With the exception of Lara Croft, Ms. Pac-Man is probably the most well-known female game character around. Her male counterpart, Pac-Man, is more universally known and has appeared on just about every platform, so it's definitely time that the other dot muncher got her due with a new game.
Set in a brand-new 3D world, Maze Madness brings more to the table than just standard maze running. This time around, though you still have to eat every dot you can find, you'll have a harder time finding and getting to them. In fact, progressing in the game hinges on whether you find every single hidden dot and fruit. For the bulk of the game, you guide Ms. Pac around a maze and use basic puzzle-solving skills, such as pushing or destroying blocks. Similar to Crash Bandicoot or Ape Escape, the game can be completed even if you don't find every secret, but if you don't, you will feel as if you've left something behind.
In keeping with the classic Pac spirit, the controls are very simple; all you need to play the game is an agile thumb to guide Ms. Pac-Man along. What this does in the end is make the game playable for just about every age group, and fun as well. Because the game is designed for all age groups, most seasoned gamers will find the game a little too easy to play and will probably finish it in no time. The single-player quest is quite large - with more than 180 mazes to explore - and will keep you busy. You'll also find minigames and secret stages to unlock as well. Once you've finished the main part of the game, you can retrace your steps with a time-attack mode and try to best your previous run through each level.
In addition to the main quest, you can also treat yourself to an endless supply of quarters in a nearly perfect version of the classic arcade game, and there are some cool multiplayer games to play with friends as well. In multiplayer mode, you can choose from several games with familiar themes, such as keep-away and tag, and you can even play against the computer if you have no one else to play with. While not as expansive as the full quest mode, the multiplayer games offer plenty of quick fun.
Graphically, this new incarnation of Ms. Pac-Man maintains the feel of the classic game and looks very good on the Dreamcast, and is far and away the best looking version of this game released to date. One minor disappointment with the new 3D look is the lack of a true 3D world - the game operates from a fixed camera angle that can't be rotated. In some cases, this is a nuisance, such as when a lone dot is hiding behind a wall you cannot see around. The in-game music is very interesting and helps to get you into the flow of the game. Unfortunately, it is offered at the rate of one new song every three levels. As you might imagine, it can be pretty boring listening to the same song repeatedly.
While Maze Madness may be overly easy for experienced gamers, the younger crowd and inexperienced gamers should have loads of fun with the game. In the end, it ultimately does what few updated classics do well - it brings new concepts to a well-known game while keeping the fun and magic of the original game.