Our One Year Anniversary here on the site is just around the corner. It’s amazing, I know, somehow I’ve managed to keep typing gibberish about videogames for an entire year. Anyway, to bring the year to a close, I thought I’d go full circle and review another non-traditional Pac-Man game. In this case, that game will be Pac-Attack for the SNES.
Pac-Attack looks like it’s going to be the love child between Pac-Man and Tetris, two of the biggest names in classic gaming. Considering Pac-Man and the ghosts are going to be thrown into the mix, I’m guessing this game is going to be taking more of a Dr. Mario approach to the gameplay rather than a more traditional Tetris game. Even with that mindset going in, I’m not entirely sure what to expect from this game. So let’s just jump on in, shall we?
As expected, the gameplay is a variant of Tetris. But there are a lot of things that set it apart from the traditional formula. For starters, there is only a single shape to the blocks being dropped. Every block is an “L” shape made up of 3 tiles, though the exact composition of those blocks is random. Each block will be made of a combination of regular tiles, ghosts, and on occasion Pac-Man himself. Naturally, the blocks will appear at the top of the screen and slowly fall to the bottom, during which time you can move and rotate them into whatever position you feel is best.
Of course, making lines out of entirely L shaped blocks would be child’s play. The challenge comes from the fact that the ghosts don’t count towards the blocks in a row. You also can’t clear out the ghosts even if you manage to fill a whole row with them. Instead, you have to wait for Pac-Man to come and gobble them all up. Unfortunately, you have very little control over Pac-Man after you place him on the block tower, so you’ll have to place the ghosts strategically for him to eat them all.
Another interesting change is that the blocks are not solid like they are in most Tetris games. What I mean by that is that each of the 3 tiles making up the block is an individual tile and will fall with gravity after the rest of the block is placed. This has some advantages, like not needing to wait for the long skinny block in order to fill in a gap, any piece placed will naturally drop to the lowest point possible. This unfortunately has the downside that if you trap a ghost, you have to work your way up from the bottom to free him, you can’t simple clear the row out above him.
With all its changes though, the end result is still the same. Eventually the screen will fill up with tiles until there’s no room for any new blocks. It always starts out so innocently, trapping a single ghost where you couldn’t get him. Then while trying to free him, you trap another, and then another, and before you know it the ghosts have taken over the screen and the inevitable is at hand.
In addition to the traditional survival mode, Pac-Attack also features a puzzle mode of play. In puzzle mode, the mechanics are largely the same, but the objective is slightly different. Each of the 100 puzzle levels starts with a unique set of tiles already on the board. Your goal is to clear the board of all the ghosts using a limited number of Pac-Mans. The blocks that fall still appear to be randomized, so you’ll have to think of the best way to line up the ghosts for Pac-Man to eat them.
If you do it right, most of the levels can be completed with the first Pac-Man. However, the random nature of the blocks can make some of the levels more difficult than they need to be. You’re allowed to try as many times as you like however, so a second attempt might give more favorable results. Personally, I like the puzzle mode better than the survival, but that’s just me. You’ll have to try it out for yourself and see which one you like better.
Price – $8.00
It’s a very reasonable price for a fun game. No reason you can’t add it to your collection.
Play Again? – Probably
I’m not very good at these types of games, but as this site has proven, I’m not very good at many games. Still, it was a fun game and I would enjoy popping it in every now and then for a few minutes entertainment.
Total Deaths – 6 Deaths
I only played one game of survival, so the rest of these failures were in puzzle mode, where I spent most of my time.
Fun Rating – 7 / 10
There are a lot of Tetris variants out there, and this one certainly has its charm. The gameplay is fun and addicting while also providing a decent mental challenge. I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite variant, mostly due to the fact that the individual tiles will fall to the bottom after being placed. It makes the game very difficult to recover from once you make even a single mistake. However, the unique challenge of trying to gobble up ghosts while also trying to form lines of blocks in an interesting twist on the classic formula. For the price, there’s no reason you shouldn’t at least give this game a try, you might just like it.
I never knew the ghosts actually had feet…
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