Pac-Man is a venerable franchise. He has also branched out in just as many genres as Mario has. Nintendo still holds the prize for the platforming and kart racing genres. Namco’s yellow dot eater certainly has laid down a formidable challenge in nearly ever other genre though. The Nintendo Game Boy release in 1990 was a good attempt considering the severe limitations of the hardware. That has spurred fans to create their own patches using more modern hacks and tricks.
A simple game at its heart
Much like many classics that hold up to the test of time, Pac-Man is a simple game. The premise is simple – move around the maze and eat all the dots spread around. To make things slightly more challenging, there are a few enemies that seemingly randomly traverse the maze. If these ghosts catch you, you will lose a life. Eat all the pellets in the maze and you advance to the next level.
Do not worry, you are not completely defenseless. There are “power pellets” available at the corners of the maze. These are severely limited in number as well as their effectiveness. Each power pellet is not unlimited in use, and with each level you advance, their time reduces slightly.
The challenge comes in the fact that as you advance, the ghosts speed up as well.
That is the premise of nearly every Pac-Man related “maze” game. Some scroll because the maze is larger than the screen. That is the case with this Game Boy version. This does hinder strategy a bit as it is integral to be able to always see ghost positions in the maze.
Pac-Man Classic Redux patch
The first patch I want to discuss is the Pac-Man Classic Redux patch. This one is for the traditional crowd. Here the intent is to recreate the arcade original as much as possible on the Nintendo Game Boy.
By comparison, this patch comes off as one of the lesser “graphically rich” ones. It is attempting to recreate an arcade game from 1980 so what do you expect? For those that want the arcade Pac-Man on the Game Boy then it is hard to beat this patch.
Pac-Man Anniversary Redux
This patch is where the fun really starts, at least for me. While I love seeing ports of the original games, there are few left that I am excited to see on new hardware. Working with more powerful hardware should give some additions not possible in the original game.
That is exactly what we get in the Anniversary Redux.
Here the graphics have been updated considerably. From Pac-Man to the ghosts, everything is redone here. It is an impressive looking mod for sure. I would put the graphics style close to that which was used in Pac-Mania.
Grab the patches on the ROMHacking.net website. I unfortunately cannot link directly to the ROM file needed.
What do you think? What is your favorite Pac-Man game so far, official, or not? Let me know in the comments below.
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This article was originally published on Retro Gaming Magazine.