Pac-Attack

Run for your lives, it's a Pac-Attack!!

Some things, however beautiful, were never meant to be together.

For instance, I happen to believe that choc-chip cheesecake and a nice, hot sauna are two of the finest things life has to offer.  Does this mean that my idea of a perfect day is eating choc-chip cheesecake IN a sauna?  Hells no! In fact, I struggle to think of much worse.  Not only would the cheesecake rank among the worst-tasting cheesecakes in the History of Man, the sauna would likely be the smelliest.

Likewise, Pac-Attack proposes to combine the games of Pac-Man and Tetris.

Like Tetris, pieces composed of four blocks cascade down the screen, and like Tetris (and Hollywood after-party attendees), you are trying to make lines.  Here’s the rub: each ‘tetris’ contains a mixture of normal blocks, transparent blocks, the Pac-Man himself, and ghosts.  Before long, you’ll find yourself building Pac-Man levels and lines at the same time.  This all sounds very cool in theory, but in practice, the two goals are quite counterproductive.

This game looks like an abortion.
Be careful what you wish for...

See, you can only form a line with normal blocks.  And Pac-Man can only gobble ghosts one-way in a single, straight line.  So, blocks are coming down while you’re trying to clear out ghosts with Pac-Man so that you can fill those ghost-gaps with normal blocks so you can make a line. Sounds pretty easy, huh?

This would have worked far better as a Baku Baku-style game where different members of the Pac-Man family and their favourite foods (cherries, pills, et cetera) drop down; and if, say, Ms. Pac-Man made contact with cherries on all sides, she would race back and forth and wakka-wakka them all up before zooming off the screen.

But to have a game that worked was clearly not the goal here.  Probably Namco noticed how popular Tetris was and decided that Pac-Man + Tetris = even more popular.  They were two bullet points on a design document that needed to be ticked.  They were two of the world’s most elegant game designs stitched together like a pigeon to a rat.  Like sardines and ice cream.  Like choc-chip cheesecake in a sauna.

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