Nerds, Platforms and Pac-Man
Written By: Alex Sandell
Pac-Man hasn't exactly been showing us his good side for the past 17 years, or so. After Pac-Man in 1980 and Ms. Pac-Man in '82, there hasn't been much in the way of an entertaining Pac-game. Somewhere in the mid-eighties, characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong, and a whole slew of others broke free of the maze that restricted our little yellow over-eater, and left Pac-Man in the dust. Like small-town residents, headbangers and Slyvester Stallone; Pac-Man seemed incapable of leaving the eighties behind. But, like Poison removing their makeup and singing one or two songs about something other than sex, he did make a couple of minor attempts at updating his persona, but, also like Poison, he failed. And, with his failure, it looked as though Pac-Man was finally dead.
Lesser Pac-fans went their separate ways; finding new pixilated characters to worship. Games got more violent, less fun and blamed for a hell of a lot more school shootings. Graphics got better, the moves got trickier, and the hero was oftentimes a heroine, such as Tomb Raider's ultra-sexy, "wish-she-was-real," pin-up model for geeks everywhere, Lara Croft. I don't remember Ms. Pac-Man ever having a set of knockers like that. No wonder Pac-Man grew a pair of hands. Now, after nearly two decades of obsolescence, he's finally been given the chance to use those hands he sprouted; for sexual conquests and video game entertainment. But, I'm jumping ahead of myself . . .
Those of us raised in old pizza parlors which have long since gone out of business, first heard the Pac-battle cry long ago. Time and again, we have followed the monotone siren sound that passed itself off as "background" music for the original Star Wars generation, to a glowing video screen in the corner of whatever rat-hole would have it, inserted a quarter into the antique machine, and saw that Pac-Man wasn't dead; only hibernating. We knew he was coming back. We saw him sitting discretely in dark taverns and bright malls across the country, waiting to make his return.
Pac-Man was waiting to kick the piss out of Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot. Pac-Man was ready to show Mario and Donkey Kong where the action was really at. He was striving to show all the Doom's and the Quake's out there that real men do it without guns. He wanted to prove, once and for all, that Lara Croft's sexy body ain't nothing compared to an always energetic wife that doesn't cringe when you ask her to swallow. All he needed was a few good men to program him into a game worthy of the name Pac. With the new Playstation game, Pac-Man World, he found them. In 1999, the faithful can finally turn away from the glowing blue light of the video machine and smile contentedly . . . we told you so.
This is Pac-Man's 20th Anniversary Celebration, and Namco (the company behind the original Pac-Man) wanted to give Pac-Man a game that was a celebration of all that he was, all that he is, and all that he is going to be (basically an obese yellow blob that eats a lot). By incorporating a lot of the best elements out of some of the greatest video games to ever grace a video arcade or television screen, creating the coolest graphics the Playstation has ever seen, and adding a ton of new features and some groovy new moves; Namco has created what is the best video game ever. Even better than the original Pac-Man, which is bundled in with this new game, in all its eighties' glory, just for the Poison type fans out there.
Everything old is new in the wonderful world of Pac-Man!
I selected the picture above just to give you an idea of what the programmers did to upgrade the past Pac. Still, this is only a small part of an incredibly large, three-dimensional funhouse ride of thrills, laughs and adventure. Pac finds himself winding his way through underground corridors of fire and falling rock, swimming deep underwater with pissed off sharks, and "butt-bouncing" his way to the top of incredibly high towers full of crumbling platforms, nasty monsters and other fun stuff. This isn't just a 3-D remake of the original; that would be too easy. Sure, Pac-Man could have pulled a KISS, put his "grease-paint" back on and called the game, "Reunion: There's Nothing New to See Here;" but he didn't take the easy way out, and he gave us an intense platforming game that should please fans both old and new.
