Hyper PacmanThe Game: As a round yellow creature consisting of a mouth and nothing else, you maneuver around a relatively simple maze, gobbling small dots and evading colorful monsters who can eat you on contact. Large red dots enable you to turn the tables and eat the monsters for a brief period. Periodically, assorted items appear in the maze, and See the videoyou can consume these for additional points and power-ups. (Semicom, 1995)

Memories: Take Pac-Man, add a Lode Runner-style “only one way to solve this maze correctly” puzzle mentality, add NES-era power-ups, boss battles and vaguely 3D graphics, and the result is Hyper Pacman (note the spelling/punctuation there – a complete divergence from any of Namco’s first-party output).

Pac-Man had already dipped its toes into the isometric 3-D waters with Namco’s own Pac-Mania, and to be brutally honest, Hyper Pacman is a step backward in graphical sophistication. Instead of a nicely rendered, three-quarter view of the maze, we get a vaguely-overhead-and-off-to-one-side view whose only purpose seems to be to vex the player when it comes to finding hidden passageways in the maze. Roughly the same perspective would be used, to much better effect, in Pac-Man Arrangement, part of Namco’s Classic Collection arcade series.

In some cases, the puzzle element works well, but in others it just seems like a hindrance to what I’d normally expect from a Pac-Man game. This is probably something where everyone’s mileage may vary, but sacrificing some of the game’s established parameters for the 3 quarterssake of grafting on NES-era “sophistication” didn’t thrill me. Hyper Pacman is a one-off oddball for the series of Pac-Man games, and not one that made me want to revisit it very often later.