Mario Party – 20 years of Mushroom Kingdom Mayhem

One of the longest video games series of our time wasn’t always such friendly fun. I revisit the 90’s original party.

Ain’t No Party Like A Mario Party

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Let me indulge you for a moment. Imagine a table top board game rendered on-screen as a video game. Then, imagine beloved video game characters, both good and evil, fully playable as if they were counters on several themed game boards. An every-person-for-themselves scenario, and only one can come out on top. Sounds good, right? Well twenty years ago, that very concept became a Nintendo franchise like no other. Twenty years ago, Mario Party was born.

Mario Party was released this week back in 1999 in Europe for the Nintendo 64. It was a dark time when most European releases were released months, years (sometimes never) separated from the US schedule. The Nintendo 64 was white hot following Ocarina of Time’s release just 3 months earlier. Nintendo enlisted Bomberman creators Hudson Soft to develop the series. Given Hudson Soft’s success with that particular party favourite, they seemed the perfect fit. Now a franchise spanning 11 games across 5 consoles, 5 handheld spin-offs, and with almost 45 million copies sold across all its instalments, Mario Party is one of lesser-renowned Nintendo franchise feat. But a successful franchise nonetheless.

The premise is simple; players pick one of the several Mario-related characters each, up to a maximum of four for each session. The choice of game boards range from a Donkey Kong jungle to a Yoshi-themed tropical island, with spaces and events littered throughout. Each player takes their turn by rolling the dice, then that’s where Mario Party takes the board game concept to the next level: the mini-games.

This 3-on-1 is fun for all but one

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Whether it’s pairs, three on one or everyone for themselves, the mini-games are the magic of the Mario Party franchise. Some test your reflexes, some your speed, but mostly your fingers as well as your patience as you desperately chase after those all-important coins. First you get the coins, then you get the stars, then you get the glory. Whoever has the most Stars at the end wins the game, with performance on the board and in mini-games also a factor in obtaining that sweet, sweet gold.

But the competition doesn’t end there. Anyone who has experienced any of the later instalments in the series will already be familiar with the above, but the original allowed for much stiffer competition. You may be competing for the most coins, ergo the most stars, but Mario Party gave everyone the opportunity to steal coins and stars from other players. This may well have been considered too harsh down the line for the developers of a family-oriented board game, but definitely served as its most competitive element. It’s a solid reminder of why none of the other entries have ever lived up to the original.

Live or die, make your choice

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Let your imagination wander once again. It’s 1999. How did such a multiplayer concept, of which it was designed for, but not limited to, work in an era where online gaming was yet to exist? That’s right, no hiding behind headsets, and no shouting obscenities at strangers. Instead, as a group of friends sat in a room together, bound by the limitations of controller cables, and each other’s company, shouting obscenities in each other’s faces. As a result, the language was actually cleaner, but the rivalries were anything but. Ah, simpler times.

The Nintendo 64 was also blessed with controllers not costing £60 a time. Which is just as well considering Mario Party became that very controller’s nemesis. Many of Mario Party’s mini games required repeated rapid rotation of the controller’s central analog stick. Where there are competitors there is always competition; I remember having an imprint of the N64 joystick in my hand for days on end. It was a small price to pay to Pedal Power to that light. It became a higher price for Nintendo, who offered gloves to players following complaints back in 2002. To this day the original Mario Party has never been released on any form of Virtual Console, with ‘controller controversy’ likely having a huge say in that.

Lots of boo-tiful mini-games to test your dexterity

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It’s clear that Mario Party was damaging for both the N64 controller and its players. With straining friendships and livelihoods in the pursuit of amassing the most stars, something had to give. My experience took on an interesting new dynamic: the red roulette controller. My poor red controller had taken the biggest brunt of Mario Party mutilation. The on-screen cursor had a mind of its own. Not to mention fighting against my character walking one way as if dragging a kid away from a playground. Even on a precious star space the cursor would move between yes and no so fast it was pure luck whether you got that all important star. It unleashed a furore outside of the typical Mario Party scope. It was frustrating but also a hilariously brilliant inadvertent twist that only enriched the party atmosphere.

Mario Party as a series has become somewhat derided over time, given the overall familiarity across all of its multiple releases. But the truth is it’s a series that has all the hallmarks of a true Nintendo series. For each console, the series offered something new in line with its technology; the motion controls of the Wii, the microphone capability of the Gamecube, and one of the few games to make true use of the Wii U’s portable gamepad.

