yellow circle the circumference of a piethe kind of pie isnt important
for nowwith a slice taken from one side. Further imagine the missing
slice forms a mouth, the pie an insatiable pellet-eating machine thats
afraid of only one thing: ghosts. Afraid, that is, unless theres a
power pellet nearby, which transforms the formerly humble pie into a
lemon meringue monster. Suddenly the kind of pie is important, because
this lemon meringue, all sweetness and acid, will eat ghosts alive, all
but the eyes, and then finish the pellets and save the princess to boot.
something eternally elegant about the original Pac-man. Take a
mythologically resonant maze, add the most ancient shape, a circle, and
then set it loose to evade ghosts and you have a metaphor for life
itself: the circle of life nimbly negotiating a labyrinth to evade
death, a resurrection/immortality story as old as fear. Of course,
Pac-Man struck a cord with the public and became a legendary video game
for better reasons than its symbolic meanings. It was just fun to play.
come as no surprise, then, that Pac-Man has generated more sequels and
spinoffs than Law and Order. Creature Labs latest contribution to the
Pac-legend is Pac-Man All-Stars, a 3-dimensional adventure that will
appeal to Pac-Man fans and children of all ages. Of course, thats also
the trouble with Pac-Man All-Stars: it only appeals to children and
fans, which is like selling candy to babies. If you dont already like
steering yellow spheres after lines of pellets, chances are you wont be
turned on by this installment.
introduces a new character, Wandy the Wizard. Following a time of peace
and joy when the ghosts were eliminated and the portal to their world
sealed, dastardly Wandy kidnaps the fairies and their queen. Since the
fairies make the pellets to which Pac-Man and friends are addicted, its
obviously ghost-whipping time. Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac Junior, and
Professor Pac join forces to head into the Ghost Realm and rescue the
fairies, knowing that whoever succeeds will claim the title of greatest
Pac-Land hero of all time.
none of this is actually related in the game itself. Rather than the
introductory film common in action/adventure games, All-Star players
must make do with a brief back-story section in the instruction manual
and a map depicting the Pac-Squads progress through the Creepy Forest
to Wandys Garden, laboratory, and castle. There are presumably a few
cut scenes in the final stages of the game. Why cant I say for sure?
honestI didnt finish Pac-Man All-Stars. This was not, however, for
lack of trying. Game play in All-Stars is frankly impossible with a
keyboard. A game pad is required to really enjoy this game. Then again,
Im not sure even a game pad would help.
You play one
of the four Pac-people mentioned above, and if youre playing alone, the
computer takes control of the remaining three. The AI is so weak,
however, that the other Pac-characters just run into each other or get
in your way. The object of each level is to eat the most pellets, which
releases one fairy and makes you that much more of a hero. If you dont
eat the most pellets, you lose a life and have to play the level again.
However, since the mazes are gone and the only environmental obstacles
are the occasional bounce pad or hill or puddle of murky goo, the only
real trick is to avoid the one or two ghosts that meander at a snails
pace around the map. The real challenge is steering your awkward
Pac-person, who handles little better than an Impala on a frozen lake.
excels in any area, its the graphics. The three-dimensional landscapes
are rendered in lovely color, and the Pac-people look good in spherical
rather than pie form. Even the ghosts, in their lumbering awkwardness,
are easy on the eyes. But thats where it ends. All-Stars is a pretty
face on a more or less empty head. If youve run through all the mods of
the traditional Pac-Man series and you need a fix, or if you want to see
the Pac-people with depth and arms, or if you have a young niece,
nephew, son or daughters birthday coming up, then Pac-Man All-Stars
probably wont disappoint. Otherwise, you can have as much fun with a
good Atari 2600 port.