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.
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.