Kiki's Games Blog

Friday, December 08, 2006

MAME: Pac-Man

Created by Namco in 1979, Pac-Man is one of the enduring classic arcade games - it is regularly in the top 10 games downloaded for mobile phones, and has spawned many spin-off sequels -- the most original being, in my opinion, Pac-land (1984, arcade), Pac-Man Vs. (2003, GameCube - in which the ghosts are controlled by other players) & Pac-Pix (2005, DS - where Pac-Man is literally drawn on the screen by the player).

Pac-Man takes place in a maze-like screen. The passages are filled with small, glowing yellow dots which must all be collected to advance to the next level. There are also 4 larger "power pellets" in each corner, which I'll get to later.
Pac-Man's player avatar is a very simple shape -- a day-glo yellow character which alternates between a circular, to circular with a wedge-shaped hole to represent Pac-Man's ever-opening mouth. He is controlled with a four-direction joystick (or in MAME, 4 keyboard keys).

To create challenge, 4 coloured ghosts roam the mazes & attempt to tag the player's Pac-Man character. They each have their own chase-style, which experienced players are known to exploit to never get caught.
If the player collects a "power pellet", all ghosts will turn dark blue, and their expression will change from their normal searching eyes, to expressions of fear -- if they are eaten by the player in this state, their eyes will humourously to the middle of the maze & the ghost will return, back in its regular colour. (After c. 20levels, ghosts cannot be eaten).
Also, occasionally fruit will appear in the middle of the maze, which can be collected for more points.
When all the dots in a level are collected, the maze refreshes, and the player plays the same level again, only with faster ghosts.

Final view
Pac-Man's cartoony presentation helps it gain a lot of character, and also makes it seem very friendly to non-regular games players. It's very simple gameplay (control is purely by joystick) makes it very easy to get into, while mastering it requires hours of dedication to realise the patterns necessary for survival at the later levels' faster speeds.


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