Mario Party’s impact on the videogame scene of the time also cannot be underestimated. The Mario Party genre, if you will, paved the way for similar releases elsewhere. Crash Bash came to PS1 just a year later, and another main rival to Mario Party’s crown should have been Sonic Shuffle. However, the Sega/Hudson Soft collaboration simply turned out just to be a baffling board game with fun-hindering games dotted around. But none of these, even its sequels, will ever have the same impact as the original. That seems an obvious eventuality some 20 years on. But, Mario Party had all the right elements of competition to be just as it was intended to be: a party.

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Let’s Play Anime #1 – Ghost in the Shell (PS1)

The first in a new series, charting the Anime genre in video game form.

First up: Masemune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell.

Developed by: Exact (now Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan) and Production I.G.

Director: Kenji Sawaguchi

Sales: 100,000

What would have been once seemed impossible for both the anime and movie industry 20 years ago, a Hollywood adaption of Ghost in the Shell was released last year. Masamune Shirow’s original manga of nearly 30 years ago is philosophical, sociological, and psychological. It is also essential reading. In 1995 an anime adaption followed, which is still one of most well-known anime movies in the world. Following its success on both eastern and western shores, and with the Playstation in full flight at that time, Sony released a Shirow-designed video game just 2 years later.

Ghost in the Shell is an action-packed yet simple first/third person shooter. It is a great entry for fans of the franchise as a whole. It retains the excellent animation and voice acting from the English dubbing. The highlights of this now-collectable PS1 title are most definitely the original cut-scenes. They give off the feel of an interactive movie of sorts. You play as the ‘Rookie’, a new recruit to Public Security Section 9. Working alongside Major Kusanagi, Batou, etc, the team seeks a new terrorist threat, the Human Liberation Front. HLF claims to be responsible for the bombing of the Megatech Body Corporation building, but all is not as it seems….

In order to complete the investigation and infiltration, you control a Fuchikoma, a highly-manoeuvrable spider-like mini tank. It results in hi-octane 3D action, with standard target assassination in order to access the next area type stuff. The Fuchikoma can jump, strafe, scale buildings, fire missiles and comes with an unlimited-ammo machine gun by default. Set pieces such as navigating through tight sewer systems and free-falling down a skyscraper are high points in between the glossy mission-brief cut scenes.

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But despite the stunning cut-scenes, top soundtrack, and easy pick up and play access, Ghost in the Shell is painfully short. A full play-through of the game only takes around the same time as it does to watch the movie. Add to that little-to-no replay value, and is incredibly easy. I remember my first play-through came from an overnight rental, back when rentals were an excellent try-before-you-buy method. This was more tried-and-don’t-need-to-buy; the game retailed around £34.99 on its release. A little less than the standard £40+ but still a questionable price. Amazingly, it has never been released on PSN in Europe, meaning that original copies are now fetching £60+ on eBay in today’s inflated collectors market.

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Ghost in the Shell is unique in that there are very few titles like it; an original anime production straight from the creators, which is ultimate fan service. 20 years on, it is astonishing that it still stands as the most original anime-based video game ever made. Unfortunately, much like the recent Hollywood adaption, it is a disappointingly shallow-yet-fun experience. A must for any fans/collectors, but nothing more.

Spider-Man: 4 Games You Must Play

Spider-Man has always been a firm Marvel Comics favourite, and one of the world’s most beloved comic creations. Over the years, Spider-Man has become a marketable figure outside of comic lore; this summer’s Spider-Man Homecoming is the 6th Spidey movie in just 15 years. Spider-Man video games have also been ever-present over the years, with 30+ releases across almost every platform in the last 35 years. So here are 4 of Peter Parker’s best solo releases; heavy on the mythos, and not a Marvel vs Capcom game in sight.

Maximum Carnage:-

The early 1990’s gave birth to two major new villains for both Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Venom and Carnage. Venom (aka disgraced journalist Eddie Brock) quickly became a fan favourite. After terrorising Peter and wife Mary-Jane Watson in some of the comic’s most haunting scenes, he was even given his own comic series for a time. Once the murderous offspring Carnage (aka serial killer Kletus Cassidy) came on the scene, Venom became a good guy of sorts. Determined to stop this symbiotic progeny, a truce was called with Spider-Man in order to stop Carnage. And so began the huge comic book crossover that was Maximum Carnage, and the SNES/Sega Mega Drive adaption it inspired.

