Pac-Land Turbografx-16
Review by Kevin Oleniacz NEC Arcade
Graphics: 6 Sound: 5 Gameplay: 6 Overall: 6

There's no doubt that Pac-Man left its mark in the early stages of video game history. Growing up, I spent many hours gobbling up dots with the pathetic 2600 version, and later with the improved Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man sequels. I wondered how one of the Pac-Man games could be redesigned in a 16-bit format (as an 8-bit cart should be enough to mirror most of the coin-op classics). Turbografx-16 owners will never know, as NEC converted Pac-Land into a very ordinary platform contest where completing the end of the level without gobbling up dots is the main objective. The game contains eight levels, each of which is divided into four rounds. However, you are treated to eight extra-tough pro levels once the initial levels are successfully completed. During the first three rounds of each level you must take the fairy princess back to Fairy Land. In round four, travel back to your family. The main obstacle is to avoid Pac-Man's longtime nemesis, the ghosts. These souls float, ride buses, use pogo sticks, or utilize other means of transportation.

There are six distinct backgrounds: the Monster Mansion houses dead end passageways along with keys to open doors. Deadly water spouts shoot up between gaps in bridges. Ghosts hide within treetops. Logs float and fall from above within mountain passes. Ghosts hide in windows and drop mini-ghosts like missiles. A springboard allows Pac to jump over lakes and avoid quicksand in the desert. There is indeed much variety in this platformer.

Bonus points are awarded by picking up stationary fruit, by jumping up and down at the right location before the end of the level, or by gobbling up the famed "power pill" (1 per round) which turns the table on the ghosts. Special items can be obtained which can grant extra points, invisibility, or invincibility. Options only consist of the controller operating mode or initial level selection (1-5). This game is designed only for solo play. The graphics exemplify the standard in Turbografx-16 carts, with solid sprites but flat, two-dimensional backgrounds. Only the bare essentials for a platform game are present here. For a 16-bit entry it rates at the bottom of the ladder, as Genesis and SNES games have a good deal more depth. Compared to other Turbo titles, this one is still weak, especially in comparison to similar platform style games like the Bonk's Adventure series.

There isn't a smooth transition with regards to difficulty levels, either. Level one thru three are way too easy; four and five are fine, while six thru eight are practically impossible. The greatest contributor to this game's difficulty is the control. Pac-Man does not stop on a dime as you would expect, and "slides"even when you tap the pad to turn him around. This is very deadly as you're required to have perfect timing in certain spots and there is no room for error - or "sliding". The final analysis proves that Pac-Man is more adept at gobbling up dots and ghosts than he is at jumping around. Bring back the maze genre!

TIP: Take your time and maximize your points. Search for hidden items. The time bonus is a very small consolation prize in comparison to the awarded bonus for special items.


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Last updated: Thursday, December 04, 2003 01:19 PM