Review: Pac-Man (Game Boy)

In this review, we obsessively gulp down pellets in the Game Boy game Pac-Man. We find out how well this survival game plays.

This game was released in 1991. We already have some familiarity with this franchise. We played the Atari 5200 version. That game did extremely well for the time. We also reviewed the Atari 2600 version. That game really did earn the reputation of being a bad game. We also reviewed Pac Man 2 – The New Adventure. That game just didn’t cut it for us sadly.

Along with this series is the Ms. Pac Man series. We reviewed the Atari 5200 version and found it to be a decent game. We also reviewed the Atari 7800 version and found that game to be decent enough, but nothing amazing. So, we turn to the original franchise to see how well the Game Boy version plays.

Since this game is so similar to the Atari 5200 version, we decided to focus this review on the differences.

With limited screen space, there is some scrolling going on. The scrolling goes all four direction. However, I found it to be not that bad. The game is quite reasonable with its scrolling and gives the player maximum visibility.

The thing with this game is that it finds itself in a much more crowded market then it did back in the earlier Atari days. Games are growing in complexity even on handheld games by this time. While the simple game design is a big strength thanks to no real learning curve, it is also a weakness given that there is next to no surprises in this version.

Generally speaking, while there is some scrolling, this isn’t such a big deal here. While the simplicity works well in keeping with what makes the core game work so well, it has also become a liability. Other games have a much more complex structure both with level design and features. This game struggles to really compete against that. Good for nostalgia, but it simply gets drowned out from more sophisticated competition.

Graphically, this game retains everything that made previous versions have such great charm. Unfortunately, the graphics are pretty basic for the time. It’s good, but nothing amazing.

The audio is also hard to justify. While the original jingle of a theme song sounds great, there is very little else to compliment it. Instead, players are left with the sound effects. While the sound effects are very authentic, it makes for a pretty bland experience compared to more audio rich handheld games at the time.

Overall, this game is a very faithful translation onto the handheld. It retains a lot of it’s original charm even though there is now scrolling involved. Unfortunately, the game is, by the standards at the time, pretty primitive with the single maze level system. The simplistic nature is both a strength (in terms of a learning curve) and a liability (comparing it to other games at the time). The graphics and audio are both the same way. While both are a faithful port, both are primitive for handheld games at the time. A great game, but outdated.

Furthest point in game: Level 5
High score: 18,500

General gameplay: 16/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 64%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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