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Despite this Final Fight clone not holding up so well more than 20 years on, it’s devotion to its source material is still commendable. Panels from the actual comics are used to tell the story as you progress through simple yet challenging waves of bad guys and bosses. Despite being a Spider-Man story, Maximum Carnage did feature a strong supporting cast of heroes such as Captain America and Iron Fist. These can be called upon as special moves should you feel overwhelmed in combat.

The stages, scenes and characters all appear as if taken direct from a comic book. This gives Maximum Carnage a sense of authenticity and respect to its continuity, despite its frustrations.

Spider-Man: The Video Game (Arcade):-

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This Sega-developed, colourful arcade classic of the 90’s sits perfectly with the Konami and Capcom beat-em-ups of the time. While it follows the familiar formula of TMNT, The Simpsons and Final Fight, an extra dimension was added to shake things up; part of each stage would pan the camera back and become a platformer.

Classic villains such as the aforementioned Venom, Green Goblin and even Doctor Doom comprise boss elements. Marvel heroes Black Cat, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Avenger Hawkeye complete the playable cast. Unfortunately, unlike most of the 90’s classic arcades, Sega’s Spider-Man arcade has never been re-released on any format, but fingers crossed it will happen one day.

Spider-Man (PSOne, Dreamcast):-

Proving they had more than just skateboarding in their repertoire, developer Neversoft gave Peter Parker what he never had before: Personality. CD technology and storage capabilities meant a fully-voiced Peter/Spider-Man was finally realised. Delivering wisecracks a plenty in all manner of situations, it gave personality to an extremely competent 3D platformer/stealth adventure.

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Neversoft’s classic was truly the first modern Spider-Man game. It led onto a sequel, Enter Electro, and ultimately open-world adventures were developed that accompanied the imminent Sam Raimi trilogy. It also broke the mould for a character that for almost 20 years felt trapped in plain platformers and standard scrolling beat-em-ups.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

Shattered Dimensions is a unique experience. Firstly, it is essentially 4 smaller games in 1; not only do you take on modern day Peter Parker, but also a black-suited Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, plus a noir Spidey from the 20’s. Each ‘game’ is slightly tweaked from the next, such as noir Spidey owing much to the stealth sections of Batman: Arkham Asylum, albeit inferior in quality.

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The mechanics and the character differentials however lead to a disjointed experience overall. Swinging from web to web can be fiddly, especially when under duress from enemies. Different Spidey’s means variety, but you will quickly find they are not of similar quality.

Thankfully Shattered Dimensions’ settings, dialogue and excellent voice acting (particularly Neil Patrick Harris as Parker) steal the show. They all keep the adventure interesting and serve as a great tribute to the history and mythos of Spider-Man.

These are my favourites, what are yours? What are your thoughts on the upcoming Spider-Man by Insomniac Games? Please share in the comments!

 

Retroreflection #1: Legend of the Mystical Ninja

Otherwise known as Goeman, Legend of the Mystical Ninja was actually the 2nd Goeman game in the Konami series, but the first released in the west. Considered by many a SNES classic, Mystical Ninja follows Kid Ying and Dr. Yang as they travel across native land to free an abducted princess. Now almost 25 years on, does it hold up today?

So what is it?

Legend of the Mystical Ninja is an action platformer with RPG elements, using a combination of semi top-down and left-right-left platform action, depending on the progress within each stage, of which there are 9 to get through. It’s great to pick up and play – simple jump and attack commands as well as evasion will get you through the most of it, with the addition of rotating weapons you can purchase from the various stalls and shops dotted around. Said stalls also sell health, armour and sandals that increase your speed. Currency is almost limitless due to the nature of constantly re-spawning baddies that hand out cash as they are disposed of. The top-down sections are maze-like, each one more complex than the last, as you find your way to the left-right boss areas. Once there, the game transforms into a more standard action platformer – more like the Megaman series – until you reach the end of level boss.

The Good

Legend of the Mystical Ninja is an instantly accessible title, with a simple control scheme that feels natural in your hand. Being close quarters with the enemies is vital to progression and even backtracking an inch will reveal baddies have re-spawned, keeping you on your toes as they come thick and fast. The real fun in LotMN is the various stalls, shops and – Yes! – Arcades. Along your journey you can pop into many doors/curtains, each holding something different. The shops, although a novelty in appearance are essential; if you don’t stock up on armour and food, there is no replenishment once you reach the boss areas. It’s an initially steep learning curve but you certainly benefit from its lack of subtlety. Mystical Ninja does get progressively difficult at each stage and the bosses step that up even further with a couple of real tough ones along the way.

