A long time ago, in an arcade far, far away, there were no games consoles and only a handful of games. And they were all pretty good. One of the neglected games from the dark days of gaming is Pac-Man. It's easy to forget (if you're old enough to have remembered it in the first place!) the scale of the Pac-Man phenomenon - the little yellow guy enjoyed fifteen minutes of stardom in everything from endless rip-off 'sequels' too a range of player's guides which appeared in every self-respecting bookshop and school library.
But all that was many years ago. While our little round buddy has been munching his way around virtual heaven, the world has moved on. Retro freaks are in for a treat, however, with Time-Warner's Megadrive version of Namco's original Pac-Man sequel - Ms. Pac-Man.
For the benefit of our younger readers, this is the drill: manoeuvre a munching yellow thing around a maze, gobbling every available dot. Avoid close contact with the patrolling ghosties. There's a little bit more to it, but that's essentially it.
To fully relive the early Eighties gaming experience, we recommend you plug in the Soda Stream, squeeze into a pink rah-rah skirt and play Ms. Pac-Man while listening to Spandau Ballet. On an Amstrad vertical record deck.
Ms. Pac-Man presents an option frenzy, allowing you to tailor your game to your precise needs. There is a two-player option, allowing Mr and Ms Pac-Man to either alternate, play with each other (ooer!) or play competitively.
The seven levels can be played on 'arcade', 'strange', 'big' or 'mini' settings; 'mini' being the only one that doesn't scroll from top to bottom. If you want to speed up the rather sedate pace, you can select 'Pac Booster', which adds rather fetching whizz lines to your hero's profile.
I'm pretty sure my memory isn't deceiving me - this isn't as much fun as it was all those years ago. Ms. Pac-Man looks like a faithful recreation of the classic coin-op, and certainly features the right tunes, but it fails to come together in one vital area.
The problem with Ms. Pac-Man is that it doesn't feel right - playing this game on a joypad is an unfamiliar experience anyway, but when coupled with the decidedly sticky controls, it really becomes quite a frustrating experience.
This game is a classic which deserves to be in everybody's collection, but it seems that capturing its relatively simple charm has proven too difficult.
Do you realise that I would have been about five when Pac-Man made his arcade debut? If this had been released about that time, it might have caused a bit of a stir; but now it just looks dated.
I'd imagine most people interested in this type of game will have moved on to slightly better games like Zoop(?!).
Don't get me wrong, it you want an arcade perfect conversion in the comfort of your own home, I can guarantee that this will fit the bill to a tee.
The most addictive part is the faithful "wakka wakka, only one more pill to get" gameplay that keeps you munching, but I just don't think there is a market for this any more.
A faithful recreation of the classic coin-op.
Well, there's this little munching fella and, erm...
The same plinky plonky tunes we grew to love all those years ago.
Sometimes everything flashes and there's a gloopy noise.
The two player option is especially good, but...
...the 'not quite right' feel of this is an obstacle.
You can get used to the controls, but it's still a compromise.