To say that Pac-Man is a video game icon is no understatement. Since his 1980 debut in the arcades Pac-Man has become an institution, one that doesn’t reinvent itself too much over the years but even when it does, it doesn’t stray away from the basic fundamentals that co-creator Toru Iwatani and his team established, and this is made pretty clear with the array of sequels/spin-offs that have followed the original arcade game. For myself, I have been fortunate to have played some of these, but the one that that stood out to me the most – especially during the 90s, was the game called Pac-Attack.
If you’ve ever played games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, Columns or Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine then the gameplay shouldn’t feel out of place. The objective of the game is to basically line up the blocks that drop into rows, with each row disappearing once it’s made. Sounds pretty simple, until you consider the ghosts, for they will be there as part of the blocks as they appear. Fortunately Pac-Man will be there as well to help gobble up the ghosts and clear the way.
Like with the aforementioned games, there is both a one player mode as well as a two player mode but with this game there’s two types of modes for single players. One being the normal mode and the other called puzzle mode.
In the normal mode all the player has to do is first choose a level of difficulty, then as mentioned before, line up the falling blocks into rows, and clear out the ghosts using Pac-Man once he appears. As Pac-Man eats the ghosts a fairy meter on the left side of the screen will start to fill up. Once it’s completely full a fairy piece will appear, clearing out all ghosts below said piece. The difficulty you choose will determine the level you start at, so the higher the difficulty, the higher the level, and the faster the blocks will drop.
As you clear out rows of blocks your level goes up, and as this happens the new blocks that appear start to descend faster. This can get hectic if you’re not quick enough, so keep your wits about you. Of course, don’t fret if this your first time playing this game. Like most titles during the 8-bit/16-bit era, it takes messing up a lot before you start to get good.
Puzzle mode is another mode that is also fun – and a little more fun than normal mode in my opinion – because while you still can clear the rows, you aren’t obligated to. Instead the objective in puzzle mode is to clear out all the ghosts on the screen. Once you do you can then move on to the next level.
(One cool thing about the puzzle mode is that if you manage to clear out all the ghosts in one shot, you get a cool message)
While there are 100 levels in total, you don’t have to worry about trying to play the mode all the way through. For each level you play there’s a password that players can make note of and use later on if they have to stop the game at some point.
With two-player mode it’s pretty much what one would expect from any vs. mode: try to outlast your opponent. Each player can pick their own difficulty, which is a nice touch because at least that way you can play to your strengths and decide what speeds to go with. Best two out of three wins.
In all, Pac-Attack is definitely a game worthy of being a part of the best Pac-Man games. It isn’t completely like the original, but there’s a good enough balance in the game that you won’t be put-off or be bored. Plus, like Tetris and Dr. Mario Pac-Attack is another game that you can play in short spurts or for a long duration if you feel inclined. And most importantly. It’s just a lot of fun.
So if you do have a copy of the game – hard copy or digital – enjoy it.
Happy Eating Arcaders!