Review by sull56ivan2010

Reviewed: 06/02/20

Hungry for 40 years

When you think of the first very huge franchise, you're not thinking Atari. You're thinking Namco. In a part of gaming that had tons of shooters, even really good ones, it was getting monotonous. Out of nowhere came Puck-Man in mid-1980, later named Pac-Man when it hit the States later that year. It stood out. Color graphics, recognizable characters, little things here and there. Add in gameplay that is pick up and play, and you have one of the most recognized games of its era and one of the hottest IP's for a good five years.

Graphics: Galaxian and Rally-X both utilized its share of colors. Pac-Man is no different when you look at the graphics. It may have the least amount, but what you see is still pleasing to the eye. The eating animation of the title character is done well. Movement of the enemy is impressive. Little cutscenes show off a strong showcasing of sprites and what can be done with sets of characters. Simplistic, but some of the best efforts are done that way.

Audio: There isn't much, but the audio for Pac-Man helps in the recognition. It's a very early example of music, though its jingles when starting the game and in the cutscenes. The latter track creates a sense of tension and humor at the same time of what could happen next. You only get a handful of sound effects and expect to hear the same ones constantly. Of course, the death sounds go beyond being part of gaming culture. A step in progression.

Gameplay: Consider what Pac-Man was doing. It wasn't trying to shoot down anybody, nor was it a test of patience of being precise.This was about the title character eating everything in sight. What Namco created spawned this craze of everyone wanting their own character and establishing them as one of the best. As the title character, you are in a maze. Your goal is to eat every pellet in it and advance to the next level. Rinse and repeat. Twice in the level, fruit will appear and you can eat if you can make it before it disappears after a certain amount of time. Very simple.

You are in the confines of a maze. What stands between you and victory are four ghosts. They are distinct and have patterns similar to aliens in Galaxian. When beginning a maze, they go to their corners. After a short period of time, they will decide to go after Pac-Man. Each one has a method of going after him. There is a little bit of strategy. The size of the maze is good enough to know where to go and slip past them. It has tunnels which can slow them down a little bit, but do hope you don't get sandwiched if you enter one and they come from both sides. Then there's the power pellet. It's a way of relieving the stress of getting chased and increasing your score. They are limited and the time limit of its use varies. Prepare yourself if you want to get to the harder mazes.

The design of the game is well thought out and it goes hand in hand with the difficulty. As you advance, the pace gets faster. With the speed increase comes less time for power pellets and less reaction time. With practice, it is possible to rack up a very good score and get through a couple handfuls of mazes. There's risk versus reward. Being on your toes. It is a fantastic game that needs to be played, no matter what. I don't have any huge gripes. Some deaths could be a little cheap every once in a while, but nothing compared to most arcade games of the time. The sound effects could get a little annoying. As a whole, there's a reason it's held in regard to being one of the greatest games ever.

Replay Value: The time varies, and it's one of those games where you want to try again to get further or get a better score.

Recommendation: Pac-Man is worth playing. Eating everything in sight feels very satisfying for a game of this caliber. The gobbler's adventures were only the beginning.

Rating: 9

Product Release: Pac-Man (US, 10/31/80)

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