Tuesday 21 July 2015

Pac-Land (Atari Lynx review)

Developer: Namco
Publisher: Atari
Released: 1991

Pac-Land is a side-scrolling platform game that started life in the Arcades in 1984 before being ported to various systems.

The game consists of individual trips that are broken up into four rounds each and your mission is to carry a fairy to Fairyland and then return back home. Double tapping left or right forces Pac-Man into a sprint which means he can jump longer distances. The first three rounds in each trip play left-to-right and you move through the level while avoiding ghosts. If you accidentally touch an enemy you'll lose one of your three lives. However, collecting a power pellet gives you temporary invincibility and allows you to eat them for bonus points. Unlike the Famicom version this port features parallax scrolling which looks really impressive. The first trip starts off easy enough as enemies are scattered and pose little threat. Things ramp up dramatically in the second round though as more ghosts litter the screen and hide behind background layers. I was surprised by how quickly the challenge increased but luckily the levels are short so it doesn't get too frustrating. It's worth sticking with the game as it eventually adds moving platforms that try to push you off the edge, castle mazes where you need to collect keys to open locked doors and huge pools where you need to launch yourself off the ramp and mash the buttons as quickly as possible to clear the gap. The level design throughout is fantastic and it makes each round a joy to play. The final rounds give you access to magic boots that make you hover and this time the action takes place from right-to-left. It's a nice change of pace as the gameplay is faster and more frantic. The graphics have a brilliant cartoony look and the colours really pop. The SFX are amazing and it's like having like a mini-arcade in the palm of your hand!

While it's more challenging than some other versions Pac-Land's pick-up-and-play nature make it an ideal game for the Atari Lynx. The levels are short so it's never discouraging and there's a good amount of variety in each round to keep things fresh for a while.

Random trivia: Entering 33one as your name in the high score table will net you ten extra lives.

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