Pac-Attack - SNES Game Review - Namcokid

SNES Game Review
Developed by Namco Hometek
(June 15, 1993)
NKD (6 Oct. 2019)
Namco's signature character Pac-Man has appeared in dozens of video games, genres and other products throughout his near-40 year history. From maze games to platformers to even point-and-click adventure games, the pellet muncher has truley gotten his hands on whatever he could find. Pac-Man has appeared in a good number of pretty weird, sorta "out-there" games that make you scratch your head wondering what the heck they were thinking. One of these games is the odd-looking Pac-Attack, a title that Namco will seemingly refuse not to include on their dozens of Pac-Man game compilations.

Debuting on both the Sega Genesis and SNES on June 15, 1993 in America and Europe, Pac-Attack is one of Pac-Man's stranger outings, being a falling-tile puzzle game in the vein of classics such as Puyo Puyo, Tetris and Columns. Even stranger is that the game was not even originally a Pac-Man game, but rather a Japan-only arcade game titled Cosmo Gang the Puzzle, part of Namco's ever-wacky Cosmo Gang series. Despite its origins, Pac-Attack never saw an arcade release. The game has been ported to dozens and dozens of platforms, including (curiously) the Philips-CDi. Some releases in both Europe and Japan renamed it to Pac-Panic, for some reason. Does Pac-Attack/Panic stack up against titans like Tetris and Dr. Mario?

Pac-Attack's gameplay is relatively straight-forward - falling titles (which are ghosts and gold blocks) fall from the top of the screen, and it's your job to clear them before they stack to the top. Sounds familiar, eh? Where Pac-Attack differentiates itself from other falling tile games, however, is that the ghosts cannot simply be cleared by matching them in rows. Rather, you use a miniature Pac-Man that sometimes appears to chomp them up for points. Seems like a relatively minimal addition, but it actually makes the game pretty hectic and fun - it's pretty satisfying to line up ghosts and watch Pac eat them up. An important thing to note is that Pac-Man will die if he's unable to move anywhere, and he cannot move upwards. The left of the screen displays a meter that fills up when you clear out blocks and ghosts. Once it's filled, you can place down a star that wipes out all ghosts on-screen, with some nice graphical effects for good measure. The game becomes increasingly faster as you clear more blocks and ghosts, and it can get pretty insane after a while.

Speaking of the graphics, they're quite colorful. The game features a sorta "funky" asthetic, with graffiti and cold-colored brick walls. It's an interesting choice, and I really dig it! The sound effects also feature those classic Pac-Man beeps and blips as a nice callback to the original, which is a cute little touch, and the soundtrack is pumping and entergetic. In relation to the music, the Genesis version of the game (which all re-releases of Pac-Attack in compilation disks use, apparently) definitely has the better OST than the Super NES release, and has that iconic "Genesis" feel to it with its bass and rhythm.

No puzzle game is complete without some sort of multiplayer, and Pac-Attack's gotcha covered! A head-to-head multiplayer mode is packed in and is loads of fun. The goal in this mode is to keep the blocks from stacking to the top of your screen, while also trying to toss in junk onto your opponent's side. The second player, who is at the right of the screen, has his or her ghosts replaced with clones of Sue, the purple ghost that has made frequent appearences throughout the franchise. Once a player's side is filled with blocks, the other is deemed the winner. Also included in the game is a Puzzle Mode, tasking you to clear the screen of ghosts with as few moves as possible. They're fun to play at first, but can get a bit boring after a while. It's got a password system though, which is a good addition.
The Verdict
Overall, Pac-Attack is a surprisingly fun and diverse puzzle game that strangely fits the Pac-Man character brilliantly. While not as memorable as titles like Puzzle League or Mr. Driller, the unique gameplay, awesome multiplayer and funky music make this a very welcome addition to the ever-growing puzzle game genre, and has a few tricks up its sleeve that keep it from being a boring Tetris wannabe. The game has seen plenty of re-releases over the years in mulitple Pac-Man and Namco compilation disks, so there's definitely a lot of ways to get ahold of it. Plus it's pretty cheap, so it is a very budget-friendly title. If you're a big Pac-Man or puzzle game fan, definitely add this to your collection.

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