Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Welcome to to Retroville! Next stop - Jr Pac-Man by Midway.
Long forgotten in the mists of time, and never truly appreciated, this obscure gem came out a little too late in the Pac-Man craze of the early 80s. Interestingly, they say it was designed bythe same American modding group (General Computer) who also birthed Ms. Pac-Man, in spite of original creator Namco's wishes - Jr. Pac-Man is officially an unholy bastard offspring!
Bastard or not, this is a fun little game. Everyone and their mother is pretty tired of the whole Pac-Man formula for some time now, but there's something abotu those games (specifically Ms. Pac) which is eternally endearin - they still have that timeless rhythm of pure fun about them, and guys like me can still get sucked in for a good forty-five minutes "just one more try. just one more try!!" Jr. is daunting as, evidenced below (note that these screens are pasted together!), the screen is much larger than his predecessors - 3 times as big - so you can no long gauge the entire playfield at any given time to plan your strategy. It's unsettling at first, but definitely exciting.
Also interesting is that the bonus items are, effectively, enemies this time around - where Ms. Pac and Pac-Daddy would eat cherries, fruit, etc, Jr. eats kiddie-themed items like bikes and kites - though as they traverse the playfield, they enlarge the dots (making them slower to eat) and will destroy your Energizers if you let them get that far.
Overall, this game is still a blast to play. I enjoy any game which can take very basic input and keep me glued to it for a good while - Jr's colorful, charming, and remniscient of it's elders while being different enough to score merit. I'd love to see a further iteration (Pac-Man that's 8- screens large!)
And no, I wasn't a fan of Pac-Mania --