first three. Not that there's much difference between each level; though the design of the backgrounds change, the aim is exactly the same; keep moving around the maze, gobbling up the pills, avoiding the Ghosts, and looking out for the fruit and other tokens which give you extra points and bonus features.
The graphics are cleverly done to minimise attribute clash, even though Pac is yellow and the backgrounds, er, sometimes aren't. The only time you notice anything amiss is when Pac leaps into the air. Yes! This little Paccie can jump over the heads of the pursuing ghosts, so with a bit of good timing and a sense of direction you can escape from positions which would have spelled your doom in Pacman.
When you find a Power Pill, the ghosts change colour, and for a few seconds you can chase and devour them. With an appropriate expression of despair they disappear in to the void, their eyes scuttling off home. If you hit a ghost, though, you spin around and vanish, and reappear at a random position on the level. As with the original game, if you lose all your lives, you can restart from the last level you reached by pressing the fire button within seven seconds.
Although the first couple of levels are pretty easy, things get more complex later on as there are more, faster ghosts and more complex mazes. This is where the extra features come in useful; some of the tokens scattered around the maze allow you to move faster, become temporarily invisible, and so on.
In between each level is an amusing little bit of playacting from the Pacman Theatre, and although there are only four different types of background, there are endless levels featuring faster, more intelligent, and sometimes invulnerable and jumping ghosts. So, if you like the basic idea of Pacmon, the fun will go on as long as you can possibly stand it.
OK, no big surprises, but an excellent conversion, and a jolly good update of a much-loved original.
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
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