Genre: Maze Developer: General Computer Corp. Publisher: Tengen Players: 1-2 Released: 1991
You’d think that a 10+ year-old port of a 20+ year-old game would be a pretty direct translation. Well, in the case of Ms. Pac-Man on the Genesis, you would be wrong. I’m not going to bore you with the details on the basics of Pac-Man, as pretty much everyone on the planet already has experience with the game, so I’ll stick with what makes the Genesis version so different.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two. The graphics are very similar to the arcade, although the screen is not displayed all at once, so it “scrolls” up and down depending where you are on the map. The cut scenes from the coin-op are all present and they actually look better than they did in the arcade.
While the graphics are a tad better than the arcade, the sound is exactly what you remember. I can’t see any difference in sound between the arcade or Genesis games.
Just when you’d think this is a straight-up port, you get to the options. Here is where things get a little different. This game has a TON of options. You have single player, two-player alternating (like the arcade), and get this…two-player cooperative and competitive modes! The game also has three different sets of maps: arcade, mini, and big. Mini consists of very tiny maps and big is made up of massive stages that span multiple screens. You can also set how many continues you want, right from the start.
The whole reason I decided to write this review was to inform people about the multiplayer modes, as they are absolutely fantastic. The two-player cooperative mode is played with player one as Ms. Pac-Man, and player two as good ol’ Pac-Man himself. The goal is the same as in single player but in fact is much more fun with a buddy. In two-player competitive mode you are playing against each other and are both competing for the highest score. This is the mode that my wife likes to play more than any other. Some major changes take place in this mode. When one player grabs a big dot, it turns the ghost blue like normal, but also it makes it so that the other player cannot collect any dots while they are blue. The catch is that the other player CAN go for another big dot and reverse the effect. In cooperative and competitive mode if you run into the other player he flies all the way across the screen with no control until he hits a wall. It is an excellent way to blast your partner right into a ghost.
The last thing I want to note is that the game does not work correctly without holding down the mode button if you are using a 6-button controller. So if you have one, don’t forget.
My family had some friends come over last weekend and we played this game like it was going out of style. Our friends were absolutely amazed by it. I leave you with this, if you are looking for an exact arcade port, this is pretty close, even though more precise ports exist for other consoles of course due to emulation and newer technology. The cool thing is, this is NOT a direct arcade port, its BETTER. There, I said it. I know some of you guys with Pac-Man fever may try to track me down for saying such a thing but its true. Try it and you will agree.