Tagged "Pac-Man"

Apr 25
By Matt Gander In Features, Retro No Comments

The creators of the vastly popular PlayerUnknown’s Battle Grounds made gaming news headlines last week, taking legal action against a handful of games mimicking PUBG a little too closely.

One clone features a frying pan as a melee weapon, while another uses the term ‘Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner’ in their marketing. Both are under heavy scrutiny and may end up being yanked.

While PUBG Corporation/Bluehole have every right to protect their brand, some allegations push the boundaries somewhat. It’s almost as if they’re taking credit for creating the whole Battle Royale genre, despite a few examples – including DayZ and H1Z1 – existing before PUBG’s release.

Can you imagine if Nintendo claimed ownership of the side-scrolling 2D platform genre following the success of the original Super Mario Bros? The NES would have missed out on several key titles, most of which became long-running franchises.

Indeed, it’s impossible to stop rival developers from copying currently popular trends. Once a studio finds themselves with an unexpected hit, a dozen imitators will surely follow. This is how new genres are formed, inducing some friendly competition.

In fact, blatant plagiarism in the video game market can be traced back all the way to gaming’s inception, as we dare to delve into below.

Breakout – 1976

Clones of Atari’s Breakout were so rife that you may not even know it by its original name. Even the genre it belongs to has different monikers. In France, the genre is known as ‘casse-briques’ (brick breaker), while Japanese gamers refer to it as ‘block kuzushi’ (block destruction). Generally, though, Breakout clones are known as either ‘paddle’ or ‘bat and ball’ games.

Arkanoid was Taito’s rendition – released ten years after Atari’s original – and it became a huge arcade hit, gaining numerous sequels. The Game Boy also had its own brick breaker in the form of Alleyway. Although a popular release, being one of four GB launch games, it wasn’t rated highly by critics due to failing to add anything new to the genre.

The Watara Supervision (known as the QuickShot Supervision in the UK) even came packaged with a bat and ball game, known as Crystball. It wasn’t the best choice to bundle with the system, highlighting how blurry the screen became when handling fast moving objects.

Sticking with handhelds, SEGA had their own take too. Woody Pop for the Game Gear was a popular release during the system’s early days, so called due to the bat being a wooden log known as Woody. A tree spirit, no less. It was a darn sight more imaginative than dull old Alleyway.

Space Invaders – 1978

We don’t need to tell you that Space Invaders was a colossal hit. It was a pop culture phenomenon, leading Taito’s classic to become a household name. Even now, 40 years on, it’s still possible to purchase Space Invaders merchandise. T-shirts, keyrings, baseball caps, mugs and more are readily available in high street stores and supermarkets.

It has to be one of the most imitated games of all-time. Why didn’t Taito clamp down on clones? Quite simply, the copyright of the original game hadn’t been properly protected – only the name ‘Space Invaders’ had been trademarked. In short: it was a free market.

Pretty much every system ever released has a Space Invaders style game, with early examples including the Intellivision’s Space Armada – the first Intellivision game to animate more than eight sprites – and the Fairchild Channel F’s Alien Invasion.

We can’t forget Galaxian either, which was Namco’s attempt at creating a bonafide rival rather than a mere clone, boasting full-colour graphics, a scrolling starfield, and background music. In many ways, it set the standard for all arcade games that followed.

Pac-Man – 1980

The moment Atari felt somebody treading on their toes, they beckoned their lawyers. After the biggest name in gaming bagged the prestigious Pac-Man license from Namco, Atari’s rivals tread very carefully when it came to developing their own Pac-Man style maze games.

This pussyfooting resulted in K.C. Munchkin, published by Philips for the Magnavox Odyssey. The creators went great lengths to add several key differences to Pac-Man, so that should they end up in court they’d have a leg to stand on. Instead of four ghosts, there were just three. Mazes – which featured optional random generation – had just 12 pills (known as munchies) to collect, and K.C himself was blue rather than yellow. Sadly for Philips, these changes weren’t enough – Atari managed to convince the courts that Phillips had copied Pac-Man, and so K.C. Munchkin ended up being pulled from shelves. It had a good run, however, making it to store shelves a whole year before the notorious Atari 2600 rendition of Pac-Man.

