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Classic Muncher

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Released: 1987

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Bubble Bus

Developer: Nick Jones

Submitted by: Steve Halfpenny

“Wakka wakka wakka! It's Pac-Man!” said the stupid Atari advert and so it came to pass that every single computer that followed must have at least ten Pac-Man clones. Here's one of my favourites.

Released when old yellow ball was considered a relic, Classic Muncher's inlay card tries to disguise that which it really is so magnificently that as a result, my usually sharp mother didn't know what kind of treat I was in for when she picked me up this budget title way back in 1987. Below is the description from the back of the box.

“Living in a haunted mansion isn't much fun, especially when the ghouls take over. Muncher must gather up all the food before the ghouls get him!”

The cover also depicts some kind of blood thirsty green lizard monster lurking in a misty forest looking for prey. Pretty darn subtle, eh? Upon load and a press of a fire button later, there were sighs and later an apology upon realisation that this was “just” Pac-Man, though being relatively ill(ish), I figured that this was as good a present as any. However, with persistence it soon became crystal clear that this was a much better game than say Gnasher, another Pac clone or the actual 2600 port, both of which I owned.

I won't bore you with the basics, we all know what Pac-Man is about and the fundamentals are here. What's not here is that your hungry fella stops moving if a direction is not made and regenerated enemies never reappear during the time a power pill is active; typical mistakes that many copies used to make and probably make the game easier. But so what? Pac-Man is about how long you can last as the gameplay gets more frantic so try and rack up the best possible high score before the ghosts turn off the lights (hi-score table included).

Graphically, “Muncher” does its job (love the faces on the ghosts!), sound effects are okay for 48K and Pac's death is very accurate to the original indeed! So far, so good. Classic Muncher ticks all of the correct boxes and one maze with the usual eatables would have been dandy.

But come here, there's more. There are six, count em, six different levels, the fifth of which is particularly interesting (see screen shot). Then there's the collectable letters. They appear and disappear much like Pac's usual fruit favourites (strawberries and cherries included) but when gathered will hopefully spell out a word for a Bubble Bobble style power up. “BONUS” adds points to your current score, “EXTRA” adds a life and “NICK” er… adds a few letter “P”s under your score display, for some unfathomable reason. Speaking of unfathomable, after you've lost your final muncher, along with your final score you'll be presented with a code. I can't for the life of me remember what the relevance was but I believe it had something to do with a competition the publisher was running (send in your code and be placed into a prize draw for a gigantic inflatable Bubble Bus! Or maybe not.)

Looking through the achieves, Classic Muncher may be the best Pac-Man clone on the Spectrum though I have little time or patience to go through them all. It certainly kept me entertained for that brief time I took absence from school all those years ago and, as a result, I've never forgotten it.

Classic Muncher

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Released: 1985

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC

Publisher: Bubble Bus

Developer: Bubble Bus

Submitted by: Ashley Hodgetts

Well it's another pacman clone but it actually is quite good at what it does. Guide our yellow friend around the screen gobbling up the pills and avoiding the four ghosts. There are four special pills in each corner that when picked up gives you the chance to send the ghosts back to their prison. But these pills don't last for long. The ghosts will start to flash meaning it's time to back away.

As you progress through the game it soon gets faster and harder. Ghosts chase you and will soon keep up with you. Each screen is different and soon enough you will need to develop a strategy to get to the next. There are fruits and letters that appear to gain points and extra lives as long as you collect them all.

Classic Muncher is colourful and smooth. The sound is not up to much but what do you expect for a budget game. A decent version of pac man for my cpc..