Pac-Land (TG-16)

Pac-Land Box Art


System: TG-16

Release Date: January 1990

Developer: Namco

Publisher: NEC

Genre: Platformer

We finally get to something new from the TG-16 with Pac-Land. There’s a fairy princess in Pac-Land that needs your help. Instead of eating every pellet in a maze, you have 32 rounds of platforming action in front of you. I wanted to complain about this being the answer to Super Mario Bros., but it turns out this is a port of a 1984 arcade game! That means Mario is Nintendo’s response to this. I guess that makes this title novel, but not so much in 1990.

There are two different control schemes available. The first, which I assume is closer to the arcade cabinet, requires you to move left with Button II and right with Button I. The D-pad is used to jump. This is the default control screen and I was all but happy to die so I could change it up. The Lever Control works as expected with the D-pad controlling movement and Button I jumping. If you aren’t moving at full speed, you get a terrible little jump, which can send you to your death.

You have to vault over obstacles and avoid the ghost crew. Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde are all back driving several different vehicles in an attempt to crash into Pac-Man. They are joined by Sue, who chases you from behind to make sure you don’t stick in one spot for too long. There’s also a time limit, so it just makes platforming more of a pain.

Pac-Man is real floaty in his movements. There seems to be a momentum mechanic which leads to a lot of deaths. The ghosts aren’t totally invincible. Outside of the typical power pellets, you can ride the ghosts if you jump on their heads. This is required in at least one spot to continue the level. The bridges level is annoying with its water spouts that drag you down. The mansions can block you off and require a key to continue.

There are eight trips, which are a collection of four rounds. At the end of each round, you reach Break Time and gain your bonus points while saving a small fairy. After round three of your current trip, Pac-Man reaches the fairy princess and is gifted a pair of special shoes to help him get home. These allow you to fly through the air as you tap the jump button. Finishing round 32 unlocks Pac-Land Pro and where I called it quits.

Graphics: 1.5

The sprites look… janky. The backgrounds are stuff I used to do in MS-Paint in the 90s.

Sound: 1.0

The music and sound effects are certainly mid-80s in feel.

Gameplay: 1.5

I’m now aware I missed on items, but they don’t seem like they would have affected gameplay much, it’s too floaty and imprecise.

Difficulty: 2.0

I believe you have unlimited continues to learn enemy spawn patterns, so attrition.

Fun Factor: 1.0

I was ready for this one to be over by Round 20. There’s not enough variety for it to stay any longer.

Overall Grade: 1.4

Pac-Land earns a D+. All of the innovations of the 1980s are missing in this old arcade port, feel free to skip it.