The Game: As a round yellow creature consisting of a mouth and nothing else, you maneuver around a relatively simple maze, gobbling small dots (10 points) and evading four colorful monsters who can eat you on contact. In four corners of the screen, large flashing dots (50 points) enable you to turn the tables and eat the monsters for a brief period for an escalating score (200, 400, 800 and 1600 points). Periodically, assorted items appear near the center of the maze, and you can consume these for additional points as well. The monsters, once eaten, return to their home base in ghost form and return to chase you anew. If cleared of dots, the maze refills and the game starts again, but just a little bit faster… (Bally/Midway, 1982)
Memories: Admittedly this wasn’t an especially unique game, but it does have an interesting history.
The reason for Bally Midway’s Pac-Man Plus upgrade kit was to offer arcade operators an inexpensive incentive to dump illegally pirated Pac-Man clones (such as Puck-Man, Hangly Man and Pirhana). The game consisted of a new PCB and a new marquee, plus a set of stickers for the machine’s coin door to identify it as an “all-new” game.
The Pac-Man Plus mod was very minor indeed. Fruit items were replaced by burgers, something which looked very much like a Coke can, and so forth. When a power pellet was eaten, ghosts not only turned blue, but they sprouted a “leaf” and changed into a vaguely apple-like shape. In later levels, the maze actually disappeared while Pac-Man was in motion. Eating the fruit would have unpredictable results: sometimes it would act like a power pellet, sometimes it would turn some or all of the ghosts invisible, but leave them in their lethal aggressive state, and sometimes one ghost would remain impervious to the effects of power pellets and remain dangerous while Pac-Man tried to gobble up his cohorts.
Pac-Man Plus was a temporary solution to a problem that was losing Bally/Midway a lot of money. The more permanent solution was to create a completely new game…and by sheer luck, a new take on Pac-Man landed in Midway’s lap from an unlikely source, a game that would feature Pac-Man’s ladyfriend.