Retro: VC Weekly #173

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

A classic title that any long-term player can appreciate the addictiveness of; a true Namco great. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Pac-Man

Price: UK �3.60 EU �4
Publisher: Bandai-Namco
Developer: Namco
Released: 1990
System: GameBoy

What can be said about Pac-Man that has'nt been mentioned before... the little yellow fellow has seemingly been around since gaming existed and has starred in more than his fair share of games; it's the first title however which is easily his most memorable and it should come of no surprise that this all-time classic saw a release on one of the best handheld consoles of all time. But if you've already played it - I'd be hard pushed to find anyone who hasn't - then does this portable version really warrant repurchase? Read on to find out.

To all intents and purposes this is the classic maze-based muncher that started it all, you can choose to play in either full -screen or zoomed-in mode before playing but otherwise you control Pac-Man going about your business of chomping down on white pellets while avoiding the ghosts that give chase - named Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde - occasionally grabbing a power-pill from a corner of the maze which makes the ghosts edible for a brief period of time. Once you have eaten everything in sight - including the piece of fruit if you're quick enough - you move onto the next stage, then rinse and repeat indefinitely... or at least that's how the game was originally designed.

An infinite number of levels was supposed to be a feature of Pac-Man, indeed to most of us it may seem infinite but once you get beyond level 255 an error occurs which fills half of the screen with jumbled characters thus making the level unplayable; this is something of a shame perhaps though it's a glitch which has always been present so it shouldn't come of any surprise and I doubt it would ruin many players experience of the title, though it's worth mentioning.

Due to the GameBoy being monochrome there is no colour to speak of which does change the game somewhat, for once Pac-Man isn't actually yellow plus the ghosts aren't coloured which means you can't immediately tell the ghosts apart just from a quick glance, this may be a deal-breaker for purists of the game. Sound is as you'd expect, all the into and intermission songs are there but apart from that all you'll here is the frequent 'Wakka wakka wakka' of Pac-man eating dots plus the constant low-siren sound of the ghosts; this is just how it was so it's no bad thing.

If you enjopy playing Pac-Man with colour then I would suggest giving this a miss but for anyone else who isn't concerned then by all means pick this up if you want a portable version of the game now but just be aware that it's something of an inevitability that Namco will release the superior GameBoy Color version at some point which not only contains the much missed colour but also the extra bonus of being able to play Pac-Attack as well. The choice is of course yours but if I had to choose then personally I'd opt to wait but at least there is something out there to satisfy fans.

Verdict : Pac-Man ported in portable, playable form.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins

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