Pacman review by F.M.
To understand my review and ranking of PacMan for the NGPC, you have to know first where I'm coming from. I'm 31 years old and I would consider myself as a videogame player for the last 20 years. I collect pinballs and own some arcade boards myself. I started digging into arcade emulation with the 1st version of sparcade and the Asteroids Vector emulator some years ago.
Hey, I know what you're thinking now, but stop: I own 10 NGPC games, including the Fighters, Football and everything and I really love these newer games too, but we have enough experts on these kinds of games here, so let me write about PacMan :-)
PacMan is PacMan is PacMan is PacMan. Most of us believe. I saw a lot of bad PacMan conversions over the years, none of them coming even close to the original arcade version. Believe me, I'm not that big PacMan fan. I played it every now and then when I saw a machine somewhere or I start an emulator sometimes to give it another try. I think my highscore on PacMan must be around 70,000 Points.
But, as I put the PacMan cartridge in the NGPC first, I was just surprised! Here, PacMan IS PacMan. It seems to me like it's emulated. I'm really not sure, because I don't know all the patterns of PacMan, but e.g. the ghost movement in attract mode is exactly the same as on the arcade machine, and on the first some levels, it's identical too. Also, e.g. the ghosts are flashing 5 times before returning to the usual color when you eat a power pill. If it's not emulated, at least part of the original code could be used in this NGPC version.
The graphics are exactly the same as on the arcade machine. There are two modes:
Full Screen mode: The whole labyrinth is on the NGPC screen. Because of the lower resolution of the NGPC, there is a missing pixel here and there, but nothing you really notice or find disturbing. Sure everything is a little bit small here, but that's no problem while you are playing.
Scroll Mode: This mode seems to use the original arcade resolution. It always shows only a part of the labyrinth but scrolls very smoothly when you move around.
Which mode to choose? I prefer the full screen mode because I find it necessary to always see all ghosts. I consider the scrolling mode as Level 2.
The sound is also exactly the same as the arcade version, though the NGPS seems not to be able to reproduce the sound exactly. There's a little difference in the sound of the tunes, but everything is there.
In addition to the superb NGPC joystick, Namco delivers 3 plastic rings (2 spare rings) along with the cartridge that block the diagonal directions of the joystick, making it an excellent 4-way joystick for precise control of your protagonist. You can use these rings for other NGPC 4-way games too, like Crush Roller for example.
15 years ago, I'd died for a version like this on a handheld. I'm really happy that they did an original conversion without adding fuzzy 3d things or whatever. It's PacMan. Nothing more, nothing less. It is highly recommended for every classic gamer out there. Now, when will Berzerk, Defender, Moon Patrol, Space Pilot and DigDug available for your portable MAME? :-) Hopefully soon!