Consoul's Blog Consoul Games: Pac-Man gets the hook-up.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Pac-Man gets the hook-up.

Have still been playing mostly Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on Cube this week. FF:CC really copped a hiding in the gaming press for it's multiplayer aspect, which requires each player to have a GameBoy Advance and the GBA-GC link cable. Not the most acheivable set-up, but one that works very well if you can manage it. Of course, you could just hook-up five Gamecubes, four GameBoyPlayers, four Wavebirds and five TV sets like these guys did.
I've found playing FF:CC single-player has been great and the game has turned out to be much bigger than I anticipated. The reviews have been unjustly harsh on the basis of the GBA-connectivity required for multi-player.

So, as an alternative, I'd like to post my impressions of another game that sports GBA-connectivity that is far more accessible. It may be nearly 30 years old but the multiplayer twist makes up for it.

Pac-Man Vs. by Namco and Nintendo
Nintendo Gamecube (with GBA)

Pac-man Vs on Gamecube is simple, but solid and fun. You only need one GBA, and the game is best played with 4 players, though three is fine (two is not so good). The player with the GBA is Pac-man and the others (with standard GC controllers) are ghosts.

The ghosts can only see a small portion of the maze around them on the TV, while Pac can see the whole maze in traditional Pac-Man style on the GBA. One significant element that hasn't been mentioned in the reviews I've read is that Pac leaves a short trail of diminishing light behind him. This can allow the ghosts to see where Pac has been (and how recently) even if they don't see Pac himself. This feature has been well thought out and helps strike the perfect balance between the challenge of chasing Pac as a ghost and that of running from the ghosts as Pac. There's also a good sense of co-operation between the ghost players as they team up to get Pac.

The object of the game is to reach a certain number of points (which you choose through the setup options). If Pac gets eaten, the player who ate him gets to be Pac. Clearing the maze gives Pac bonus points, as does eating ghosts.

What you need to know about Vs is that it is very simple. It is still pure Pac-man, and despite the addition of a handful of new mazes, there's no substance to the game whatsoever. A few minor tweaks to the formula add extra strategic elements, but its pretty much as you remember. Example of new strategy element: If you are playing with less than 4 players, the CPU ghosts will start as grey ghosts that are harmless to Pac. Once touched by a player ghost, they'll take on that ghosts' colour and be able to eat Pac, effectively giving the player ghost a teammate. So if the CPU ghost then eats Pac, the human teammate becomes Pac. The only addition that seems out of place is the announcer's voice - it's unmistakably (and inexplicably) the high-pitched italian stereotype voice of Nintendo's mascot, Mario. There's no option to turn it off either. There isn't even an option to save anything to memory card - there's nothing to unlock and no high score table. You play, you have fun, that is all.

It couldn't seriously have been released as a retail title in today's market, as its simplicity harks back to another age. Namco and Nintendo wisely decided to bundle it free with other Namco offerings on Cube. Unfortunately, in Australia you can only get it with R:Racing, Namco's unofficial successor to the Ridge Racer series. Despite the reviews, R:Racing is a good game - it's just a pity we can't get Pac-man Vs. with a budget copy of Pac-Man World 2 like most of the rest of the world can.

To end this shambolic raving on what is really a very basic game, let me say this:
Pac-Man Vs. is great fun for a quick blast with friends, particularly if you all share nostalgic feelings toward the yellow dot. It's the first title that really made the GBA connectivity concept make perfect sense.


The original creator of Pac-man,
Namco's Toru Iwatani and
Nintendo guru Shigeru Miyamoto.

As an aside, have you ever wondered what would happen if you dressed up a guy as Pac-man and then got other guys to dress up as ghosts and then set them loose to play Pac-man on the grid-like streets of New York? Of course you haven't. It's a ridiculous idea. These guys are doing it anyway:


Blogger tracie said...

What a funny idea- the PacManhattan- you should organise a similar thing for Sydney!

6:36 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home