Together Retro Game Club: Pac Mania

Presented by Ivo

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The Pac-Man series of games is probably one of the best known, and will be recognised even by people that don’t regularly play games. Easily distinguished from the many other earlier sequels to the original Pac-Man, Pac-Mania was released by Namco in 1987 as the first 16-bit game in the series and is a notable entry in the series due to its innovation to the gameplay.

Gameplay

In case you don’t know Pac-Man (unlikely if you are reading this), it is a classic arcade game set in a maze where you control Pac-Man, which in the original looks like a yellow circle with a wedge taken out to denote Pac-Man’s mouth. The objective is to gobble up all the pellets scattered in mazes while being harassed by ghosts that can kill you if they touch you. Among the smaller pellets there are some larger pellets (power pellets) which when consumed allow you to eat the ghosts for a limited time for extra points.

Pac-Mania is quite simply Pac-Man where Pac-Man can jump.

The jump feature changes the gameplay significantly, mostly because it allows you to avoid the ghosts, but you can also strategically jump over a power pellet to save it for later instead of having to go around. To keep things from getting too easy there are also new ghosts that can also jump (so it is harder or even impossible to jump over them).

The game is presented in a tilted 3-D viewpoint and you can only see part of the maze around Pac-Man instead of the whole maze.
Other notable changes to the gameplay are the red and green power pellets which appear for a limited time at the centre of the mazes (where items worth bonus points also appear, as they did in Pac-Man). The red power pellet is a version of the standard yellow ones, as it also allows Pac-Man to gobble up ghosts for a limited time. The green power pellet instead gives a temporary speed-up. Navigating the maze at high speed is a lot of fun, and even better if have the speed-up and a power pellet at the same time to gobble up ghosts super fast.

There are different maze layouts which are also in different environments (just aesthetic apart from the maze layout). The first stage looks like it is made of Lego bricks, the second is similar to classic Pac-Man (but seen from the tilted 3-D viewpoint), the third looks like it is on sand with pyramids making the corridors, and the fourth looks like steps raised very high and is vaguely reminiscent of some Escher artwork.

Legacy and Ports

Although not to the extent of its predecessor Pac-Man, Pac-Mania was a hit arcade game and became widely ported to home systems of the time ranging from 8-bit and 16-bit consoles as well as home computers. As a classic, the arcade version has also appeared in compilations for more modern systems.

Notable ports include the Commodore 64 and the Commodore Amiga.
I have a personal bias for the Amiga port, which is somewhat “zoomed out” compared to the original arcade version. You can read more about it in the entry I wrote for Racketboy’s article about Pac-Man clones and spin-offs.
There are also several clones inspired by Pac-Mania – any Pac-Man clone with a jump feature is a Pac-Mania clone. Some good freeware games are mentioned in the article above.

The arcade version can be found relatively easily through emulation.
Special mention of the Gameboy Advance version in the Pac-Man Collection as it is on an handheld.
It used to be available on the iOS as an app, but apparently it is not compatible with iOS7 and iOS8 so it seemed to be discontinued when I checked.

The most recently released version appears to be the Pac-Man Museum
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-Man_Museum
available on PS3’s PSN, Xbox 360 Live Arcade, and on Steam
On the Xbox 360 you can also get it through the Namco Museum Virtual Arcade (which is a disc despite the title)

For some of the other systems, it is included in different Namco Museum titles.

Discussion

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