Pac Man

This is the box art for Pac-Man, for the NES. I believe it is the original one, as well.


Gameplay recognized throughout the world.

is a game first released by Namco in 1980. The highest-grossing video game of all time, it managed to generate 25 billion dollars overall, in quarters. That means 100 billion people played it in an arcade, and more have played since then.

The game is very simple, with no real story. You play as Pac-Man, who navigates his way through a maze to collect fruits and power pellets, while at the same time avoiding four ghosts (Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde), who get faster and faster, and more tactical as you go through stages. A stage ends when you collect all the pellets, some of which will power you up and give you the ability to eat the ghosts, thereby starting them back from the beginning, in the center of the maze. If Pac-Man touches a ghost, he dies, and three deaths means it will be Game Over and you will have to start over again.

I originally had a small handheld Pac-Man game that I would take everywhere. That version of it was insanely fun, and I could play it for hours at a time. This is why I completely prioritized getting Pac-Man when I got my first Wii Points Card.

Compared to what I had before, I was disappointed. There was one really big reason for this: there was no music!  As I remember, representations of Pac-Man all had music, and yet the original didn't; all you heard was the extremely rapid 'weeyooweeyooweeyooweeyoo' of Pac-Man moving around the stage, which was not only boring, but unthinkably annoying. I felt like my life force was deteriorating listening to that awful drone.

Actually, now that I think about it, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.  The noise was decently tolerable once you got used to it, and it was less noticeable if you were collecting dots, as the noise of that was less bothersome and drowned out the siren noise.  I just wish they could have added in a simple 22 or so note musical tune to preside over the gameplay.

A second thing: the controls felt rather goofy. I suppose it was slightly helpful having Pac-Man move automatically, but after a couple instances of it not doing what you want to do, it kind of felt like trying to control a runaway horse.  What's worse is that even if you got used to that, which I mostly did, the D-pad controls often fall out of sync with the movement of Pac-Man, so often times a ghost will be chasing you and you'll try to make a narrow escape, but you'll go in a completely different direction from the one you wanted, sometimes even straight into the ghost.  In fact, this has happened to me tens of times so far, and it was a ridiculous waste of lives.  If it couldn't get any worse, the movement of both Pac-Man and the ghosts gets much faster as you progress through the stages, and as a result, you're about half as much more likely to die from control glitches.

The next thing was that the game just felt a little too unilateral. There are no new patterns of dots, no new stage designs (which is just ridiculous), but rather, the only change in the gameplay from stage to stage is that the ghosts get more and more difficult to not be killed by. I would have liked the stage design to change to something that could potentially mean a greater tactical advantage to the player. It would have been a whole lot better than slaving away at the same stage with simply a higher risk of getting killed as you went along.

However, even though there is only one level to go through, it's probably some of the best level design I've ever seen.  It's not the kind of thing you just come up with in a few days.  It provides a variety of tactical options as you're being chased around by the ghosts.  Things can get pretty pressure-packed, and it makes it all the more rewarding when you perform and epic dodge and live to fight longer.

Lastly, and this is more of a matter of personal preference, it seemed like there should have been some kind of simultaneous multiplayer option. I know you're probably thinking, 'Well, he's expecting way too much because this was an early game on an arcade machine, so you can't expect two people to go and play it at the same time. How would you even do that?" My answer would be that plenty of arcade machines had two sets of controls, as did the NES, which proves that it wasn't too early to expect some multiplayer. It might work like this: two players move around the stage, collecting as many pellets as possible; whoever collected the most points at the end would win, and a loss would immediately occur if one player loses all lives. Not too complicated, I don't think. Again, this is just a nitpick, and not really a problem with the game, so you can just ignore this entire paragraph if you wish.

Despite this, the multiplayer is still a success due to the fact that it is loads of fun due to the competitive aspect.  It's one of those games that's easy to play and hard to master, so any two people can play it.  My dad and I always have a fantastic time playing against each other, and it's probably our favorite 2-player experience in any game.  This leads me to another point I'd like to make about this game, which is that it only truly shines when you're playing it with someone else, since it has an exciting, tense atmosphere.

Pac-Man is a good game overall. It's certainly not nearly as fun as the handheld version I remember playing and loving early on, but in a way, I'm kind of glad to have it back, and I saw it as a good deal for 500 Wii Points. If you've played the classic version before and found that you had fun with it, then for 500 Wii Points, it's worth a definite buy. In fact, it's worth a buy for all those of you who are collecting noteworthy classics.  If you're looking for something with variety that will be playable for hours by yourself, this is a total skip, as its content is too low and its gameplay too tedious to fulfill your tastes.

On the other hand, if you're looking for something tense at competitive to play with your friends, Pac-Man is a simple, easy, yet incredibly fun classic that I absolutely recommend for 500 Wii Points.