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Pac Mania on Your iPhone

December 1, 2008

Some things transcend time and space and truly last forever. Pac Man—the ancient and venerable game from the first days of video gaming—and his female counterpart Ms. Pac Man are two such games. No matter which platform you prefer to play your games on, you’ve probably played a version of Pac Man.

Pac Man

Pac Man

The iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch are no exceptions to the power of Pac Mania. To date there are three official versions of Pac Man (Pac Man, Pac Man Lite, and Ms. Pac Man) for the iPhone 3G. Pac Man Lite is simply a free version of the first level of Pac Man. For an in-depth look at it you can check out the review [1] on my blog.

For an in-depth history of each game be sure to read the Wikipedia entries for Pac Man [2] and for Ms. Pac Man [3]. As always take what Wikipedia says with a grain of salt.

Pac Man
For younger readers who might have grown up without playing Pac Man, Pac Man is a relatively simple game. You move Pac Man around a maze while running from evil ghosts that want to kill you? Along the way you have to eat all the dots in the maze and there are four powerups in the maze that let you turn the tables on the ghosts. You can also eat fruits such as cherries that will help improve your score.

Pac Man Classic

Pac Man Classic

Pac Man on the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch looks and sounds exactly like the arcade version. You young pups probably don’t remember standing in front of a huge arcade machine moving Pac Man around with a joystick. You guys are so spoiled. Instead of having to go somewhere to play you just whip out your iPhones and start playing. If only we could have done that!

Don’t get cocky though. Pac Man is a simple game that gets harder as you move to the next level. The ghosts move faster and you’ll have to be more careful in how you move Pac Man. So be sure you don’t overdose on caffeine as you play because sometimes a light, calm hand will help you get further in Pac Man than a hyper, over-caffeinated one.

Ms. Pac Man
As fun as Pac Man is on the iPhone, it’s just a warm up for the real deal: Ms. Pac Man! Yep, she’s back in all her amazing feminine glory. Why move a dork like Pac Man around when you can dump him and play the game with the svelte, sleek, and sexy Ms. Pac Man?

Well okay, she’s not really sleek, sexy, or svelte. In fact she looks just like Pac Man except she has a bow in her hair and lipstick. And the color of her maze is pink instead of blue. Still, she’s clearly a superior representative of her…er…species…or whatever the…er…Pac people actually are. Like Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man on the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch looks and sounds just like the arcade version.

Ms. Pac Man

Ms. Pac Man

By the way does anybody actually know how Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man actually mate? Neither of them appears to have any kind of genitalia. But then again neither did the Tribbles in Star Trek and they seemed to have no problem producing many, many more of themselves while tormenting Kirk, Spock, and the Klingons.

So Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man have been around for a long, long time. There must be some Pac children out there somewhere right? Where are they? Perhaps Namco will release an iPhone 3G sequel game called the Pac Children? Or maybe Pac Babies 2008?

But I digress. You’re probably wondering why the heck you should care about Pac Man and his lady in the first place right? Well read on and find out!

So what separates the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch version of Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man from other platforms? After all they’re the exact same games as their arcade counterparts right? So why should you care? Well there is one important thing that separates the iPhone & iPod Touch versions of the game from previous releases and it’s called multi-touch.

Yup, you can move Pac Man or Ms. Pac Man around by touching the screen on your iPhone 3G or iPod Touch. When you start Pac Man or Ms. Pac Man you have the option of changing how you control your Pac person. You can opt to move him/her with the on-screen D-Pad, by swiping your finger across the screen or…are you ready for this?…the accelerometer! Yes you can actually tilt your iPhone 3G or iPod Touch to move Ms. Pac Man or Pac Man around the screen.

But how well does it play? Well quite a bit of the experience depends on you and how you prefer to control your Pac person. I tend to be more old school (obviously given my advanced age) so the D-Pad is quite a comfortable way for me to move around. However, swiping is also very viable and works well once you get used to doing it. You’ll find that Ms. Pac Man and Pac Man are sensitive enough in terms of their movement that you can reliably move them around by swiping or via the D-Pad.

But what about the accelerometer? How the heck does that work? Well it’s quite simple really. Just tilt your iPhone 3G or iPod Touch and you can steer Pac Man or Ms. Pac Man around. I was able to start liking the accelerometer after a few minutes but it can get annoying when you’re in the heat of battle and trying to outmaneuver the ghosts.

Sometimes I found myself tilting the screen too much and disrupting or distorting my view of the game. It’s tough when you start getting excited and your movement of the iPhone 3G or iPod Touch gets exaggerated. I found myself getting a little bit out of control when the ghosts got too close to me.

One cool thing that I noticed while playing Pac Man is that if you use the accelerometer the D-Pad still moves as you tilt your iPhone or iPod Touch to move around. It’s a neat little touch but it underscores the sheer coolness of Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man on the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch platforms.

Rejoice fans of Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man! Even after all these years your favorite Pac people are eating dots, devouring ghosts and cruising around their respective mazes. Only this time they’re doing it in the sleekest, most stylish and flat out cool way possible…on the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch!

Product: Pac Man
Company: Apple
Price: $5.99
Pros: The original game on the iPhone 3G. Lets you use multi-touch to control Pac Man and move him around.
Cons: Price is a bit high for such an ancient…er…classic game.
Summary: Pac Man takes you back in time to the early days of video games but this time you’ll be eating dots and ghosts on your iPhone 3G and iPod Touch!
Rating: 3/5


Product: Ms. Pac Man
Company: Apple
Price: $5.99
Pros: Ms. Pac Man is better looking, smarter and far sexier than her male counterpart Pac Man. Plus her maze is a hot pink color! And like Pac Man you can use the accelerometer, D-Pad or swiping to move her around.
Cons: Well it’s Ms. Pac Man. She hasn’t changed in more than 20 years so if you’ve played the game before then you might not want to experience it again.
Summary: Ms. Pac Man offers a classy, feminine alternative to Pac Man on your iPhone 3G or iPod Touch.
Rating: 3.5/5



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