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It’s the various games and arcades that provide a great quest distraction and are great fun. From a standard lottery, a matching pairs game, a quiz show, even greyhound betting, there is hours of fun to be had, let alone the game itself! There is even a Konami arcade, which provides a level of Gradius to tackle. With money not being an issue, you can easily find yourself immersed in these mini-games that you only leave to keep the currency coming.

LotMN provides a lush, cartoonish view of Japan, with the aforementioned shops appearing as Chashitsus, enemies such as samurai, ninja, and kimono-clad geisha’s among others. The standout element has to be the soundtrack; catchy yet traditional, you’ll find yourself humming along most tunes after just a few seconds.

The Bad

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As indicated earlier, it is essential to stock up where possible before heading into the boss areas, otherwise you’ll likely be in for a world of pain and frustration. Health depletes by merely touching an enemy, whereas with armour it will merely remove a piece when hit. So without armour only a near perfect run will keep you going, which can become really tough then facing the various end of level bosses. Not a fault of the game as such, but once you pass the checkpoint there is no going back so prepare to lose your health, lives and continues swiftly, which of course can lead to frustration.

The only other minor criticism is the length of the main quest itself. The 9 levels, provided you don’t spend hours in the arcades/games, move pretty swiftly, especially if you’re equipped for the boss areas. It can also be quite repetitive in the pre-boss zones, although necessary for currency.

Overall – ****

Legend of the Mystical Ninja holds a lot of nostalgia value for me. The amusement park level alone provides hours of entertainment in itself, and is certainly a world worth exploring for its charm. It’s a simple yet enjoyable game that still holds a lot of that charm many years on. Still recommended.

Nintendo/Squaresoft Gems of a Generation

Before Square Enix there was Square Company. From its inception Square released 145 titles before its merger with Enix in 2003. Many of these games were released under a given ‘Squaresoft’ brand name, such as the ever-popular Final Fantasy VII for PS One, which was one of the west’s first taste of Squaresoft magic, which paved the way for world-wide RPG dominance. However this series, and other famous Square properties such as the Front Mission and the SaGa series all in fact began on Nintendo platforms, albeit mostly Japan-only releases.

Following Nintendo’s failed SNES-CD venture with Sony and then Phillips, and subsequent continuation with cartridge games with the N64, all these properties moved onto the Sony PlayStation. And, despite Final Fantasy VII being the most famous RPG of all time, and subsequent remakes for today’s platform, it’s often the SNES titles Squaresoft produced that remain firmly in our hearts.

The SNES has the best anthology of RPG’s, and in my opinion are still the most accessible to this day. The afore-mentioned series’ may well be the most recognised due to their ongoing adventures, but 2 in my mind stick out as the 16-bit generation’s best: Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana.

Potential spoilers, be warned.

Chrono Trigger

The superlatives for Chrono Trigger are never ending, echoed by many, with good reason. The brainchild of A-List creators Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy), Yuji Hori (Dragon Quest, from fierce rivals-come eventual partners Enix) and Akira Toriyama (DragonBall creator, and Dragon Quest artist), it’s incredible to think this game could even happen. It did, and it is a magnificent package. The SNES proved to be the platform that showcased both graphical power and fully conveyed stories and characters by their creators, and Chrono Trigger has both in spades.

You play Crono, a young boy whose chance meeting with a young woman named Marle at the local fair, leads to a series of time travel adventures. He makes friends while ripping back and forth through time, uncovering the plans of an evil force laid dormant for centuries.

Presented in typical top-down RPG view, Chrono Trigger at first seems like no more than a typical Final Fantasy affair, but it’s active time battles keep the action flowing perfectly, and none of the battles feel forced into, which Final Fantasy games can certainly be guilty of.

