Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Pac-Mania'

Rating:5 User: Digital Prawn

I can only give this game an excellent score since the speccy port is highly impressive given the technical limitations of the platform. Firstly it should be said that this game is firmly of the 16-bit era and it is no surprise that my first contact with it came about via the flawless Atari ST & Amiga versions. So, to put it mildly I did not initially relish the idea of playing this on an 8-bit system. However, at myspeccy.com I decided to give it a whirl and was astounded to find that the playability and the depth of strategy to the game was still completely intact in the speccy port. Furthermore, the graphics can only be described as absolutely correct and it is a joy to see the bright yellow pacman character gobbling up dots around a cyan screen with really minimal colour clash.

The scrolling is expertly implemented showing what the Z80A can really do when pushed. Understandably things can momentarily slow down a little when the full complement of ghosts appear in close pursuit of the player in the higher levels. However, this just goes to show that the full potential of the speccy is being utiltised by the game engine and even these temporary slowdowns are somehow handled in a completely non-annoying way. I've only played the 48K version which has decent enough sound effects and so I cannot comment on the 128K version. All four of the varied in-game worlds from the original are shoe-horned into the 48K release as are the different ghost AI behaviours (jumping ghosts, fast ghosts etc..). Bonus fruit items and the useful speed power ups are also available in this speccy port.

You can certainly get a few days of play out of this one just getting up to the point where you have worked out a successful long-term strategy. Although, you'll still feel afterwards that you can somehow improve your skill at this game up to an even higher, yet unexplored level. Surely these things are the hallmark of a great game. In summary, speccy owners who had remained steadfastly loyal to their system in 1988 were rewarded with this exemplary 8-bit port from the 16-bit world. Unfortunately, some other games from around this time period were not quite so lucky!