Ms. Pac-Man


Review by Laura Tisdale



Graphics: 8

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8

"Honey, don't ya know? I'm more than Pac-Man with a bow!" And how true that commercial line is for probably one of the, if not the, original video game babes! Yes, Ms. Pac-Man has been strutting her stuff now for quite a number of years and among various gaming platforms. One of the best translations of this classic game, however, has to be Ms. Pac-Man for the Atari Lynx handheld. Since this is an older game, I have decide to forgoe the basic premise of the gameplay as I imagine most people are quite familiar with it at this point.

In order to get Ms. Pac-Man around, the Lynx handheld (Lynx II in this particular review) offers a simple on board directional thumb pad which seems to be almost appropriate for such a low calibur game. A game based solely on thought and moving in a particualr direction to avoid the ghosties, the A and B buttons are not needed other than to start the game, for use on the alternate mazes, or to put in cheat codes while the game is paused. The Lynx also offers the option of "flipping" your screen to accomidate whether you are a righty or a lefty, or perhaps which ever hand is your cigarette hand, as in my case. The only drawback is that if you tend to mash down on your directional pad like I do, you often may find yourself getting Ms. Pac-Man stuck in a corner or going in a direction other than what you had wanted due to your thumb slipping too much. But that is a drawback of the Lynx itself and not the game.

The game itself is down right pretty for something as simple as it is, which seems to lend itself nicely to the Lynx and a smaller screen as opposed to the regular tv or monitor. The graphics are clear and bold with the backlighting option, right down to Ms. Pac-Man's mole, lipstick, and little red bow. Mazes are clear and crisp and the ghosties colorful. There isn't much more that you are going to get out of this game graphics wise, but that isn't a bad thing. To try to elaborate on something as basic as this game is would be taking away from its authenticity and classic feel from the original coin-op of the early 1980's. The sound, although slightly higher pitched than the original version, still remains recognizable. This could have been done better, in my opinion, however. It at times seems a little too off or tinny sounding than what it should be.

The game play is also true to its roots in most respects. Due to the size of the screen, the original four mazes are a bit squished down from their normal size, but that does not deter from the ability to map them if you are into that kind of thing. Since I just push Ms. Pac-Man around in haphazard fashion, I really can't notice any difference due to the smaller maze size. The speed of the game also seems to flow at a steady pace, gradually moving from medium slow to fast by the last maze. This was an added bonus for me since I tend to find too many original Ms. Pac-Man games torked up to super speed from the cherry maze onwards. The acts after each set of mazes also follow along with the original coin-op with no difference at all that I could find.

Now, what's even nicer about this particular take on Ms. Pac-Man is that the programmers added some bigger (wider) mazes for fun, should you want to break away from tradition. Instead of the regular four mazes, you get 21 of the wider maze sets, which is nice for variation, or to alleviate boredom if you've beaten the game hundreds of times. Since I haven't and never will, this was just an added bonus for me! The extra set of mazes also has a freaky little lightning bolt that can give Ms. Pac-Man a boost of speed if she gets it while it hops around. (This is where you may need to put your cigarette down as you will need to use the A or B button to get the extra speed)

Another small perk of this particular version of Ms. Pac-Man is the ability to jump ahead to the different levels. Think you are the big banana? Go for it! By using the directional thumb pad, you can skip through the various fruits/snacks to get to the level of game play you want. And, of course, you can also throw in a few "cheat codes" to even the odds if you suck at even simple games such as this, like I do! Some cheat examples are the options to add extra lives, skip levels, and get the lighting bolt to show up or stay on all the time when you are in the alternate mazes.

Overall, this has become one of my favorite versions of Ms. Pac-Man on any system. I think it is also, by far, one of the better games available for the Lynx. Aside from physical limitations which are attributed to the Lynx handheld itself, Ms. Pac-Man has earned good marks on this platform and deservedly so. If you don't already have a copy, do try to find it on ebay or any other place that may carry Lynx games. This isn't one of the rarest Lynx games out there, but it may not pop up as commonly as some traditionally so-so ones such as Kung Food and Xybots. It's hard to go wrong with a hot video game babe like this one!


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Last updated: Friday, December 26, 2003 09:19 PM