Back when the Gameboy Advance was the handheld to have, Nintendo decided to release a series of games (dubbed Classic NES) to give modern day players a taste of some vintage Nintendo releases they may not have sampled. Unsurprisingly Pac-Man was one of the titles selected to make up the series. Ask anyone to list some legendary old school games and Pac-Man is bound to feature prominently in most people's selections. The yellow spherical hero is arguably more recognisable than Super Mario, the Koopa squashing plumber, but does that mean it is worthwhile picking up his GBA outing? Let us see.
Not much I can say here. Does Pac-Man even have a plot? Judging from the gameplay I would theorise that five treasure hunters named Blinky, Pinky, Inky, Clyde and TuPAC decided to enter a cursed maze seeking out the golden pellets that were rumoured to be found there. The group got lost and eventually perished when they run out of provisions (a starving TuPAC devoured the last of the rations, an entire ball of Gouda cheese, before the five passed away.) The cursed maze had however not finished tormenting the troupe of adventurers. It resurrected four of them and transformed the dairy guzzling TuPAC into the Pac-Man. Until the end of time the four hungry spirits will chase down the cheese man to get their revenge. Wow that's pretty good. I wonder if Namco would consider hiring me to pen origins for their other retro franchises.
What we have here is a Nintendo Entertainment System port of an early eighties game so obviously the graphics and sonics aren't going to compare with what we are used to these days. In comparison with other games of the time I would however have to say that Pac-Man's presentation is above average. The colour scheme used makes the ghosts, Pac-Man and maze all stand out. This particular version looks much better than the conversion I played on my Dad's Atari 2600. It looks far less blocky, chugs along at a faster pace and Pac-Man's mouth even rotates to face the direction he is moving in which is a nice touch.
From what I recall this NES version also beats the Atari one in terms of sound effects that are included. I would however have to warn those of you with sensitive ears that the audio we get isn't exactly a joy to listen to. The tunes that play when the game starts and ends are okay given the game's age. I also like the "wakka wakka" sounds that accompany Pac-Man's consumption of pellets, but the rest of the sound effects are pretty horrible. Playing this gives me a good idea what the average work day of my brother in law must be like. How so? He is an ambulance driver and the background noise we are treated to in Pac-Man resembles a siren. Not nice.
Unless you have been living under a yellow puck shaped rock for the last thirty years I would imagine that you have a good idea how to play Pac-Man. For the sake of providing a complete review I will however go over what the game entails. The player controls Pac-Man who must travel around the maze and gobble up all the pellets scattered there. Those seeking a more balanced diet can also chew on a selection of fruit that randomly appears at the centre of the playfield. Once the maze is cleared it resets and you get to do the whole thing again with the aims of amassing the highest score possible.
Travelling through an empty maze would be pretty dull so to spice things up four ghosts patrol the area. Touching either of them will cost you one of your lives so you are advised to stay well clear of the deadly quartet. Trust me you will learn to hate the speedy red one who pursues you like an obese American pursues fast food. To help you flee from phantasms the maze has a tunnel on the side of the screen that allows you to travel from one end of the labyrinth to the other. Located on the corners of the maze are also power pellets that can be eaten to turn the tides of battle. Under the effects of a power pellet you can, for a brief time, devour your enemies. Fruit, pellets and ectoplasm? That's a menu you are unlikely to see in most restaurants.
Despite being such a simple game Pac-Man has a certain charm that makes it stand the test of time. The thrill of the chase combined with the urge to beat your best high score makes the game fun to play to this very day. As with many casual games it is however something you can only play in short bursts before you start to lose interest. Replaying the same maze over and over can only keep you entertained for so long after all. Your only real motivation to keep playing is to see the funny clips that play every few levels and test how far you can get before you run out of lives. The game starts easy, but every loop makes things tougher (by increasing the game speed and reducing the time power pellets give you ghost immunity.)
Although I like Pac-Man it is hard to recommend this particular version as it isn't value for money. Asking consumers to pay GBA prices for an old NES game is rather cheeky. They didn't even provide us with improved graphics or extra game modes to justify the cost. Buying Pac-Man standalone isn't really worth it as the system already has a Pac-Man collection which includes it and some other games on the same cartridge. Another option is buying Namco Museum that is also on the GBA. It has a number of classic games and Ms Pac-Man which is virtually the same, but more advanced (moving fruit, scrolling maze and as Ms Pac-Man is a female she can do more than one thing at once.)
"Classic NES Series: Pac-Man" is a video game released for the Gameboy Advance console in 2004 by Nintendo. It is a part of the "Classic NES" series which ports popular Nintendo Entertainment System titles to the Gameboy Advance. In the United States, the game received a rating of "E" by the ESRB panel which deemed it suitable for all ages.
Pac-Man rose to fame as a freestanding arcade system release in 1980. Since its release, Pac-Man has been heavily involved in video games on a whole and is still featured in modern circulation. This specific game is based on the 1987 release for the NES console. Gameplay handles similarly throughout each release where the player must control Pac-Man through a small maze consuming small white dots (known as "pac-dots") while avoiding contact with four ghosts named Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Should Pac-Man touch one of these ghosts he will lose one in-game life. To reverse the pressure, in each corner of the maze there is a large blinking dot known as a "power pellet". Consuming this will give Pac-Man the ability to consume the ghosts for a short time duration. The main objective is to clear all of the dots from the maze and repeat continuously until all in-game lives have been expired.
The graphics of this title are presented from a top down perspective which details the maze in its entirety. The game maintains the original look of blue walls and white dots which are to be navigated by a yellow Pac-Man and assorted colours of ghosts. A possible area of flaw is the scaling efforts used in this game. The images required shrinking to suit the Gameboy's smaller display but this shrinking was not applied to Pac-Man and the ghosts, and these images are rather large in comparison to the walls of the maze. The soundtrack is also simple with a constant siren ringing and a "beep" to suggest the swallowing of the pac-dots.
Overall, I would recommend Pac-Man to those who were interested in the original arcade release. It is a simple game overall and may not appeal to a younger generation due to the constant repetition involved in gameplay.
Never mind joining the dots - eat them! I wasn't brought up on Pac-Man, but there's something about taking copious amounts of pills and coping with ghosts that appeals!
And, if ever you feel the need to eat the ghosts then take a power-pill beforehand - that'll have them turning away in blue but note this is for a temporary period. Also, don't forget fruits bear vitamins, or rather points, as well! As for the four ghosts, not only do they have nicknames, they are not without personalities despite the seemingly random patterns, with the red, named "Blinky" likely to give chase. Eating all the pills sees you in the next stage, and as you progress, the pace of the chase picks up. It's not as easy as it looks, and I'll admit that I am awful at this game.
I thought this be a strange selection for the NES Classic Series, as it suggests it might have been a console-exclusive which it's not. No doubt it's better than the 'blinking-ghosts' version for the Atari 2600! It is an accurate port so the maze is the same; the tunes and intermissions present.
The Game Boy of old did have a port of Pac-Man, and though it's not as easy on the eye as this version, the 2-player option was simultaneous head-to-head rather than taking it in turns on a sole handheld as it is in this one.
But a port of the arcade game also appears as one of five featured in the what seemed the inevitable, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary, and though I prefer this emulated port, it's not what you would call value-for-money. Not that it's a bad game - though it's for gamers who would rather have play refined for high-scoring than highly realistic graphics - but a bad choice from Nintendo really, when there were numerous NES exclusives worthy of inclusion into the NES Classics instead.