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Pac-Land

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Released: 1984

Publisher: Namco / Midway

Developer: Namco (original)

Submitted by: Ryan McNeilly

One of the things I have always wanted to own is my own arcade machine.To this day, I would love to have one. The problem being lack of room in the house. I also came to the decision early on that if I did own an arcade machine, I sure as hell would not have Pac-Land running on it!

Not that Pac-Land is a bad game, it’s a great game! Arcade machines were few and far between where I grew up, but most places that had an arcade machine always seemed to have Pac-Land. So much so that the BGM of that game is burned into my brain forever. I am sure many other readers will remember the game music also.

The reason why I would not have Pac-Land installed on my arcade machine is due to abuse. I would not put my imaginary arcade cabinet through such abusive torture.

For those unaware, Pac-Land is a side scrolling affair featuring PacMan himself trying to save a little fairy which is hidden underneath his feather hat. PacMan must make numerous trips across towns, woods and castles to bring the little fairy back to the Mega Fairy (that’s a lie, I’m not sure where the fairy was being delivered to, but Mega Fairy will do).

Instead of simply holding in right on the joystick to travel right, the player must accelerate PacMan by tapping right a few times, then holding the joystick to the right. So, for example, you would have to tap right, tap right, tap right, hold right in. The more taps before hamd, the faster PacMan would travel. Now, mix this weird control scheme with a bunch on teenage lads playing and your arcade cabinet is pretty much phoning the Samaritans. Players would not tap right, they would BANG right.

“BANG right, BANG right, BANG right, HOLD RIGHT IN AS HARD AS YOU CAN!!!! AH I MIGHT ASWELL BANG RIGHT A FEW MORE TIMES EVEN THOUGH I’M AT TOP SPEED! BANG RIGHT!”

When watching the older kids play Pac-Land, I used to look over to the shopkeeper to see if they were aiming the shotgun at us. The joystick abuse was absolutely shocking. It wasn’t until I was doing a little research on Pac-Land when I noticed that Namco developed a special cabinet specifically for Pac-Land that replaced the joystick with buttons. That makes so much sense. I have never seen one of these cabinets in person though.

Anyway, the game is fun. Once you find the rhythm, the game becomes a reflex test as you jump over ghosts and collect the random pieces of fruit that pop up. The later woods stages can be quite tricky and really test your platforming expertise. Veterans of the arcade cabinet know where to find stuff like stage warps by doing the most obscure things (running into a fire hydrant for a few seconds for example). You could also eat a pellet which would let you get rid of those pesky ghosts, just like in the original PacMan game.

After you deliver the fairy to Mega Fairy, you must get back home to Mrs.PacMan for some lovin’. Mega Fairy will give you springy boots to make the trip home easier. Now it’s time to BANG LEFT! BANG LEFT! BAANG LEFT!! JUMP! The shopkeeper is now pulling the pins out of his hand grenades.

Pac-Land was a very successful arcade game which got ported to the C64, Amiga, Atari Lynx, Atari ST, TurboGrafx, Speccy, Amstrad CPC, MSX, and NES. Unfortunately I am guilty of only playing the Spectrum and Atari Lynx versions (Lynx via emulation). Neither of which held up well in comparison to it’s arcade counterpart. I would like to believe the TurboGrafx version would be the closest to the arcade game. I will give that one a go at a later date and post up the review.

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