Lock ‘n’ Chase – published by Data East in Japan and Taito in the US – managed to elude Atari’s grasp by taking the cops ‘n robbers route, adding the ability to erect walls. Other clones tasked players with filling a maze with indefinable pills and pellets, rather than emptying it.

Atari’s reach extended to the European microcomputer market, forcing Commodore to yank the Vic 20’s Jelly Monsters – one of the system’s most impressive looking games. Luckily for Sinclair, Hungry Horace for the ZX Spectrum got off scot-free.

For those unable to afford a microcomputer or console, Grandstand’s Munchman tabletop electronic game was the only way to bring the Pac-Man experience home. It wouldn’t be fair to call this a knockoff as it was, in fact, a rebranded officially licensed Pac-Man game from Tomy.

Later Pac-Man clones were far more creative and unique than those that preceded them, including Shigeru Miyamoto’s Devil World, an innovative maze game that was denied Nintendo of America’s approval due to religious imagery.

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Jan 10
By Matt Gander In Cache in the Attic 1 Comment

Following on from last week’s review of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures and this week’s lookback at Pac-Attack, it seems fit to focus this month’s eBay round-up on Pac-Man.

Pac-ManBall

Unsurprisingly, a Pac-Man arcade cabinet is the highest valued Pac-Man item to have sold on eBay recently. It’s not the original Pac-Man arcade game though, but rather a Pac-Man Ball ‘coin pusher’ machine. The neat thing about this cabinet is the little TFT flat screen in the middle, which is used to play a clone of of ‘Bust-A-Move’ – when coins pass through certain places on the table Pac-Man will fire a coloured ball. If three a matched up a bonus is earned. Incidentally, we’ve never seen an arcade owner fill one of these machines up with 2ps before – they’re usually loaded with 10p or 20p coins. It sold for £840.

An auction from the US next. This unused Pac-Man joystick watch from the early ‘80s fetched $449.99 (approx £274.20). Joysticks were changeable with each colour relating to a different ghost, including Pinky (pink), Blinky (orange) and inky (blue). It does appear that one joystick is missing, but nevertheless it’s a nice little item. An unboxed model sold for £155 even though the strap appears not to be the original.

Two boxed Pac-Man 30th anniversary Zippo lighters sold for similar amounts – £199 each. One featured a depiction of the game in play, while the other a large embossed golden Pac-Man.

pacgamea

Three boxes of unopened Fleer Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man stickers and trading cards sold for £243 – or thereabouts, anyway – the auction ended as a ‘best offer’. As well as standard stickers and trading cards featuring Pac-Man and his ghostly cohorts in various poses and situations, some cards were coated in scratch off foil and could be used to play an impromptu game of Pac-Man. Dragon’s Lair was given the same treatment with similar ‘rub off’ cards.

The seller of this sealed box of 24 Pac-Man Valentine’s Day cards wasn’t quite as lucky as not one soul was tempted to have a bid. “For girls, boys and teacher” reads the front of the box.

Despite being far from trash, this bright yellow Pac-Man trash can also failed to find a seller. £45 was the original asking price. A reasonable price seeing that the seller notes there are no dents and the paint is as vibrant as it was when new. A trash can with a different design – and seemingly in worse condition – did however manage to sell for £30.

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Jan 07
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Namco’s iconic yellow fellow has starred in countless games over the years, so it’s no surprise that some have fallen into obscurity. Arguably, none of these are more deserving of a lookback than 1993’s Pac-Attack, a neat little puzzler with more than a whiff of Tetris about it.

Pac-Attack3

Although the puzzler appears to have been designed with Pac-Man in mind, that’s actually not the case – its roots can be traced back to Cosmo Gang the Puzzle, a very similar game released in arcades the year before. The curious thing about this is why Namco didn’t put Pac-Man in pride of place from the start. Although there had been a few other arcade games featuring the Cosmo Gang in the past, the puzzler’s concept of lining up rows of enemies so that they can be haplessly eaten has Pac-Man written all over it.

Like all good puzzlers, Pac-Attack is easy to pick up. That’s especially the case for those who have played Tetris before, and to be fair, it’s hard to imagine that anybody hasn’t – even way back in 1993. Blocks vanish when a full row is formed, thus preventing the ever growing pile from touching the top. As the levels rise, the speed of the block’s descent increases until the point where lightening quick reflexes are required.

