REVIEW: Super Pac-Man & Ms. Pac-Man Plug & Play Video Games
It's a good time to be a casual gamer. Not only do the major consoles have retro collections & downloadable arcade classics, but you can walk into any mainstream discount store to find myriad Plug & Play video game consoles. Jakks Pacific has been a strong supporter of retro arcade titles. Both the Super Pac-Man & Ms. Pac-Man sticks let you play arcade accurate renditions of some of the biggest arcade hits of the 1980's.
It's amazingly simple. Everything that you need is inside the controller, no cartridges or console to buy... just pop in some batteries and plug the unit into the nearest TV set.
The Super Pac-Man stick is all Pac-Man, all the time. You get Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Pac & Pal, and of course Super Pac-Man. Jakks had previously released Pac-Man in another stick, but this version has been remade to be arcade accurate (the original bug that lets you hide from the ghosts still works!)
The stick also has three sequels to Pac-Man. After years of getting hopped up on power-pills, the Yellow Yap reappeared in Pac-Man Plus - a game for determined Pac-Man experts. Pac & Pal is just bizarre, but interesting to see as I don't remember it from the arcade at all.
The showpiece may just be the game the stick is named after. Super Pac-Man is an interesting reinterpretation of the game mechanic of the original game. You still chow power pills, but there are also super pills that double Pac's size and speed.
There was a bug in my game that would sometimes freeze the ghosts for a
moment. While the bug did actually help my gameplay, it seems like a
pretty obvious error that should have been caught. (turns out what I thought was a bug is a feature of the game - the ghosts pause right before they're going to change directions - see the comments) Nonetheless this is
my favorite game out of the collection.
The Super Pac-Man controller is a solid and stable four-way stick, ideal for the Pac family of games. Other Jakks plug & play units (like the Ms. Pac-Man stick below) have games requiring a stick with more motion, making Pac-Man type games harder to navigate. With the Super Pac-Man game, it appears that Jakks have listened to their customers and provided a controller ideally suited to the onboard games.
You can still get the Jakks Ms. Pac-Man Plug & Play in stores. Besides Ms. Pac-Man you also can ply your trade at Pole Position, Rally-X, Mappy, Xevious & Galaga. Classics all. Steering your race car in Pole Position is unusual - you twist the stick to control it. I thought this would take some getting used to, but it became pretty intuitive and my scores were better than in the arcade. Mappy, Xevious & Galaga also play like their arcade counterparts.
Ms. Pac's controller isn't as well thought out as Super Paccy's. The controller is styled to be reminiscent of an arcade cabinet. I agree with the aesthetics, but the angular shapes make the controller a bit hard to hold (Then again it's not like Atari controllers were any picnic back in the day, either). It's good that Jakks learned their lesson with Super Pac-Man, and were able to combine retro arcade aesthetics with a more hand-friendly unit.
Jakks has answered the cries of retro gamers wanting greater arcade accuracy with this latest release. Super Pac-Man is one of the top entries in the Plug & Play market which is unfortuately littered with a lot of cheapie junk. Ms. Pac-Man too is a solid performer with a great selection of classic games. Now that Jakks is definitely in the groove, let's see some more classic games done right. How about vector game classics? Trak ball titles like Centipede & Missile Command? Multiplayer games?
With so many classic games that still have life in them, let's hope that Jakks can remain dedicated to bringing more of these arcade greats home.