Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Namco's Pac & Pal

Here is a look at what many people consider the rarest game in the Pac-Man series.This is Namco's Pac & Pal from 1983. This game was a surprise entree into the 15th Annual FunSpot Tournament. Sadly the game board was giving them some issue so the game at the moment has no sound, when they had it in the tournament the game had sound but it would constantly reset itself after each game so you could never log a score in. Thankfully the game isn't resetting itself anymore but hopefully they can fix the lack of sound.

This game is basically Super Pac-Man 2 with some key differences. First off there's the new pal character. A friendly green ghost named Miru. Miru will run around the maze and try to help out Pac-Man by grabbing items and bringing them closer to him. However if you don't grab the item from her in time she will take it inside of the Ghost House and the item will be lost forever and you won't get bonus points at the end of the round. Sometimes she is helpful but other times it can be a pain. Since she isn't effected by the other ghosts on the maze she will hold the item and run through a pack of ghosts so sometimes it's best not to chase after her and let the item be taken.

One of the biggest changes in the game that Namco did was getting rid of the Power Pellets which had become the standard for every other Pac-Man game. Picking up one of the two power ups in the maze will turn Pac-Man blue and give him the ability to shoot a projectile out of his mouth that will stun the ghosts. The first item is the capture wave from Galaxian, then the smoke screen from Rally-X. After that there's a trumpet that will make the ghosts dance and a snowman that will give Pac-Man Superman like freeze breath that will trap the ghosts in a brick of ice.

As I said at the top this game never got an official release in America. There's known versions of the game that were hacked to make Miru look like Pac-Man's dog Chomp-Chomp from the animated series but other then that this might be one of the only official boards of Pac & Pal being operated in an arcade here in the United States. (According to Aurcade) Nobody knows for sure why the game never came out here in the States. Was it because the game was too much like Super Pac-Man? The great game crash of 1984? I said in the video maybe it was because Midway was making games like Pac-Man Plus, Jr. Pac-Man, Professor Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man. This made the higher ups at Namco furious but Midway did end up publishing Pac-Land in US arcades in 1984 while Atair published Pac-Mania (one of my personal favorites) in 1987. Who knows for sure. The one thing I do know for sure is that Namco has released the game on several of their later Namco Collections as well as some of the Plug n' Play games. So if you can't make it to FunSpot to play the original board you can still try out a good port of the game on a home console.

1 comment:

  1. @PressStart - Seems that you may have missed the inside industry coverage of the great Midway / Namco battle of the 1980's. After Midway started to create their own 'unofficial' versions of Pac-Man Namco declared war, trying to block these games being called Pac-Man titles. A factor in the licensing to Atari, and also the legal battle finally settled out of court.

    You may also be unaware how long it took Namco to admit to Ms. Pac-Man and others as part of the cannon, or the whole Puck-Man / Pac-Man dispute - finally resolved by MAME. The 1984 crash played its part in dampening the need for major litigation over this, Namco drawing in its horns and removing Midway from their list, until the out of court agreement.

    Funny enough, am starting a manuscript on the urban myths and backroom arguments of the early video game scene - will have to dedicated a number of chapters to the Puck-Man and Monkey Kong fiasco's.