Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness / Pac-Man World (GBA) review - Part one

Back in 1999 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pac-Man developers Namco and Full Fat released Pac-Man World and a year later released Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness, two games that are rather fun to play on the GBA.

Ms. Pac-Man was originally released on the PS1, N64 and Dreamcast whilst Pac-Man was only released on the PS1 before being ported to the GBA. Due to this the games are slightly different to their console counterparts and have less features but this doesn't make them any less enjoyable as far as I'm aware. The main difference is the lack of multi-player which is no big loss though it's a shame that some levels have had to be left out alongside the original Pac-Man which would have been a nice extra to play on a handheld.

I'll start with Pac-Man World first with it being released first.

As with any platform game back then the plot is fairly basic. Pac-Man returns home on his 20th birthday to find that all of his friends are missing due to being taken by a robot version of Pac-Man called Toc-Man who is really Orson the ghost in disguise. Pac-Man heads off to find and rescue his friends and to celebrate his birthday. Beyond some cut-scenes at the beginning and the end of the game the plot is pretty much not touched on again except for certain levels including friends to rescue and even then it's just to say thanks for rescuing us.

As with any platformer though it's the game play which makes or break the game and Pac-Man World is certainly an odd one. This is due to the fact that it can either be quite fun or quite frustrating depending on which level/section you are playing. There are twelve levels in total, including the big boss, which are separated across five sections such as mines, space and catacombs which makes for a good variety of levels. Generally the levels are fun and interesting but certain sections can be rather frustrating when it comes to jumps, for example one level has hatches that open and close which you have to jump across but each one barely opens for a second before you need to leap and there can be a couple of lives lost. The lives are quite interestingly placed as on some of the tougher levels you can get a few like one level which has three lives to collect in quick succession before coming to a bit that requires a few. It's like the developers are saying we know this next bit will cost you some lives so have some more before you start it.

Overall though it is still a game worth playing. There are nods to the original game with pellets and fruit to be collected as well as ghosts to be killed (is that possible?) along side new enemies such as skeletons and aliens. There are moves that you can use which are the "butt-bounce" which pounds on enemies and buttons, the rev roll which sends Pac-Man rolling across the screen and can knock over enemies and finally you can throw pellets to kill enemies. You can also collect the fruit to open doors and certain levels contain keys which are needed to free friends who then throw you energy in the final battle, a final battle which become incredibly easy once you rescue some friends. There are also letters across the stages which spell PACMAN but I never collected the full six so no idea on what they do I'm afraid.

The graphics are nice to look at with them being big, bright and colourful. The music I wasn't too fond of personally but it's not terrible, just not my cup of tea. I just turned it down so it didn't bother me when playing.

I would recommend playing Pac-Man World if you see it for cheap as it is a short game, especially if you don't bother collecting everything but it can be fun while it lasts.


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