The heroes assembled throughout lead you through like any great fantasy novel; you connect with them and want them to win, not just because it’s the aim of the game. One such hero is Frog, who is (surprise), a frog. But, you just know from the first meeting there is something more going on, and you have to know. This is typical of all the hero contingent, and it’s what separate’s Chrono Trigger from the pack. Chrono Trigger’s further uniqueness from other RPG’s of this nature stems from its time trial plot device; there are no less than 13 different endings possible in this game, and a typical run through is around 20-30 hours, unlike similar RPG’s that can clock in double that easily. It’s not very often that JRPG’s warrant a replay, but Chrono Trigger does exactly that. It has been re-mastered and re-released numerous times, but never strayed away from its 2D blueprint. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?

Secret of Mana

Another Squaresoft classic, and is actually a sequel (Final Fantasy Mystic Quest for Game Boy being the original), Secret of Mana is a grand adventure. There is more of a Link to the Past feel to it, but with key JRPG elements being the backbone. The combat system is the best example of this; like Zelda, you are free to move, attacking enemies when you wish, however to land the heavier blows you must allow your weapon gauge to recharge 100% first.secret-of-mana_3

You control any one of 3 three characters; Randi, the main protagonist and holder of the Mana Sword), Primm, a princess on the run from an arranged marriage) and Popoi, a ‘Sprite’ who has no memories of his past, so joins the quest to seek them. The quest is almost Zelda-like; the Mana Sword must be re-energized by acquiring the power of the 8 Mana Seeds. Compared to Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana is indeed much more clichéd and simpler in its story. But its unique mixture of real-time battles, epic bosses, excellent use of the Mode 7 graphic technique, and seamless flow to the adventure make it near flawless. Additional to this is the intuitive and superb Ring Command menu system; options such as equip, using items, etc. appear in a circle around your controlled character, leaving you to simply access the desired options without the arduous, multi-layered menu system JRPG’s often have.

Both Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana have been released for touch screen mobile platform in recent years, and even with the initial bedding in process of touch-screen joysticks, little of the magic is lost, 20 years on from their inception. Although of the same genre, they are different adventures in so many ways, and easily 2 of the best RPG’s of all time. They are also 2 of the most treasured items to own for retro-collectors, easily fetching over £100 each if boxed. If you haven’t experienced either, I suggest you do. Prepare to be dazzled.

Super Metroid – The Perfect Video Game?

That’s the ultimate goal isn’t it? To create the perfect video game. Very few video games are considered as such, and even then it is of course only opinion. There is no fact in a critic’s verdict, whether it’s print/online. People often forget that, and it is of course the same for you; we’re all critics after all. But there is the matter of consistency to take into account, which is where one of my ‘perfect’ game choices gets a unanimously positive critique/public view: Super Metroid. For those that have played through Yoshio Sakamoto’s action/sci-fi magnum opus, I may be wasting my words on you; but I’m confident you’ll read on to either nod/shake your head at this ‘critic’.

supermetroidSuper Metroid is as perfect as a video game can be. With its super sci-fi intro, a dark atmospheric tone is set from the get-go. This never dissipates but, even more impressively, increases or decreases depending on the location/situation. The elevator ride down to Ridley’s lair is a prime example; I don’t think a 16-bit videogame had ever given me goosebumps before. The crisp, fluent visuals complement the soundtrack perfectly, and of course vice versa, the soundtrack often giving the perfect nod of anticipation for the next section. A great example of this is the descent into Brinstar; it fades in superbly, and sets the tone for the action packed section up ahead.

Then there is the learning curve; which is seamless in its execution. It’s no different to previous games in the series in that you start with a simple blaster, but the aforementioned visuals and power of the SNES not only leaves enough subtle hints, but also develops the mind-set that success is dependent upon. Add to that the perfect pacing, an average play through of roughly 10 hours first time around, which might not sound like much, but like many a Nintendo classic, it’s highly likely you’ll return for at least a second run through. Add icing to the cake in the form of one of the best and most memorable video game endings ever, and you have an instant classic.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard all this before, in some form or another. But I believe Super Metroid is not a perfect video game just for its vision, production and execution, but more than that. Back in 1994 when it was originally released, I was 13 years old. Video Games were already a big part of my life, and had been for 8 years, and games such as Super Metroid only served as a positive aid to my lateral thinking, evaluation, puzzle solving, and general acumen.

Over 20 years on, it not only stands the test of time, but has indeed got better with age. Super Metroid is not just technically brilliant, but still technically brilliant, even to this day. And with the beauty of virtual console, it is already being passed on to further generations. That, for me, is perfection.

