I’ve heard it said (probably on the One Life Left podcasts – www.onelifeleft.com) that all classic videogames are based around the idea of ‘tidying up’. Space Invaders, Tetris, Pac-Man… all of them require that the player takes their cluttered environment and cleans away the stuff that fills it, be that aliens, bricks or pills. This weekend, when I should have been doing some actual tidying up, I’ve been playing a lot of Pac-Man. There are about a squillion different versions of Pac-Man and its many spinoffs/sequels but the two in particular that have been occupying me are the Gameboy version and the impressively titled Championship Edition DX.
Instead of digging my classic monochrome Gameboy out of the garage, I’ve been playing the Virtual Console version on my Nintendo 3DS. Like most Virtual Console games, it’s a good conversion that’s overpriced, looks a little odd on the widescreen topscreen of the 3DS, but overall plays very well. There are two viewpoints to choose from – a zoomed in mode that allows you to only see a small area around Pac-Man and a zoomed out mode that is the traditional perspective. Using the Gameboy’s lo-res display, this takes away a lot of the graphical detail, so I use the zoomed in mode. This also makes the game more challenging as you can’t see where all the ghosts are at the same time.
The other version of Pac-Man I’ve been playing is the big, brash and shiny Championship Edition DX on my Windows 8 PC. This is the same version that Xbox gamers have had access too, but now it’s getting the Windows 8 app store love. This game harks back to the original’s 10p munching roots, but it’s been given a visual makeover that makes the game looks more like something from Tron Legacy. The bass-driven techno music also takes me back to the old video arcades, with their blaring coin-ops that could be felt through the floor as much as they were heard. It just goes to show, there’s still life in the old yellow pill-gobbler yet.