Pac-Attack1

So far so Tetris. As well as standard blocks though there are also rows of ghosts to line up for Pac-Man to munch whenever a block formation containing Pac-Man appears. Herein lines the genius streak – huge combos can be pull off by blocks dropping down after the ghosts underneath have been eaten. This goes a long way to making it a very satisfying game to play, particularly after lining up a long string of ghosts for Pac-Man to dine on.

But while Pac-Attack adheres to the golden rule of being easy to pick up, it isn’t particularly hard to master. It has been said that Tetris is pinnacle of puzzling due to featuring just seven shapes – with seven being the optimum amount of things a person can remember. Aka Miller’s Law. Block formations in Pac-Attack are altogether far more random – bunches of blocks, small stock piles of ghosts and mixtures of the two.

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Jun 14
By Matt Gander In Blog 1 Comment

Of the 11 games mentioned in Namco-Bandai’s press release, three of them star Pac-Man. That’s a resounding 36%, unless our calculator is borked.

Let’s take a look at what the yellow fellow is getting up to.

pac-man-and-the-ghostly-adventures

We enjoyed the Pac-Man World games, so we’re rather intrigued by 3D platformer Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. We do worry though that it may be a little on the simplistic side – it’s going to be released to tie-in with the animated series that’s due to air on Disney XD later this year.

Power-ups will play a big part – Pac-Man can acquire new skills, including a chameleon suit to get around the futuristic looking levels unnoticed. It’s due out on PS3, 360, PC and Wii U, with the 3DS getting its own version – a 2D platformer.

Word has it that in the US it’ll retail for less-than-full-price. We can’t find any UK retailers offering it to pre-order yet, but we’d wager that it’ll be released at around £29.99.

PacManDX

We do know how much Pac-Man CE DX Plus costs though – precisely nothing. It’s a free title update for the very well received 2010 download complete with improved leaderboards, new achievements/medals and access to new DLC mazes includes some inspired by Dig-Dug and Rally X.

Usually free DLC doesn’t include ‘proper’ achievements, so expect them to be in-game only. The update launches this summer for the XBLA, PSN, Steam and Windows 8 versions.

PacManMuseum2

Then we’ve got Pac-Man Museum. The fact that this collection contains Battle Royale caused a stir in the retro community – this’ll be the first time the four-player arcade game has seen a home release. We’ve not played it for ourselves, but apparently it’s a bit of a gem.

The collection is intended to let you play through the evolution of the Pac-Man series, but whether this’ll include the much loved Pac-Land and Pac-Man Versus is unclear as a full list of titles hasn’t been given. Hopefully Namco-Bandai will give us a heads up before its winter release. Formats for this one? PSN, XBLA, PC, 3DS and Wii U.

Pac is officially back, man.

Feb 28
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Last week Crysis 3 and Metal Gear Rising went head-to-head, resulting in a bloody battle for the top position in the UK chart.

Konami’s hack and slasher missed out on the top spot by 5,500 copies, having to make do with #2. Had it been released this week, a week that sees very little of note making it out to retail, it would have no doubt stood a better chance of claiming #1. We don’t think we’ll ever understand how a publisher’s mind works.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus on PS Vita and Jewel Link: Safari Quest on DS are the only two actual new releases, but even then both are pushing the definition of the word new – the first is a revamp of Ninja Gaiden 2, which is being released almost exactly a year after launch title Ninja Gaiden Sigma, while Jewel Link is another one of those gem matching puzzlers. Reviews of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus have been pretty good so far at least, with the Metacritic currently standing at 80%.

SniperEliteV2

Then we have Sniper Elite V2 Game of the Year Edition for PS3 and 360 and LittleBigPlanet 2: Extras Edition for PS3. The former boasts of five additional DLC packs, while the latter has nothing to do with Ricky Gervais, obviously, but does now allow the Vita to be used as a controller and adds PS Move support, six different costume packs and The Muppets premium level kit. Apparently the costume packs can also be used for LittleBigPlanet Karting.

Sniper Elite V2 GOTY Edition is available for around £24.99 while LittleBigPlanet 2 should set you back £19.99 or less.

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Apr 28
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

It has come to our attention that…

…various videogame characters are being held hostage…

…inside glass prisons on Brighton Pier.

