Ms. Pac-Man Review
Anyone who spent any amount of time in an arcade during the 1980s will recognize Ms. Pac-Man, and it’s now available in iPod form from Namco.
In case you weren’t an 80s arcade kid, Ms. Pac-Man is an enormously popular arcade game in which you, as Pac-Man’s missus, manoeuvre around a maze filled with pellets, gobbling them as you go to increase your points. You’re chased by four ghosts that emerge from a closed pen at the centre of the maze, who’ll do their best to eat you, but you can turn the tables and eat them by gobbling ‘power pellets’ located in the corners of the maze, which imbue you with special powers for a limited time.
The original Pac-Man debuted along with other premium iPod games made available for download through the iTunes Store last September, and it proved to be true to its arcade roots. Ms. Pac-Man is another faithful adaptation: the original mazes and fruits are here, as are the ‘cutscene’ sequences that unfold the story of Ms. Pac-Man in three separate acts. Namco’s even created ‘cabinet art‘ that frames the mazes much as the original coin-op arcade cabinets did.
Where it differs, of course, is in the actual display – the iPod screen is a lot smaller than the CRTs that originally showed off this game, and while they’re clear and the graphics are crisp, it’s easy to suffer some eye strain while you’re playing. What’s more, because you’re sacrificing iPod screen real estate for embellishments like cabinet art and a heads up display, the maze is even smaller than it really has to be.
As with the iPod conversion of Pac-Man, you can play Ms. Pac-Man in ‘Original’, ‘Normal’, or ‘Easy’ modes, which set the challenge level according to how you feel that day. You’ll get three tries per game to continue, and if you need to exit out quickly you can pick it up again later. You can also skip to a stage you’ve reached before, which helpfully means you don’t have to replay the game from scratch each time you launch it.
All in all, Ms. Pac-Man is a thorough recreation of the original arcade game on the iPod. A tiny display and awkward controls mar the experience, however, as in the original iPod Pac-Man port.