Classic NES Series: Pac-Man Review

Unless you're a completist going for the whole Classic NES Series or you're some sort of fiend for the NES version of Pac-Man, this rerelease really isn't worth your time or money.

Nintendo's new Classic NES Series is designed to bring some of the great early Nintendo games to the Game Boy Advance. The series kicks off with eight games, most of which are bona fide classics. It's hard to deny the power of early Nintendo games like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., and Excitebike. But not every game is truly deserving of the "classic" moniker. Take Pac-Man, for example. Obviously, Pac-Man is a classic game. But it's a classic arcade game, not a classic NES game. So this release does a decent job of duplicating the NES version of Pac-Man...but Pac-Man isn't famous for being an NES game, and this port of the arcade classic isn't terribly accurate or compelling.

Pac-Man's a classic, sure, but the NES version isn't his best work.

The NES version of Pac-Man retains the basic aspect ratio of the arcade original, which ran on a vertical monitor. It does this by moving the score line off the top of the screen and over to the right side of the screen. This is a better solution than stretching the screen out, which was the method used for the Atari 5200 version of the game.

The basic gameplay concepts from the original game are also duplicated faithfully in the NES game. You, as Pac-Man, eat a ton of dots and avoid ghost monsters. Eating the big dots--power pellets--turns the ghost monsters blue and makes them vulnerable to chomping for a short period of time. The gameplay formula still holds up pretty well and, as you'd expect from a game with arcade roots, it's well-suited for short sessions.

Graphically, this GBA version of Pac-Man is close to the NES version of Pac-Man with one notable exception: the sprites. That is, Pac-Man, the ghosts, and the fruit that appears in the maze are larger than the maze. More accurately, it looks like the background, text and all, was scrunched down to fit onto the GBA's screen, but the sprites were left full-size. Regardless of what happened and why it was done, Pac-Man, the ghosts, and the fruit clip through the walls of the maze. It looks pretty sloppy.

The game lets you store your high score--something the NES version didn't do.

Soundwise, the NES version of Pac-Man gets the basics down, but everything sounds a little different from the arcade original. The sound in the NES game seems a lot less expressive than in the arcade original, but it's reasonably close.

Paying $20 for an accurate port of an inaccurate port is somewhere between getting incorrect change at a gas station and highway robbery on the swindle scale. Unless you're a completist going for the whole Classic NES Series or you're some sort of fiend for the NES version of Pac-Man, this rerelease really isn't worth your time or money.

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Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.
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Pac-Man More Info

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  • First Released October 1980
    unreleased
    • Android
    • Apple II
    • + 24 more
    • Arcade Games
    • Atari 2600
    • Atari 5200
    • Atari 8-bit
    • Commodore 64
    • Famicom Disk System
    • Game Boy
    • Game Boy Advance
    • GameGear
    • Intellivision
    • iPhone/iPod
    • Macintosh
    • Mobile
    • MSX
    • NEC PC98
    • NeoGeo Pocket Color
    • NES
    • PC
    • Sharp X1
    • Sharp X68000
    • TI-99/4A
    • VIC-20
    • Windows Mobile
    • Xbox 360
    As one of the most famous games of all time, Pac-Man was one of the first games to inspire a flood of licensed products, including breakfast cereal, toys, and a Saturday morning cartoon.
    7.4
    Average Rating3332 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Namco Networks America, Atari, Namco, Roklan, Designer Software, Namco Bandai Games, Sharp, K- Byte
    Published by:
    Namco Networks America, Namco Bandai Games, Namco, Atari, Midway, Bootleg, Thunder Mountain, Bandai Namco Games, Nintendo, Bug-Byte, Wiz, SNK, Dempa Shinbunsha
    Genre(s):
    Arcade, Action
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms