Review by Moochthemonkey

"Title: Namco introduces a little new twist in its acclaimed series with Pac-Attack"

Of course, everyone knows a thing or two about the little yellow Pac-Man, whether it was your first game you played in the arcade, our if you are engaging in the 3-D “Pacman Adventures” on one of the more renewed systems right now. The game genres have ranged from simple puzzle types to unique adventure gameplay. During the older systems, such as Atari and the Genesis, the games where based on a strategy and puzzle field. The basic idea was Pacman eating up the little white pellets as he runs away from the ghosts in the stage. Once Pacman collected a super pellet, the ghosts would be running from him like scared little piggies! It’s amazing how Namco has been able to sell multitudes of different Pacman games, such as Ms. Pacman, Pacman Maze Challengers, and Pacman Adventures. During the early 90’s, Namco introduced a new style of Pacman, Pac-Attack. The idea was kind of trite, since it was derived from the basics of Tetris and a little bit of old school Pacman thrown in.

In Tetris, you let pieces fall to the floor, and then quickly place them in certain positions, so that you can fill up the rows and make them vanish. The principle is very repetitive, and even though it is somewhat amusing at first, it can very tedious within the first ten minutes or so. With Pac-Attack, the gameplay is similar, except for Namco patched up a few bits and pieces to make this not as monotonous, and it actually turned out to be a mediocre work. Just like in Tetris, the blocks drop to the floor and you must fill up rows and gaps to make things easier. Of course, if there where no ghosts (Pacman’s fodder) in this game, what would make this a Pacman work? Of course, you are going to have to create certain builds that creates path for Pacman to eat ghosts. As he eats the ghosts, he adds to his score! The game delivers the fun in three different playable modes: the lengthy Puzzle mode, the rather insipid normal mode, and the rapid paced versus mode when you can go head to head with a friend.

All modes have the same gist; make sure to eat as much ghosts as possible while keeping the pile of blocks as low as you can. Puzzle Mode is definitely the best, Namco challenges you with one hundred different puzzles, some that are very simple, and others need proficient, intricate solutions to solve. The goal in this mode is to eat every single ghost in the stage, before your amount of lives runs out. Some ghosts are surrounded by block pieces, some ghosts are in high places in the level, and some are placed in easy situations for Pacman’s feasting. Every now in the then the game will thrown in a random piece or two that are different from the rest of the blocks. Normal mode is different; you must survive the intense trial of the blocks plummeting to the floor. Eat the ghosts if you like, but make sure to fill those clefts and make those rows vanish! The more ghosts you chomp, the quicker your fairy meter fills! Once the magical pixie is summoned to your benefit, she comes in and zaps those pesky ghosts in an orderly fashion! Now watch the rows fade away one by one. Lastly, the game developed a two-player mode, so you can go head to head with one of your friends! I hope you practiced in normal mode for this. Luckily, the game designed this so that each player can choose their difficulty; for example, veterans can choose “hyper” while novices can choose “slow”. Sure, it’s an enjoyment at first, but like most puzzles games, it will get boring after a while and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Even though the game is not the best in this area, there is an acceptable level of quality in the graphics and audio area. The graphics are so-so, I can see Pacman and his enemies visibly, and I can make out what the blocks are. The character sprites are all right, but not much of an improvement from Pacman in his Atari days. Namco could have reached a higher evaluation if they produced more detail in the environments and stages. As far as the sound, the value is great! I love the background music; the sound effects are purely traditional. However, in puzzle mode, I would ask Namco to change the tunes every twenty levels or so. The background music flows while you’re trying to develop a solution to the puzzle, but it will develop an irritating, side-splitting headache sooner or later.

Yet Namco has developed a rather intriguing concept, there is just a single, major flaw that is essential to fix up. Repetitiveness. No matter which mode you choose, you are doing the same thing, over and over again. When you are in puzzle mode, the area is the exact same size, over and over again. I’m starting to feel claustrophobic. Thank goodness Namco included a password feature. When you are in V.S. and Normal mode, you fill cracks and gaps, then chomp down any ghosts you can get hold of, and you do the exact same thing, over and over again. During your one hundred levels of puzzle mode play, the same giddy music plays over and over again. I cannot stress the fact enough. I cannot completely bring this game down though for that, it is actually dreadfully hard to change that imperfection in a puzzle game.

Aside from the bland graphics, I refuse to give this game a high score because of the tediousness. Repetitiveness obligates me to put the game down for a while, and obviously if I do that I cannot give this game a high score. Still, this game was created with a great idea, and well, it has Pacman in it, so I will rate this as a 6/10 game. Don’t bother buying it, unless you are both a puzzle freak and a hardcore Pacman fan. Purchasing this piece really isn’t worth the extra cash, you might as well save up your money for some long distance collect calls instead.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/08/04

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