Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Jun 22, 2007
Platform  :  Game Boy Advance
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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The Most Authentic, "Original" Pac-Man Experience.

The Good

Emulation packages are either hit-or-miss. There's been some really good compilations released over, but when a set does it wrong... it usually goes downhill pretty fast overall.

Fortunately, Pac-Man Collection has one of the most "correct" versions of Pac-Man I've ever played. It runs well, looks nice, and isn't lacking anything that made the original game so memorable. The sound isn't "off", and most importantly, the game controls well. There's nothing worse than trying to play a classic game you know and love, and it now plays like wading through mud. This version of Pac-Man is appropriately responsive and retains its charm.

The original game can be played with a scrolling screen, on a compressed version to shrink the entire maze on the playing field.

Also included in the set are Pac-Mania, which is also an accurate translation, Pac-Man Arrangement adds a few twists to the maze theme by means of power-ups and different level styles, and Pac-Attack adds a puzzle game to the mix to provide a little more diversity. Each adds just enough to not be a blatant clone of one of the other games.

Outside of the original Pac-Man, all of the games look nice, are visually accurate to their original counterparts, play well, and are fun. It's a good value for what you get.

The game also includes little tips for the Pac-Man games that, while perhaps not overly necessary, are a nice touch.

The Bad

When I think "Pac-Man Collection", it's very hard not to imagine Ms. Pac-Man in the mix. While it was released in the GBA version of Namco Museum at the time, it's almost criminal not to include it in this version, especially after seeing how well all the other games play. The game could have benefited from at least two more titles in the collection. Ms. Pac-Man, and either Super Pac-Man, Pac-Land, Pac 'N' Pal....

Pac-Man has released so many variants over the years, it seems silly not to include more, and Pac-Mania is simply an "okay" addition to what could be offered.

Players may be turned off by the screen options for Pac-Man. The large version only allows partial visibility of the full maze, making it easy for ghosts to sneak up on Pac-Man. The small version loses all the detail and some of the animation of Pac-Man.

Pac-Attack, while fun enough, isn't as strong a puzzler as Tetris, in my opinion.

The Bottom Line

For such a simple game that's been around for over a quarter of a century, Pac-Man seems to be a surprisingly hard game to get "right" whenever it tries to come home. There's always been something wrong with almost any version. The graphics suffer, the sound is off, the animation is choppy, or it doesn't control responsively. The Atari 2600 Pac-Man is another matter entirely.

As for this "Collection", I've considered this one of the best home versions of Pac-Man ever released. Even a lot of the versions of Namco Museum can't quite get everything right, which is always surprising to me.

The two strongest titles are Pac-Man Arrangement and the original version. However, Pac-Mania and Pac-Attack, while a little more average, still retain playability and are good conversions.

The largest complaints stem from not including Ms. Pac-Man, which is arguably the best game of the series, or even offering more titles in general. I half-expected a console version of this series to come out with everything included, but with games like this now being downloadable content for consoles these days, I think the "compilation pack" type of games are on their way out.

Regardless, there's a lot of Pac for the buck, and it's a fantastic time-passer when you want a game that's quick to kill a few minutes without getting into an overly complex game.

Worth a look, and recommended.