Now, before you get all crazy and run out to buy a copy, there's a couple things you should know. 1.) I HATE role-playing games. I hate them. I know nerds like them a lot, and I'm sure they have their reasons, but I find them tedious and nerdy. I know I'll now be accused of "nerdism" by all the nerds who just saw me use some variation of the word "nerd" five times in the last few sentences, not to mention the title of this update, but to hell with them. If they can't accept what they are, they should try and be something else.
Nerds flock to dragons. It's that simple. Any non-nerd would know this. I think they even ask it in a question on the ACT test. "Which of the following mythical creatures is a nerd most likely to flock to? A. Unicorn B. Honest Politician C. Fairy D. Captain Hook E. Vampire F. Dragon". I think they actually accept C, E and F as correct, but you get two bonus points if you choose F. I've also heard that, after thousands of pieces of nerdy hatemail, they have also started accepting "Captain Hook" as a correct answer. Soon, they'll probably just change it to "G: All of the above."
Before computer games came out, they ("they" being the nerds) were playing Dungeons and Dragons. I never really understood how that game worked, but I think you had to buy up as many castles as you could and you turned into a dragon when you passed "go." There's also a bunch of nerdy books out with dragons on the cover that nerds like to read. There's not that many nerdy movies, because nerds usually travel in small groups of other nerds, and do not have enough nerd power to fill an entire movie theater, much less 3,000 of them. They try, sometimes, to make nerd movies. I think the last one was Dragonheart. It was actually okay, if you're a nerd. What it boils down to is this: if you like role-playing games, you WON'T like any game that I recommend, because I won't recommend any game that even has a trace of role-playing in it. If I'm gonna role-play, it's going to be with a female, in a bed, with lots of lubricants, whipped-cream, and a bag full of M&M's. But, we won't get into that.
2.) I love platform games. My all-time favorites would be the first 3 Super Mario games and the Mario game for the Super Nintendo, the entire Castlevania series (even though it DOES have stupid dragons), except for that sucky one on N64, the first two Contra games, and the Contra game for Super Nintendo, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Donkey Kong Country, and even Croc: Legend of Gobbos. My taste does drift away from platforming, from time to time, particularly when games like Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Wave Racer, Bad Day on/at the Midway, or Dark Forces are released. I know there's a ton more, but it's 5:07 in the morning, and I really, REALLY want to go to bed. If you don't like platform games, you're not gonna like 97% of the games I recommend, because 97% of them will be platform games. As you can see, 0% of them will be role-playing. I just hate spending hours on end walking around looking for spells and magic potions to fight dragons with.
If you DO like platform games, and you're not a nerd. Or, even if you are a nerd, but you still like platform games. Or, if you think I'm a nerd that just has a thing against dragons, go out and buy this game. I even have a way you can go out and buy it for only $10.00 (it retails for $39.99). It's my "tell-mom-you-want-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-only-$10.00-off-for-1-week" scheme. What you do is tell your mother that you really want this certain game for Christmas, but it's only $10.00 off for one week (I'm guessing the title gave that away). She'll most likely, if she's like my mom, want to save the $10.00 and give you the $29.99 that you need. Then, you pay the difference ($10.00) and "forget" to give your mom the unopened game. By the time she remembers, you will have already beaten it, and it won't matter anyway. Please send the $29.99 you saved to the Save the Cerebellum fund, C/O Alex Sandell, at:
PO Box 331
Alexandria, MN 56308
It's been over two months since a T-Shirt was ordered, or a contribution was sent. Still, people keep coming to the site. I only ask you to send what is within your means, and the amount you think reading this site for the past year, or NEXT year, will be worth. Unlike most crappy places, I don't have corporate advertising (no, Namco didn't secretly pay me for this update), and I don't REQUIRE you to pay a certain amount. Pay what you can. Cool concept, huh?
Getting back to the Second Coming of Pac-Man; Pac-Man World really is the most fun you can have with a TV screen and two hands. Well . . . almost.
Hey, kids! If you liked this update, check this one out!!!
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Text Copyright ©1999 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].
PAC-MAN WORLD 20th AnniversaryTM & © 1980 1999 Namco Ltd. All Rights Reserved.