Pac-Man. Donkey Kong. Dig Dug. Q*Bert. Burgertime. Joust. Mappy. All of these games were smash arcade hits of the early 80s. These games made BIG BUCKS, especially the first two. The other thing that each of these games have in common is that they had at least one sequel that was a flop. In most cases, this sequel made a respectable attempt to totally change up the game mechanics. I will now share with you . . .
THOSE CRAZY PAC-MAN ARCADE SEQUELZ
Part 1: The Original
Before the sequels, we had the original. You know it, you’ve played it. Your grandmother has probably heard of it. Developed and distributed by Namco in Japan, Midway picked up the rights to distribute the game in the US of A.
Part 2: The Midway Sequels
Ms. Pac-Man (1981)
Midway was a very naughty boy with its Pac-Man license, abusing it left and right. A little company named General Computer Corporation that liked to make bootlegs made their own enhancement of Pac-Man. The game somewhat altered the overall speed and the behavior of the ghosts and also introduced some actual variety fo the maze designs. They took the design to Midway, who loved it and released it – without approval from Namco. The game was a smash hit, an early example of gamers hating innovation and wanting to play the same game over and over. Namco got pissed but got a lot of money and they made Ms. Pac-Man official, kinda. To this day they often leave the game out when referencing the series.
Pac-Man Plus (1982)
Midway decided to really go with the “if it ain’t broke, why fix it” once again. There are slight mechanics changes but the only real difference is that power pellets have wacky, unpredictable effects. Also made without Namco’s permission.
Baby Pac-Man (1982) Midway did something different. This is a combination video game/pinball game. You start off in the video game maze eating the pellets. You can exit the maze through escape tunnels that initiate the pinball portion of the game, where you can earn power pellets. A cool idea! As usual, without Namco’s permission.
Jr. Pac-Man (1983)
Also kinda different but not by much. It plays like the previous games except the maze is twice as wide. That’s pretty cool. Guess what? Unauthorized by Namco.
Part 3: The Namco Sequels
Super Pac-Man (1982)
Now we’re getting somewhere! Namco was much less willing to sit on their laurels. Super Pac-Man introduces many new elements. There are many items to eat and you must eat keys to open areas throughout the maze. As before you can eat power pellets to eat the ghosts but now you can also eat super duper pellets to become Super Pac-Man allowing you to eat ghosts and bust through locked doors.
Pac & Pal (1983)
This game was really obscure here, probably because Midway suppressed it in favor of their own sequels. Once again we get many new elements. For one thing, there is a good-guy ghost in this one, aka the “Pal” in the title. Your job now is to go all over and collect matching items, a task that the ghost will aid you in. There is also a power-up that lets you freeze ghosts, giving the game some mild shooter elements.
This game breaks the maze mold and is actually a side-scrolling platformer – released a year before Super Mario Bros. The gameplay is different but the ghosts are there. And so are my balls.
The graphics in this game look very advanced compared to the previous games thanks to a pseudo-3D presentation. I remember seeing an Amiga version running at Southridge Mall and thinking of it as kind of a gimmick (although my exact thought was probably more like, “Them do try to Pakk-Mun more like today hum?”). Now you can jump over ghosts!
Pac-Man Arrangement (1996)
Kind of a graphical upgrade of the original but with a few new, minor features. The main annoying thing about this game is that when you run out of lives, you can put in another quarter and continue exactly where you left off a la Final Fight or Metal Slug. So basically, if you have enough quarters, it’s an easy game to complete.