Pac-Man (1980)

Video Game   |  Action, Family, Fantasy


Pac-Man (1980) Poster

Navigate Pac-Man through a maze escaping ghosts and eating Pac-Dots.


7.9/10
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28 December 2018 | ThePopulist
8
| {WIP} 85% -- A maze game as fast as the voracious Namco mascot's metabolism
PROS

* A conventional 2-dimensional labyrinth is best used when a person is agitated or tense. With that and the only goal being to find the exit, it is normally not occupied as a form of entertainment, especially since there are so many alternatives that provide such enjoyment, so what if there were a maze with a twist? There is one, at least digitally. The goal is to collect all the dots neatly and symmetrically organized on the maze with only one rule: not be caught by any of the four ghosts. It is like a typical maze, but the entrance and exit are replaced by warp tunnels, where crossing one on one side would send the player character,--a yellow spherical eater ubiquitously known as Pac-Man (whose name is recognizable enough to be included as a dictionary entry)--to the adjacent other on the opposite side of the screen. On top of that, you also get to meet the four ghosts, each with their own behavior. There is no plot or explaining of the situation or what the situation is about, and in retrospect, despite the later titles unambiguously explaining who the hero is, that gives me an idea on attempting to explain it myself: that Pac-Man is actually the villain and the ghosts are trying to stop him from eating their Pac-Dots and more ghosts. It sounds impetuously inane, but this intriguing conspiracy theory adds a new perspective on how the player thinks of the characters.

* When you play Pac-Man, it is not just because it is a speedy maze game, but also because of the distinct personalities of the ghosts: Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (cyan), and Clyde (orange). They each have their favorite area on the map and their own behavior. Blinky is arguably the mastermind of the ghosts. He also makes for a good stalker; make your best attempt to shake him, but at every turn he reaches, he always takes the shortest route to Pac-Man, and he will continue pursuing you until your character is caught or the ghosts formulate a plan to briefly stop chasing Pac-Man and move to their favorite spots on the map, and the cycle repeats. Pinky is rather a mischief. Like Blinky, he will pursue the protagonist, but he preferably takes routes to get in front of your hero. The duo of Blinky on your tail and Pinky in front make a deadly duo. Inky is not the ghost to fool with. You cannot ever predict what his mind is thinking. The question remains: Will he chase you or strategically take a random path? More importantly, will you take chances for your convenience or play it safe for the guarantee of your life if possible? Clyde is perhaps the least intelligent of the clan. He seems to wander off his own direction and forget his clan's mission. That may be the case, but with the other ghosts chasing Pac-Man, he can still fulfill their scheme and catch Pac-Man if he is unfortunate enough to not foresee the ghost's position. Each of them is an equally major obstacle.

* The basics now covered, here is where the fun begins. To sum it up, Pac-Man is fast. Very fast, with simple instructions but difficult gameplay. You require quick decision-making to stay alive. With that and the ghosts' stubborn attitude for Pac-Man's devourment, the player also requires a flexible behavior to avoid staying on the wrong paths.

NOTE

* On the issue of ghosts, contrary to their official descriptions, the movements of Inky and Clyde (and others) are not truly random. I.e., all of the ghosts have some algorithm of selecting routes in relation to Pac-Man's position and direction, meaning that via strict observation, the ghosts' pattern can be used for the player's advantage, for an even better and prolonged experience

CON

* Pac-Man's tedium derives from the following: one maze, four same ghosts, same dots, same power-ups...same everything, with only the special item changing in value and type on higher levels before being fixed until the player loses all of their lives or finishes all the levels in the play. After minutes or hours of consecutive playing, you know the maze, you may stick to the same strategy used in the previous level or resort to a similar one, and since you are focused on the only goal of surviving, the shift to endurance can drive you crazy. Fortunately, that does not mean that you for a month or even a week would say no to continuing playing.

CONCLUSION: With as much gluttony as from 1980, Pac-Man can still chew as much as he bites. The legend still eager to whomp his chomps and roast the ghosts, his legacy of clearing mazes persists.

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Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Action | Family | Fantasy

Details

Release Date:

26 October 1980

Language

English, None


Country of Origin

Japan

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