Review by Timmy Big Hands
Reviewed: 06/28/03 | Updated: 06/28/03
If you hate Pac-Man your heart is dark as coal
Can you believe that one of the most recognizable, most fondly remembered, most praised, and most innovative games of all time came from a game developer looking at a pizza with a slice missing? He looked at the pizza, apparently dropped some acid and thought about it eating dots, getting chased by ghosts, eating a pellet that turns the ghosts into tangible, edible objects, and the rest is history.
Pac-Man is so engaging because of its simplicity. Attempting to eat every single dot in a maze completely full of dots sounds like a terrible idea to base a game around, but because Pac-Man is a game that anyone can pick up and play from anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. It also has the ability to appeal to any type of gamer. Those that were bred on Doom and Quake will be content to use their power pellets to waste as many ghosts as possible, those who play a game just to beat it will show little interest in the point bonus received from eating all four ghosts with a single power pellet, and the large bonus received from eating the food products that appear on occasion, and perfectionist gamers will score as many points as possible from a single level. After all, no game could be so universally beloved if it only appealed to one niche group. (Save your insults of how lame the part about Quake and Doom fans is. I already know)
The best quality that Pac-Man has going for it is that it still has appeal even today. Games like Joust and Defender were great back in gaming’s heyday way back in the early eighties, but nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would still enjoy plunking down a few quarters on them. On the other hand, Pac-Man continues to find audiences wherever it is available. They still get plenty of play in bars, on hand-held LCD games, home consoles, and Game Boys everywhere from here to Timbuktu.
However, an ageless classic like Pac-Man still isn’t completely flawless. Each maze is the same, and the first installment of this series should have included the better-designed mazes, and innovations such as exits that lead to the other side of the maze, like in Ms. Pac-Man. These features eventually made it into the series, but these are really basic things that should have been there in the first place, in my opinion. Pac-Man is an excellent game in its own right, but in the light of Ms. Pac-Man, the much better sequel, this progenitor feels more like the origins of a concept that had yet to be perfected than a great game in its own right. Still, Pac-Man deserves all of the praise that it has received over the years. It is so innovative, and it revels in its simplicity so wonderfully, that its place in gaming history is well deserved.
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