Thank goodness for disposable income, eh?

Aug 24
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games 2 Comments

Reviews for Deus Ex: Human Revolution went live on Monday and just about everybody, from EDGE to Eurogamer, has dished out a 9. EDGE had a little grumble about the loading times (over a minute on the 360 version) but that’s about it. If it doesn’t boot Zumba Fitness off the top of the chart then, well, we’re all doomed.

Inazuma Eleven is an interesting one. Not because it’s a football-flavoured JRPG, but because Nintendo let a few copies slip into stores earlier this year. The anime series has just started being shown on the Disney channel so our guess is that they wanted to hold it back to tie-in with that. NGamer magazine gave it 71%, commending the voice work and describing it as “solid and fun”.

Incidentally, Inazuma Eleven Strikers for Wii has been recently released in Japan. If this DS version does well then there’s a chance we could see the Wii version too at some point. NGamer also reviewed it this month, giving it a higher score than its DS brethren – a nice 80%. It’s by Level 5 – of Professor Layton and Dragon Quest IX fame – so it would certainly be nice to see it outside of Japan.

Anyway, back to what you can actually go out and buy this week. Pac-Man and Galaga: Dimensions on 3DS pretty much speaks for itself. It contains the excellent Pac-Man Championship Edition and dozens of other modes, but word has it it’s not a very polished package as a whole. For something this rudimentary being pushed out at full price, you’d expect it to be.

Rugby World Cup 2011 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 speaks for itself too. Remember last year when Rugby League 3 made the top ten? We can see the same happening with this. There are plenty of rugby fans out there for sure.

Summer Challenge on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and PC has nothing to do avoiding angry wasps and bored teenagers hanging outside shopping malls – it’s an athletics sim. Publisher PQube has no details on their site, but from the box art we can deduce that it contains pole vaulting, fencing, archery and swimming. Can somebody make a highland games package with caber tossing and log rolling? We’d be all over that.

And finally, the seemingly random DS games for this week are Jewel Quest IV, The Lost Treasures of Alexandria and 1001 Touch Games. 1001 games on one cartridge? Best not tell the other publishers about this – they’ll be worried about going bankrupt.

Next week: Driver San Francisco (PS3, 360, Wii), Driver: Renegade 3D (3DS), Bodycount (PS3, 360), Champion Jockey (PS3, 360, Wii), Dual Pen Sports (3DS), Monkey Island Adventures (PS3, 360, PC), Madden NFL 12 (PS3, 360), Phil Taylor’s Power Play Darts (DS) and We Dance (Wii).

Nov 25
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

This Week’s Games

Reviews for Epic Mickey are starting to appear and are off to a bumpy start – the Official Nintendo Magazine gave it 85% while Eurogamer painted a 6/10 on it. I’d wait for a few more reviews before splashing the cash, especially seeing that Donkey Kong Country is out next week. Raving Rabbids Travel in Time should be approached with caution too – NGamer Magazine really didn’t like what they saw while previewing it. Pac Man Party didn’t go down too well with them either. NBA Jam is apparently good fun though. It’s only going to be sold at HMV for some reason. Worms Battle Islands is also out on Wii this week via THQ.

Red Dead: Undead Nightmare is now available in a box as a standalone game. It’s £17.99 on Amazon, making it a rather good gift idea for Christmas.

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom and Splatterhouse are two of the other interesting games out today. Majin has a whiff of Ico/Shadow of the Colossus about it while Splatterhouse had a huge delay and a revamp halfway through development. Reviews have been above average for both so far.

Fans of singing, dancing, keeping fit and looking like a fool are well looked after: Zumba Fitness, Michael Jackson: The Experience, Karaoke Revolution Glee, Get Fit with Mel B and Def Jam Rapstar are all out this week. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Michael Jackson: The Experience aren’t out until next year. Have you seen what they’ve done to him on the DS version? Ow indeed.

Lastly, CGI movie Megamind gets the videogame treatment in no less than three flavours – Megamind: Ultimate Showdown on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, The Blue Defender for DS and PSP and Mega Team Unite on Wii.

Next week: Donkey Kong Country Returns, The Sly Collection, Super Mario All-Stars, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Dodge Racing: Charger vs. Challenger.

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