The Game: The evil witch Mesmerelda kidnaps Professor Pac-Man into her alternate dimension before Ms. Pac-Man’s very eyes. To rescue Professor Pac, Ms. Pac must retrieve the four crystals of virtue (what, is she gonna run into Lord British along the way or somethin’?) and defeat the countless evil minions of Mesmerelda, ranging from the usual pesky ghosts to fast-moving, whirling-dervish-type critters, fire-breathing dragons, a special guest appearance by Centipede, and more. Power pellets, of course, provide the universal solution to all of these problems: if it gets in your way, eat it! But the challenge becomes how to find that all-important next power pellet? (Namco, 2000)
Memories: I really liked the “maze mode” of last year’s Pacs-travaganza, Pac-Man World, and I can safely say this: those of us who enjoyed that aspect of Pac-Man World will get a big kick out of Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness. Unlike her hubby’s retro revival game, which imbued Pac-Man with numerous new powers such as the rev-roll, the butt-bounce, and so forth, Ms. Pac just has herself. She can’t butt-bounce, rev-roll, or any of that strange stuff. She can only jump with the help of strategically-placed springy things, she can push movable blocks and crates of TNT around, and she can fly with the aid of magic carpets. No super-powers for Ms. Pac-Man – just her own resourcefulness…and, of course, yours.
The game is actually a lot of fun. And in a nice departure from a lot of modern video games in that you can play Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness cold, without even looking at the docs. Just as it should be with the original queen of digital entertainment! Avoid anything that moves under its own power, eat some dots, and you’re in good shape. Whenever a new ability, such as pushing movable blocks or TNT crates, is introduced, a helpful hologram of Professor Pac-Man appears and explains to you, via onscreen text (timed to match strange audio “gibberish”), how it works. I like that a lot. It’s a game you can sit your kids down with. No, scratch that – it’s a game you and your kids can play together without any one party bogging the other down with questions about “Okay, how does this work?” Mind you, these days, your kids might get bored when they figure out that Ms. Pac doesn’t have any weapons or lethal kickboxing moves.
So, you may be asking, does Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness misfire much? Well, the intro is a little disappointing after the mind-boggling CGI animation that opened Pac-Man World, and unlike that other game, the music, while pleasant enough, does not hearken back to the jaunty level and intermission tunes of yesteryear – something Pac-Man World did which I – and doubtless many other long-time gamers – really appreciated.
The guest appearance by Centipede may, in fact, be a swipe at a former Pac-competitor. A creepy crawly centipede occasionally makes rounds of some of the mazes, and with the help of a power pellet, Ms. Pac can eat him segment-by-segment, or munch his head and elimintate the whole thing. Is it just me, or does that sound a lot like the Odyssey2 game K.C.’s Krazy Chase?
Highly recommended. This is a blast!