Review – Pac-Man Museum (Xbox 360)

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I have a confession. I’m rubbish at the original Pac-Man, and always have been. But it’s a damn addictive game. While most gamers and even non-gamers will have sampled the original at some point in its now 34 years of existence, all would surely agree that Pac Man is one of the most iconic and recognised video games (and characters) ever developed. So iconic in fact, that Pac-Man has undergone many evolutions over the years, from variations of the original formula to a side scrolling platformer. So, for no anniversary whatsoever, Bandai Namco has repackaged 9 (+ 1 DLC) of these classics for old and new generations to explore and enjoy.

The Good

Starting with Pac-Man (1980), the original pellet-guzzler is timeless, but for those who have never sampled it, the premise is simple: Collect all the yellow dots whilst avoiding contact with the ghosts. The 4 bigger pellets turn the tables, turning the ghosts blue, and becoming additional Pac-Man fodder for grabs. Classic arcade stuff and very challenging to boot, it’s inclusion in the museum is a given, although the fact it had been available through XBLA as a standalone title for 8 years surely means many will already have this in their catalogue.

Pac-Mania (1987): Definitely one of the better titles in this compilation, Pac-Mania was the most refreshing take on the original to date; essentially the original with an isometric 3D viewpoint, but with the added ability for Pac-Man to jump. To keep that from destroying the difficulty curve altogether is the more close-up view of the area, meaning searching for those last pellets can prove elusive.

Pac-Man Arrangement (1996) is a decent stab again at the core Pac-Man ‘genre’, but with a fake 3D stage view, and a horrendous colour palette. All is forgiven with its revisit to the core gameplay that reminds you of the original for the right reasons.

Pac-Man Championship Edition (1997) is not a Pac-Man Street Fighter game, despite the title, but is by far and away the best Pac-Man game in this compilation. Pac-Man core values with score-attack principles set upon neon-lit but familiar stages makes for fantastically addictive fun, and delivers that true ‘one more go’ factor. The problem is, XBLA already has a superior ‘DX’ version since 2010 that most Pac-fans, like me, already own.

Pac-man-museum-Pac-LandPac-Man Battle-Royale (2011) is arguably the most original Pac-title, and one of the most fun. The ghosts are just a side-obstacle here as you put yourself in the typical mazes against…. other Pac-Men! The super pellets increase your size and speed to try and eat your opponent, or otherwise push them into the ever-present ghosts. It’s a bore on your own, but with online-only multiplayer (wut?), I don’t think I’ve had as much simple multiplayer fun as the original Bomberman.

The Bad

Pac-man-museum-3Super Pac-Man (1982) and Pac & Pal (1983) are close to the original, but the goal is to collect keys and unlock gates as opposed to eating pellets. The ‘pal’ in Pac & Pal is Miru, who helps you collect the required items on each level in order to progress. However this introduction only serves to make the Pac-Man experience more confusing and even less fun. Plus having to keep an eye on an A.I. Miru and yourself becomes tiresome very quickly.

Pac-Land (1984): The Pac-Land main theme is one that is embedded in my brain from visiting arcades all through my childhood and teenage years. This side-scrolling platformer was a major new venture for Namco’s titular character, and was certainly my most anticipated title to play from the museum. But from just completing the first stage, my childhood memories were shattered, only to reveal a platformer so devoid of any fun, meaning, with ridiculously unfair physics that make any Mega Man game seem like a walk in the park.

The Ugly

Pac-Attack (1993): This horrific Tetris/Dr. Mario rip-off is just very, very dull, which a steep learning-curve from the get go that will put most off after a few minutes.

Pan-Man-Museum-1-300x169The ‘Museum’ is a pretty standard affair, allowing you to choose from the games on offer, the list of achievements, etc. Each museum title can earn you up to 8 stamps for achieving the required goal(s), which range from the simple (beat the first level) to the obscene (score 300,000 in Pac-Man). Other than that, I feel a massive opportunity has been missed; if this is indeed a museum, where are the history details? Instead, all there is in addition to the menus and the games is a rather bizarre first person view into a room where unlocked characters (via stamps) can be viewed in some kind of holding cell. Very bizarre.

So, as compilations go, Pac-Man Museum is pretty good, but is a release that, bar Battle-Royale, would have been more relevant 5 years ago. The fact that most fans will most likely already have the original and the Championship Edition DX games through the same service for some time will find the £16 price tag a total turn off. Make no mistake though; there is a lot to enjoy here, whether you have done before or not.

Originally published here