Review by Retro

Reviewed: 04/08/01 | Updated: 05/20/02

Talk about a game that defines classic

I don't know for sure what the most popular arcade game of all time is, but I know that Pac-Man is definitely sitting pretty high on the list. The reason it was and still is so popular is because it's so simple to play. You won't have to use much of your brain at all to learn how to play Pac-Man, but if you want to learn strategy you might. Pac-Man was also a game that could easily become addicting after only one or two plays.

You have to guide a round, yellow creature named Pac-Man around a maze. There are dots all around every twist and turn in Pac-Man. The object of the game is to eat all of these dots in order to pass to the next level. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Lurking all over the maze are four ghosts who desperately want to catch Pac-Man and make him lose a life before he gains too much weight.

The ghosts all have different personalities, which was innovative for a video game at the time (early 1980's). The red ghost named Blinky is the fastest the most relentless of the ghosts; he just wants to find Pac-Man and get rid of him as soon as possible. Pinky (the pink ghost) is a lot like Blinky except that she is a little smarter. Sometimes she will see where Pac-Man is heading, and she'll meet him head-on by taking a short cut, instead of following behind him in his tracks. Inky, the blue ghost, chases Pac-Man sometimes, but most of the time he just scurries around the maze minding his own business. Finally, the orange ghost, Sue or Clyde, depending on the machine you're playing on I guess, isn't very smart. He/she just moves around the maze in any direction as if he/she is exploring the world. If the orange ghost ever chases Pac-Man, it's by pure coincidence. If any of the four not so scary looking ghosts touches Pac-Man, he will lose a life.

However, Pac-Man does have some defense on his side. His main weapons are the four flashing yellow dots in each of the four corners of the maze. When Pac-Man eats one of these, the ghosts all turn blue and change their face expressions to a grimace. While they are blue, Pac-Man can eat them and temporarily send them back to their hideout in the middle of the maze. But watch out because they won't stay blue long. Once they begin flashing, that means they are fixing to change back to their dangerous selves instead of being vulnerable. The more ghosts you eat, the more points you can get, which can be up to 1600 points for one ghost.

The other advantage Pac-Man has over the ghosts are the two openings, one on each side of the maze. When Pac-Man goes through either of these portals, he will magically be transported to the other side of the maze. The ghosts can also go through these portals, but they are much slower than Pac-Man while they are warping through them.

The last thing about this blockbuster of a game that any newcomers (if there are any) will need to know is that from time to time, there is a fruit such as a cherry, orange, pineapple, and others, depending on the level you're on, that will appear right in the middle of the maze under the ghosts' hideout. When you eat a piece of fruit, you'll earn some cool bonus points. Once you get 10,000 points, Pac-Man will be blessed with an extra life.

Almost every time you clear a maze, the fruit changes and the ghosts become faster. The maze remains the same throughout the game, but if you get far enough, Pac-Man will move a little faster. This has got to be the 9th wonder of the world. How can Pac-Man possibly move faster after all that he has eaten by that time?! Anyway, he'll need that extra burst of speed to escape the rampaging ghosts.

The reason I say that Pac-Man is a game that defines classic is pretty hard to put into words. I don't say it because it's one of my favorite games of all time (it's not), but because millions of people, young and old alike, fell in love (playing the game, not literally) with the game that features a yellow pie-looking creature that isn't popular with the ghosts who don't know how to disappear.

Pac-Man is a classic that millions of people (including myself) will always remember fondly, but there's just one problem. The great Pac-Man was followed by even greater sequels, including Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man. After playing Jr. Pac-Man once and Ms. Pac-Man hundreds of times (I'm not exaggerating), I've grown tired of Pac-Man somewhat. But that's not to say that it's not still one of the best games ever made, because it is.

GRAPHICS – Pac-Man's graphics are very plain, but that's not to say that they're terrible. The maze is real dark and blue, the ghosts and Pac-Man look sort of cartoonish, and the graphics pretty much never change, but a game of this kind doesn't need eye-popping graphics. 7/10

SOUND - The sound doesn't stand out in any way either, but it's well done. It is mostly comprised of Pac-Man chomping on the dots, but there are a few other cool sounds such as when Pac-Man eats a ghost and the constant sound in the background. 8/10

CONTROL - The controls will be a breeze to you if you have good hand-eye coordination. Just maneuver Pac-Man around the maze in any of the four directions. I could always make it look easy, but my mom usually had trouble and she would get stuck, not being able to move where she wanted to move. So pretty much, if you have the hand-eye coordination working for you, then you can do it, but if you don't, then it might take some practice. 10/10

REPLAY VALUE - Replay value is the main thing that makes arcade games popular or not so popular. Pac-Man is one of the most popular arcade games of all time, if not the most popular, so it definitely has great replay value because most people, including myself, wanted to play it over and over again after playing it for the first time. Whether you were a kid or an adult, just about everybody wanted to play Pac-Man. 10/10

OVERALL - I always liked playing Pac-Man but I'll admit that it hasn't ever been my favorite in the series. Once I played Ms. Pac-Man and saw that it was faster-paced (in some machines) and had different mazes, I played Pac-Man less and less. But it's still one of the great classics, and it always will be. 8/10

Rating: 8

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